More than 150 members of the California Alarm Association (CAA) — the largest state alarm association in the nation — assembled in Palm Springs May 1-3 for their annual summer convention.
Hailing from 10 regional CAA chapters, alarm company operators were joined by product suppliers and other service providers at the Hilton Palm Springs resort for three days of networking, a general assembly, educational sessions and poolside leisure. Among the vendors taking part in the products and services exhibition: ADI, Bosch, Criticom Monitoring Services (CMS), Dedicated Micros, Emergency24, Fire-Lite, GE Security, Honeywell Security Group, to name just a few.
The general assembly provides the association the opportunity to update its membership on legislative matters affecting the industry, plus statewide and national programs and efforts pursued on their behalf. CAA President Jon Sargent began the general session on May 2 calling for a moment of silence in honor of beloved alarm industry friend Judy Eisenstadt, who passed away recently. Judy was the wife of Harvey Eisenstadt, who serves as the CAA convention chair.
Palm Springs Police Chief David Dominguez later welcomed the CAA to the desert resort town and praised the membership for its diligence in fostering partnership between the alarm industry and law enforcement. As a result of greater-than-ever policing demands, police agencies cannot expect to single-handedly secure their communities, Dominguez explained, emphasizing how vital collaborative efforts are to the well-being of all communities.
“We can’t do it alone,” Dominguez said. “Your help is very important.”
The CAA Board of Directors soon got down to official business. Les Gold, a partner in the law firm Mitchell, Silberberg & Knupp (MSK) and legal council to CAA, returned to Chief Dominguez’s reference to partnership during his legal report. Gold updated the assembly on the legal quagmire in Fontana, where the police department unilaterally adopted verified response in 2007 without consulting the alarm industry. The Inland Empire Alarm Association soon after filed suit in San Bernardino Superior Court seeking a writ that would prohibit the department from instituting the policy, which was adopted without a review by the city council or residents.
“The police department acted improperly,” Gold claimed, saying the department should have sought the expertise and input of the alarm industry on how best to reduce false dispatches. The lawsuit is expected to go to trial soon, he said.
A legislative report was then given by Art Webster of Arthur Webster & Associates, who spotlighted a state senate bill currently wending through the legislature that CAA members need to be aware of. SB 1362, which is expected to be approved, would amend sections of the labor code concerning electrician certification. The existing law requires persons performing work as electricians for specified contractors be certified. The bill would mandate that a person who performs work as an electrician without proper certification would be subject to fines. A contractor that employs an electrician without proper certification would also be subject to penalties.
“It is very important to read and understand the bill, especially if you are doing fire/life-safety installations,” Webster said.
Tony Smith of Security Finance Associates took to the dais to explain the importance of keeping CAA’s Political Action Committee (PAC), which helps pay for lobbying activities in Sacramento, well funded. Smith put out a call for PAC contributions, prompting Gold’s law firm to donate its four Los Angeles Dodgers season ticket seats to an upcoming game. Smith then commenced an impromptu auction, which netted $1,250 from the winning bid by Rick Gombar of Rick Gombar Insurance Services.
Each year during the general session winners of two awards sponsored by CAA are announced. Tim Sproul of Total Monitoring Services (TMS) received the 2008 Mark Schubert Memorial Award, honoring his support for association programs and activities. The CAA Youth Scholarship Award was provided to Cole Hunter, a student at Moorpark High School. The $2,500 scholarship is provided to a child whose parent works in law enforcement or fire service, honoring community service and scholastic achievement. Cole’s father, Patrick Hunter, is a lieutenant with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.
Education is always a key component of the summer convention, and it is what helped influence David Strutt, president of Arrowhead Alarms & Patrol in Lake Arrowhead, to attend his first CAA convention. Of particular interest to Strutt was the “IP Inside and Out” session, presented by Steve Eisenstadt (Professional Sales Representatives), Marek Robinson (Honeywell Security Group) and Chris Garner (Optelecom-NFK).
“The technology changes in the last couple of years are more significant than maybe in the last 30,” Strutt said. “In this industry you have to keep educating yourself; playing catch-up is hard to do.”
CAA tapped the deep well of expertise in Harvey Eisenstadt for the keynote presentation, “Selling Is a Science.” The industry veteran provided a lively seminar that touched on the fundamentals for successful salesmanship — much of which is often overlooked or taken for granted, he said.
For instance, Eisenstadt told the audience among the many ways to generate leads, networking is the best — and most often neglected — method of attracting new clientele.
“We don’t as an industry put enough emphasis on networking,” he said. “You need to spend more time on getting the value out of networking and the opportunities that are available to you.”
Official business and education aside, when the sun began to set on Day 2 proceedings, food and entertainment assumed center stage. CAA makes good use of the resort’s poolside grounds, setting up an elaborate buffet dinner under the desert stars. This year’s live entertainment was provided by a pair of solo acoustic guitarists; Tom O’Connor, a government relations representative for the Security Industry Association (SIA), and Glen Guldbeck of CMS.
As is customary, Alan Pepper, a partner with MSK, moderated the convention’s “Industry Incorrect” breakfast, which closes out the event. Attendees got to hear CAA President Jon Sargent, and board directors Mark Sepulveda and Rod Uffindell, describe what their association involvement has meant to them personally and professionally.
Pepper used the personal accounts of his associates to segue into an appeal to other CAA members to assume greater responsibility in the association’s endeavors. In speaking to members that haven’t joined an association committee, Pepper said while time constraints keep many from participating, they’re involvement nevertheless is vital to the well-being of CAA.
“You get to influence where the industry goes,” he said. “You have more to give than you’ve given. Be more active instead of just a dues-paying member.”