Welch Is on Target for Business Security Career

SHSU graduates and students have key roles at the Tomball Target Store, including (l to r) Assets Protection Leader Justin Mills, Executive Team Leader Justin Welch, and Senior Team Leader John Brumfield.
SHSU graduates and students have key roles at the Tomball Target Store, including (l to r) Assets Protection Leader Justin Mills, Executive Team Leader Justin Welch, and Senior Team Leader John Brumfield.

Jake Welch (MS ’08) hit the bull’s eye in his criminal justice career at the Target Corporation.

After beginning as an intern with the retail giant in 2009, Welch has climbed steadily up the ladder in the Houston market, starting in loss prevention and working up to an executive team leader position in the Tomball store. In April, he will apply to become store manager, overseeing all operations at his own facility.

“One of the great things about Target is that it’s all about results,” said Welch, who is in charge of the sales floor and guest experience in Tomball. “If you come in working Loss Prevention, you can move into any pyramid such as Stores, Pharmacy, or Human Resources. The biggest factor is leadership. If you can achieve the results to show you are a successful leader then Target will provide the training and tools you need to be to be successful in almost any position you want.”

The Target Corporation, which had 1,750 stores and $2.9 billion in earnings in 2010, is known as a leader in security because of its high tech equipment and state-of-the-art laboratories, which are used by various law enforcement agencies. Many of the security leaders at Target are retired professionals from the FBI and military.

“Target is a excellent organization and a great training facility because of the way they organize their internship program,” said Dr. Jim Dozier, Internship Coordinator for the College of Criminal Justice. “Not only do they integrate them into security, but they also teach them all aspects of the business. There are a lot of threats and some of them come from inside the operations.”

Welch got a taste of the company’s capabilities during his internship, in which he spent a week in each area of the business including hardlines consisting of electronics, housewares, food and toys; softlines consisting of clothing and jewelry; logistics monitoring truck shipments; in human resources; and in loss prevention. During his semester long internship, he served an additional 10 weeks in the area of his choice, which involved shadowing the Assistant Manager in charge of internal, external and process losses.

“I knew I wanted to be in the private sector and that I didn’t need to be in law enforcement,” said Welch. “Target is such a large corporation that it is able to provide the best, and it understands the importance of loss prevention. Target is really focused on the community too, and it gives back 5 percent of its income to the community. It is very focused on making the communities where we work better.”

In addition to security teams at individual stores, Target has Investigations Teams and an Investigation Center by region, which focuses on internal losses from employees and external losses from “boosters,” or criminals who steal items from the store. The Investigations Team focuses on larger rings that target high dollar items at the stores.

The Investigation Center allows the corporation to remotely tap into security cameras in all stores to get at the root problem of the loss. About half of the loss of retail merchandise is from internal sources, while half is from outside criminals. Security cameras focus both inside and outside the stores.

Another aspect of the job is process shortages, which involves inventory control to make sure the system is as accurate as possible at tracking merchandise.

Target operates a state-of-the-art Forensic Center for high level crimes and theft. The center has cutting edge technology for analyzing fingerprints, DNA and video refurbishing. It also has GPS devices that can track stolen trucks. The technology is shared with other law enforcement agencies.

“It is a forensics lab that can provide anything that law enforcement might need, but not be able to afford due to the size and budget of an agency,” said Welch.

Target builds strong relationship with its local law enforcement agencies and is the national sponsor for National Night Out events. Welch helped organize a National Night Out event with businesses in Houston that attracted 1,200 participants.

Target also sponsors a law enforcement grant program, where local stores can nominate agencies to fulfill their specific security needs. The program helped fund new bicycles for patrol at the Houston Police Department and new cameras to provide better crime scene photo for other departments.

Welch was hired by Target after his graduation with a Master of Science in Security Studies from Sam Houston State University. He is one of many alumni who work for the company. In the Tomball store alone, Store Manager J.D. Walz and Assets Production Manager Justin Mill are SHSU criminal justice graduates, and Senior Team Leader John Brumfield is working on his degree at SHSU. In addition, another graduate, Christi Mendenhall, is an Assets Production Business Partner, who oversees loss prevention and safety for two districts with about 20 stores each.

“For every public sector job, like a police department or the FBI, there are three in private security,” Dr. Dozier said. “Every major corporation has security and there are the companies that serve them, like alarm systems and armored cars.”

As an undergraduate at SHSU, Welch also did an internship with the ASI group, a private firm which handled security, travel and transportation for state officials and private corporations during foreign visits. Welch’s job was to contact foreign service providers to confirm the arrangements that were made.

“The biggest thing that I took away from Sam Houston State University was that it instilled in me a drive to succeed and to be the best that I could be,” Welch said. “When I got to Target, I had the motivation to be successful.”

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