Introducing the SSI Industry Hall of Fame Class of 2020

For security pros there’s no greater recognition than earning passage into the SSI Industry Hall of Fame. Here are 2020’s inductees.

Introducing the SSI Industry Hall of Fame Class of 2020

Merlin Guilbeau | Executive Director and CEO, Electronic Security Association (ESA)


  • Born 1963 in Lafayette, La.
  • One of three siblings, father and mother operated a custom mill-work company
  • Married to wife Robbie, with no children
  • Majored in marketing at the University of Southwestern Louisiana
  • Served 13 years in Army National Guard, E-7, sergeant first class, veteran of Operation Desert Shield/Storm
  • Earned nonprofit management citation from Institute of Organization Management
  • Former recipient of NBFAA President’s Award and several military honors
  • If career had taken different path may have remained in the military
  • Travel historical, winery or beach destinations

Why He’s on the List

  • More than three decades of dedicated security industry service as an associate, entrepreneur and running the largest volunteer organization
  • Spent six years in sales and operations management with Eagle Electronic Security of Harvey, La., before founding Lafayette-based Alarm Detection in 1992
  • Early on, he got involved with industry associations at the local, state and national levels, serving as secretary, vice president and two-time president of the Louisiana Life Safety and Security Association, as well as joining the Electronic Security Association (ESA, then NBFAA) Board of Directors in 1996 and in 2000 being elected vice president of the Executive Committee
  • In 2002, transitioned from company owner and volunteer leader to association executive, becoming ESA’s CEO
  • In that role, took an organization struggling to make ends meet and keep afloat to one on strong financial footing
  • 18+ years managing volunteers, providing ESA’s strategic direction and helping solidify its role as the industry’s voice
  • Also serves on the UL Security Council and boards of several industry organizations

Keys to Success

“It starts with my faith in Jesus Christ, without whom nothing is possible. Then there’s my wife, Robbie, who has supported me every step of the way, and my father and mother for showing me the value of hard work. Also important have been past ESA presidents and members of executive committees who mentored me over the years, as well as the professional staff, past and present. Without their hard work and commitment, success would be aloof.

“People volunteer with ESA hoping to make a difference. Working with so many different personalities can be challenging. We overcome the challenge by finding common ground, so volunteers have an opportunity to make a difference without altering the organization’s strategic direction.”

Elevating All Through ESA

“I originally sought to become ESA’s executive director because it was an opportunity to work with incredible leaders from across the country to make a make a difference in an industry we love. A good example of a program that has directly impacted integrators’ bottom line positively is Security America. ESA does not receive the credit it deserves for funding the development of this insurance program. Over the years, this program has saved companies millions of dollars in premiums. In fact, in 2019 members of ESA saved over $500,000.

“I have had the privilege of learning from hundreds of past presidents and executive committee members who unselfishly gave their time and financial resources. Also on that list are individuals from industry manufacturers and suppliers willing to lend their support, as well as industry consultants. These people started out as mentors and turned into lifelong friends.”

Lifetime of Lessons Learned

“I learned how to receive constructive feedback and not take it personally. Serving with a new president every two years means receiving feedback to a varying degree. I learned how to network. As an association our world is filled with networking opportunities. However, networking doesn’t have to be at an event. Any conversation with someone you may not know could be the one that results in positive change. I learned how to be consistent. Some days it’s harder than others, but consistently pushing yourself every day to achieve a desired result is key to success.

“I learned the history of why. When I first started most of the volunteers, I interacted with had been with the association much longer than I had. They were able to share the history of why things happen or didn’t happen in the organization. I learned to pay it forward. When you pay it forward, you’re usually changing someone else’s circumstances for the better. Ultimately, the person paying it forward grows as much as the person receiving the act of kindness.”

Continue to the next page for a profile of Jeff Kessler…

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About the Author


Scott Goldfine is Editor-in-Chief and Associate Publisher of Security Sales & Integration. Well-versed in the technical and business aspects of electronic security (video surveillance, access control, systems integration, intrusion detection, fire/life safety), Goldfine is nationally recognized as an industry expert and speaker. Goldfine is involved in several security events and organizations, including the Electronic Security Association (ESA), Security Industry Association (SIA), Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC), False Alarm Reduction Association (FARA), ASIS Int'l and more. Goldfine also serves on several boards, including the SIA Marketing Committee, CSAA Marketing and Communications Committee, PSA Cybersecurity Advisory Council and Robolliance. He is a certified alarm technician, former cable-TV tech, audio company entrepreneur, and lifelong electronics and computers enthusiast. Goldfine joined Security Sales & Integration in 1998.

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