Attending trade shows can be grueling work. Some meetings and events can be a flop, while others can turn out so positive that you feel your whole trip was worth it for just that one meeting. Don’t you wish you could improve your ratio of flops to successes?

With a bit of advance planning, you can. Taking place next month is one of the largest annual trade shows in the security industry – ISC West. It will be held at the Sands Expo & Convention Center, Las Vegas, from March 31 through April 2, 2004. This is the industry’s premiere event for exhibitors to demonstrate their new products, systems, and services. The exhibits, the training, the announcements, and other events can have a significant impact on the success of your business in the new year.

Avi Rosenthal, CEO of Integrator Concepts in Boca Raton, Fla., finds trade shows “extremely useful” for his job. “I use them as an opportunity to network, to find new products, and to establish relationships with new companies – sometimes to reinvigorate relationships with old companies,” Rosenthal says.

“I enjoy face to face meetings and a trade show gives you an opportunity to have face to face meetings. A lot of companies now use rep firms, so you have this layer between you and the vendor, so a trade show gives you the opportunity to have that direct relationship,” he stresses.

In 2004, Rosenthal plans to attend the Consumer Electronics Show, the International Builders Show, both EH Expos, one ISC show, and the Custom Design & Installation Association (CEDIA) show. “It’s too many, but it’s the business we’re in. If you want to keep up, stay ahead of the game, you have to attend,” Rosethal adds.

At most trade shows, Rosenthal walks the whole show. “It’s sort of like treasure hunting. You may find the company you may not have heard about through a press release. Better than half my time is walking the show,” he says, adding that attending meetings comprise about 30 percent of his time, and training comprises the remaining 20 percent.

Technology Shopping: Tips for Productive Booth Visits

SDM asked its subscribers for tips on getting the most from an industry trade show. Before a show, review the list of exhibitors and their booth numbers. (See This will help you get started with companies you already know you want to visit. The ISC West web site has an online floor plan to make it easier to create your own personal list of booth visits by area.

Searching exhibitors by product category or key word will provide you with descriptions of their planned exhibit, as well as links to their web sites.

For companies on which you plan to focus extra attention, call them prior to the show and ask to set an appointment with one of their experts who will be at the show. Calling an exhibitor in advance also gives you an opportunity to ask the exhibitor to send product information. This may help you develop a brief list of questions in advance.

Find out if their exhibit will include an actual working display. Your colleagues say it’s frustrating to read or hear about a new product, only to find that the company has a non-working exhibit at the show.

At the show, it’s not always easy for exhibitors to demonstrate the full capabilities of their systems, especially with today’s technology. However, the system should be powered up and working on a minimum level for you to get the most benefit for your time spent at the booth. It’s becoming more popular for exhibitors to host off-site hospitality suites, where they can provide more one-on-one attention. This gives you an opportunity to discuss your needs and judge how the system will perform in a quieter, non-competitive setting.


An important discipline of professional training for the security industry has been developed and will be introduced at ISC West next month in Las Vegas. The Security Industry Association (SIA) plans to introduce its Security Project Manager Certification (SPMC) Program, at a luncheon for installing dealers, systems integrators, and consultants, at noon, Wednesday, March 31, in room 604 of the Sands Expo & Convention Center, Las Vegas. (SIA also will host a breakfast to introduce the program to manufacturers on Thursday, April 1, at 8 a.m. in room 505 of the convention center.) The breakfast and luncheon are free and are sponsored by SDM and SECURITY Magazines.

SDM is currently publishing an article series on the subject of project management for security professionals. (See SDM Nov. 2003, p. 38; Jan. 2004, p. 44; and coming in March 2004). The author of these articles is Nadim Sawaya, CPP, principal of Enterprise Performance Consulting, Pittsburgh, Calif.

SIA has worked closely with Sawaya to develop this three-part certification program that aims to promote professional excellence for project managers in the security industry.

“The Security Project Manager Certification Program will empower project managers with the tools, skills and knowledge to manage their jobs effectively,” Sawaya said. “This program is specifically designed for the management of security projects. Project management is the most critical factor for successful security systems programs.”

The goal of SPMC is to provide a rigorous professional credentialing program for project managers in the security industry. The program will certify individuals who have demonstrated their proficiency in every aspect of project management, as it relates to security systems integration. The certification program is a combination of educational training, practical experience and a final certification exam. Participants will receive 40 contact hours of training, as well as 20 hours of self-study and practical experience.

For more information about CSPM, contact Jay Hanger, SIA’s director of education, at or call (703)683-2172, or visit