ORLANDO —The Electronic Security Association (ESA) named the Louisiana Life Safety and Security Association (LLSSA) as “Chapter of the Year” during the recent ESA Leadership Awards for expanding its membership in 2013 while also maintaining a high member retention rate.
The Security America Risk Retention Group-sponsored awards, held during the recent ESA Leadership Summit, honors chartered chapters and their members who have made significant contributions to the industry in the past 12 months.
LLSSA President Donald Wilkins, special system designer for Facility Automation Inc., credits the association’s board of directors and members for the win.
“Without the help of our executive director, Gwen Clavelle, our board members, and our various volunteers we would not be a thriving association,” he tells SSI. “They devote a lot of time and are the backbone of the LLSSA.”
One thing the board noticed was that between 2009 and 2012, LLSSA’s membership remained fairly stagnant, teetering between 240 to 244 member companies.
To improve this number, the association decided to focus on value awareness and participation through training initiatives through more consistent regional meetings, keeping members updated via electronic communications and LLSSA’s annual convention. During the 2013 LLSSA Annual Trade Show, the organization offered 14-sponsored continuing education unit (CEU) courses and had 835 attendees participating in the event. Additionally, the group offered 58 certification courses to members throughout the state.
Wilkins credits these modifications with helping to drive membership to 265 companies.
“We were not only able to retain our current members, but we were able to bring on new members in a challenging economy,” he says.
Wilkins notes that for an association to operate effectively, strong communication is imperative. He encourages all leaders to keep open communication with entities that enforce, regulate and impact the electronic security industry. Doing this helped LLSSA earn the “Chapter of the Year” accolade, as it worked closely with the Louisiana State Fire Marshal to not only promote ESA’s National Training School (NTS), but also stay abreast of new legislation that can impact the industry.
“We have a dedicated lobbyist who attends meetings with us regularly to keep us updated and informed on any legislative impact to our industry,” Wilkins explains. “The Louisiana State Fire Marshal’s Office regulates our industry, so we endeavor to maintain a positive working relationship with that office.”
Additionally, LLSSA also became participants in the Emergency Statewide Access Program, collaboration with the Louisiana State Police, the Louisiana Sheriff’s Association and the Louisiana Chiefs of Police Association to provide a standard process to ensure expedited reentry of critical personnel into emergency zones after events.
Another avenue to success other associations can take is making sure that not only members are educated but also consumers, as well as staying informed of the latest industry trends.
“Be an association that is informative, contributive to the industry that brings benefits to members now and in the future,” Wilkins says. “There are so many aspects to what we do – being successful financially, providing a public service to our customers, as well as staying on the forefront of the latest security technology.”
Other ESA Leadership Awards winners include:
Dan Cantrell, director of training and technical development for ADT, received the ESA/NTS Instructor of the Year for assisting in the creation, instruction and evaluation of courses.
Ashley Willis is associate editor for SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION magazine. She can be reached at (424) 261-8776.
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