George P. Gunning passed away on Feb. 14, leaving behind a tremendous legacy in the electronic security and life safety industry.

Gunning was an active member of the security industry for 40 years, where he held leadership positions in local, state and national trade associations.

He received many awards like the Morris F. Weinstock Person of the Year and George A. Weinstock Lifetime Achievement awards. 

“George knew no limitations,” said ESA President Chris Mosley. “He uprooted himself from the Northeast, planted new roots in California and started a new business. He was charismatic, determined, committed, passionate — and a very successful businessman and leader in our industry. He will be missed by all.”

Gunning came to the security industry from the photographic printing trade when his son and nephew asked him to invest, help manage and develop computer software programs for the security and fire alarm business they were acquiring.

In 1998 Gunning and CAA Past President Frank Burke merged their companies and formed USA Alarm Systems Inc., where Gunning served as CEO of USA Alarm Systems in Monrovia, Calif., a UL listed fire installing company and a full-service integrated systems company.

"George endeared himself to the alarm industry, with this passion it ultimately led him to his vision — the development of the Apprenticeship Program," said Burke. "Yes, George spoke bluntly not to hurt but to clarify what many wanted to say but never felt comfortable to say. George and I did not always agree, however, at the end of the day we always shook hands or hugged and said I’ll see you tomorrow."

Gunning spent many years helping to bring professional status to the security and fire industry through state licensing and supporting the development of ongoing training.

He served as the sole industry representative on the Los Angeles Burglar Alarm Task Force which rejected verified response and adopted an alarm policy in line with the model ordinance.

“In the beginning, I kind of equated him to a cantankerous, broken down, jalopy,” said Dave Koenig. “Yet, the more I worked with him, the more I realized that he was a powerful, smooth running race car — I grew to appreciate his relentless efforts on behalf of the industry.”

In 2001, the California Alarm Association (CAA) and California Automatic Fire Alarm Association (CAFAA) formed a joint effort under the Western Burglar & Fire Alarm Association (WBFAA) to jointly sponsor a fire/life safety technician apprenticeship program to satisfy the mandate of California state law. Gunning was the founding chairman of the WBFAA Unilateral Apprenticeship and Training Committee which launched the apprenticeship program.

"Having served with George for many years on the executive committee was truly an experience I will never forget," said Marshall Marinace. "He made an everlasting impact on our industry and association. He was a great family man, friend and mentor and will surely be missed by all."

In 2006, Gunning was sworn in as the 37th president of the NBFAA, serving a two-year term until 2008.

“In the two years that George took the helm as ESA president, he accomplished far too much to list,” said Merlin Guilbeau, ESA CEO. “He was the epitome of ‘lead by example.’ He was always willing to help someone in need with a smile and a great sense of humor. I know I speak for many, when I say he will be missed, not only for his great leadership and admirable dedication, but for the place he earned in all of our hearts as a friend and a true example of a man with a tremendous enthusiasm for all that he did.”

Gunning believed that anybody that ran a security company should be a member of the NBFAA and other local and state professional trade associations. He saw the benefit in attending meetings and conventions to advance and promote the growth of all companies and the industry.

George understood the need to expand the labor pool, to attract the very best technicians and to provide a mechanism to introduce and train on new products, technologies and applications. So, in October of 2006, the NBFAA concluded negotiations with the U.S. Department of Labor Office of Apprenticeship. As a result, a four-year, 8,000-hour apprenticeship program was approved by the federal government. 

He didn’t stop there. With the drive and vision of a person half his age, he inspired the creation of what is now the Electronic Security Expo (ESX).

In 2008, the NBFAA and the Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA) — now The Monitoring Association (TMA) — joined forces to produce the most significant national training and education conference in the United States, hosting its inaugural event in Nashville.

“The accomplishment of ESX is a product of the vision and steadfast commitment of George Gunning who was one of the real drivers behind the event,” said Merlin Guilbeau.

The expo was created to be different because the event was to provide valuable information for both large and small companies. Its mission was to be an event for the industry, by the industry, funneling profits back into the associations to support important initiatives for integrators and monitoring professionals.

“George always challenged conventional wisdom and encouraged everyone around him to strive to be their best,” said George DeMarco, ESX chairman.

Gunning’s passion and vision are now embedded as a part of ESA and the industry’s DNA. 

Memorial services will be held Friday, March 1 at 11 a.m. PST at Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, Calif. 

This story was originally published by ESA.