Scandal Shows Need for Quality Association Volunteers

Security Sales & Integration

The Big Idea with Ron Davis
January, 2011

Scandal Shows Need for Quality Association Volunteers

If you had just one really great idea you could share with the alarm industry, what would it be?
This month’s great idea comes from Chet Donati, president of the Illinois Electronic Security Association (IESA).
Chet DonatiIdea of the Month
If you had just one really great idea you could share with the alarm industry, what would it be?
Donati’s Great Idea: Put safeguards in place to make certain internal unlawful behavior is not allowed to proliferate and continue unnoticed.

Sometimes bad things indiscriminately happen to good people. Case in point, this month’s column was to feature industry veteran Chet Donati sharing a really great idea having to do with taking care of central station customers.
As an alternative I would like to bring up how Donati, in his role as president of the Illinois Electronic Security Association (IESA), handled a recent embezzlement scandal that resulted in the association suffering a significant financial loss. The greater context here is to provide stimulus for considering the vital role volunteers play in service to the industry.

In the wake of the IESA scandal, allegedly perpetrated by its former executive director, the question on many people’s minds is “Chet, the scandal happened on your watch. What advice do you have for other alarm associations so they don’t fall prey to similar criminal behavior?”

A little background about Donati is in order before we continue further. Simply, he is a quintessential alarm guy, top to bottom. Donati started out his professional life as a cop, then decided to stop chasing the bad guys and help catch them. To that end he launched an alarm company — Midlothian, Ill.-based DMC Security Services, located near Chicago.

Through the years Donati has led his company to significant growth, specializing in burglar and fire alarms, access control, CCTV, private investigations and pre-employment screening. Along with his IESA responsibilities, Donati is active in both the Central Station Alarm Association (CSAA) and the Electronic Security Association (ESA).

The question I posed to Donati sparked this month’s great idea. He also went on to explain the importance of assembling a strong board with members who can help you foresee some of the unexpected, clandestine events that may be taking place. And, significantly, review everything that comes across your desk regarding the association or organization, Donati says.
Let’s take it one step further. Today’s state and regional associations are becoming more and more necessary within the framework of the alarm industry. I was talking to Donati about this subject while he was on his way to a meeting in a Chicago suburb that’s starting to offer fire alarm monitoring services (not a good thing for our industry, but I digress!)
First of all, if you ever decide to serve as an officer in an association be sure to explore and understand the reasons and motivations for doing so. Usually, these start off as personal aspirations to serve and give back to the industry. That is all highly admirable. But you’ll also want to make sure you have the intestinal fortitude and skills necessary to constructively contend with adversity. As many association executives can attest, when everything goes right, everyone else gets the credit. When everything goes wrong, the president takes the blame.

Here is the rub: This industry can little afford not to have quality volunteers. It can’t afford to burn out those who do serve with dedication. I would like all readers to consider the following: Ask yourself not so much what your association leaders can do for you. Rather, what abilities do you have to offer that would help the association further grow and enhance value to its members? 

Come up with a positive answer to that one and you’ll have come a long way to contributing to the industry.

Ron DavisRon Davis is Security Sales & Integration‘s “What’s the Big Idea?” columnist and contributing market analyst. He is president of Davis Group, a full-service consulting firm serving the security industry, which also includes GraybeardsRus. He has 35 years of industry experience, including founding Security Associates International in the 1980s.