This month marks the 25th anniversary of the Pennsylvania Burglar and Fire Alarm Association (PBFAA). The group plans a formal celebration of its founding at its annual convention June 20-21.
Looking back over its first quarter century, the PBFAA’s biggest accomplishment has been surviving the many changes and challenges that would have put almost any association out of business, said Dale Eller, executive director of the PBFAA and son of Ray Eller, one of the PBFAA’s founding members.
Through all the storms, the mission has been to serve as the collective voice of its member companies on a state and national level, Eller says. That mission is just as critical today and in the future as it has been in the past, he said. At the time of the interview for this article, PBFAA president Danette Tizkowski had just returned from Philadelphia where she successfully worked to convince city council members to set aside legislation that threatened to move low-voltage wiring work under the jurisdiction of union electricians in the city.
As technology has changed over the past quarter century, so have the demographics of the PBFAA. In 1982, the association consisted of mostly small and mid-sized companies.
Today, the PBFAA is comprised of large and small companies and only a few mid-sized ones. There are still ties to yesterday, however, as some of those companies are owned or operated by PBFAA founders or their descendants. For example, PBFAA founding president Pat Egan now is with Select Security Inc. A family business, Egan’s daughter Kerri is involved in the company, said Eller. Past president Keith Ladd’s son Matt is president of the Protection Bureau, a PBFAA member located in the southeast Pennsylvania, he said.
Another big change is the industry’s customer base. In 1982, the alarm industry was nearly 100 percent commercial. Only 2 percent of America’s residential homes had alarm systems. Today that number has swelled to approximately 22 percent, Tizkowski said. Today, PBFAA members are becoming integrators that offer additional services such as card access and video surveillance, Tizkowski said.
To help its members adapt to all the change, from its beginning, the PBFAA has put a premium on offering educational opportunities. In 1985, the association was the first state association to offer its members NBFAA training programs, says Eller.
PBFAA’s membership ranges between_150 and 175 today. The group encourages all of Pennsylvania’s alarm companies and integrators to join them as the PBFAA embarks on its next quarter century.