by: Leif Kothe Wednesday, October 9, 2013

HAGERSTOWN, Md.—The Dynamark Convention 2013 was a fast-moving two days, highlighted by a diverse array of booths at the vendor show and keynote speeches by a pair of industry experts: Wayne Alter, founder and chairman of Dynamark; and Wade Moose, CEO of The Systems Depot and Elk Products.

The following is a list of highlights from the show floor, the keynote speeches and the central station tour:

The convention kicked off with the vendor show, which showcased access control, video surveillance, fire alarms, intrusion detection, and more. There were booths with distributors that included ADI. Also, several attendees from The Systems Depot, including CEO Robert Pinion, gave me a thorough description of the company’s new call center, a 20,000-square-foot facility with an efficient layout that’s rapidly adding new employees.

On the show floor I spoke with Ed Curry, regional sales manager for DoorKing, who talked about the company’s perimeter building access control systems, and DoorKing’s success in several verticals, including multifamily residential buildings and airports (clients include Chicago O’Hare, Philadelphia International Airport and Newark Liberty). In addition to access control, the company manufactures parking control devices, gate operators and telephone entry products.

A Dynamark Convention wouldn’t have been complete without a tour of the central station. It just so happened that this was my first tour of any central station. Tom Piston, vice president of sales and marketing at Dynamark, together with Lamar Shroyer, IT director, guided me on a tour through the central station. Shroyer showed us a veritable wall of servers and systems, which included Bold Technologies’ Manitou automation platform, as well as servers from Israeli-based Tadiran Telecom.

Keith Godsey, Dynamark’s vice president of central station operations, answered a few questions about Dynamark’s training procedures. Training typically lasts two weeks, and operators take on greater responsibilities as they ascend to higher levels of training. Interestingly enough, Godsey noted that 80 percent of their operators have been at the station since the facility opened in 2011—no small feat for a profession typically prone to high turnover.

And now for some notes on the keynote speeches:

Embrace new technology. Adapt. Preserve a human connection in sales and seize the opportunities provided by a market that’s bound to become more aware of your products and services. Those were some of the words of wisdom offered by Wayne Alter and Wade Moose in the keynote addresses.

Both Alter and Moose were engaging speakers with a penchant for weaving helpful and often funny anecdotes into their advice for dealers. Early into Alter’s speech, he predicted the penetration rate for the market would see a spike of between 5-8 percent in the not-too-distant future.

It’s a lofty projection, but one grounded in the likelihood that market awareness stands to rise appreciably in the coming years due to the influx of new players, specifically the cablecos and telecoms, whose advertising clout could prove a boon to the entire industry, he said. This development, together with a gradually recovering economy and a profusion of home management services that boost RMR and curb attrition, might be enough to nudge that stubborn penetration rate in an upward direction. I’ll be keeping a close eye on market reports to see if Alter’s prediction bears itself out.

Another point of emphasis in both speeches, particularly Alter’s: The industry has come full circle. “It’s new in some ways, and it’s old in others,” Alter told attendees. While the technology and the means of reaching customers have undergone dramatic transformations recently, some of the original principles of salesmanship remain as essential as ever, Alter noted. He mentioned Vivint’s door-knocking summer sales model as an example of this, as well as the DIY monitoring systems, which Alter originally thought would appeal more to hobbyists than general customers.

Another two-part prescription Alter provided to dealers: Expand the number of people in your business and train them well. It’s a tested formula for building an account base, if not always an easy one to enact. This piece of advice again harkens back to the recurring theme of the keynote—the theme of keeping pace with the evolution of the industry while preserving certain core requirements that have always been conducive to growth.

To conclude, I wanted to mention a final element of interest about the conference: The presence of companies offering peripheral services that both dealers and central stations are leveraging for value. I spoke with Joseph Narkin, director of business development at Demand, a marketing and business development firm that works with alarm companies, including Dynamark. Demand has a team comprised of qualified prison inmates that makes cold calls by telephone. (Narkin himself is a former inmate who said the opportunity contributed tremendously to his rehabilitation and reintegration in society).

I also spoke with John Latimer, senior account executive at Keller Stonebraker Insurance, based in Hagerstown, Md. The company works with alarm companies, both dealers and central stations, to help transfer and mitigate risk—legal concerns of no small importance to the alarm industry as a whole.

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