Security professionals enjoyed the warm Tampa weather for the 2017 ESA Leadership Summit from February 12-15, 2017. The Leadership Summit is the annual conference hosted by ESA that is filled with engaging speakers, numerous one-on-one and networking opportunities, and group events. This year the summit drew more than 250 attendees. 

The conference was held at the Hilton Tampa Downtown, within walking distance of Tampa’s Riverwalk and a number of restaurants and attractions, and kicked off on Sunday with meetings for the ESA Florida chapter, the executive committee, and the young security professionals, ESA’s new mentor/mentee program.  

For the past several years, the theme of the conference has been “Link. Learn. Lead.” 

Talking about the conference’s theme, Jillian Bateman, director of marketing, ESA, said part of what makes the event unique is its ability to gather leaders in the industry from across the nation in an intimate setting. “People are able to really engage and share in a way they can’t at a regional event or a larger tradeshow. Not only do attendees have the opportunity to set meetings with other integrators, dealers, monitoring professionals and vendors in advance of the Leadership Summit — we also foster creating these links throughout the industry with speed networking events to help break the ice.”

Certainly the learning is central to the show, which draws speakers from the security industry as well as experts on business leadership. “We saw leaders in the industry speaking to topics like DIY and customer care, but we also saw leadership experts, business consultants, burglary research leaders coaching on communication, our industry mission, leading a team and fostering growth,” Bateman said.

Finally, the “Lead” component of the theme was evident in educational seminars and general session topics, but this year especially highlighted ESA’s dedication to leading as it was the first year after ESA introduced its Rising Leaders program in which seasoned industry leaders mentored young professionals in a structured, flexible program. 

“At the event we saw many new young faces learning side-by-side with industry mentors,” Bateman said. “On the second night of the event, our Class of 2017 was announced and we had a mixer to jump start the engagements among veteran mentors and the rising leaders.”

Here is a list of this year’s pairings:

  • Mentor: Jeremy McLerran, Qolsys, and Mentee: Kingmond Tang, AMP Smart
  • Mentor: Bruce Mungiguerra, MONI, and Mentee: Brent Ussery, Charter Communications
  • Mentor: Jason Lutz, Honeywell Security, and Mentee: Mistina Franklin, Owen Security Solutions
  • Mentor: Jeff Kahn, Wayne Alarm Systems Inc., and Mentee: Grady Medcalf, Charter Communications
  • Mentor: John Knox, Knox Integrated Systems, and Mentee: Luke Wheeler, Holmes Security
  • Mentor: John Colehower, Mergers and Acquisitions LLC, and Mentee: Joshua Hill, Sentry Alarm Systems
  • Mentor: Dee Ann Harn, RFI Enterprises Inc., and Mentee: Shawn Crocker, Wayne Alarm Systems Inc.
  • Mentor: Greg Simmons, Eagle Sentry, and Mentee: Chris Nobling, Security Force
  • Mentor: Roger Parks, Select Security, and Mentee: Oscar Garcia, RFI Enterprises Inc.
  • Mentor: Roy Pollack, Xfinity Home, and Mentee: Shannon Beritzhoff, First Alarm
  • Mentor: Don Childers, Lake Norman Security Patrol Inc., and Mentee: Amanda Alvarado, RFI Enterprises Inc.

Bateman said feedback from the inaugural year of the program was overwhelmingly positive, adding that ESA has updated the webinars and books that make up part of the professional development series to keep the content fresh and relevant.

“I was most surprised about how much time and effort all of the mentors put into making the program as great as it was,” said Brandon Freedman, Wayne Alarm Systems, mentee from the Class of 2016. “Pretty much all of the mentors have spent a majority of their careers in the security industry and want to see the next generation of leaders start to take on more responsibility. The mentors were all very open and candid with mentees. It was incredible to see the passion they all had for the security industry and it really showed by how much time they dedicated to the mentorship program on top of their demanding jobs and other boards and committees they are part of.” 

Mentor Steve Paley, Rapid Security Solutions, said, “I am doing it again and would definitely recommend it as an experience that helps our future leaders and our current senior leaders to grow personally and professionally.”

Among the meetings held at the Leadership Summit were the ESA-Florida board meeting, the ESA executive committee meeting, the chartered chapter meeting, the young security professionals meeting, the membership committee meeting, the legislative coalition meeting, the EMP national forum, the education committee meeting, and the board of directors meeting. 

During the legislative coalition meeting, members discussed issues at the federal level including the President’s directive on law and order, and the President’s reversals of executive orders by previous administrations. 

Members then discussed various issues at state levels and how they might affect the industry. Among these was highlighted the direction ESA gave the state of Kentucky regarding a bill that would have required low voltage licensing. 

General Sessions
The first general session was entitled Burglary Victim Adaptation & What Security Businesses Should Know, presented by Kristie R. Blevins, associate professor in the School of Justice Studies in the College of Justice and Safety at Eastern Kentucky University.

Blevins shared highlights from a study of burglary victims and incarcerated burglars. Some of the findings of note were that burglaries occurred most frequently between noon and 4:00 p.m., while only one in six occurred during nighttime hours. In 80.1 percent of the burglaries, no one was present, while the most common methods of entry were breaking a window or forcing open a back door, front door or window. 

The study found that the most common items taken were computers, jewelry, phones, electronic games and other electronic devices, and TVs. Of cases in the study, the offenders were apprehended 17.93 percent of the time, while only 16.84 percent of victims had recovered any of the items taken.

Most respondents reported having some security measures in place at the time of the burglary, with the most common being lights left on, a security yard sign, a car in the driveway, or owning a dog. Only 29 percent had an alarm system, and more than half of these were not fully activated at the time of the burglary. Of those without an alarm system, the most commonly cited reason for not having one was they were renting. 

After experiencing a burglary, four out of five respondents took action to increase or improve security, most commonly installing or reactivating an alarm system. 

On Tuesday, bestselling author Paul Smith, author of Lead with a Story, said, “Leaders don’t ask permission to lead; they just lead.” Smith explained how telling a story can be a compelling way to gain attention and impress lasting ideas on people. 

Later that day, Steve Firestone moderated an interactive session with Chris Johnson, president and co-founder of LiveWatch Security; and Megan MacDonald, vice president of marketing, My Alarm Center. He then moderated a second discussion with John Cerasuolo, president and CEO, ADS Security; and Robert Few, director, regulatory, customer lifecycle & retention, Charter Communications-IntelligentHome. The session was a discussion entitled “What Keeps You Up at Night in 2017?” The conversation began with a look at the current state of DIY in the industry.

When discussing DIY, Johnson explained it is important for those in the security industry to define their terms, and he asserted that “everyone in this room should be involved in DIY to some degree.”

MacDonald said customers buying DIY are more similar to those buying traditional security than many might think. “They are looking for peace of mind, protection, and connection to their homes.” These types of people, MacDonald continued, are willing to do more themselves in exchange for convenience and real or perceived cost savings.  

Toward the end of the first discussion, Johnson said he believed security professionals got off track a few years ago with regard to the connected home. “We need to focus on core competencies and play in this [the security] environment,” he said, adding that dealers should no longer lead with connected home. “Know the value of what you bring to the table.”

In a Wednesday interactive session, Kevin Kruse, author and entrepreneur, discussed ways to cultivate employee engagement. “Employee engagement doesn’t mean satisfaction or happiness,” Kruse said. “Employee engagement is emotional commitment for the team you are on.” In essence, he said, it is discretionary effort. He compared it to a waiter who is constantly checking on his table to make sure drinks are filled and the customers are pleased. 

Kruse showed the benefits of developing employee engagement by chronicling the turnaround Doug Conant effected at Campbell’s Soup. “To work in the marketplace, you must first win in the workplace; I’m obsessed with employee engagement,” said Conant.

By following a carefully crafted plan to achieve greater employee engagement, Conant was able to see ratios of disengaged employees at Campbell’s go from one in two in 2002 to one in 23 in 2012, far better than the industry average. As a result, the company stock soared from one of the worst among Fortune 500 companies to delivering a cumulative total shareholder return of 64 percent for the six years preceding July 2010.

Kruse implored attendees to “develop the managers,” explaining that a manager accounts for more than 70 percent of variance in employee engagement. 

Some final thoughts Kruse shared were to “be tough on standards and tender on people,” and “life is about making an impact, not making an income.”

In the final general session Wednesday afternoon, Jill Young, certified Entrepreneurial Operating System implementer, focused on how to get a grip on your business. Young shared best practices for implementing the system at attendees’ companies to clarify their vision, gain traction, and get healthy as a company. 

Breakout Seminars 
The conference offered a number of breakout sessions featuring experts in business leadership and growth. 

Jeff Ruby, founder and president, RedRock Leadership, explained in his session Leading with Emotional Intelligence: “Emotional intelligence is the reason leaders succeed and the reason leaders fail.”

Ruby said leaders can and at times need to manage their emotions while making critical decisions and said a quality leader can make good decisions in times of stress. One way to develop this skill is by using the STAR technique, which means one should stop, think, assess, and then respond.

Ruby offered five competencies of emotional intelligence:

  • personal awareness — recognize your influence on others;
  • integrity — let your intention match your actions;
  • internal motivation — do the right think for the right reasons;
  • empathy — understand and respond to others’ emotions; and
  • social skills — build positive relationships.

With a total of eight breakout sessions with a number of speakers, the education was front and center. “The educational sessions are tailored specifically to the type of business that I have and they gave me tools and ideas that I can take back and almost immediately use in my company,” said Steve Paley, president and CEO of Rapid Security Solutions LLC.

Ken Nelson, vice president - security industry relations at Interlogix, added, “The Leadership Summit is the best place for a dealer to come and get absolutely relevant content in building their business with its great dynamic speakers.”
Firestone said, “I think that people in the audience walked away with something tangible.”

On Tuesday evening, shuttles transported attendees to the diamond event, which took place at Top Golf Tampa. This venue offered fun to golfers and non-golfers alike in a laid-back atmosphere with drinks and food where security professionals could relax and have fun.

Before the event, however, Tyco Integrated Security’s Jon Sargent was named the 2016 Weinstock Person of the Year. 

On Wednesday, Steve Firestone was named the 2017 Sara E. Jackson Memorial Award recipient. 

SDM congratulates Sargent and Firestone for their dedication and passion in the security industry.

Additionally, the annual leadership awards were announced at the conference:

  • Chapter of the Year Award — The Kentucky Electronic Security Association; 
  • Chapter President of the Year Award — President of the Electronic Security Association of Washington, Jamie Vos;
  • Executive Director of the Year Award — Gary Schefler, executive director of the New Mexico Electronic Security Association;
  • The ESA/NTS Instructor of the Year Award, given in honor of Paul F. Baran — Tommy Lewis;
  • Chapter Newsletter of the Year — The Kentucky Electronic Security Association’s e-newsletter; and
  • Chapter Website of the Year Award — Wisconsin Electronic Security Association 

The 2018 ESA Leadership Summit will be held February 11-14 in Savannah, Ga., at the Hyatt Regency on the Riverfront. For information, visit