Handling the supply side of airport security
by Irene Kim
A true entrepreneur, Steve Milt spotted a niche and created a business to fill it. Working in the homelandsecurity industry after earning his MBA, he became familiar with trace detection systems, the equipment used by airport security to check passengers for minute amounts of explosive or narcotic materials.
Sparked by growing vigilance against terrorist threats after 2001, demand for trace-detection systems skyrocketed. The companies supplying the systems were focused on meeting the demand for new equipment, and that was where Milt found his opportunity. “The industry had become highly focused on the initial sale and deployment, but much less effective at delivering consumables, maintenance supplies and training to keep their own detection machines up and running,” says Milt. “Drawing on Jan Suwinski’s strategy and operations classes, I knew there was a niche opportunity in this sector.”
Milt (COO) and two partners founded DSA Detection, formed a team, and launched in 2006. “We built a line of products, services, business processes, and a global distribution network that, from launch day, has delighted our customers,” says Milt.
Trace-detection systems require supplies that are manufactured to very strict specifications. DSA provides the entire suite of supplies needed for a wide range of detection systems — from swabs for passengers’ baggage and laptops, to filtration systems, to basic screening products like the gray screening bins for holding personal objects. DSA Detection was recently acquired by Industrial Safety Technologies, allowing Milt to start thinking about his next venture. Having worked in the early days of “Big Data” prior to attending b-school, he hopes to use this knowledge for his next business. “Combining disciplines is something I really enjoy,” says Milt.