MAKING IT HAPPEN—President and CEO of Grace Security, Barbara Strothers with William Generett, Urban Innovations21. (Photos by Rossano P. Stewart)
This time last year in Pittsburgh (July 2012), now disgraced Nate Harper was still our highly respected African-American chief of police, the Mellon Arena had just finished being completely demolished after standing for 40 years as a reminder of the displacement of numerous businesses and families from the Lower Hill District, and 32-year-old Mayor Luke Ravensthal was still looking forward to yet another four year term as the mayor of the Most Livable City.
And 57-year-old Barbara Strothers and her business partner Clyde Manns had just completed the process of starting their business—“Grace Security.”
Strothers was already a 14-year veteran in the security industry having worked for a variety of security firms. It was while working for the Dillnet security firm that she was encouraged by her supervisor to start her own company. She says, “My boss knew I was interested in owning my own business, and he always said I had what it took to be a business owner.”
While working security at One Hope Plaza at 1901 Centre Avenue, owned by the Hill House Economic Development Corporation, she began having conversations with Bill Generett Jr. of Urban Innovation21 about beginning the process of stepping out on her own. She would go on to get connected with the Duquesne University Small Business Development Center and went to classes where individuals learned about starting their own businesses. Here she learned about creating a business plan, establishing a name and preparing the necessary documents to register her business.
In the mean while Strothers and the management team at the Hill House Association began early discussions around entering into a contract with her as the principal of Grace Security, LLC–she would begin delivering security services to them for One Hope Square and the Blakey Building.
“We made a commitment to Barb as a result of her exemplary work and the relationships she has developed with HHA leadership, and she was asked to oversee security over additional buildings on Hill House Campus,” said Jeff Anderson, the CFO for Hill House Association.
Barbara went on to establish Grace Security as a WBE, MBE and Section 3-certified security firm based in the Hill District—she would bid on the site security portion of the grocery store project and was awarded the contract in April 2013.
“HHA chose Grace Security because we have every confidence in her ability, as a small business owner, to provide quality service,” Anderson said. “Barb grew up in the Hill District and her commitment to the Hill House and the safety and security of our facilities, staff, partners and visitors is very apparent. Grace Security’s presence has already made a difference in the short time they’ve been in place.”