Modern Tools for the Modern Investigation
NY PI Firm McCann Global has Nose for Corporate Business
Date: Sunday, June 14, 2009, 11:00pm CDT - Last Modified: Thursday, June 11, 2009, 4:14pm CDT
A husband and wife team of private investigators has formed a local company to protect corporate assets — whether they be funds, intelligence or even CEOs.
Daniel and Michelle Weiss have established McCann Global LLC, a Houston company affiliated with a New York-based private investigation firm formed by Jack McCann. A former detective with the New York Police Department, McCann started McCann Global in the 1980s to carry out a variety of work for corporate clients.
Over the last 24 years, McCann has conducted investigations for such high-profile clients as Goldman Sachs & Co., the Major League Baseball Commissioner’s Office, the Smithsonian Institute and Harry Winston Inc.
The firm — which has eight employees in New York — has also provided security services for major international events such as the 2004 Athens Olympics, 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics and 1995 Papal visit to New York.
“Our clients are basically Fortune 500 companies and law firms,” McCann says. “I stay away from rock stars.”
The Weisses, who met McCann several years ago through the security industry, will bring McCann’s brand of security and investigative operations to Houston companies and high-profile individuals.
Clients can hire the firm’s investigators — who work on a project-by-project basis — to determine whether a potential business partner is legitimate, for example. When international investigations are needed, the firm has a network of contract security operatives around the globe to check out claims of a potential partner firsthand.
Companies can also request background checks, which Daniel Weiss says might reveal information such as whether a potential hire had a history of suing former employers.
McCann Global’s services — which typically cost $125 per hour — also include tracking and recovering embezzled funds and stolen merchandise, and offering private security for property and people.
Protecting a public company’s top executive goes beyond personal security, McCann says, because if something happens to the CEO, the company’s stock price could take a hit.
McCann Global is also doing work to help corporate executives comply with Internal Revenue Service requirements involving job perks. Executives have to pay extra taxes on certain fringe benefits associated with their jobs, such as being driven by a chauffeur, installing an elaborate alarm system or flying on the company jet.
IRS compliance is one aspect that led McCann to Houston. As the world’s energy capital, many companies in the city have their own aviation departments, which require such services.
Rick Fisher, global director of security for locally-based Chicago Bridge and Iron Co., says investigation companies have plenty of opportunities in Houston because of the city’s security-sensitive industries, such as oil and gas, banking and the port.
“There is definitely a need for that in this area,” says Fisher, who has worked with both McCann and Daniel Weiss in the past.
McCann Global in Houston, which represents the firm’s first affiliated company outside of New York, is owned by the Weisses and McCann.
Local clients include vMonitor Inc. and Liquidity Partners LP.
Lee Jackson of Liquidity Partners says he recently found peace of mind concerning an upcoming business decision following an investigation conducted by McCann Global.
“I needed individual and business background checks for a business deal we’re currently looking at,” Jackson says. “It was helpful.”
PUTTING BAD GUYS IN JAIL
The Weisses were both educated at Northeastern University and worked in other parts of the country before returning to their home city of Houston in 1994.
Daniel Weiss’ first security job was at Walpole State Prison, a maximum-security prison in Massachusetts. He worked there while attending Northeastern, where he studied for a master’s degree in psychology with a focus on criminal psychology.
Weiss initially wanted to help rehabilitate inmates at Walpole, but soon realized that the repeat offenders were professional criminals who were not going to change. So he decided to catch criminals instead.
To that end, Weiss focused his efforts on loss prevention, electronic security system design and surveillance. The licensed security manager has been responsible for hundreds of security assessments, system designs and installations for Fortune 1000 companies and government agencies.
“It’s fun to get things back for people,” Weiss says. “And it’s fun to put bad guys in jail.”
Weiss combines his law enforcement experience with an entrepreneur’s knowledge of running companies.
In 1997, Weiss started Houston-based EPS Security and Life Safety Systems Inc., which he sold to Tyco International Ltd. in 2001.
In 2002, Weiss founded a company called General Cabling & Security, a Houston-based structured cabling business that performed information technology networking and security. He also owned a services company related to GCS.
Weiss transferred ownership of GCS in 2006 into a Houston-based roll-up of security companies called Infrastruct Security Inc., where he stayed on as CEO until a year ago. Although Weiss is still a shareholder in Infrastruct, he no longer has any day-to-day responsibilities with the firm.
Weiss says his entrepreneurial experiences give him an advantage over other general private investigators, who often don’t know what to look for in corporate documents.
Michelle Weiss, majority owner of the local McCann Global, became interested in the correlation between criminology, genetics and psychopathology while studying for a master’s degree in criminal justice from Northeastern University.
She also earned a master of business administration degree from Rice University, and studied graduate-level molecular biology at the University of Houston.
A licensed private investigator, Weiss utilizes her criminal, scientific and business expertise for McCann Global’s research. She’s able to uncover patterns and information by studying a variety of public documents, such as corporate Web sites, state filings, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission filings and civil documents.
“All of those things can form a picture of an individual,” she says. “I’m the type who can sit and comb databases for hours.”
Daniel Weiss says combining the qualifications of the three partners brings a unique set of services to Houston.
Says Weiss: “There is a deep desire to make our city safe.”