ESX Gains, Loses Momentum

Fresh back from my first trip to Baltimore as an exhibitor and attendee of last week’s Electronic Security Expo (ESX). In its second year, this National Burglar & Fire Alarm (NBFAA) and Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA) produced event enjoyed good news and bad news.

The exhibit, which had been so absent of attendees last year (in Nashville, Tenn.) as to allow vendors to become intimate acquaintances, was up 30 percent according to ESX Chair George De Marco. However, attendance for many of the educational seminars, which was the real bright spot in ESX’s inaugural 2008 incarnation, was down significantly. Some sessions were not even held due to zero attendees. De Marco told me this was a result of the economy and companies cutting back on sending their people to get additional training.

Although I did not get to attend any seminars it was clearly apparent to me that there were more exhibitors, larger booths and more folks in the aisles this go-round. The scheduling was also more conducive this time to get the attendees into the aisles. That said, the traffic was still very light overall and exhibitors’ satisfaction was largely dependent on their mindset going in and on the type of products or services they were offering.

The most content vendors were some of the larger and more established manufacturers that were there as a show of support to the trade associations rather than to obtain sales leads, and also those exhibitors with recurring revenue-focused products or services that did get a decent number of sales leads. All of those companies I spoke with said they would return to ESX. However, the vendors that were somewhat dismayed were smaller operators and/or those peddling access control, video and integrated solutions. Many of them vowed not to return. In addition to the traffic being light, the overhelming majority of attendees were from among the combined 3,500 or so NBFAA/CSAA members, and for the most part East Coast-based.

As with last year, ESX proved once again to be an outstanding networking opportunity in which many of the industry’s top executives, company owners and managers were able to interface in a relaxed atmosphere and enjoy several mixers and other social activities. The keynote was once again provided by someone (GE CSO Francis X. Taylor) offering generalities and little for installing security dealers/integrators to really sink their teeth into. Vector Security President John Murphy asked what the next “black swan” (unforseen security risk, e.g. Hurricane Katrina) would be and Taylor had no answer.

It was announced that next year’s ESX will take place in Pittsburgh the week of June 14.

As always, thanks for reading,

Scott Goldfine



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