ISC West: March 5-7, Las Vegas


ISC Las Vegas attendees get up close and personal with ADI Guy, the distributor’s mascot.

Conventional wisdom tells us it was inevitable that, in response to the events of Sept. 11 and the increased demand for security that followed, businesses not previously involved in the North American electronic security industry would attempt to enter our market. Those having a limited presence prior to Sept. 11 would increase their visibility as well.

That inevitability became reality at the International Security Conference (ISC) and Expo West, which took place March 5-7 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. There were a greater number of foreign manufacturers than ever before, most notably from Korea, China, Taiwan, Singapore and even Europe. But not to be outdone were the start-ups making their debuts at the show. Additionally, companies traditionally not associated with electronic security (like those that make concrete barrier systems or provide background checks) have also made the move into our industry.There were a whole host of exhibitors that I, in my four years in this industry, have not encountered at previous ISCs. Those included companies such as biometrics product manufacturer Sagem Morpho Inc. of Tacoma, Wash.; cable and connectivity product manufacturer PI Manufacturing of Walnut, Calif.; DVR manufacturer Fast Access America of Tyrone, Ga.; Web server and camera developer Convision Technology GmbH of Brauschweig, Germany; as well as many others. In total, there were 60 more exhibitors this year as compared to 2001. Of the 660 companies exhibiting, an unprecedented 242 were new to ISC Las Vegas. However, one nagging question remains. What happened to the 182 exhibitors who participated in 2001 but were no where to be seen this year?  Perhaps this turnover can be attributed to the sluggish economy and mergers. Whatever the reason, there appears to be a Darwinian kind of evolution going on in our industry and some old players are being replaced. We should all take note.So what does this mean for security systems contractors and integrators? Hopefully greater competition among equipment manufacturers.  Many a dealer has lamented the recent spate of mergers and acquisitions, which, by all appearances, before Sept. 11 was causing the electronic security industry to shrink. But from the looks of all the fresh faces at ISC Las Vegas, our industry may actually be expanding. Being the eternal optimist, I’m hoping this new blood will revitalize our industry with enthusiasm and innovative products.It remains to be seen, however, if these new players will have any staying power or if they’ll fall off the proverbial bandwagon in a few short months. The electronic security business is a tough niche market and success has proven illusive for some formidable companies, such as Scantronic, Axcellis, Aritech, Voyager Security Systems, Acron and Morse, who either pulled out of our industry altogether, went bankrupt or were merged out of existence. But I wish all of the newcomers the best of luck.If you missed some of the exhibitors at ISC, you weren’t alone. Walking the three football field-lengths of aisles was just plain overwhelming. But unlike previous ISCs, when the majority of action took place on the first day of the show, all three days of this year’s expo seemed to be well attended. Like before, CCTV was the subject of greatest interest for attendees as well as exhibitors (almost one third of the 660 companies exhibiting manufacture some sort of CCTV product). Most of the dealers we spoke with believe that digital CCTV presents the best opportunity for growth. There was plenty of action away from the show floor as well. Not surprisingly, the most popular seminars were those covering access control and CCTV (I was fortunate enough to attend the Designing Effective Video Storage Systems seminar given by Bob Wimmer, president of Video Security Consultants). According to ISC, each had an average of 100 attendees per session.The industry associations were also in full swing. The annual industry summit took place on March 5 and its keynote speaker was former Federal Emergency Management Administration (FEMA) director, James Lee Witt. I’m not quite sure how relevant his speech was to electronic systems contractors, but he did give an interesting, if perhaps a bit too generalized, overview of how the government and private industry can work together to protect our country. The National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association’s (NBFAA) meetings were other hotbeds of activity. Probably the biggest shock of ISC was the abrupt resignation of NBFAA Executive Director Brad Shipp. The organization was also addressing the city of Las Vegas’ new verified response policy to automatic fire alarms. On a happier note, however, was the recognition of Security Sales & Integration Eastern Sales Manager Steve Peterson, along with Cobalt Marketing’s David Price for their leadership in the NBFAA’s membership kit program.If you had the urge to let loose after eight hours of walking the exhibit aisles or attending the various meetings and seminars, the ADI party, held at New York, New York Hotel and Casino, provided attendees with plenty of food, drink and entertainment. Of course, if you wanted to pose for a photo with ADI Guy (the distributor’s mascot), you had to stop by the company’s booth on the show floor.Despite overall attendance being on par with last year’s, there was a definite buzz permeating ISC Las Vegas 2002. It was apparent that electronic security systems contractors, industry associations, as well as product manufacturers have a renewed sense of purpose.Next year’s expo is scheduled for March 26-28 and will be held at the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino.

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