2003 First Alert Pro Convention: Nov. 13-15, Scottsdale, Ariz.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – The road may have been made of tape on a black rug and the rocks made of plastic, but the stage made to resemble a long desert road in the grand ballroom of the Westin Kierland Resort and Spa might as well have been paved with yellow bricks for attendees at First Alert Professional Security Systems annual dealer convention. Honeywell revealed to those in its dealer program that it is on the verge of future growth after completing the sale of its monitoring business.

Roger Fradin, President and CEO of Honeywell’s Automated Products division, revealed at the convention that Honeywell expects to complete the sale of its Minneapolis-based home security alarm monitoring business by early 2004. Fradin calls that sale key to the future of Honeywell’s security business. “When we have the monitoring issue resolved, we will have the opportunity to unleash the full power of our company,” Fradin says.

Fradin told convention-goers that contractors would be a vital part of his company’s growth. “We measure our success on the positive impact we can make in your business,” Fradin told the audience of contractors. “We fundamentally believe in the independent dealer market. It’s in our DNA.”

“The New Frontier” was the theme of the Nov. 13-15 convention that was part educational session, part networking and part pep rally for contractors in Honeywell Ademco’s dealer program. “Sometimes, it’s easy to get bogged down in the job,” says First Alert President Kevin O’Connor. “This let’s them bring their people and see that they’re part of a huge network. The key here is the ability to network, learn better way to do things and get motivated.”

Among the topics heard most among contractors in the hallways of the Westin Kierland were improving customer service and retaining customers. Networking proved to be a big reason that brought attendees to Scottsdale, a suburb of Phoenix. It brought Austin Armstrong from as far away as Warren, Barbados.

“This is a chance to talk to other dealers and learn from their experiences,” says Armstrong, communication and security manager with First Alert dealer Barbados Business Machines. “We’re not competing with each other.”

Over three days, the more than 600 attendees were treated to educational sessions on subjects ranging from “Networking the Old Fashioned Way” to “Home Connectivity” to “How to Grow Your Business.”

Attendees were left with a deep impression and were abuzz with praise after Dan Clark, primary author for the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” series, served as the guest speaker in the opening session with his “inspirational” speech. “The keynote speakers have been fantastic,” said Safeguard Security Communications CEO John Jennings, who didn’t have far to travel from his Scottsdale corporate office. “Business is business, inspiration is inspiration. The challenge is to stay focused.”

Clyde Fessler, former vice president of business development at Harley-Davidson, also spoke at the convention, as did child safety advocate Marc Klaas, who says that there was nothing unusual about his attending a security dealer convention.

“We’re very much in the predator business ourselves. It’s all about safety,” says Klaas, who founded the non-profit KlaasKids Foundation after his daughter Polly was abducted and murdered in 1993. “Home security is a good way to protect yourself.” On the closing day of the convention, Klass was given the first-ever First Alert Community Service Hero Award.

Between the educational sessions and pep rallies was a side trip to the Rawhide Wild West Town theme park in Scottsdale that featured unusual sights like O’Connor opening a rodeo atop a horse in full trot and the even rarer sight of seeing security dealers trying desperately to stay on a bucking mechanical bull.

“It was fun to see people you only get to see once a year,” says John Lindberg of Dial One Security in Cincinnati.

First Alert will hold its 2004 convention in the South Beach area of Miami from Oct. 14 to 17.

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