It was some 15 or so years ago that I last saw him so I expected some change when he walked into my office. Nil! Zilch! He looked exactly the same as he did back then. He also had the same mindset as he did back then in his determination to fight serious and violent crime in the trucking industry. I’m talking about Ferdi Gobey, managing director of Pinnacle Risk Management, a division of the CSG Holding Group, who is as passionate as ever to help transporters manage and reduce their security risks writes Patrick O’Leary.
There is great comfort in knowing the background of someone who professes to fight crime and minimise risks for transport operators. It helps to position him as a serious player in what is a very risky and dangerous arena. After all, there’s a good reason why they call it ‘serious and violent crime’. It is serious and it is violent and it is not a safe and cosy arena to operate in. It takes a certain type of person to get involved in this murky world. Ferdi Gobey is that type of person and the good news is – he focuses on the trucking industry which he knows very well.
Gobey started his crime fighting career some 30 years ago serving a 10 years stint as a cop in the serious and violent crimes unit of the then SAPS operating mainly in the townships. He then decided to leave the force and join the private sector as a vehicle hijack and theft recovery specialist. It was the early pioneering days when telematics companies such as Netstar, Matrix Vehicle Tracking, cTrack and Cartrack were making inroads into vehicle recoveries using technology as their new weapons.
While the systems of these companies could accurately track and trace a stolen or hijacked vehicle, you still needed people who were willing to go in on the ground and recover them – often coming under fire when doing so. Gobey was one of those people and he, along with others like Dave Renton, devised methods which saw the criminals losing out to the good guys.
While working for this private company (the name of which I know and respect but which will remain unmentioned in this context), Gobey got heavily involved in the telematics and IT sectors studying the workings of these systems. It was all about radio networks, satellite communications via GPS, GSM networks and the like. You know, the things we take for granted nowadays. Even your cell-phone now has a GPS which enables you to find the address of that Friday night party. In those days, it was all about finding the location of a hijacked truck deeply hidden in some dark and dingy place.
Combining security and communications saw Gobey heading the task team that did the network security for the Federation Cup in 2009 and then, for that splendid Soccer World Cup in 2010. “That was a network rich event with live television broadcasts being sent across the world and we were there to ensure that the networks and links to the satellites weren’t compromised or broken,” he recalls, adding that Telkom was another client which they serviced.
In 2015, he decided to give it a break and left the company. After sitting at home for two weeks watching the grass grow, he decided it was time to get up and go. It was then he formed Pinnacle Risk Management as a company which would focus on – you guessed it – providing a protection service for high risk freight classified as valuable and vulnerable cargo. He opened the company in October 2015 and in January 2016, signed up his first client – a well-known transport company delivering liquor into townships.
“My years of experience in serious and violent crime combined with my 16 years in the telemetry industry gave me a good understanding of what we could do to bring together the best features to find a solution. The vehicles were being hijacked and the liquor was being stolen and looted and it wasn’t long before we got to the situation where not one bottle was stolen and not one truck hijacked,” says Gobey.
The word got out and it wasn’t long before other transport companies started signing up for his services. The success was noted and it was thus that in 2017, he was approached by CSG Holding Group – who wanted a security cluster in their suite of services – with an offer to purchase the company. The rest is history and the organisation is now driving well into the future. In fact, Gobey proudly says that his division grew 400% in its first year – and all concentrated on the trucking industry.
Without giving away too much, Pinnacle Risk Management identifies every possible point of risk that potentially exists on a truck’s route from A to B – and that includes the warehouse, the driver, the vehicle, the route and even the delivery point. It then builds up what Gobey calls an Information Security Management System which incorporates all the areas of risk.
Once that is structured and the potential risks are identified, they then harness together all available resources such as electronics, telematics, mobile devices and other aids to minimise and manage the risks. And if one area of risk involves putting on-the-ground manpower and surveillance, then so be it. Linked into all this is a wide-spread intelligence network which feeds information into the system. There is also a predictability factor that come into every crime scene which is also taken into account. This is based on historical data, records, experience, information received, previous crime acts and other sources.
Good news for companies which have their own telematics system supplier is that nothing gets changed as Pinnacle Risk Management works with all systems.
FleetWatch is loath to go into details of the methods for fear of revealing too much but suffice to say that this is a new approach to fighting truck crime and it is working – and is necessary for according to Gobey, the crime syndicates of today are extremely sophisticated compared to those of the past. “Containers of goods are even being stolen off ships and loaded onto the syndicate’s trucks at the harbour,” he says.
We all know how crime has escalated over the past years – and in many instances has become more violent. Security is a vexing issue for most transporters and knowing there is a company like this out there to help, has got to be a comfort. FleetWatch certainly welcomes it with open arms.