PSA-TEC Remains Best of Its Breed

The PSA Security Network hosted another successful PSA-TEC event at the Pheasant Run Resort in St. Charles, Ill., last week. This has always been my very favorite industry event due to the unique combination of outstanding industry training, exhibits and relaxed networking opportunities. It was especially enjoyable this year as SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION for the first time served as the conference’s Elite Media Sponsor. Perhaps not so coincidentally despite widespread economical challenges PSA-TEC 2009 surpassed last year in both attendance and the number of companies represented. Furthermore, there was a high level of first-time attendees to a tradition with a legacy stretching back a quarter century.

There were a few new wrinkles in this year’s show, which is now open to all interested attendees and not just PSA members.

There was a keynote, and an impressive one at that—Frank Abagnale, the con man turned FBI agent whose story was portrayed in the Steven Spielberg film “Catch Me if You Can”—sponsored by Samsung Techwin. Although somewhat monotone and robotic in his delivery, Abagnale managed to captivate thanks to the incredulous nature of his life story. He detailed how, at the age of 16, he began masquerading as a Pan-Am pilot to fly for free some 250 times to more than 25 countries (only as a passenger, never actually piloting a plane), forged hundreds of thousands of dollars of checks, and also posed as a pediatrician, attorney and more before finally getting caught and doing prison time. At age 25 the FBI offered him a deal to serve the remaining seven years of his sentence working for the organization. He not only accepted, but spent the next 35 years as a federal agent and continues to do so today. Abagnale expressed regret for the transgressions of his youth and revealed how thankful he is for his wife of 33 years and three successful sons. In fact, the presentation became as heavy as a church sermon as he emphasized the importance of family and what it means to be a father. I only wished he had allowed for Q&A because a lot of what he said about cons and the FBI piqued my curiousity.

Con man turned FBI agent Frank Abagnale delivered the PSA-TEC keynote.

Other changes to the program included PSA’s annual vendor awards being done as a casual luncheon as opposed to a dressy evening affair (as it had been), and a return to individual vendor hospitality suites after having them all in one large room the past few years. Both moves were the right ones as the awards presentation had a lot more attendees than in recent years, and the early evening hospitality suites were sweet indeed. The latter feature had been one of the things I liked best about the PSA event and I am pleased to see its rebirth. The whole enterprise, including placing the day of exhibits in the middle of the event when attendance is at its peak, was by and large smooth and well thought out. Is there room for improvement? Sure, but my hat is still off to PSA.

I had lots of fascinating conversations with lots of fascinating folks at PSA-TEC. They included Tracy Little, director of national accounts for AMAG; Carl Sandulli, VP of engineering, sales and services for Security Systems of America; Bob McKee, vice president of sales, North America, for Samsung Techwin; Jim Gingo of TransTech Systems; Chuck Wilson, executive director of the National Systems Contractors Association (NSCA); David Runnells, CEO of Videotec; Brian Mathieu, vice president and general manager Mid-Atlantic for Henry Bros.; Phil Aronson, president of Aronson Security Group; Kaz Plonczynski of CASCO; Cory Troxclair of Northland Control Systems; Mike Hanlon, VP of channel sales & marketing for Viewpoint; Lester Pierre, director of business development for ASSA ABLOY Electronic Access Contronl; Richard Malstrom, fiber sales leader for GE Security; Paul Cronin, CEO of 1nservice; Darin Buckner, CEO, and Farshid Pourgolafshan, COO, of Access Limited; Robert Boswell, account manager for Will Electronics; Chris Lanier of rep firm LRG; Eric Yuang, CEO of Dakota Security Systems; Kurt Kottkamp, president of ESS; Sandy Jones, president of Sandra Jones & Co.; of course, PSA President Bill Bozeman; and so many others. I spent about an hour discussing all manner of cutting edge industry technology with VideoIQ CTO Doug Marmon.

It is such a kick for me to attend events like PSA-TEC because I get to rub elbows extensively with SSI readers. Whereas at most events, such as ISC West, my time is dominated by vendors, at PSA-TEC I am able to have meaningful dialog with systems integrators and other readers. It was enlightening to hear what was on their minds and how their businesses were doing. It was also gratifying to be the recipient of positive feedback about how much they appreciate and value SSI, and the contributions it makes to their success. Several people told me how they rip out pages and articles, make copies of material, etc., and distribute it throughout their companies … some even testing their people on the content. In one case, a wife confided that she knows when her husband receives his copy of SSI—because he disappears for a while! Now I know how Hugh Hefner must feel.

There were a couple of things at PSA-TEC I participated directly in that I want to alert you about. The first is about two dozen videotaped interviews I conducted in a designated booth during the day of exhibits. These segments feature some terrific industry insiders and provide great insight into not only the PSA-TEC event but also their individual businesses and the industry overall. Be on the lookout for these to begin appearing soon on SSItv, PSA’s site and elsewhere.

The second item of note is I conducted an exclusive and in-depth 90-minute roundtable with the heads of four of PSA’s leading systems integrator members: Gary Venable of All Systems; Jim Henry of Henry Bros.; Chuck Lesnewski of Cam Connections; and Tim Feury of Altec Systems. The results of this session with be featured in an article in either our July or August issue, as well as lots of bonus material right here on Under Surveillance. Center to the conversation was the effects of the economy, how security business and technology models are changing, and vendor issues and channel conflicts. Incidentally, I also met Chuck Lesnewski’s son David at the show and they shared with me that the younger man is taking over as president of CCI.

(l-r) Tim Feury, Gary Venable, Jim Henry and Chuck Lesnewski participated in an exclusive roundtable discussion.

If you made it to PSA-TEC 2009, please let me know what your experience was like. Next up for me is the ESX show in Baltimore. It will be very interesting to see how this event, which was launched jointly last year by CSAA and NBFAA, fares in its second go-round.

As always, thanks for reading.

Scott Goldfine



If you enjoyed this article and want to receive more valuable industry content like this, click here to sign up for our FREE digital newsletters!

Tagged with: Under Surveillance

Security Is Our Business, Too

For professionals who recommend, buy and install all types of electronic security equipment, a free subscription to Security Sales & Integration is like having a consultant on call. You’ll find an ideal balance of technology and business coverage, with installation tips and techniques for products and updates on how to add sales to your bottom line.

A free subscription to the #1 resource for the residential and commercial security industry will prove to be invaluable. Subscribe today!

Subscribe Today!

Get Our Newsletters