We had the good fortune of connecting with Taylor Smith and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Taylor, how does your business help the community or the world?
“A child lost their life in school at the hand of a deranged gunman…” is a headline we should never have to read. When the story continues to include multiple children and adults, occurring at numerous schools and organizations over decades, we know a larger issue is occurring in our society. Us founders at Guardian Defense formed this organization after realizing the devastating effects major school shootings like the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in 2012 and the Beslan School Massacre in Russia in 2004, had on society. Whether it was an active shooter, or an active threat (such as a hostile parent or violent intruder), we knew that school administrators were looking for ways to protect their students and staff. And most importantly, have a concrete plan in place. Guardian Defense helps schools, businesses, and places of worship develop a comprehensive plan for any threat that may put their group in danger. We have found that most organizations are ill-prepared simply because they don’t know what to do or where to start. An active threat is not like other emergencies. It is different from other threats because the threat is continuously changing and moving; and doesn’t always elicit the same response, such as an evacuation. Our Policy-Train-Drill initiative gives administrators confidence that they have a written plan and the proper training to go along with it. Our vision is that all schools and workplaces adopt the “Policy-Train-Drill” initiative. We expect every school and business to develop a policy for active threat response that enhances security and planning for the worst-case scenario. We envision schools and companies train and prepare for an intruder or active killer, as one would train and prepare for fires, natural disasters, and other critical incidents. Finally, we expect schools and workplaces to implement their policies and training by conducting drills regularly. We know we cannot stop every dangerous act from occurring. However, we can prevent many threats before they even start; and even minimize mass casualties. We never want to read the headlines from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, Pulse Nightclub, and the many other major incidents we’ve seen in years past, ever again. Training builds muscle memory. Muscle memory leads to confidence. We’re helping society feel confident they have a plan to protect themselves and their loved ones when faced with a critical incident.
Please tell us more about your business. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today business-wise. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
Our threat response training business is unique because it is a newer concept for organizations and schools to engage in. Most organizations prepare to some extent for emergencies such as fires and severe weather. Dealing with a threat, such as an active shooter, is not a new concept. However, we are finding more and more organizations are recognizing the need to provide training to their employees as organizations typically do not have plans in place for active threats. If they do have a plan, it may not be as comprehensive as they think. Furthermore, there are not many places in Florida, or throughout the country that offer this niche of consulting. Companies that do offer training and consulting vary significantly in their approach and methodology.
Guardian Defense was founded by the husband and wife team (Steve and Taylor Smith), who saw a need to prepare teachers following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in 2012. With Steve’s law enforcement background, he knew he could develop a program for school administrators and teachers to have confidence to take action when faced with a threat. Taylor used her mental health and non-profit background to apply to the operation end of the business.
To company was not too difficult to start; however, getting clients was a challenge in the beginning. There was nothing to compare what we do to other businesses, so figuring out the best way to articulate what we do took some time. We learned so many lessons along the way. The first “ah-ha” moment was realizing that it was, in fact, businesses, not schools that were primarily reaching out to us. We knew schools needed us even more, so we had to get to the bottom of why that was. As the years progressed, we adapted our training to provide additional levels of what we offered; and also step into other areas of safety, such as medical treatment of life-threatening wounds, and communication-based training. Many of our clients ask for more training each year, so we had to develop a way to offer them continued quality training that was the proper stepping stone from the original content they received.
Guardian Defense operates purely with the mission to know that any civilian has options when their life is in danger. We know that there is no baseline or guiding force like there is for fires in the workplace. Given that fact, we set those baselines so owners, principals, and the employees feel confident in a plan that will protect themselves and their dependents. We have a passionate team that cares deeply about providing practical and effective standards for all citizens.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
-Boating in the intracoastal -Regina’s Farm in Fort Lauderdale -Top Golf -Surfing at the beach -Dinner at Louie Bossi, Dada’s, Beach House -Drinks at Two George’s, NautiDawg Marina Cafe -A few days down in the Keys -A visit to Wynwood, South Beach, Everglades
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
We would like to dedicate this shoutout to the Score Mentors of Palm Beach for their continued support, assistance and belief in our mission.