Group woos members with ‘networking’

Tuesday, July 1, 2003

FORT MYERS, Fla. - An association of mid-size alarm companies that grew out of a network of Westinghouse Security Systems dealers nearly three decades ago has evolved into a small but vital invitation-only group that was, at press time, gearing up for its annual meeting in late June.

Composed of 17 alarm companies scattered across the country, the Alarm Dealers Association focuses on providing an intimate, non-competitive environment where its members discuss ideas, issues and other topics with a group of their peers. The group creates that type of environment by soliciting only select companies and limiting membership to one dealer in a specific geography, said Chuck Durrell, executive director of the association.

A typical company is a high-end residential or commercial company with $1 million to $5 million in revenue, although some members double that mark, he said.

“The biggest thing we have is a very close-knit community,” Durrell said, “where our members can share intimate information, not only financial but even personal problems at meetings.”

Discussions range from structured, topical discussions at the annual meeting on items such as “marketing in a tough environment” and how non-response issues might affect monitoring contracts, to monthly telephone conferences among board members and other discussion sessions.

The group also offers its members an insurance product and some product purchasing opportunities, and has done some legislative lobbying on behalf of members in the past, Durrell said.

With its membership capped at 25 slots, there are a few openings, but membership is typically on an invitation-only basis.

Keyth Technologies of Highland Park, Ill., the latest member to join the group, is also a member of Security Network of America, the National Burglar & Fire Alarm Association and the Illinois Electronic Security Association, but was looking forward to the networking opportunities.

“I have considered my market niche, worked my market niche…and I am looking and being open to networking to see what other doors of opportunities (exist), even outside my arena and outside the alarm industry,” said Keith Fisher, president of Keyth Technologies.

While there are no remaining members of Westinghouse fame, the group does include Jade Alarm in Kansas City, Mo.; Richmond Alarm in Richmond, Va.; Valley Alarms & Communications in Surrey, British Columbia; and Action Alarm Systems in Baltimore.

About one or two members are added each year; there is still open territory in Texas, for example, while the East Coast region is saturated, Durrell said.

Dues are $500 per quarter, in addition to a $500 application fee.