In July of 2008 our state association sponsored one of the most successful product shows and training events in its history. Our treasury at that time was at an all-time high at nearly $33,000. The following April in the Online Communicator Jim Morris, our President at the time expressed his concern regarding the effects our countries worsening economy could have on our industry. Jim also expressed concerns presented due to the entrances of cable companies in the security industry along with an apparent lack of ethics of a growing number security companies.
Fast forward to October 2010 and Jim writes that we are almost broke. Little did he know at the time that it was only going to get worse. A year later our treasury was slowly beginning to recover from an all-time low. I am confident the question that is being asked is what in the world happened? Our association along with AAGSL, KCBFAA and SWMBFAA were impacted in the same fashion as most trade organizations across the country. The 2008 recession resulted in a sharp drop in membership revenue for our local and state associations. However, our financial commitments to support our lobbyist and apprenticeship program continued.
Due to a renewed growth in membership beginning 2011 and generous voluntary contributions from AAGSL and KCBFAA members we have experienced a strong financial recovery over the past 5 years. Additionally, over the past 8 years we have prevailed in blocking the passage of a dozen or so electrical contractor licensing bills that would have caused irreparable harm to our members across the state. Another bill we were able to block would have invalidated the automatic renewal provision of our monitoring contracts. This would have been disastrous with respect to our member’s ability to maintain liability Insurance.
We are currently supporting legislation in the Missouri House of Representatives that will allow families to install cameras in the rooms of residents of long term care facilities. And finally, our apprenticeship program is up and running on a stand-alone basis and graduating apprentices annually. This program is available to dealers not only in Missouri but Kansas and Illinois as well.
How did our members fair during this same period of time? 2009, 2010 and 2011 seemed to be the peak of the summer door knockers. Almost like a plague of locust they descended on major markets across the country with their bag full of dirty tricks. They preyed on the elderly and used bait and switch tactics in attempt to steal accounts from our members. At the end of the day some of these companies were successful in building large numbers of accounts, however they were not successful at stealing large numbers of accounts from established companies. They probably assumed that the recent recession weakened companies’ abilities to maintain commitments to their customers.
Nothing could have been further from the truth. Customer service is one of the corner stones that built the success of these companies. Rather than give in to the promise of wild new marketing schemes and untested products, most companies remained focused on the core structure that built their success and therefore weathered the storms of the past 8 years well.
Many of the door knockers of the past are either no longer around or are no longer relevant. My sense is that our members are stronger and more successful than ever and well positioned to face the challenges of the future.
In 2016 ESA of Missouri moved away from quarterly “off-site” meetings to 3 teleconferences and an annual conference. The goal of this change was to increase member participation in our state association functions. To the benefit of our members and guests this change has worked. Attendance in our teleconferences has increased by nearly 4x that of the past “off-site” meetings. Our first annual conference held this past October at The Tan-Tar-A Resort was an amazing success.
We are currently planning the October 2017 conference that will again be held at Tan-Tar-A. Look forward to another amazing event.
Bob Scales President, ESA of Missouri