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Ernst & Young Entrepreneur Of The Year Awards

Elite

John Kontopuls

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As opposed to many organizations, Elite has an intentionally slow-growth strategy. John Kontopuls, who founded the company in 1995 and is the CEO, says that this approach helps to maintain the unique company culture, which centers on a positive employee experience and excellent customer service.

Elite provides staffing, consulting, management, and analyst services to major corporations, venues, and franchises nationwide. The company is the exclusive security and event staff provider for the Miami Dolphins and all events at Sun Life Stadium in Florida. The organization’s other clients include the San Diego Padres, Microsoft, Apple, Disney, Warner Brothers, and the major broadcast television networks. Elite has also been contracted to analyze the security and event staffing at big-ticket events such as the Super Bowl.

Kontopuls’ original career path was in banking and finance. Elite’s business model persuaded him to change his focus, and he risked his own money to finance the startup and cover cash flow during the company’s first year.

Elite employs more than 3,000 people. Many of them have law enforcement experience and provide security and other event-management services for millions of guests attending major events around the country. Kontopuls believes that the company’s training program gives it a competitive edge and differentiates it from the competition.

Kontopuls says that security companies are traditionally classified as either commercial or event-related, and do not stray from their core competency. He adds that Elite has leveraged its expansion into the commercial security marketplace, and as a result it has created economies of scale by tapping into its full-time commercial work force and law enforcement staff for supplementing the guards at its events.

Kontopuls, who is obtaining a PhD in psychology, says that whenever possible, he attends the company’s events, so that he can be the first one to greet the Elite team members as they arrive and be the last one to say goodbye when they finish working.

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