Louis Perry came to Hollywood to be an actor. That didn't work out, so he began work as a security guard, first at Robinson's in Sherman Oaks then as a so-called lobby director in some of L.A.'s biggest buildings. Years ticked by.

Eventually, he became something like a character actor: the guy who was seen and recognized by many but whose name was known by few.

A big break came when he was put in charge of managing security for an Al Gore speech during the former vice president's 2001 visit to Los Angeles.

The assignment raised Perry's profile, and then Washington began calling him when high-ranking federal officials came to town.

His former clients include President Bush, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and members of the royal family of Saudi Arabia. He always tries to stay in touch.

"It's important to establish a relationship and nurture that relationship over the years," he said.

Perry has parlayed all the connections he made in his 27 years in the world of Los Angeles building security into a new company, Kadima Security Services, which he launched earlier this year. Perry is co-partner and executive vice president.

"I am connected to people from high-level officials to janitors," Perry said. "I love everybody. It's amazing that if you treat everybody equal, work hard and keep your work, things do work out."

The company, with 80 employees, handles a range of security matters, from personal protection for government officials and celebrities to contracts for guards at high-rise buildings and shopping centers. Kadima also organizes crime prevention seminars.

Raymond Yashouafar, vice president of operations at Millbank Real Estate Services in downtown L.A., says Perry's track record helps him stand out in his sector.

"Security is extremely important in Los Angeles, especially downtown's high-profile buildings," Yashouafar said.

Perry never learned the secret to landing starring roles, but he has learned the secret to security work: It is all about keeping your eyes open.

"Fifteen percent of the security work is actually doing the physical work, stopping someone and investigating," he said. "Eighty-five percent is based on observing, reporting and seeing what's coming your way."

Yoo Mi Chin -- Contributing Reporter

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