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Creative Security Measures Taking Place on South Side

Taijuan Moorman Taijuan Moorman Creative Security Measures Taking Place on South SideBikes for All People on Parsons Avenue features security work by another business on the South Side, Iron Fortress Security. All photos by Taijuan Moorman.
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Columbus businessman Tom Roesch lives, works and employs on the South Side.

Roesch previously had a career in real estate, rehabbing and flipping houses in Olde Town East during the 1970s and ’80s. After the recession in 2008, Roesch says he “had to totally reinvent” himself. When he entered the security business, his initial idea was to build air conditioner cages for landlords and businesses, who often had their units stolen right out of their windows.

“Every project I had was vandalized, robbed, burglarized — every one of them,” he says. “So I thought, ‘Wow, what a neat thing.’”

At Iron Fortress Security, on 2000 Parsons Ave., Roesch continued to work on security projects for businesses, especially on the South Side. His work often includes unique designs: For Shade’s Restaurant on South High Street, his company created security bars for its doors and windows with a design resembling a sunrise. For the Hotel St. Clair Apartments, he built Venetian Gothic-style fencing and gates to surround the student housing.

Shade’s Restaurant on South High Street.

Some of his most recent designs have been projects for the United Methodist Church for All People and the church’s community bicycle shop, Bikes for All People. Church for All People’s Executive Director Reverend John Edgar approached Roesch for security measures to help deter break-ins.

Roesch was against building another intimidating set of security bars.

“When I went back to them, I said, ‘Do we want another building that’s going to look like a jail? That’s going to scare everybody? We can still create the same effect, but we could do something a little more creative.’” he says. “I lobbied and lobbied to the point that I probably almost came close to losing the job.”

Ultimately Church for All People rejected the upgrade because of the added cost. So instead, Roesch decided to donate the upgrade and pay for a more elaborative design out of pocket.

He says the church was impressed with the final result.

“They were ecstatic, they couldn’t believe it,” he says. “If you look at it real close, it’s sort of cool. And nobody’s getting in there.”

Roesch cannot afford to donate upgrades for every job, which he says is unfortunate. Just a block from his office, a business’s front windows were shattered from a break in and are now boarded up with plywood. Businesses in the same situation often don’t want to bar their windows and doors because of the negative visual it could give, but with the necessary resources that doesn’t have to be the case.

“I can’t imagine the hardship that is creating for them. People need help. But they can’t afford to have that real fancy stuff done,” he says. “So I have a couple of ideas on, you know, maybe to help some of these vendors out a little bit.”

Roesch has lived on the South Side the majority of his life. He has real pride in the people and businesses on this side of town, which is why he’s so adamant about the image it sends.

Roesch says projects like the work done at Shade’s are only the tip of the iceberg to what his company could be doing, but it’s the best he could do for a limited budget. He is starting a 501c3 nonprofit, called The Angels from Parsons Avenue, to fund more of these projects on the South Side.

“I’ve always lived here in the neighborhood. I live here, I live on Studer raising my kids. I put my business on Parsons Avenue, and I hire out of these ZIP codes.” he says. “I’m real partial to the area and have always been committed to development. It’s exactly what I’ve done all my life.”

Update: As of May 28, 2019, This article has been updated to include information on Tom Roesch’s newly formed nonprofit organization, The Angels from Parsons Avenue.

For more information on Iron Fortress Security, visit ironfortresssecurity.com.

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