A Look Back
Sep 1, 2003 12:00 PM, Kim Doyle
Congratulations S&VC. Twenty years! Your publication has served an important need in the electronic systems industry, and we are proud to have been associated with your vast accomplishments. Like you, the NSCA has seen great change over the years.
The NSCA got its start in 1980. To those of us not associated with the low-voltage industry at that time, however (myself included), the circumstances surrounding the birth of the then National Sound and Communications Association are varied.
In the late 1970s, the Electronic Distribution Show (EDS) was a successful event for the resale of electronic parts. However, it failed to meet sound professionals' more specialized needs. Although some might say the NSCA was formed in secret, away from the for-profit trade show mentality of EDS — claiming its independence and meeting alongside EDS but never with it — it appears more likely the NSCA was formed with the full support of EDS.
At the request of a group of sound contractors, in 1981 the EDS reorganized part of the exhibit floor to include a pavilion of manufacturers offering products of interest to contractors and set aside space for a conference better suited to their needs. The result was the NSCA, an organization designed to create and lead the conference and to provide sound contractors with professional information throughout the year. The NSCA had 44 members in 1981, and the first NSCA Expo had 70 booths and 330 registered attendees in Las Vegas. NSCA continued its partnership with EDS until 1985 when the NSCA went to Orlando, Florida, and EDS moved to Chicago.
Although the systems contracting industry has changed over the years, NSCA's mission has not. Education and contractor advancement was and continues to be the focus. According to Robert Ancha, NSCA founding president, the organization “was formed to promote the skills of contracting. Sound became big business for contractors.” NSCA has a long-standing tradition of keeping a watchful eye on the industry and predicting industry trends, just as Ancha once did when he predicted the increased frequency of mergers and acquisitions. “Fewer and fewer contractors will do more and more of the work,” he said, and looking at the status of the electronic systems industry today, he was right.
In 1994 the NSCA membership voted to change its name to the National Systems Contractors Association. Reflecting the evolving business activities of its membership, the NSCA felt the word systems more accurately depicted the industry.
“It is very gratifying to see how the NSCA has grown,” Ancha says. He believes the NSCA should continue assisting member companies by, among other things, helping decrease a contractor's cost of doing business. “The NSCA should promote a greater awareness of end-user responsibility for paying contractors on time,” he says, “and [it should] educate consultants on how to evaluate a contractor's skill, to make sure he is qualified to do the job.”
Current NSCA President Michael Bradley agrees with Ancha. “Supporting the systems contractor is so important and something the NSCA is committed to doing every day,” he says. “The NSCA remains committed to helping contractors develop a skilled professional workforce.” Major new initiatives like the Electronic Systems Technician (EST) apprenticeship training program beginning this fall and the EST certification programs available next spring are examples of promises being made and kept.
Under Bradley's guidance, NSCA continues to be a forward-thinking association providing industry awareness, legislative advocacy, and tools of the trade for systems professionals. The NSCA is supported by a dynamic group of more than 100 volunteers and 20 staff — a long way from an organization run by one staff member and a grassroots, volunteer effort. The NSCA Expo, now called the NSCA Systems Integration Expo, has grown to more than 10,000 attendees and 500 exhibits.
It is important to note NSCA's understanding of other key industry professionals. For this reason, the NSCA offers professional development for systems integrators, consultants, sales reps, and manufacturers. For the benefit of member companies, from churches to prisons and loudspeakers to access control, the NSCA is working to address it all.
The association is proud of its roots and is thankful for the continued support provided by so many founding members. Here's to another successful 23 years.
Kim Doyleis the marketing and communications director for NSCA. She may be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.