Invictus: Vets channel soldier attitude into growing security company in Boynton Beach
BY EMILY ROACH – PALM BEACH POST STAFF WRITER
Two special operations Marines with a six-year-old Boynton Beach security company are gearing up with the help of a veterans grant program.
Phillip Noblin and Patrick Miller met in Okinawa, Japan, as 19-year-olds in the U.S. Marine Corps. They worked their way up the ranks together fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, ultimately landing in Recon.
When they left the service — Noblin was honorably discharged as a staff sergeant after eight years, Miller as a sergeant after six years — it didn’t take long for them to plan out a future as business partners.
And it hasn’t taken long to grow Invictus. That’s Latin for undefeated, but also the name of a William Ernest Henley poem.
“I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul,” are its final lines.
Invictus security company started as a two-man operation and now employs 30.
“We’re getting on people’s radar,” Noblin said. “Our product is a well-trained security officer.”
The company is three-pronged: a security training school, security guard services and mission support.
It is the only security training school in Florida approved through the Department of Veterans Affairs for veterans training school benefits for its Class “D” security class and Class “G” statewide firearms course.
Earlier this year, Invictus received a $30,000 grant from The Veterans’ Pathway to Business Success that allows the two friends, now 33, to reconfigure their offices and expand classes.
But the majority of the money will go to training equipment, such as computers and firearms.
Veterans’ Pathway Executive Director Charlotte Laurent-Ottomane said Invictus is the group’s second grant recipient. But she expects to have funds for six to eight grants a year of $30,000 to $40,000.
Boca Raton resident and Korean vet Jerry Kramer put in the seed money for Veterans’ Pathway, and it is raising money to build a legacy. The grants are aimed at post-Sept. 11 veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Grants are awarded to start-ups and established businesses that aim to expand. Grantees go through an extensive background and are referred to SCORE mentors if their ideas aren’t ready for start-up.
“We follow up with the veterans once we do give the grants, so it’s not just handing out (the money) and goodbye,” Laurent-Ottomane said.
And it is hoped, she said, the veterans become ambassadors for the organization. Invictus was a perfect example of the type of business Veterans’ Pathway wants to help, she said.
Miller was working as a government contractor overseas and taking classes to become a firearms instructor about the time Noblin was getting out of the service. They decided they wanted to do something stateside, something they knew well. Noblin credits Miller with the idea of Invictus.
“I’m tired of going overseas and risking my life, leaving my family,” Miller said of his mindset at the time.
Since Miller “came home” to Boynton Beach where his grandmother lived in between deployments, the two set up base here.
What started on the kitchen table now takes 3900 square feet at 3200 S. Congress Ave., Suite 203.
Along the way they created employment not only for themselves, but for hundreds of other veterans.
“We want to be different,” Noblin said.
Invictus’ training school does that by providing situational, hands-on training. Their students haven’t just watched a video about firing a gun, or working a radio or writing a report, they’ve done it until the “muscle memory” is established, Miller said.
Sometimes they train a person, then employ them with one of their security contracts. That way they know they have a quality security guard.
The two, whose slates are now full, have hired instructors to teach the classes.
In addition to the school, which has classes of 20 to 30 students, Invictus provides security guards for gated communities; ninety percent of its workforce there comes directly from its school.
Also, the company is called in on a temporary basis for uniformed or non-uniformed security when businesses have a need, such as workplace violence prevention. An example is when a company plans to lay off a large number of people and decides to have extra security.
Invictus will work events or executive protection.
And the company provides logistics for government or private organizations in foreign countries — that’s fuel, translators, buses and anything a specific operation needs.
“We’ve supported the U.S. Navy in Haiti and the Dominican Republic,” Noblin said.