An air of exhilaration, pride, camaraderie and relief permeated the Nashville Convention Center and adjacent Renaissance Hotel June 23-27. Located just across the street from the historic Ryman Auditorium — known as the “Mother Church of Country Music” — the venue bore witness to the birth of the Electronic Security Expo (ESX). More than 1,500 industry professionals flooded “Music City” to participate in the inaugural event collaboration between the Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA) and National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association (NBFAA).
Ordinarily, trade shows serve as launching pads for industry news; however, in this instance ESX itself was the biggest story. Established in the face of hostile economics and conceived as an alternative to the International Security Conference (ISC) East — an event organized by the security industry’s 900-pound gorilla Reed Exhibitions in partnership with the Security Industry Association (SIA) — ESX is the culmination of years of debate, planning and execution put into, as NBFAA and CSAA put it, creating a trade show “owned” by the industry.
By most accounts, the initial ESX was deemed a success. “It was a great first show with a good turnout and an excellent program,” Bud Wulforst, president of CSAA, told SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION. Those sentiments were echoed by NBFAA Immediate Past President George Gunning, who was one of the guiding forces behind ESX’s founding. “The industry can be proud of itself for producing a great educational and exhibit event,” he told SSI. In an official release, ESX Expo Chair George De Marco said, “The packed training sessions, standing-room-only keynote address and fully attended special events demonstrate the industry’s desire for an event with an emphasis on learning and networking.”
Indeed, with an expanded lineup of classes that ordinarily would have been offered at CSAA’s Mid-Year Meeting — now folded into ESX — the more than 50 educational sessions were mostly filled to capacity. “Having only experience with CSAA’s expo, I know how hard it is to grow even incrementally,” said Wulforst. “The number of attendees was a surprise for me.”
The keynote address was presented by former NFL Wide Receiver Cris Carter, who along with his brother John runs the Carter Brothers LLC security integration business. Whatever the ex-Philadelphia Eagles and Minnesota Vikings star’s speech lacked in substance was more than compensated for during an engaging and amusing question-and-answer segment that included a recommendation for the New England Patriots to see Carter Brothers for a covert CCTV solution. “The Carter brothers were a hoot!” said Wulforst.
Unfortunately, being that the exhibition portion of ESX was held concurrent with the aforementioned activities, some 150 vendors often found themselves talking to each other rather than the otherwise engaged attendees. Still, some, such as EMERgency24 and Digital Monitoring Products (DMP), unveiled new offerings at the show. EM24 announced it had added personal emergency response systems (PERS) to its third-party monitoring services, while DMP debuted its XT Series™ burglary/fire/door access panel, which comes enabled with network, cellular, dialer and two-way wireless communications capabilities.
The reaction of exhibitors SSI spoke with ranged from satisfied to philosophical to downright irritated. Some were pleased with the networking aspect; some expressed the importance of supporting the industry; while others felt the light floor traffic did not justify their investment. Whatever the case, tweaks are expected to the scheduling for next year’s event, which is set for June 24-26 in Baltimore. “We are also looking into making registration simpler and providing clearer program information,” said Wulforst.
Sources say 72 percent of the exhibitors plan to give the event at least one more shot, with 15 percent opting for larger exhibit space. And with a first-time loss reportedly in the neighborhood of $40,000, profitability is well within the event’s grasp. “Now that the first ESX was a success, the rest of the industry’s dealers, manufacturers, distributors, etc. need to come out of hiding to attend and participate,” said Gunning. “This is our event and it supports our industry. Its success is up to you.”
NBFAA Hands Out ‘Gifts,’ Throws 60th Birthday ‘Bash’
The National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association (NBFAA) leveraged the platform of the Electronic Security Expo (ESX) to make a number of announcements and celebrate its 60th anniversary.
Mike Miller, vice president and co-owner of Pasco, Wash.-based Moon Security Services, was sworn in as the new NBFAA president. As 38th president of NBFAA, he says his immediate goal “is to ensure that our legacy continues and that we mentor new leaders and work with our chapters to help our members prosper and grow.”
Also at ESX, NBFAA presented Scot Colby of Shreveport, La.-based Bayou Security Systems Inc. the Morris F. Weinstock Memorial Award, and Frank Burke of Monrovia, Calif.-based USA Alarm Systems Inc. the Sara E. Jackson Memorial Award.
In addition, NBFAA handed out its annual chapter and National Training School (NTS) awards:
- Newsletter of the Year — The Bellringer (Pennsylvania Burglar and Fire Alarm Association)
- Chapter Executive Director of the Year — Pat Shea Remes, Connecticut Alarm and Systems Integrators Association (CASIA)
- Chapter President of the Year — Tim Creenan, New York Burglar and Fire Alarm Association
- Chapter of the Year — CASIA
- NTS Instructor of the Year — Woody Woodham, Honeywell
- NTS State Training Coordinator of the Year — Penny Brooks, Tennessee Burglar and Fire Alarm Association
- President’s Award — James Orvis, Security Solutions Inc.
Finally, NBFAA threw a huge party, promoted as the “Big Bash,” in recognition of its 60-year legacy featuring a concert by country music star Marty Stuart.