A Good Ship in a Storm
If you’ve ever met Lead Security Officer Frank Utley at Boyd Gaming’s Las Vegas corporate office, you know he’s the portrait of professionalism. Friendly, yet watchful, it’s no surprise that he was once awarded a Team Member of the Quarter award after helping a woman and her son change a tire when they were stranded in the office parking lot.
From Knucklehead to Seaman
You’d never guess that this valued team member was a self-described “knucklehead” teenager who was once shipped out of his Harlem home to family in New Jersey. After finishing high school, a family member helped him land a security job. At the time, signing up for military service was the last thing on his mind.
Nevertheless, after some cajoling from his uncle, Utley happened to be strolling down the street, passing the Navy recruiting office. After speaking to a recruiter, he went home to think about it.
“My mom needed some convincing,” Utley recalls, “but my dad told me, ‘Well, it’s about time!’”
On Halloween 1977, the wide-eyed young man took the oath of service and headed to boot camp.
Although Utley never envisioned himself as a leader, his drill sergeant quickly recognized his skills and put him in charge of marching his company around the base.
“I planned to lay low, but I tried something new and found out I was good at it.”
Turning an Injury into an Opportunity
While stationed in Mississippi, an injury dictated that his career trajectory would shift. He could be shipped to the Midwest to be trained as a postal clerk, but he chose a warmer, more appealing option to become a quartermaster in Orlando, Florida. After building an arsenal of navigation skills, he was assigned to the USS Trenton LPD out of Norfolk, Virginia, quickly distinguishing himself as a special helmsman, driving the 17,000-ton craft in and out of the port.
In April 1978, his path in security was set back on track with a stint in Georgia for military police school. Shortly thereafter, he was assigned back to a ship where he traveled to Europe, the Caribbean and Cuba.
Now a Civilian, always a Leader
When he was honorably discharged in 1981, his law enforcement experience appealed to employers looking for officers and security staff.
“I never thought I’d be in the Navy, but I am grateful for all of the challenges that came with it.”
Utley credits his service to changing his attitude about law enforcement, teaching him to embrace responsibility and developing his leadership skills.
Fast forward to 2006, Utley made the move from Maryland to Las Vegas, working on the Las Vegas Strip and later in construction security for a major casino project. Once the outdoor work was over, Utley had little interest in working within a resort. However, one day, while flipping through the local paper, an ad for Boyd Gaming caught his eye. He accepted their offer and never turned back.
Aura and Honor
His boss, Corporate Security Manager Matt Hendricks, quickly recognized Utley’s military background when they started working together seven and a half years ago.
“He still has a military aura about him,” notes Hendricks, “and it comes out in everything he does.”
Utley treats every team member with respect and courtesy, making it easy to reciprocate with a friendly hello or handshake.
Utley will start his 13th year with the company in May and looks forward to continuing to support the executive team.
“I take great pride in working personally with Mr. Boyd and the other executives,” says Utley. “I am honored to be entrusted with the duty of accompanying them to all kinds of public events.”
“He is the most dependable supervisor that has ever worked on my team,” says Hendricks. “I can ask him to do something and he gets it done and done well.”
Although Hendricks served in the Air Force, he admits the Navy did a great job with Utley.
“He’s a good ship in a storm – always cool, calm, and collected.”