HAWAII AT WORK
DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
At the Loomis Fargo & Co. base yard in Kalihi on Tuesday, armored service technician Debbie Scanlan-Maluina, right, and her partner Henry Kaneakua, with his gun handy, demonstrated how they work when transferring funds from their armored van to ATM machines. She said she and her partners must always keep their gun hands free, which is why she carried the funds bag in her left hand.
Armed and ready to roll
Debbie Scanlan-Maluina has a job that is exciting and fun but also deadly serious
Debbie Scanlan-Maluina never thought she'd be an armed guard riding around in an armored van for a cash-handling company, but that -- to her own surprise -- is what she now does. The mother of four children and former homemaker is an "armored service technician" for Loomis Fargo & Co., a Texas-based company that has about 100 employees in Hawaii, including about 75 on Oahu. Loomis services isle banks and other businesses with 36 armored vehicles. The Kaimuki High School graduate is grateful that Hawaii has a relatively low crime rate, lessening the chance of trouble on the job, but still she keeps the safety of herself and her colleagues at the top of her mind, doing her best to stay fit and focused when doing her work. The former Debbie Scanlan, who turns 33 next month, married Mac Maluina, a state corrections officer, with whom she lives in Kapolei. Their three sons and one daughter range in age from 3 to 14.
Title: Armored service technician
Job: Guards the transfer of funds to and from bank ATMs and of daily business deposits
How did you get to be an armored service technician?
Answer: Well, I was looking at the state -- they have those ... what do they call it? Work Links, Work Hawaii or something like that -- five years ago. I just went to look for a job, and that day I saw an ad for "driver." It didn't even say for Loomis. So I applied, and I think it was about two months later that they called for an interview. I had no experience in anything. Before that I was just a homemaker.
Q: The position was for a driver?
A: Yeah, that's all it was calling for -- a driver. I said, "Hey, I can drive." I just didn't know what I was getting myself into. Until I came to the business and saw Loomis, I still didn't know what Loomis was. So I took a test and they said I would be dealing with money in the armored car business. And I still didn't know that they carried weapons. (Laughter)
Q: So what is the basic job that you do?
A: Right now I'm an armored service technician -- an AST -- although actually I just got promoted to ATM lead.
Q: What's that?
A: That's sort of like a supervisor but right below a supervisor position. I service the ATM machines and also do armored work.
Q: What's armored work?
A: I go to accounts. I'm like the middle man for the banks and the accounts.
Q: Just today I saw a couple of armed service technicians -- for another company, actually -- loading up an ATM with cash. Is that one of the things you do?
Q: How does that work?
A: The banks, on certain days, they have a scheduled time for their ATMs, to take out the old and put in the new cash. That's what I do.
Q: So how many would you service a day?
A: With me, every day I service 12.
Q: Besides banks, what other kinds of clients do you service each day?
A We service numerous different clients -- stores like Safeway, Longs, shops in Waikiki, like the ABC Stores, and all the big stores, like Louis Vuitton. We play the middle man for them so they don't have to go to banks.
DENNIS ODA / DODA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Debbie Scanlan-Maluina collects "cassettes" from bank ATM machines and loads them into the armored car. She always works with two others: one in the cab --who on Tuesday was Henry Kaneakua, left -- and another in the back.
Backing up to the part about the weapons ...
A: Yes ...
Q: What kind of firearms training do you have to go through?
A: At least twice a year we go out to the firing range (at Koko Head) and practice shooting. And then we have to be qualified. We take a test through the HPD; they give us a test. So we have to qualify.
Q: What kind of a firearm do you carry?
A: Right now we have .38s, Smith & Wesson revolvers. But hopefully, within a year or two, we'll get into Glocks.
Q: Do you have to maintain a certain degree of physical health to do the job?
A: You know, they never said, but me personally, I think you do. You need it just to keep moving.
Q: Are you trained in martial arts at all?
A: Well, I do kickboxing but that's about it. (Laughter) It's better than nothing, because with this line of work, everybody's out for money.
Also, I'm the only female right now out working with all these men, so I have to prove myself that I can do the job as well as they can, and I think that I have. I try my best every day. And yet I still try to think of my children. I have four of them. I tell myself I have to come home safe every day for them.
Q: Where do you sit when you're in the truck?
A: For my route, we have a three-man route. Because (of) the type of ATMs (we service), we need dual custody. So there's myself and my partner, and then we have a driver. His duty is to stay in the truck and get us to where we need to get to.
Q: Do you ever get claustrophobic in the truck?
Q: You told me earlier that the company is sending you to Maui tomorrow. Why is that?
A: We're taking on new accounts. And this is part of the process of getting them into the system and making sure that we're prepared for them.
And it's more training for me. I learn more and more every day. I had a chance, even, to go to Washington, D.C., to work. That was an experience of a lifetime. Here in Hawaii, we don't have a high crime rate. So the mindset there, just thinking about my children every day motivated me to keep going.
Q: Why were you in D.C.?
A: We had taken on some other accounts on the East Coast, and they needed some assistance, so they had taken people from all different branches of Loomis -- whoever could share some of their employees that were qualified -- and I was happy to have gone.
Q: Were there any problems?
A: No. But at certain places I experienced the metropolitan police. I was servicing an ATM and they were arresting someone right in front of me, so I was just trying to get my job done faster; I got more focused. So it taught me how to focus and concentrate.
Q: Is there any paperwork involved in what you do?
A: Oh yeah. Everything is paper trail for us because of the cash. So everything is paper.
Q: Where do you do that?
A: As I go, in the truck. As I pick up, I write, and put things away. I've gotten used to it.
Q: Has anyone ever tried to hold you up?
A: No. God forbid.
Q: Are you aware of any armored car in Hawaii ever being held up?
A: Yeah. We had a boss -- he's no longer with us -- but he was, back in the '80s.
Q: He didn't get hurt though.
Q: Well that's good news.
A: Yeah, it is, definitely. I wouldn't want to put that on anybody.
Q: Do you ever worry about your personal safety?
A: I think the first year it was scary. To this day, I still get approached by individuals on the street while I'm carrying, and they'll just ask me crazy questions, or they'll try to test me. But through the years I've gotten stronger, not only physically but also mentally, that this is my job and I gotta do what I gotta do, and maintain. And also, like I said, for my children, I have to come home every day. It's a challenging job but it's exciting, too. I enjoy coming to work. But it does get tiring, 'cause I still have to go home and play mom -- cook dinner and get the kids ready for school. Sometimes I feel like I'm playing mom when I come to work. (Laughter)
A: Yeah, because guys will be guys no matter what. I guess I'll always be a mom. I see stuff laying around and I'll say, "Come on guys, don't leave stuff lying around." It's instinct, I guess.
We're looking for females here. I've been the only female here for four years, working with all these guys. But they're adorable. They keep me going. Actually they're challenging. They like to push me. They want me to be better. It's fun.
Q: What do you like best about the job?
A: I guess being outdoors, because I'm not an office person. I don't meet a lot of people, because it's usually just me and the ATMs, but when we have accounts, I get to meet the people at those companies. And I get to do a little traveling. And the experience I've gained -- I never thought I'd get to do this kind of work in my life.