Security Watch: Electronic Security Association: Future-Ready

The Electronic Security Association is ready to help dealers and integrators secure their future

When the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association changed its name to the Electronic Security Association (ESA) at the end of 2009, it did so in recognition that the industry was moving beyond burglar and fire alarms.

Video surveillance, access control, home automation, energy management and more have all become increasingly important parts of ESA member companies, and as the industry constantly evolves, so does the association.

ESA has continued to look ahead since changing its name, with 2011 being an especially important year. The association is well under way with its ambitious plan to build the industry of the future, giving member companies the training they need to succeed, developing leaders and improving consumer awareness.

Training the workforce of the future

ESA’s National Training School (NTS) has been educating security integration professionals for more than 25 years and is often referenced as one of the greatest contributions the association has made to the industry.

NTS is recognized as the leading provider of education for the security industry. Its core courses, including Certified Alarm/Security Technician, Level 1, are mandatory for licensing in many states across the country. NTS’s leadership continues today, with development of new courses such as the Residential Fire Alarm (RFA) course and Troubleshooting, Service and Maintenance (TSM). Both are designed to teach students about new emerging opportunities in the marketplace.

Last year, ESA hired Howard Sanders as its new senior vice president of training and certification and promoted Pat Allen its new NTS manager, bringing all these operations in-house. With NTS under the same roof as the rest of ESA, member companies now have access to an even broader level of service.

Goals and accomplishments

In September 2011, ESA received notification from the U.S. Department of Labor that its apprenticeship program would be certified as part of the National Apprenticeship System. Sanders said the program, which is designed to create skilled workforce for the future, prescribes a training curriculum and milestones that apprentices must meet.

“The apprenticeship program also makes us competitive with other industries as we vie for top employees in the 21st century,” said Sanders. “It's for individuals who want to get into the industry or who are interested in pursuing a career with a structured training program.”

Apprentices are teamed with an experienced journey worker in a one-to-one relationship and spend time learning both in the field and in the classroom. Individual companies can use ESA’s apprenticeship program or Chartered Chapters can license the program. To help manage the program, ESA has hired Don Harris as its new national apprenticeship program manager.

Mentoring future leaders

Many industry leaders tend to be owners and operators who have been with their companies for many years, or built, sold and re-started businesses. ESA has worked to groom the industry’s next generation with its Young Security Professionals (YSP) group, and, recently, it added two new professional groups aimed at developing leaders in specific functional fields.

The creation of the Sales and Marketing Professionals (SMP) and Installation and Service Professionals (ISP) groups has brought together staff from a number of member companies, all working to share best practices, improve their performance and learn new trends affecting the industry.

Gerrit Brusse, chair of the SMP group, said they work "to tackle issues such as effective sales and marketing strategy, sales and marketing law, regulation and ethics, sales force and marketing automation, application of IT tools, and sales and marketing staff recruitment and retention."

The biggest issue they’ve addressed is implementing social media and email marketing efforts. They’re learning how to effectively use these tools to dig deeper into their own client base and generate referrals for new clients. It’s an issue that many businesses are facing.

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