By Sue Pascoe
Scott Wagenseller, a Palisades High School alum who owns two businesses in town, received the Bob Sage Business Person of the Year Award from the Palisades Rotary Club at its breakfast meeting on Jan. 5 at the Aldersgate Lodge.
In determining the annual recipient, Rotary members base their selection on Rotary’s 4-Way Test: “Of the things we think, say or do: 1. Is it the Truth? 2. Is it Fair to all concerned? 3. Will it build Goodwill and Better Friendships? 4. Will it be Beneficial to all concerned?’
Wagenseller is the founder/CEO of Gates Security/Palisades Patrol, and founder and publisher of the Palisades News, which is mailed free to every household in Pacific Palisades and parts of Brentwood.
Club president Holly Davis, a realtor with Coldwell Banker, revealed that after an initial tie vote with a second candidate, Wagenseller had emerged as the clear winner.
“It was all you, Scotty,” quipped member John Wilson, who was the Assistant Scoutmaster at Troop 223 when Wagenseller was an Eagle Scout.
Wagenseller was introduced by Palisades News adviser Bill Bruns, who received the Rotary award in 2008 when he was managing editor of the Palisadian-Post.
“I remember when Scott started Palisades Patrol, with one or two patrol cars, and we did a story about his new business,” Bruns said. “Now [under the umbrella of Gates Security] he provides service to Brentwood, Palisades, Malibu and Thousand Oaks, with offices in the Palisades and Thousand Oaks.”
Bruns also noted that Wagenseller’s News team has produced the official Fourth of July parade program the past three years and he has donated all the net advertising proceeds to Palisades Americanism Parade Association, amounting to about $30,000.
“Scott has built two important businesses in this town and deserves rotary’s award,” Bruns said, as he welcomed Wagenseller to the podium.
“When I was a scout and coming back from a Disaster Preparedness Night,” Wagenseller recalled, “my father told me that I would be successful, if I had a passion for whatever I did in life—and not to worry about the money.”
He said his “entrepreneurial spirit” began in the sixth grade when his family lived in horsey Sullivan Canyon. “I built and repaired horse corrals and hired my friends to work with me.”
During his Palisades High School years, another neighbor hired Wagenseller and his crew him to help clean up and repair apartments when people moved out. That morphed into construction cleanup at high-rises in Century City on weekends. “This helped later when I got into real estate,” he said.
After graduating from USC in 1994 and working for several years, Wagenseller took classes towards a master’s degree in business at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. While there he developed two business plans (one for a security company, one for a restaurant), but didn’t immediately pursue either one.
Instead, he worked in real estate until he realized, “This is not my passion. Life is moving on—I want to be a business owner.”
In 2000, Wagenseller launched Gates Security (named after Bob Gates, Bill Gates, Darryl Gates—and the symbolism of a gate), which he marketed locally as Palisades Patrol.
That same year, the 30-year-old decided to join the Navy Reserve. “My dad was in the Navy, my brother was in the Navy, I thought it would be interesting and a way to get worldwide experience,” Wagenseller said. The recruiters made him a Master of Arms. At that time there were only 700 in the Navy. Then, 9/11 changed the United States and security.
“I was snowboarding in Mammoth, when the Navy called to say my recruitment papers were approved and I was to report to NAWS Point Mugu to start training,” Wagenseller said. “I was on active duty much of the time for the first three years, attending training courses with the Navy, Army, Air Force and Marines. In 2008, he was deployed to Camp Buehring in Kuwait.
When he returned, he was approved for a commission as a security officer and is currently the Commanding Officer of Navy Security Forces for Navy Magazine Indian Island, in the Kitsap area of Washington.
Meanwhile, Wagenseller became active in American Legion Post 283 and served two terms as Commander (2013-15), during which time he secured a $1 million donation from the Legion to Camp Josepho in Rustic Canyon. Currently, he is the District 24 Commander, and serves on several state and national committees, including the National Security Council.
While serving as Commander, Wagenseller launched Post 283 News as a monthly publication mailed free to every Palisades household, so that “residents could read about all the good projects the Legion was doing.”
In November 2014, when he started the Palisades News as a twice-monthly newspaper, “the real motivation probably was genetic,” Wagenseller said. “My great-grandfather Hudson was a publisher in Philadelphia in the late 1800s. He took over the business from his father, John. They established their business at 31 South Sixth Street in Philadelphia, which is located one block from Independence Hall, and the current location of the Liberty Bell and Independence National Historical Park.”
At the rotary meeting, Wagenseller was presented with a free one-year honorary membership and a $500 check that he has donated to the Boy Scouts.
Wagenseller will be recognized at the Pacific Palisades Chamber of Commerce Installation dinner on Jan. 19 at the Riviera Country Club.
He and his wife, Ashley, have four children: Hunter, Kelly, Maverick and Hayden.