Efforts by the NBFAA board at meetings like this and staff members have pushed for the association’s first profit since 1999. Photo courtesy of NBFAA
Hard work by staff members and volunteers has resulted in the first profit since 1999 along with new memberships at the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association (NBFAA), Silver Spring, Md., maintains executive director Merlin Guilbeau.

“We’ve got a lot of good things to talk about, and we’re finally in a position to talk about them,” Guilbeau remarked. “The staff at NBFAA and volunteer leaders rolled up their sleeves and worked really hard to cut expenses and increase revenue.”

Profit in 2004 topped $96,000, Guilbeau estimated, nearly 500 new members have joined and associate membership increased in 2004 by 60 percent. Seven new associate members already have joined in 2005. Guilbeau attributed the increase to demonstrating the value of associate membership in the NBFAA.

“We don’t want to just take from them but give something back,” he stressed. This includes the NBFAA’s coupon book (see article below), exposure on the association’s Web site www.alarm.org, advertising discounts in the quarterly newsletter, exposure in the weekly electronic newsletter and annual buying guide, and access to NBFAA members.

New Hampshire has signed on as a chartered state association (CSA), Guilbeau announced, and other state associations are being approached along with states without associations, such as Idaho. The entire chartered state program is being assessed.

“The previous [NBFAA] president empowered an ad hoc committee to study the existing charter program and find out what was working well and what was not between the states and the NBFAA,” Guilbeau related. Concerns include methods of billing for membership, he said.

“We have been relying completely on volunteers who have been meeting very intensely for a long period of time,” he pointed out. “We hope they will bring something to us by ISC West in Las Vegas for the board to consider.”

A 34-year veteran industry lobbyist, John Chwat, has been contracted to represent NBFAA, which previously had its own director of government affairs and government affairs coordinator.

“We decided to take a different approach with government affairs and go with a lobbyist who can get us exposure on Capitol Hill daily,” Guilbeau explained. “We’ve been more reactive in the past, but now we’re going to become much more proactive on issues, the industry and legislation.”

Chwat will develop access to key Congressional leaders and their staffs and recommend strategies to influence state and federal legislation. National issues include legislation allowing associations to offer their own health plans and bills that offer tax credits for installation of security devices, Guilbeau cited.

Additionally, Chwat will monitor activity that could affect NBFAA members in all 50 state legislatures and provide written materials and assistance to NBFAA members and state chapters.

Another change in the NBFAA’s legislative management is the combining of the alarm response management committee and the government affairs committee into an industry affairs committee, Guilbeau announced.

“We view false alarms as an industry issue as well as other things coming up such as voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) and master formatting and issues we face with unions trying to control the local industry,” he declared. “These will all be handled under the new, larger industrial affairs committee.”

More than 220 policy holders have signed up with the Security America general liability insurance program that is owned by the NBFAA and its policy holders during its first year.

“We’re getting great testimonials,” Guilbeau said of the program. The association maintains more than half of the program’s policy holders joined the NBFAA to sign up for the insurance.

“For many years, this industry has seen the insurance market harden and soften and be very unstable over the years,” Guilbeau remembered. “At times, you could get only limited coverage and even recently companies were pulling out and not providing coverage at all.

“So we took some money out of our reserves and started this insurance company,” he revealed. “We thought, ‘Why wait? Let’s get something going!’”