Jennifer Birkholtz (left), SecurityXchange director, recognizes Ed Chandler, chairman of Security By Design Inc., and Lorna Chandler, chief executive officer of Security By Design Inc., for their long-time participation (nine years) in the SecurityXchange. Joining them is Matt Spencer (right), chief operating officer of VerticalXchange and founder of SecurityXchange.
Today at SecurityXchange in Park City, Utah, I had the chance to sit down with Matt Spencer, SecurityXchange’s founder and the chief operating officer of VerticalXchange, SecurityXchange’s parent company. We had a chance to discuss the event and its 10-year anniversary this year.
SDM: SecurityXchange is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year. As the event’s founder, can you talk about the event's genesis and its growth?
Spencer: SecurityXchange started in the shadows of 9/11. Obviously security was top of mind for everybody. VerticalXchange was a brand new company at the time, and it wasn’t the best time to be starting a new venture, but we waded in and chose security as our first vertical. Our first year we brought in 13 manufacturers and 16 integrators, so it was relatively humble beginnings, but the early feedback was very positive. The whole concept was to assist systems integrators and help them grow by providing a tool to help them increase their businesses and make them stronger.
SDM: What does this milestone mean for an event like SecurityXchange?
Spencer: SecurityXchange is our oldest Xchange, so it is very near and dear to us at VerticalXchange. It is exciting to think that something we started 10 years ago has grown from its infancy as a totally new concept into something that people look forward to every year and use very successfully to help grow their businesses.
SDM: The industry has evolved in the last 10 years (and in some ways stayed the same). How has SecurityXchange mirrored that environment and changed (or not changed) over the years?
Spencer: SecurityXchange, like the integrators that attend, have had to grow and roll with the times, and that has brought definite changes. Still, the industry, and this event, have also never lost the importance of the face-to-face meeting and the intimacy of shaking someone’s hand and doing businesses across the table or at a meal. In addition to the new technologies in the industry, at SecurityXchange we have also grown as far as instituting technology ourselves throughout the event. Attendees spend a lot of time with pre-event communicationsthat are more comprehensive then ever with new technologies, so it is not a cold meeting and the parties involved already have an idea what they are going to discussand an agenda. Our follow-up process afterwards also takes advantage of technology to compile and present data to both sides for follow-up, and we stay involved in the process through 30, 60, and even 120 days to make sure the next steps are being taken care of.
SDM: Can you talk about some of the long-time attendees (both on the manufacturing and integrator side)?
Spencer: We had humble beginnings and a lot of people have participated with us in our journey. Brad Wilson was the first person to sign a participation agreement. Long–term people like Ed and Lorna Chandler of Security by Design Inc. (pictured in photo), Matt Ladd of the Protection Bureau, and so many others have been involved from the beginning and integral for a long time. Manufacturers like HID Global and Altronix have participated in every event alongside additional long-time companies like Altronix, Ameristar Fence Products, ASSA ABLOY, Clinton and more. There are so many people to recognize. This year we presented long-time integrators and manufacturers with awards to recognize their long-time service and participation. That is the thing I think is cool about this industry; it really is a community. You get to know these people, and not just their businesses but their families, their interests and their passions.
SDM: This year end users are at the same event. Can you talk a little about this change and its intended impact?
Spencer: The end user seems to be the darling of everybody. Everyone wants to get to the ‘pot of gold’ so to speak. So we thought we would try to incorporate them in our process. Incorporating them in an entirely separate Xchange seemed cumbersome, so we thought, let’s bring everyone together and have them all play nicely in the same sandbox, so to speak. So far we have been pleased with the results and hope to continue to do it and keep the concept moving forward.
SDM: What are your goals for the next 10 years of SecurityXchange?
Spencer: If you look down the road, I would like the event to be as vibrant and valuable as it possibly can be. We are never going to be a massive event like ISC West or ASIS, and we don’t want to be. Our intention is to remain a valuable resource where people at a very high level can get business done in a very effective way.