IRVING, Texas — After building its membership and working on alarm ordinances throughout the state, the Arizona Alarm Association (AzAA) took home the sought-after “Chapter of the Year” honor at the recent Electronic Security Association (ESA) Leadership Summit.
For AzAA President Maria Malice, who is also vice president of special projects at Scottsdale, Ariz.-based C.O.P.S. Monitoring, the win was completely unexpected.
“Apparently, some of my members sent in for us to be chapter of the year,” she tells SSI. “When I found out we won, I was very surprised, as well as honored.”
Despite earning the coveted title in 2010, AzAA had much to improve on this go-round. For example, membership had dropped off quite significantly, as the association only had 20 members. Additionally, meetings were not conducted on a regular basis — they were practically nonexistent, Malice says.
To encourage more companies to join, Malice planned monthly lunch-hour meetings, as opposed to the evenings, so more people could attend. In addition, once every quarter, AzAA will hold its meetings in Tucson, Ariz., to reach more companies. Now, the association has 44 regular member companies and 10 associate member companies, with plans to expand this year.
“To attract new members, we’re really focusing on what we’re offering them at the meetings,” Malice says. “For example, what type of speaker is coming in? Is it someone who is going to help these companies improve their businesses?”
AzAA also made significant changes to its annual convention to reach more people in the industry. Previously, the convention only focused on fostering a relationship with police departments and only had as many as 25 people in attendance. Now, the convention is two days and offers three tracks for alarm company owners, technicians and law enforcement.
“Now we have more than 100 people in attendance,” Malice says. “Our goal is to take our convention to the next level by making it more of an event - a place to be. We’re trying to go to a hotel and resort so we can make it better.”
Another goal AzAA has set out to accomplish is the passing on a single statewide licensing bill, which would reverse the current policy that requires alarm companies to be licensed in individual cities. The chapter has worked on this measure for 11 years to create a two-year statewide certification for all alarm companies and their technicians. However, the bill has yet to pass, Malice says.
“We’re still working on it, and we’ve really amped up our political presence,” she says. “If for some reason the statewide licensing doesn’t go through, we’re going to work more with cities on reciprocity. Right now, 22 cities require licenses and only five of them have reciprocity.”
In addition to working on statewide licensing, the chapter has diligently worked on alarm ordinances throughout the state, including those in Avondale, Mesa, Prescott and Tucson. Although some of the cities don’t have any AzAA member companies, Malice says the association will always make its presence known.
“When Prescott had an ordinance come up, we didn’t have one member company there, but we went there anyway,” she explains. “The city council was trying to move to verified response, but we got it changed. It doesn’t matter if we have a member company there or not; if it’s in our state, we’re taking action.”
It helps that AzAA has developed a strong relationship with public safety officials. Each month, the chapter’s public safety committee meets with police departments and their alarm coordinators. Additionally, law enforcement is invited to every meeting, where they get to know the different companies and faces in the alarm industry.
During each meeting, Malice makes it her goal to help police department officials widen out and sit with member of the security industry.
“It’s not us against them — we’re a team. We want them to know the members because you work better if you know the person face to face,” she says. “Then, when they’re ready to do an ordinance, they are going to call me and ask for help instead of me finding out about it because it’s posted on the city council Web site.”
Of course, Malice realizes that the success of the chapter really lies in the hands of its members.
“It isn’t one person that makes an association click,” Malice says. “The leader needs the support of the board, and the board needs to have somebody steering the ship.”