In 1980, a 19 year old Louis Perry left his native Greenpoint to pursue an acting career in Los Angeles. Although he landed a few TV roles, his big break came when he was hired as a department store security guard. A promotion to lobby director led to the discovery that his real skills lay in management, which he honed for years afterwards as an independent security consultant. After being hired to head security for an Al Gore speech in 2001, Perry expanded his clientele to Washington officials, celebrities and members of the Saudi royal family. Today, he is the founder and president of Kadima Security Services, a company boasting 300 employees and 95 clients, all of whom he has personally signed. Achieving such a high level of success was not easy, he said, and required discipline and social expertise he developed growing up in the neighborhood.
Born to an African-American father and Dominican mother, Perry stood out in a predominantly white community. Occasional name calling aside, he was a popular kid with a talent for friendship. “I was the Clarence Clemons of Greenpoint!” Perry recalled, during a telephone interview with the Gazette. “But I was accepted by my neighbors, and I learned to be accepting of different people, whether they were Italian, Polish or Jewish. My mother taught me to treat everyone equally, and to be a successful businessperson you have to establish relationships with people of all backgrounds.”
Other values were instilled at St. Cecilia’s School, where Perry was virtually raised on the basketball court. (The institution closed in 2009.) In time, his school team became his second family and he learned much about respect from his adopted brothers. “I was very fortunate to have hung out with a very good, unique group of human beings,” Perry stressed. “We didn’t do drugs or get into trouble. We worked hard, ate pizza and went to the Greenpoint Y. And when school closed, we’d still play ball in the school courtyard. No one ever mentioned race.” One former teammate, Jim Baron, went on to coach basketball at the University of Rhode Island.
Not surprisingly, Perry’s strongest mentor was his basketball coach, Fred Rubino, who went on to success as principal of IS 318 and later as superintendent of District 14. “When Fred was happy, it was great,” said Perry. “But you didn’t want to see Fred mad. He pushed me to the limit, and never let you think you couldn’t make it. I made that the platform of my life, and I still carry his teachings with me.”
Despite a workaholic schedule, Perry still visits family and friends in Greenpoint every two years. While impressed by his neighborhood’s transformation, the hometown boy worries about recent developments such as the spate of incidents at the reopened McCarren Park Pool, and had security tips for anyone going for a dip. “First, get your political leaders to make sure there is sufficient security at the pool 24/7,” advised Perry. “Second, don’t let your kids go to the pool alone without proper supervision, and make sure they hang out in groups of friends. Also, if you come in your car, make it difficult for the criminal to steal your vehicle and don’t leave any valuable items in plain sight. And finally, only bring the money you need in your bag. Don’t carry a credit card, or expensive jewelry, and just take a cheap bag. Don’t bring Louis Vuitton to the pool.”
Perry hopes to continue sharing the wisdom gleaned from his experiences. He reaches out to children through motivational speeches in LA, and is eager to do the same in Greenpoint as a way of paying it forward. “I’m grateful to God to have given me the opportunity to have been raised in this neighborhood,” said Perry, “and also for all the tremendously incredible friends I’ve had.”
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