NASHVILLE, Tenn. — 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 & 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.