Former CAA President, SSI Contributor R.A. “Tony” Smith Dies After Brief Illness

Smith became active in the CAA when he was asked to fill a vacancy as treasurer of the CAA by president Pam Alva in 1994. 

TUJUNGA, Calif. — Former California Alarm Association (CAA) president R. Anthony “Tony” Smith died April 18, 2024, after a brief illness at age 85.

A native of Los Angeles, Smith attended St. Francis High School in La Canada-Flintridge, Calif., and received a degree in finance and accounting at the University of Arizona. He also enrolled in graduate studies at the University of Southern California and attended the Citizen’s Academy offered by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

After nearly 15 years in the cable industry, he came to the security industry in 1979 as co-founder of the Security Channel, a company designed to enable cable television companies to meet their franchise requirements to offer security services, over cable, to their customers within the franchise area.

At its peak, the company had contracts with more than a dozen cable companies to provide such services in various areas nationwide.

In 1981, Smith partnered with Fred Dunner and Bob Jennison in VCB Security, a residential and small commercial security company located in Pasadena, Calif.  He founded Security Finance Associates in 1987 to offer merger, acquisition, and consulting services to small to medium-sized security companies.

Smith also developed expertise in creating capital through dealer programs by creating the first program with The Alert Centre. His association with Protection One, Protection Service Industries, Checkmate Security, and Secure America followed this. He started his own dealer program in 2006 based on consumer leasing, a new concept to the industry at that time.

The Los Angeles Business Journal named him one of the Top 100 Fastest Growing Businesses for 1999-2000.

More About Tony Smith and the CAA

Smith became active in the CAA when he was asked to fill a vacancy as treasurer of the CAA by president Pam Alva in 1994.  He served in that capacity under president Frank Burke and became southern vice president during the presidency of George Gunning.

He was elected president of CAA for 1999-2000 and served on the board as past president. During his term as President, Tony inaugurated the Western States Security Alliance to enable industry leaders from across the West to discuss their common problems and issues and expanded the distribution of THE MIRROR.

In an attempt to diversify and dramatically increase fundraising for industry challenges like the Riverside, Livermore, and Fontana issues, he started the CAA Tribute Award Dinner, where the George A. Weinstock Award is presented. The annual fundraising event has raised more than $900,000 to support the CAA’s programs.

While president of the CAA, Smith served as the state representative to the board of the Electronic Security Association. At that time, he served as chairman and a member of the ESA’s Public Relations and Membership Committees.

He was also appointed to their investment committee and received the 2003 Sara Jackson Award, the national organization’s second-highest award, in recognition of his work on the committees.

Smith chaired the CAA Communications Committee, which guided the growth and effectiveness of THE MIRROR and provided more than $370,000 to support CAA programs. He was an active member of the CAA Convention Committee and contributed to the growth of the two annual conventions as key events in the industry in California and nationwide.

What the Security Industry Says About Tony Smith

Smith was a member of the Southern California Board of Junior Achievement, where he served as vice chairman and held various other executive committee positions.

He was active with The Maestros, a Pasadena-based jazz club dedicated to the survival and appreciation of traditional jazz music. He has been a member since 1980 and served as president in 2000.

He was also an occasional contributor to SSI, including as part of its 2013 industry forecast. In response to CAA communications coordinator David Morgan’s LinkedIn post about Smith’s death, fellow SSI contributor Kirk MacDowell described Smith as “an icon in the industry and instrumental in establishing the greater Los Angeles security alarm association after the break up of the LABFAA in the early days.

“He worked tirelessly on behalf of his clients and the industry to bring clarity on the recurring monthly revenue model, and the valuation of same,” wrote MacDowell. “He was a friend, mentor and all encompassing nice man. I will miss him. God bless him, Susan and family.”

Also on Morgan’s LinkedIn post, Thomasson Marketing Group president Jordan Thomasson called Smith “a true gentleman and icon in our industry.”

Elite Interactive Solutions marketing director Scott Goldfine wrote that Smith “freely offered guidance, mentorship and friendship to me from Day 1. He epitomized class and character. I will miss and never forget him, and remain eternally grateful” for his guidance when he started covering the security industry in 1998.

Smith is survived by his wife Susie, son Michael, daughter-in-law Ruth, and their children Tayeden and Xavier, all of Los Angeles.

A celebration of R. Anthony “Tony” Smith’s life will be held in the near future. Condolences may be sent to Susie Smith, 11143 Provence Lane, Tujunga, CA 91042-1263

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Craig MacCormack is a veteran journalist who joined Security Sales & Integration in June 2023 as digital editor. He covered AV, IT and security with SSI's sister publication, Commercial Integrator, from January 2011 to June 2021.

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2 Responses to “Former CAA President, SSI Contributor R.A. “Tony” Smith Dies After Brief Illness”

  1. Robert Slim says:

    Tony Smith’s legacy as a dedicated leader and contributor will be remembered fondly. My heartfelt condolences to his family and colleagues during this difficult time.

  2. MERRY says:

    Tony Smith’s legacy in the CAA and SSI community will forever inspire. Rest in peace, your contributions will be dearly missed.

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