War Stories From the Front Line and Home Front

12 May 2024
  • Electra Security
  • emergency mode
  • High-Security Facilities
  • Maintenance Division

Harsh scenes in the south, work in dangerous areas, rapid transition to an emergency mode – all alongside demanding reserve duty. We sat down to talk to Daniel Milo, CEO of Electra FM, about management during a war and the dedicated teams that worked around the clock to help Israel’s security forces get back on their feet.

“I woke up at 8:00 a.m. on October 7 from my news app notifications because there were no rocket attack where I was. After catching up with the news and Electra’s internal networks, I realized a major disaster had occurred,” recounts Daniel Milo, CEO of Electra FM and former commander (brigadier general) of the Air Defense Command of the Israeli Air Force. With 27 years of reserve duty under his belt, it didn’t take Daniel long to realize the gravity of the situation.

“One of my first conclusions was how essential it was to relate quickly and sensitively to our customers and employees, since it was clear to me that these events had extraordinarily powerful implications,” he says. “I had to face my toughest management decisions since joining the company under difficult, uncertain circumstances.”

Electra FM’s operations in the south immediately felt the shockwaves. Hundreds of workers and customers, some very close to Gaza, were in areas hit by missile barrages. There was an immediate need to get to and repair critical sites, including hospitals and security facilities that FM maintains. Some of the sites were damaged to such an extent that they had no electricity, generators, air conditioning or even water.

Daniel decided to initiate, not just react. He convened a board meeting on Saturday morning with one of the goals being to create a rapid change of consciousness – from a holiday mindset (October 7 was the last day of the Jewish New Year holiday period) to a state of war mindset. “I wanted people to go into a ‘do mode’,” he says. “I asked everyone to gather information to create an updated situation picture so we could understand the extent of the impact on both our company and our customers.”

They also had to decide very quickly whether and when to approve the dispatching of teams to dangerous areas. “As a civilian body that serves the Ministry of Defense, we have a very heavy responsibility,” Daniel says. “Many infrastructures had been destroyed, and we had to respond in areas where terrorists were on the run for an entire week. Escorted by armored vehicles, our employees operated only after dark with night vision goggles.” As a sign of support and in an effort to strengthen the employees’ sense of security, senior managers accompanied them on service calls in the field. “Every technician who had to cross a police checkpoint into a combat zone received my personal approval after I had ensured that they were adequately protected and that their mission was feasible,” he continues. “Based on a survey we conducted, we discovered we had received over a thousand service calls while under fire. Our workers behaved nobly. The Maintenance Division, in fact, was under confinement via a state order. It was like reserve duty, since we provide an essential service.”

Daniel’s military experience was evident from the very beginning. Under his guidance, Electra FM established a war room that handled all employee and customer issues. He helped develop guidelines on how to communicate with the war room, and distributed cellphones from a second network in the event that existing phones were disconnected from their network. “I also appointed a second-in-charge for everyone so that we would always be available,” he says.

Alongside all this, Milo volunteered to serve under the air force’s current commander of the air defense system. In effect, he managed Electra FM while serving 104 days in the reserves. “I and other senior managers who had been mobilized created a work routine during our reserve duty to meet the tight deadlines that couldn’t be ignored; we still had to finalize work plans for the new year and close out the current year,” he says. “I spent most of that time in an IDF uniform, including at several company meetings. When employees saw me in my civvies, they were surprised. Employees who were not mobilized into the reserves took on twice as much as their normal volume of work, which was very inspiring,” Daniel says.

“We attended all the funerals”

The events of October 7 did not spare Electra FM personnel. On that Black Saturday, Avraham Hatuel, an air conditioning technician from the Maintenance Division, and Israel Chana, a member of Electra Security’s bank patrol unit, were killed in encounters with terrorists in Ofakim, while protecting their families. Fifteen other workers lost a first-degree relative, and in some cases, more than one family member. “We attended every funeral as part of our effort to support the families,” Daniel says.

Shortly after the Hamas attack, Electra FM brought in a clinical social worker who, together with the HR team, accompanied the bereaved families. “She gave us a lot of practical and helpful knowledge,” Daniel says. The social worker trained the company’s HR department and conducted training sessions for managers. “Some of the workers had no one to turn to for help. We offered them treatment and monitoring out of an understanding of the difficulties they were experiencing,” he says.

Besides Electra FM’s Maintenance Division, Electra Security had to deal with an entirely new situation. “About 50 percent of the company’s security guards were mobilized into the reserves alongside managers and key personnel,” Daniel says. “We had to reinvent ourselves to provide emergency solutions and protect our customers. For example, the Ashkelon Municipality was hit by a barrage of missiles. The retail chains in the area were greatly concerned with terrorist activity, and we conducted daily situation assessments to cope with the changing demands of customers.”

Alongside the deterioration of the security situation, customer activity, working hours, and task load changed. “When a defense factory switches to a 24/7 schedule, there are suddenly twice as many people entering the building,” Daniel explains. “We had to offer a solution while dealing with our own human capital shortage.”

During the first months of fighting, some customers shut down their operations, enabling the company to redirect employees to urgent tasks such as repairing gates near the Gaza Strip area for the Ministry of Defense. In another instance, the Ashkelon Municipality used Electra Security employees to identify rocket hits within the city. “Our people were running around with chest cameras, transmitting accurate information to the mayor’s war room. We created new value for customers under a challenging reality.”

Starting From the Basics

Reim Base, which served as the headquarters of the IDF’s Gaza Division, was one of the first strongholds to be breached and destroyed on the morning of October 7. “The base was subjected to a harsh and cruel attack by the terrorists,” Daniel says. “They deliberately caused a huge amount of damage to the base’s infrastructure and systems. They knew exactly which chillers, generators and electrical panels to destroy to disable the base.”

Electra FM’s Maintenance Division was enlisted to carry out most of the repair work and restore the base, which is adjacent to the Gaza Strip perimeter fence. The work had to be carried out as quickly as possible, during a time when the area had yet to be fully cleared and amid concern over the presence of terrorists. Employees arrived at the scene in armored IDF vehicles and carried out their tasks shoulder to shoulder with soldiers.

“We are the defense establishment’s largest maintenance contractor and enjoy great trust and communication with it,” Daniel says. “It knew we were up to the task.” The first group of Electra FM employees called up to the Reim Base had to deal with horrendous scenes of death and destruction. “One of the technicians reported that he didn’t have access to the generator because there was a dead body lying next to it. It was emotionally difficult, but those were the conditions under which they were working.”

According to the terms of its tender with Ministry of Defense, Electra FM is responsible for the base’s systems and construction. But when it came to its reconstruction, the company took on additional tasks by fully mobilizing employees. “At first we jumped into action, didn’t ask questions, and did what was necessary,” Daniel says. Electra FM also was charged with operating the government’s headquarters for the 240-plus Israeli hostages. The company provided administrative and cleaning services and even secured the building for a while. “Our hearts go out to the families,” Daniel says. “Although our hands were full and many of our employees had been mobilized into the reserves, we found avenues to contribute and assist as much as possible.”

“I’m most proud of our response time,” Daniel concludes. “We fully functioned from the moment the events broke out. All our clients in Israel continued to operate with no disruption. I’m also very pleased we took care of the safety and well-being of our people, while successfully meeting our 2023 plans. I always trusted my managers, employees and field personnel. I admire their contributions, their efforts, and their volunteering. But I’m not surprised. I know what Electra FM is capable of.”

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