For the first time, the Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA) and the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association (NBFAA) are partnering to host a security show all their own: the Electronic Security Expo (ESX). The event will be held June 25 to 27 in Nashville, Tenn., and it’s being billed as “The Premier Training Event for Security Integration and Monitoring Companies.”
Despite this being the inaugural ESX, the organizers have planned ahead to give this show a great shot at being well-attended the first time around. Several industry meetings and award ceremonies which have tended to take place at other times of the year have been moved to the ESX, ensuring solid attendance. Furthermore, by picking Nashville as the destination, the show is banking on the fact that the Music City is a fun, affordable place that attendees will be able to reach with relative ease.
“I’ve been involved with a number of event launches over the years and it gets to the point where you can just sense whether you have the ingredients for success, and that’s what we have in ESX,” said John Galante, vice president, EH Events, which is producing the show. “We’ve designed a niche and mission for the event that is uniquely useful and needed. We have passionate owner/sponsor organizations in NBFAA and CSAA and an equally proud and passionate NBFAA host chapter in the Tennessee Burglar and Fire Alarm Association. Led by ESX Expo Chair, George De Marco, we’ve had great association volunteer contributions on conference content and attendance promotion to create an event that’s truly designed for the industry by the industry.”
A security show is born
Many years ago the CSAA and NBFAA participated in the revenue sharing of the ISC shows. However, when that stopped being the case, both associations found themselves almost entirely dues-dependent for funding. Now that the CSAA and NBFAA own the upcoming ESX show, both associations hope this new stream of revenue will enable them to better fund projects and issues important to the industry. However, getting the CSAA and NBFAA to agree to terms on the show didn’t happen overnight.
As Mel Mahler, owner, ADS Security, Nashville tells the story, the discussions, negotiations and eventual implementation of this June’s inaugural ESX were more than five years in the making. Even though he can remember the associations trying to think of ways to increase non-dues revenue for as long as he’s been in the business, the CSAA and NBFAA weren’t necessarily on the same page regarding how it should be accomplished. Mahler said that in those days there wasn’t a lot of trust between the CSAA and NBFAA.
“But about the time Ralph Sevinor became the president of CSAA, you began to see increased bridge building between CSAA and NBFAA,” continued Mahler, referring to Sevinor’s term as CSAA president from 1999 to 2001.
Mahler followed Sevinor as CSAA president from 2001 to 2003 and it just so happened that at the same time his good friend Cecil Hogan, president, Security Consultants Inc., Memphis, Tenn., became NBFAA president. “So now you’ve got two presidents from Tennessee who are friends and that began to develop,” explained Mahler. “And it was during that time that we started to hear about EH (Electronic House). And if you look into them, you’ll see that they run some very successful shows around the world.”
“Then along came George Gunning as president of NBFAA, and John Murphy at CSAA; and then it went to an even better level,” continued Mahler, referring to the trust between the two associations. “It was like each president of those two associations bonded even more and more; and I really give credit to George Gunning and John Murphy and Merlin Guilbeau (NBFAA executive director) and Steve Doyle (CSAA executive director) for making this thing happen.”
Gunning also recalls that the concept first came up about five years ago when the NBFAA was approached to be a part of a show. “Although that didn’t materialize, I have been talking to John Galante of EH Events on and off for a while. Then he called me and said his president Ken Moyes would like to talk with NBFAA. We then set up an NBFAA executive committee meeting and invited Ken and John to make a presentation. After that, we knew we were interested, but we really wanted the show to be an industry event, the whole industry, NBFAA and CSAA. I called John Murphy, the president of CSAA and we agreed on doing this together. John Murphy and I attended a meeting at EH’s office in Massachusetts; John Murphy is a master at negotiation and the industry ended up being the owners of the ESX event.”