ESX day 3 (with more blurry photos)

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06/27/2008
Whoo-ee. Things are getting started a little later all over the conference today after the damage done on the Club Crawl sponsored by the Tennessee BFAA last night. People were having all kinds of fun listening to music, enjoying frosty beverages, and, of course, riding a mechanical bull. Don't believe me? Here's a bad photo of Security Partners' Kerry Egan trying not to get thrown: But people deserved a night out on the town after yet another day of success here at ESX's first go round. I won't say the exhibit hall, which opened yesterday, was packed. It wasn't. But the conversations people were having were very meaningful, and I think that manufacturers who understood the opportunity best will find the show was well worth their while. I was speaking with Keith Jentoft at RSI Alarm, who's done some very innovative things with supplied marketing materials for dealers, and up walks Wells Sampson from American Alarm. Wells has an opportunity at a car dealership, but he's getting 20 false alarms a night because he's trying to use video motion detection. Can Keith help? Well, sure, since his video is triggered by a motion sensor, not pixel change, etc. Then Keith's showing Wells the marketing materials and talking about how he's getting great leads for dealers that he's sometimes having a hard time converting because he doesn't have enough dealers yet. Hmm, says Wells, got any leads up in Massachusetts? See what I'm saying? Deals are getting done. Whereas at ISC West or ASIS, it's just product pitch after product pitch. I know ESX doesn't aspire to being a "smaller" show, but the really motivated industry members are here, and I've got to think people who are looking to professionalize their staff and become more involved in the industry associations make for prime customers for manufacturers. There may be fewer of them, but the quality is first rate when it comes to integrators and installers I'm looking to talk to for the paper, that's for sure. Also, the first of the two luncheon events I'm hosting went really well. I have a photo of the event, but Blogger's being finicky and not letting me upload it. Maybe I'll add it later. But the gist of the first luncheon was that the industry needs new leaders in the pipeline, and those people under 40 who've already made it to leadership positions have some insight on how we attract good new people. Here are some boiled down recommendations that came out of the event, which featured Mike Meredith of Security Equipment, Brett Bean (not related to Bob Bean) of F.E. Moran, Tony Byerly of Stanley, and the aforementioned Kerry Egan: 1. We need some kind of formalized mentoring program, whether through the associations or at individual companies, so that new people to the industry can quickly get up to speed and feel like a part of something. Byerly and Bean, specifically, said a mentor was vital in keeping them motivated in the industry. 2. Don't be afraid to hire outside the industry. Egan noted when she was looking for an IT professional, she was worried that she'd need someone with security experience, but she hired a talented person without any security background and is happy with the hire. She said many in the industry are reluctant to do that. 3. Train your people once you hire them, and keep training them. The more people feel like their being invested in, the more likely they are to stick around. 4. Try to provide flexibility for younger workers to take care of their kids and lives while still being productive. There's been a lot of talk here at the show about moving to 12-hour shifts, say, and eliminating a day of work, or just providing results-based incentive plans that don't care whether you spend 40 hours a week in the office or not. There was more, but those were the big points. Cris Carter, the keynoter, was great, by the way, as was his brother John, who came up for the Q&A session. They made a major commitment to being more involved in the industry as a whole and you can be sure you'll see their faces more at industry events in the future. Carter made a point of saying he's more proud of Carter Brothers than he is of his football accomplishments, which I think says a lot. Also, props to Mike Keegan of Watchguard Security for showing up to the address in a Cris Carter Vikings jersey and getting it signed. Brilliant. As for the music last night, it was first-rate. No beating around the bush. First, Marty Stuart and his Fabulous Superlatives put on a great show in the ESX-sponsored event here at the hotel. For whatever reason, Blogger is liking the cheap cell phone images I've sent to myself, so I can post this blurry photo, too: Unfortunately, Marty opened with his electric pop-country stuff, which was excellent, but not as much my bag. I was eyeing his mandolin behind him, hoping he'd bust it out before I had to leave to see Earl Scruggs, but no such luck. Jim Taylor of Integrator Support told me later that he brought it out for three songs to finish his set and was excellent. Beyond excellent was Earl Scruggs. Wow. What an American icon. Here's a bad photo of his band, which was seven strong and included two of his sons: They played a bunch of my favorites, including "Foggy Mountain Breakdown," probably Earl's most famous song, and even the theme song from the Beverly Hillbillies, which Early wrote and played. They had great set management, putting in slow tunes that allowed the 84-year-old Scruggs to sit down and rest, then bringing him back standing for full-bore treatments of ancient standards like "Soldier's Joy." Scruggs had a good line for that one. His son introduced the tune by saying it goes back to the Civil War era and Earl cracked, "yeah, I wrote it." The show was in Ryman Auditorium, which was the original home of the Grand Ole Opry and, we learned, the site where Earl met his wife. Actually, he noted, it was in the parking lot they met, but he wasn't going to quibble with a good story. The place was amazing, with chuch-pew seating, a large balcony, and some of the best sound I've heard. There were lots of kids and families there, and the opening band, the Infamous Stringdusters, who were outstanding in their own right, noted that their folks were in attendance - they didn't want to miss Earl Scruggs either. So, of course, I'm looking forward to a final day here - I'm hosting another luncheon and then hopping on a plane home - but I'm disappointed in at least one piece of news coming out of the show: Next year, it's in Baltimore. I say we get a petition going to keep it in Nashville.