At the 2010 California Alarm Association (CAA) Winter Convention held in San Francisco, Dec. 9-11, 2010, there was a lot going on — including receptions, the board of directors meeting, reports from all the regional associations, updates from the Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC) and the Electronic Alarm Association (ESA), exhibits by industry manufacturers, a general session with a keynote and updates on statewide legislative, education, training, fundraising and outreach programs, multiple workshops, the CAA George A. Weinstock Award dinner, and more — all the pieces of a organization communicating, staying on the same page, supporting each other and working together. By the end of the convention, there was plenty of business accomplished, a well-deserved award given, and some very clear challenges issued. 
The general session included motivational speaker Rocky Blier, who played for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1968 and again from 1971 to 1980 after returning from being wounded while serving in Vietnam. His message stressed that ordinary people can become extraordinary achievers.

The general session also included legislative updates, elections for the CAA Officers/Executive Committee, and an industry licensing update from the new chief of the California Bureau of Security and Investigative Services (BSIS), Jeffrey Mason. BSIS is the state organization that issues licenses for alarm company operators and employees, locksmiths, private investigators, security guard services and employees, repossession agents and others. Mason said the BSIS is experiencing an 18-20 percent increase in license applications. While the state’s budget crisis has made it impossible to hire employees to help with processing, Mason has focused on streamlining license processing and transitioning applications online, which seems to be working. Around 70 percent of guard license applications are now received online, and the number of days needed to get a license has dropped from an average of 48 days to 24 days.
In the CAA general meeting, the CAA showed its support for SIAC and presented a check for $30,000 to SIAC. The money was donated by the members of the CAA and a matching gift challenge from Bay Alarm.  SIAC Executive Director Stan Martin accepted the donation from CAA Public Safety Liaison Chair Jon Sargent and CAA President Matt Westphal.

It is a positive donation, but more is needed. When presenting the check, Westphal summarized the importance of supporting SIAC.
“The SIAC staff is made of professionals, ready to go out and travel to cities to expertly address councils and law enforcement agencies. They skillfully present arguments against harmful ordinances, propose model ordinances, and do many other things that we need them to do as alarm companies so that we as individuals do not have to go and fight all the battles from start to finish. It costs money for them to do it, and we need to donate that money so that we don’t have to go out and do everything that they do ourselves, which would cost far more than it does to pay into the fund,” Westphal said.

“When you’re prioritizing contributions, SIAC ranks at the top due to the ongoing services it provides to the industry. If you go it alone, you’re responsible for attending many council meetings, communicating with many parties, and losing man hours of your own without SIAC’s help. Contributing to SIAC is like paying yourself,” added Westphal.

In the highlight of the convention, Jon Sargent was named the recipient of the CAA George A. Weinstock Award. Established in 1999, the award recognizes a lifetime of achievement in the electronic security industry.

Sargent, a former two-term president of the CAA, serves as the industry liaison for ADT Security Services, Boca Rotan, Fla., and works closely with Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC) on municipal and law enforcement relationships. After working on his first alarm ordinance in the early 1980s with the Alameda County Sheriff's office, he went on to become a principal force for the alarm industry working on alarm response issues and improving relationships with law enforcement all over the country.
“Jon Sargent is admired by his colleagues at ADT for his tireless efforts working as an industry advocate and for his ability to facilitate dialogue and goodwill with community, law enforcement and industry stakeholders,” said ADT Residential and Small Business President John Koch. “Jon’s service is truly remarkable and this well-deserved recognition distinguishes him as one of the strongest champions on alarm response issues in the United States.”
Sargent serves on the board of directors of the Electronic Security Association (ESA) and is an advisory committee member of California’s BSIS. He is also currently a board member of the East Bay Alarm Association and serves as an industry/law enforcement liaison for the Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC) in the western states. He has earned numerous awards and exemplified outstanding service in all positions.
Sargent’s 37 years in the security industry also include active participation in alarm management and law enforcement organizations. He is a member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, the California Peace Officers Association, California State Sheriff’s Association and the False Alarm Reduction Association.

“Sargent has been a diligent worker for industry causes assisting alarm companies and law enforcement agencies as they address alarm management policies,” said Matthew Westphal, California Alarm Association president.
While the George A. Weinstock Tribute Dinner is always the leading, most-anticipated event at the convention (this year’s dinner had more than 300 attendees), another convention highlight this year was the executive symposium, which was moderated by George DeMarco and included Jim Covert, a member of the Protection One board of directors; JoAnna Sohovich, president of Honeywell Security & Communications; and Bob Haskins, UTC Fire & Security vice president and general manager as the three industry leaders discussing trends impacting the alarm industry.
The three executives all presented their opinions and then took questions from the audience.
Sohovich cautioned dealers not to expect cable providers and telecommunications companies to fail again as they have in their prior attempts to enter the security industry.
Sohovich shared that a large cable company’s study proved that adding security to its triple play had cut its attrition in half.
“How motivated do you think they are going to be to make that a four-play? Sohavich asked. “Cutting attrition in half is absolutely incredible.”
Sohovich emphasized that security providers hold the key to the home though, through the keypad —
which, given its placement at the door as homeowners come and go, is critical. She also pointed out customers’ growing expectations to interact with a system that integrates multiple technologies and services.
“The keypad is actually one of the best places to deliver information and communication to the homeowner,” she said.
Sohovich and Haskins both emphasized delivering a holistic solution to customers and competing against the service bundles offered by cable companies.

Haskins said that cable companies will be offering security in their bundles, and if dealers want to compete they will have to have bundled services to offer as well.
“I suggest you don’t go kicking and screaming,” Haskins advised.

Covert stressed that for all the buzz about technologies and equipment, the alarm business is still all about service — and taking care of one customer at a time. That, he said, is the ultimate defense against the competition.

Both the executives and the audience were invested in conversation — as they should be — after all, it centers around the very heart of the industry, it customers, the services it offers, and how to be successful in the industry.