According to Robbie Danko, marketing manager for LVC Companies Inc. (formerly Low Voltage Contractors), this year’s PSA TEC, held May 9-11 in Westminster, Colo., was the best she has seen yet. “My general impression was it was bigger than it has ever been. I met more new people this year than in previous years. The quantity and quality of people there was better than I have ever seen it.”

With over 100 exhibitors (16 percent of them new to the event), more than 100 sessions and a sold-out event spread over several hotels, PSA made the decision to move the event to a bigger venue next year, said Bill Bozeman, president and CEO of PSA Security Network. TEC 2018 will take place March 11-15, 2018 at the Downtown Denver Sheraton.

As usual, TEC officially opened with a Monday evening cocktail reception. One of the things integrators most enjoy about events like this is the networking opportunity, said Bert Bongard, president of LVC Companies Inc. “[TEC] is one of the most valuable events we have because it is a captured environment,” he said. “It is a selected group of people, even though they may be competitors. Relationships where we help each other and learn from each other in a non-combative setting are very worthwhile.”

This year’s keynote presentation followed on Tuesday morning and featured a topic PSA has been at the forefront of pushing out to the industry — cybersecurity. Matthew Rosenquist, cybersecurity strategist for Intel Corp., spoke on “Cybersecurity Risks and Recommendations — Where Your Focus Needs to Be.” Bozeman said he was pleased this year that cybersecurity is not only accepted by the industry and PSA members, but that they are also starting to see opportunities as well.

“Everyone now understands the whole cybersecurity issue,” Bozeman reported. “The big international meltdown we had when TEC was winding down reinforced that. Everyone gets it. We don’t have to spend time saying, ‘You need to know about this.’ Now we are taking it to the next stage about what exactly we should be doing, what services they can provide. We had zero pushback from our community on cyber this year.”

Always one of the more popular sessions, this year TEC decided to shake things up a bit when it came to the State of the Industry to better represent the trends and direction the security industry is headed. In past years this session has been either broken out by manufacturers and integrators or combined a selection of the two. This year’s panel featured Chuck Wilson, executive director of NSCA, which includes ProAV members; David Silvester, founder and president of 3SE, an M&A-focused business; Gunvir Baveja, CEO of eVigilant Security, a cyber and physical security integrator; and Matthew Rosenquist, the Intel cybersecurity strategist and keynote speaker.

“I thought the State of the Industry session went very well,” Bozeman said. “It was standing room only.” Taylor Carr, executive vice president for Securadyne Systems (SDM’s 2016 Systems Integrator of the Year) appreciated the panel-makeup. “I enjoyed the State of the Industry session. The trends and advancements discussed by the diverse panel were quite insightful,” he said.

Keith Kranz, sales manager for LVC Companies said the key takeaway for him at this session was “cyber, cyber and cyber.” Danko added, “You either walked out thinking ‘I have to buy [or partner with] a cybersecurity company or it will be the end of my company. You have to be thinking cybersecurity one way or the other.”

Beyond cybersecurity, probably the hottest topic of discussion was the recent announcement by PSA of the acquisition of the ProAV organization, USAV. “PSA owners had questions about why the move into ProAV,” Bozeman said. “We were very pleased that the vast majority understood and were happy when the strategy was explained.”

With its extensive investments in resources and a solid internal infrastructure, PSA felt its capabilities were being underutilized and sought a way to expand, Bozeman said of the move. “We decided to diversify our efforts and determined the best fit for PSA was ProAV. What is interesting to me is the original plan is not what happened. The plan was for us to grow our AV business slowly and organically. We were in the end of a search process for a management team. During that time we were approached by USAV, who told us, ‘We are at a spot where we need to invest big time like you did and we don’t have the resources to do that. We would consider selling if we can come to an agreement.’ It ended up changing our business plan.”

The biggest benefit, Bozeman said, is that the deal made sense even if no AV integrators were selling security or vice versa. “Will there be crossover? Yes. Do I see this being some industry changing thing for PSA? No.” Instead, Bozeman foresees lots of partnering. “We do a lot of command and control centers and inevitably our integrator either gets stuck at the video wall or they partner with someone. These partnerships will be solidified and locked down now.”

Bongard agrees. “I was impressed with the discussion on the acquisition and how well Bill and the team laid that out,” he said. “I thought the acquisition was a very good move on PSA’s part. We do some AV already and this will open up some more doors for us and give us an opportunity to become of more of a partner with those products and expand our revenue and buying power through PSA.”

Tom Hruby, executive vice president of Security Equipment Inc. (SEi), said the acquisition was a popular topic among the attendees. “I plan on researching where security and AV cross over and what the opportunities might be for a traditional security integrator,” he said.

At Tuesday’s Vendor Awards luncheon, recognition was given not only to the traditional customer service and vendor award winners, but also to the National Deployment Program (NDP) March Madness — an event where each region competed as a team to score the most points for specific plays. Each team was coached by a member of the PSA staff and was supported by an NDP vendor partner. Seneca Dunk Squad (featuring A2 Systems, Audio Video Corp., Casco Security Systems, Communication Resources Inc., Dallmann Systems, eVigilant, iS2 Tech Services, LVC Companies Inc., Northland Controls, Photo Scan of Los Angeles, SecurAlarm Systems and Security Centres International) took top honors as the March Madness Team winner. In addition, Matthew Ladd of the Protection Bureau was named NDP March Madness MVP and Seneca was awarded the first ever NDP Vendor Partner of the Year award. According to PSA, Seneca was first vendor to reward NDP members with an immediate, additional discount for all their products with a valuable rewards points program and a multitude of other benefits based solely on NDP membership.

For the complete list of winners see 2017 PSA Security Network Award Winners.

All in all, TEC 2017 was a hugely successful event according to the integrators who attended.

“One thing I am very happy and impressed with being a PSA owner is the philosophy PSA has taken,” Bongard said “If you are not growing you are dying. They are looking to better the organization and themselves. That is one thing I took away from TEC. PSA is not standing still. That is what I like to see and what we need to see — a willingness to grow and push themselves outside of the box.”

Hruby added, “PSA TEC was very upbeat this year from the opening reception through the last day. Everyone was optimistic about the upcoming business and the show was very well attended.”

This was Carr’s first time attending PSA TEC, he said. “I was very impressed with the event. It was well organized, and all the sessions were top-notch. TEC has the right balance of technical training, through leadership events and networking.”

That assessment was echoed by J. Matthew Ladd, president, The Protection Bureau. “Overall TEC was a big success…. With the sessions I attended I saw two major themes. One was evaluating your company and growing RMR to make your company more valuable. And the other was cybersecurity. Cyber is something every integrator needs to become experts on not only for internal security but for their clients as well. Additionally, some integrators will be able to add cybersecurity as a service, which will also generate revenue.”