Aug 22 2017

Roll Call: Helena Rodriguez, Terminal Manager

Helena Rodriguez has been with Summit for more than 15 years. Since 2011, she has managed a security force of over 160 personnel at JFK International Airport. Helena oversees day-to-day operations at the terminal, including traffic control, catering security, the Security Command Center and internal building security functions. The Summit Report spoke with Helena about the ways in which Summit serves the aviation community at JFK:

TSR: What sort of clients does Summit serve at JFK?
HR: Summit provides security for a wide range of major airlines that have flights arriving and departing from the airport. We also provide security for construction companies that are undertaking projects at JFK. We handle the full range of aviation security services, from access control, aircraft searches, food service security and patrols. Our security command center monitors and controls all security camera and alarm systems within the terminal. We develop and implement security plans for high-end musicians and performers who appear at airport venues. We also manage traffic control around the terminal, which is a daily challenge considering how many people are entering and leaving the terminal on any given day.

TSR: In your role as Terminal Manager, how do you manage and maintain Summit’s Client partnerships?
HR: Strong client relationships are the cornerstone of Summit’s success. We build client relationships by making sure Summit always keeps its promises and always satisfies client needs. Once a client partners with Summit, they quickly say: ‘Why would I go with another company? Summit personnel come and check on our business all the time and they always take care of our needs right away. I consider them part of our team.’ That’s what you want to hear from your clients.

TSR: During your time with Summit, how has the company’s aviation operations grown?
HR: The aviation industry is notoriously tumultuous, but Summit has experienced steady growth, adding many new clients and expanding our reach. We serve JFK Airport, Long Island MacArthur and Newark Liberty Airport. With all the renovation and expansion projects going on at these airports, we have also forged many new partnerships with construction companies and other businesses that have operations at the airports.

TSR: What gives Summit an advantage over competitors at JFK Airport?
HR: Summit’s greatest advantage over other security companies is the way we treat our employees. Summit invests a great deal of time training our officers and supervisors so that they are fully knowledgeable about their roles, the clients they serve and their responsibilities. We also spend time training our officers about how to provide courteous and effective customer service, knowing that they also represent our clients during interactions with the public. Clients frequently tell me Summit security officers are happy and enthusiastic, which makes them better at their jobs. That’s good for us and it is certainly good for our clients. We want their passengers to say: “I was greeted so well when I got to the airplane by the traffic officer that I want to fly with them again.” That’s our goal. Sometimes, a smile goes a long way.

TSR: How did you come to join Summit?
HR: Prior to Summit, I worked as a translator in Customs and Immigration at JFK Airport. The experience at Customs and Immigration sparked my interest in the security field. Summit Security was highly recommend to me as a family-owned company that I would be proud to work for. So I went for an interview and I was given the opportunity. I started with Summit in November 2001, as an officer at Long Island MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma, New York, at a security checkpoint. Later, I was promoted to Field Leader and then to operations manager and client service manager, all in the Long Island Region.


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