Keeping America Secure
Gurutej Singh Khalsa
Founder Akal Security, Inc
Gurutej Singh Khalsa Founder Akal Security, Inc
‘There’s the hotel,’ he said pointing towards a three-storeyed building. ‘It’s a nice property, next to a golf club (Towa Golf Course resort) and you will be comfortable here,’ he said. ‘I have fixed dinner with Sukhwinder Singh. He is Akal’s chief financial officer and stays at Espanola. Somebody will pick you up at six and take you to his place,’ said Gurutej. ‘I will see you tomorrow as I have to prepare langar at the gurdwara tomorrow, so I need to pick up some groceries. See you tomorrow,’ he said as we shook hands.
It was about four when I reached the suite and not wasting any time, I decided on an afternoon siesta. A telephone call from the reception woke me up, with the receptionist announcing that somebody was waiting for me in the lobby. ‘I’ll be there in two minutes,’ I replied as I jumped out of bed and quickly freshened up and rushed down. A young man of Indian origin sporting a stubble waited for me at the reception. ‘Helloji, I am Manpreet.’
It took us about forty minutes to enter the city limits of Espanola town. Espanola, a small town, is also called the Jewel of northern New Mexico. It was founded in 1598 by Spain as the first capital of New Mexico and sits in the northern Rio Grande Valley between the Jemez Mountains and Truchas Peaks.
Manpreet pointed out the Akal headquarters on our left as we took a road named after Harbhajan Singh Yogi. Two flags, one of Akal and the other of the USA waved forcefully in the cool evening breeze, signalling the powerful partnership.
‘Sat Sri Akal,’ said Sukhwinder as he ushered me inside the house where another American Sikh family was already present. Sukhwinder hails from Ludhiana, has an American Sikh wife and has grown from strength to strength in the Sikh Dharma organisation, to become the CFO of Akal. Conversation with him in his American-Punjabi accent was engrossing and the eastern Sikh connection grew strong between us. As a matter of fact, it helped me gain extra information on Akal Security, Gurutej Singh and Daya Singh. Gurutej, according to Sukhwinder, was a serene man who never felt challenged by anybody. ‘He is very meditative and extremely well respected by the US officials,’ claimed Sukhwinder. ‘He is a poet as well as an intriguing man.’
Daya Singh, a certified public accountant, on the other hand, was like a bull and liked powering his way. A man of strong business acumen, Daya, according to Sukhwinder, believed in high personal, social and business ethics. ‘He is a musician, plays great golf and performs amazing kirtan at the gurdwara,’ said Sukhwinder as we chatted over a cup of Yogi herbal tea. ‘We have huge plans in the coming years and we are trying to firm up business opportunities in Canada and plan to bid for guarding oil fields.’ Akal is divided into three divisions—national, federal and international. While the focus of the national division is to serve corporate, local, and state government clients, the federal division takes care of providing specialized security to America’s most critical national security facilities. The international division has been specially created to focus on US government requirements overseas for which a dedicated office has been opened in Washington DC.
Inroads have been made in African countries like Kenya, Namibia, Tanzania and Uganda.
It’s about 7.30 p.m. and a minor headache had started to make my head thud. Sukhwinder asked whether I had been drinking enough water. ‘Many people do a get a headache when visiting Espanola for the first time, as Espanola is a desert at an altitude,’ he said.
‘Pop a couple of Tynanol tablets,’ he said as he got up to bring me medicine.
Dinner was simple vegetarian food consisting of pulses, potato curry, rice and chapatis. Another cup of Yogi herbal tea was offered, which I drank willingly.
It was dark when we left Sukhwinder’s house and the headache had started to intensify. My attention span had reduced considerably, as I shut my eyes each time Sukhwinder uttered a word. I thought I was falling ill.
‘Based on annual revenues, Akal is a 550 million dollar company today and has orders worth 2.5 billion dollars, spread over five to seven years.’
‘Marvelous,’ I said, the headache disappearing in a jiffy. Was it because of the Tynanol? Or the dollars with their balm-like effect?
Akal, according to its CFO, had grown from a twenty-eight million dollar company in 1993, to a half-a-billion company. ‘You will come to know more when you visit our headquarters tomorrow,’ said Sukhwinder as we approached the hotel.