LIVE from NBFAA Business Focus 2007

The NBFAA goes to jail -- and learns how to grow a security business


On the morning of Thursday, June 14, 2007, the NBFAA went to jail; they even were put into a padded cell.

Ok, let me rephrase, "going to jail" was the kick-off event for the NBFAA Business Focus conference in Indianapolis, a two-day conference focusing on hands-on examination of what it takes to grow a firm in the security business. The conference was hosted at the University Place Conference Center and Hotel on the campus of Indiana University Purdue University at Indiana, or IUPUI for short.

Members were spread from around the country, Georgia to California, and ranged from firms commercial fire firms to residential alarm providers, to all-in-one shops that did everything from locksmithing to high-end integration,

For the kick-off, attending members enjoyed a tour of the Marion County Processing Center, the jail that handles the "drunk tank" and processing of arrestees. It's not the long-term lockdown facility; rather this is the high-volume processing center for people before being release on bail or attending court.

For the tour, we were met by Captain John Shaw and Lt. Smith from the sheriff's department of Marion County, Indiana. Shaw and Smith gave us a guided tour of the facility, which opened Aug. 24, 2004, and which 55,000 prisoners a year – about 150 criminals or suspected criminals per day. This place is busy! It serves every arrest in Marion County, where the city of Indianapolis sits.

While touring the command center we watched as the officer on duty listened and recognized the voices of other guards calling in for actions like opening cells, doors to secure areas and exterior parking lots. Other cameras (there were probably 100+ on the system) viewed padded cells that housed high risk inmates, such as those on suicide watch. A third of those processed were picked up on alcohol-related driving incidents, auto theft, warrants, etc.

The processing center is open 24 hours a day and the court in the facility is open 20 hours each day hearing and trying cases. Guards report to work on a 12-hour basis. In regards to their security system, Captain Shaw's only regret was not getting the ability to record audio from every video location. Prosecutors often ask for the audio to accompany the video from incidents that occur in the center.

"In our business what is said is very important," said Cpt. Shaw. "For example, in our search room you can hear a pin drop."

Some of the products seen while on tour were access control readers by HID, finger print scanners by Identix and video and access control software by Bosch. The system was serviced by Stanley subsidiary Integrator.com, an integration firm specializing in correctional facilities.

After a quick lunch the sessions began with world renowned public and motivational speaker Bob Harris. Bob is the, managing director of Attrition Busters and former alarm and security company owner. Bob made for the perfect starter, his energetic personality, comedic behavior and sometimes auctioneer-like presentation skills kept and held the attention of a packed room full of NBFAA members from Georgia, North Carolina, New York, California and more. Bob's presentation on frontline customer service was followed by Cathy Rempel of The Summit Group, a business sales consulting firm. Both Harris and Rempel dug their nails into the marketing and customer service know-how that good dealers and integrators need. Business focused programs continue today (Friday), with speakers like Dan Dunkel (very well-received on the topic of convergence), Keith Davis and others hitting more topics in business management and growth.