Chuck Andrews – A Texas Sized Friend
You notice Chuck Andrews when he walks in the room. A looming Texan figure with a booming Texan voice, Chuck brightens board rooms with his constant conversation and laid back laugh. More than a personality, Chuck is a force to be reckoned with. After a successful career in law enforcement, Chuck struck out on his own in the security world. Among other things, Chuck now sits on the board of ASIS International and serves as an adjunct graduate professor at his alma mater, Sam Houston State University. His knowledge of the security and law enforcement industry, as well as his experience in business development and emerging technologies, make him a valuable person to know. Chuck capitalized on that value, forming a network of successful business individuals all with one thing in common- knowing Chuck.
Chuck serves as an adviser to The Cannon and is energetically invested in Houston’s growth as an innovation hub. I sat down with this larger than life man to pick his brain about Houston, his role at The Cannon, and the power of good friends.
EF: Thanks for sitting down with me Chuck. Tell me a little about your background.
CA: Wow, do we have enough time? (Laughs) I grew up in the Houston area and got involved in something called Law Enforcement Police Exploring, a division of the Boy Scouts, when I was thirteen. I spent 6 years in a patrol car from the age of thirteen to nineteen and logged 4,000 hours in the patrol car. What I really took away is that, one, I want to work where I can make a difference. In law enforcement you can make a difference on the street level, where the rubber meets the road. The second thing I learned out of that was people, problems, challenges and how to solve them. I went on to have a great law enforcement career, but along the way found out I was also an entrepreneur.
I started a company when I was a law enforcement officer, in security. Through that work I involved myself in lots of different companies working with lots of different technologies in the security and law enforcement business. I eventually retired as chief of police and went into the private sector as the Chief Technology Officer for a cyber organization with the world’s largest financial institution. From there I kept leveraging and learning, leveraging and learning. I got on the board of a few companies and eventually began to lead the security and technology world. That’s what I’m doing now with Friends of Chuck (FOC), with over 60,000 people in 100 countries around the world.
Friends of Chuck
EF: Tell me about Friends of Chuck.
CA: What we have is basically one degree of separation between all these people covering the security business industry, and even outside of that, but mainly security as it relates to technology, chief security officers, and the virtual peace (chief information security officers).
EF: What’s FOC’s best asset, their best tool? What does FOC do?
CA: The best asset, tool, and value proposition is around the relationship you have with those people. Let’s be honest- people do business with people. You can have a great widget but ultimately it’s about your credibility, your trustworthiness. Eventually that evolves into a friendship and that’s business. People do business with people they trust and they do business with people they know. This is just a way to be a part of a club where you can meet and greet people and be a part of that.
EF: So with your law enforcement and FOC background, what attracted you to The Cannon?
CA: First, what attracted me was the fact that Houston is far overdue to be the entrepreneurial hub of the world. We’re the oil and gas capitol of the world. With the things that come out of that industry alone, we need to be the entrepreneurial hub. There’s space to be a startup in terms of connectivity, network and cost in Houston. It’s the least expensive metropolitan place to live in the United States of America, but the opportunities are boundless here.
When Lawson Gow reached out to me, I immediately wanted to sit down with him. I wanted to understand what this vision looks like over the course of the next two to three years. It makes sense to me. It was a good fit for me because I’m involved in a number of incubators and the emerging technology world. I wanted involve myself and help grow and sponsor the community. I’m inspired by these startups, the entrepreneurs, and making Houston a place for people around the world to come and make an investment here by being part of The Cannon community.
EF: What do you see The Cannon bringing to the Houston business community? What developments do you see in the near future for the City of Houston?
CA: I see The Cannon bringing technologies that otherwise don’t exist that need to exist to help propel Houston to become a greater city than it already is. Let’s talk about this: our reputation is oil, gas, chemical and refinery. Let’s not forget now that the University of Houston is the most diverse institution in the entire United States. People from outside of Texas, and maybe even within Texas, might not believe that statement. We’re in the South and it turns out we’re the most diverse! We should be the capitol of the entrepreneur. But we need to give it a home, and we need to be able to water it and fertilize it. We need to create this great institution we call The Cannon to house that and let it morph and grow outside. It’s all going to start here.