In change, timing is everything

SSN Staff  - 
Monday, April 1, 2002

It was approximately a year and a half ago that Security Systems News was covering the effort to combine three of the industry's associations into one. As many of you know, after months of talks about this idea, one that some said would help strengthen the industry, the proposal was turned down by two associations who did not favor the move at that time -- the Central Station Alarm Association and Security Industry Association.

Now, it appears that change is in store for the one association that supported the plan, National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association.

Unexpectedly, the NBFAA's executive director Brad Shipp announced at the ISC Show in Las Vegas that he would resign from the post he has held for the past five years. Shipp, who plans to stay on board until July, has served in many positions at the association over the past 11 years. He headed up the education effort, helping to put together continuing programs for the dealers of this industry. And, in his role as executive director, he has had to deal with $600,000 in lost revenues due to the NBFAA's loss of its sponsorship of the ISC Shows, a loss that happened prior to him taking the helm.

Some of you may be saying that it's time for a change, that a new leader is needed for the NBFAA.

This association is battling many of the same problems that afflict others across all industries. Declining membership is one battle they face likely due to two problems, consolidation and lack of interest on the part of alarm company owners to get involved in their local and national association.

More and more professionals are asking for additional benefits from their association. And, the associations are now looking at ways to deliver.

The CSAA, for example, has revamped its bi-annual conference program to feature a mini-trade show focused on the central station market and the needs of companies who run these types of businesses.

SIA is also looking to broaden its scope. During the keynote address at the ISC Show in Las Vegas, SIA said that it wants to be known as more than just an association for the manufacturers of this industry, but also one that serves the dealer and integrator community.

And, the NBFAA is striving to provide more value to its members as new players, namely electrical contractors, begin to enter the installation market. It is in the process of launching a public service campaign and has recently debuted a membership kit that provides its members with nearly $1,000 in savings from manufacturers and other companies.

But will a change in leadership get the results board members and possibly some members are looking for at the NBFAA? It's unclear what type of changes are in store for the association, but a few things have been tossed around.

Cecil Hogan, who will soon take over as president of the NBFAA's Executive Committee, said he would like to see membership grow two to three times its current base. And, he talked about the need for the organization to look and think internationally.

It leaves many wondering, however, how exactly the association will evolve and its mission station change.

The association may be hard pressed to find a replacement for Shipp. If its executive committee decides it wants an executive director with alarm industry experience, who will it turn to?

Shipp brought with him a background in the security market. He worked at a central station while in college, and then ran and owned an installation company before heading over to the NBFAA. Shipp also served in sales, both for an alarm company and as a manufacturer's representative and was an elected leader of a state alarm association.

Or, the timing may be right for this type of change. Maybe it's time to bring somebody on board who has prior experience running an association, namely one that represents such an evolving industry like ours.

It's a pivotal time for the industry, and NBFAA alike. This time, the change that's in store may be more than some bargained for.