SP&T News

Q&A: Bob Smith, national president, CANASA

October 11, 2023  By  SP&T Staff

Bob Smith, CANASA

Following the Canadian Security Association’s AGM in Vancouver in June, Bob Smith officially embarked on a two-year term as CANASA national president.

Smith began his security career in 1991 and joined Alliance Alarms in 1994 as a technician. He has held several positions with that organization over the years and was recently promoted to vice-president of sales and operations. The company, known today as Alliance Security Team, is based in Kingston, Ont.

Smith recently spoke with SP&T News about his industry experience and some of his plans for CANASA as its new president.

SP&T News: How long have you been involved with CANASA and how has membership and participation benefited your security career?

Bob Smith: I began volunteering with CANASA as a member of the Telecommunications Signal Working Group in 2016. I was nominated to the Eastern Ontario Regional Council in 2017 and was the regional council president this past term. I was encouraged to put my name forward for the CANASA National Board, and was successfully elected in 2019, and have been a National Board director since. I continue to serve or have served on the following CANASA committees: Executive; Membership; Scholarship; and By-law and Policy.

Being from a medium-sized alarm/integration company in Eastern Ontario, the major benefit of being a CANASA member is the reach our company now has across the country. The partnerships we have developed with other CANASA members is one of the keys to our success. The contacts we have made within the industry and the resources that we can count on have increased significantly, mostly due to CANASA member events with networking opportunities.

SP&T: What is your mandate as CANASA’s new national president?

BS: I have taken the opportunity to attend more events since being named national board president, and what I hear from a lot of members is, “What is the plan to replenish the shortage of installers?” While we are having some success with college programs, I am looking for a more direct/applied approach to having these installation micro courses offered to a larger geographic area so we can meet demand nationally. Ideally, we would be able to schedule volunteer guest speakers from within our industry to encourage the students and classes with real-life success stories of our journey. This will be a high priority as soon as our committee meetings begin after our summer break. Of course, we will remain steadfast in our commitment to support and champion diversity and inclusion within our industry.

SP&T: What are some of the initiatives you or CANASA would like to undertake during your tenure?

BS: While some members do take advantage of the networking opportunities made possible by CANASA events, I would like to see a partner network developed within the membership. We may be competitors, but as we all struggle with the ongoing shortage of technicians, this is where we need to work together to help each other out the most. I would like to see a repository of companies who are willing and able to provide subcontractor services in their specific regions. Our company has several partner companies that we meet with [and] share best practices for our different operations. As noted, this is where we have found success within these partnerships: knowing that we will find the necessary resources in various regions to meet our needs.

With more data and metrics available, we can certainly gain a better understanding of how the membership can learn to use these to strengthen their respective businesses. By providing the tools, strategies, processes, methods, etc., we can help members achieve a common goal, and that is to make your business successful.

SP&T: What is CANASA doing well today?

BS: CANASA is engaging other organizations and associations to make sure our members have access to the most current resources, events and affinity programs. An overhaul/update to our association management system has started, and we will continue to see improvements in this area. The Security Canada shows continue to reach new milestones for attendance and show offerings, with the upcoming Security Canada Central show trending towards the same outcome.

Our lean but mighty CANASA team work incredibly efficiently and are an important piece of the association’s success.

SP&T: Where are there areas for potential improvement?

BS: We can make improvements to our web page, as some of the content is outdated, and a fresh look and flow would make it a better resource for the membership to access content, and stay current with industry topics, events, and other communications as well.

Opening our membership opportunities to “outside” security channels like IT companies will have a positive impact as our industry leans more to this being a requirement every day.

SP&T: How can CANASA members (or potential new members) get involved and take advantage of the resources the association offers?

BS: We are already hearing new, fresh voices on the national board, regional councils and committees that will help guide the association. I always encourage members to engage in any capacity they feel they can commit to.

I am also a fan of feedback, good or bad. We cannot affect change if we are unaware of what that change could be or needs to be. I had a couple of conversations at the AGM in Vancouver in June that gave me some insight into some of the challenges the industry faces today. In later discussions with the same individuals following my appointment as president, I sensed a hesitancy in their tone. To address this, I emphasized the importance of valuing all feedback.

Continued participation in member events can present opportunities or contacts when you may least expect them, and I continue to find personal and professional value in attending them. I look forward to this upcoming term, and working with the national board, regional councils, committees and the CANASA team to foster our long-term prosperity.

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