The 2015 CSAA International annual meeting in Sonoma, Calif., drew its highest attendance since 2008. According to a press release from CSAA, security industry professionals explored their leadership styles; received tools and insights for dealing with health insurance trends, crisis communications and cyber security; and discussed technology trends and legal issues during the meeting.

The 2015 meeting marked the beginning of a multi-year reimagining of CSAA’s annual event. “We have been delighted with the member feedback on the revamped annual meeting,” said CSAA President Pam Petrow, president and CEO of Vector Security. “The responses have been overwhelmingly positive and confirm we are headed in the right direction.”

With the goal that attendees would have an experience that added value to their business, CSAA assembled a roster of expert presenters to share information to help members change and improve their business practices. CSAA reported the educational sessions remained full even through the last session on the last day.

“President Petrow and I saw this meeting as a bellwether event for CSAA, where we would present a vision for where we wanted to take the association during her tenure,” said Jay Hauhn, CSAA executive director. “We created an agenda that was much different from our traditional programs. We eliminated having the same speakers as in previous years, just giving updates on what’s changed in the last 12 months. We threw away the old agendas and started from scratch with a laser focus on evolving member needs. Judging from our members’ participation and feedback, we succeeded in presenting a program that will have a real and meaningful impact on their businesses.”

CSAA member Howard Sanders, vice president of operations, Kings III, said, “I thought every session held was relevant to business and specifically our industry. I look forward to coming back next year.”

First-time attendee Justin Bailey, COO, AvantGuard Monitoring Centers, said, “The CSAA annual meeting was a great event. I’ve learned a lot from the courses and from rubbing shoulders with some of the leaders of the industry. I’m planning on returning for 2016, and I look forward to what I can learn there and the connections I can make.”

The conference included networking opportunities for members, both onsite at formal and informal gatherings, and offsite at special events that took advantage of the setting in Sonoma wine country. This format allowed members to get acquainted and for associate and consultant members to engage with CSAA’s North American and international alarm company members. “[This was] actually one of the best and most relevant annual meetings I’ve been to,” said Chuck Speck, president of Bold Technologies. “As an associate member, it’s really encouraging to see the focal changes on the association becoming more geared toward growth, content and development. There’s a tremendous amount of value there, and I hope that message gains traction throughout the industry.”

A unique aspect of the CSAA annual meeting is the presence of authorities having jurisdiction (AHJ) representatives. The 2015 event included the largest representation of AHJs in several years, including chiefs of police, fire chiefs and sheriffs. These groups were allotted time to meet separately by themselves and with the CSAA members, so that they could engage with each other and then bring their own unique challenges to the attention of the alarm industry.

“My expectations were exceeded tremendously at our CSAA annual meeting,” said Ralph Sevinor, president of Wayne Alarm Systems. “Our general manager, Jeff Kahn, told me that he felt so motivated and confident after the event, and that he could not recall at any other industry event such an open dialogue at such a high level.” 

At the event, CSAA announced that the 2016 annual meeting will be held in Marco Island, Fla., Marriott Beach Resort, October 22-27. “We will continue to build on 2015’s success for the 2016 annual meeting and welcome comments related to content and format,” Petrow said.