New NBFAA group to industry's Gen-Xers and Gen-Yers: 'Don't Miss the Boat'

Monday, May 4, 2009

IRVING, Texas and WASHINGTON—The National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association is concerned about the future of the industry. A recent survey it conducted found electronic life safety and security professionals between the ages of 25 and 45 are concerned as well, with respondents acknowledging the importance of education and participation. The results of the survey led the NBFAA to found a new industry group called Young Security Professionals, which will launch at this year’s Electronic Security Expo in Baltimore.

The 10 council members of the founding YSP Council met for the first time during the NBFAA’s Leadership Summit in January. Tonja Jenkins, NBFAA associate executive director and one of the primary motivators behind the genesis of the YSP, said the group has strong, early support. “We’re very fortunate that the manufacturers and the vendors have stepped up to show real interest in this group,” Jenkins said. “We already have 11 sponsors for our first two scheduled events.” According to Security Partners vice president Kerry Egan, who is YSP Council vice chair, the first event, previously titled the NBFAA Young Security Professionals Reception, has been renamed to include some of the immediacy the group hopes to convey. “We just changed the name, so I might as well tell you. We changed it to YSP Launch Party! DMTB! [Don’t Miss the Boat!],” said Egan, who was in Washington for the NBFAA’s Day on Capital Hill.

YSP Council chair Trevor McEnaney, who is general manager of Westchester, N.Y.-based Knight Security, believes the YSP is essential to the continued health of the security industry. “This is a much needed resource … Right now, as I see it, recruitment into the industry is nonexistent—or at least it’s not marketed well—so we don’t have the next round. We’re not reaching out. No one really knows this is a viable career path,” McEnaney, also in Washington, said. “Where are we going to find the next installation manager, the next installers, the next sales manager, the next salesman or operations manager? If we can get into the high school and college level, that will be pretty exciting. This is a really noble and exciting profession. You’re protecting life and property.”

Egan agrees. “Right now, we’re seeing a decline in industry-type associations. You know, that’s not just us, that’s everywhere. So we’re hoping to attract and then keep the attention of people our age.”

Jenkins feels the group will be a critical tool for fostering communication, building trust and teaching responsibility for good stewardship. “One of the main things the YSP will do is education. Young professionals are very interested in being mentored by the more seasoned generation. They’re also interested in learning from each other, so it’s peer-to-peer, as well. It’s also educational business topics like business succession and financial, and accounting, and HR, and technology,” Jenkins said. “It’s time now to start learning what it means to be a president of an association, what it means to be a leader in an industry, what it means to have that responsibility for an industry, not just your own business.”

More information on the YSP, registration for its various events, and membership forms can be found at