Photography by Travis Anderson
Personal security specialist Paul Jaeb is building a business around the security needs of the prominent and affluent.
by John Rosengren
April 29, 2016
Paul Jaeb, private eye, is mining a new, potentially rich niche for his services. Over the years, his corporate clients had asked for personal services on the side—looking into potential scams, performing background checks on household staff, providing security tips for foreign travel in risky locales. He realized his company, the Heartland Investigative Group, which he had built into the largest investigative firm in the Midwest with a core staff of 10 and a field network of 75 investigators, could leverage 25 years of experience to provide a high-touch, personalized service.So Jaeb started his Private Client Group in 2014 to supplement Heartland’s core $4 million investigative business. With an eye to cap the group at 100 clients, he has already attracted 25 with a service that directly targets those with the most to lose.
There’s a growing industry nationwide built around providing residential, digital and personal security to the nation’s most affluent and prominent people. “People are becoming more aware that they are more vulnerable,” says Michael Julian, a San Diego-based private investigator and U.S. ambassador of the World Association of Detectives. “High-net-worth people are a bigger target.”
Locally, Jaeb’s group seems to be the only firm in the boutique security arena. Jaeb guesses there are 600 or so private investigators in the state, and notes that most are one- or two-person shops that specialize in particular areas, such as surveillance or fraud investigation, whereas Heartland’s scale allows it to occupy a variety of niches. “We’re big in our business, among the top 2 to 3 percent of agencies by size,” Jaeb says. “I can’t name our main competition locally because the others are too small to compete with us.”
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