The first night at Honeywell’s First Alert Professional annual convention is traditionally an opening reception with a buffet and casual social networking time.
Well, last night at the start of the 2011 convention that I'm attending here in Scottsdale, Ariz. there was something a little different. After the buffet in a ballroom at the Westin Kierland Resort & Spa—food with a Tex-Mex theme, yum!—everyone wandered over to the nearby hall where Honeywell for the first time decided to put on an after-hours Products & Services Showcase. And the showcase was enhanced by the amazing “cookie ladies.”
Convention attendees—I’m told there are about 700 this year—strolled around watching demonstrations of the latest technology and talking to vendors while sipping wine, beer and other drinks from a bar and also enjoying desserts—some of the most luscious of which were served by two beautiful young women who were literally walking dessert trays.
Dressed in bright red off-the-shoulder dresses, the two looked like Flamenco dancers from the waist up. But their bodies rose out of the middle of round dessert carts that obscured the lower half of their bodies. The round, wheeled carts were skirted with red material so looked like the women’s hoop skirts. The carts rolled along as the women walked, stopping here and there to let people help themselves to the powdered-sugar-drenched cookies spread out on the carts.
The young women were charming and gracious (one posed for a picture with me—the sight has to be seen to be believed—and I’ll get that up on this site as soon as the photographer emails it to me) and convention-goers told me they enjoyed the unique method of serving up something sweet.
One was John Loud, owner of Loud Security Systems and president of the Georgia Electronic Life Safety and Security Association. “In any business, you try to do something different to bring some value in,”he observed to me.
He and others said they appreciated the extended showcase hours to learn about products and services. “You get to spend more time with the vendors,” Loud said. There also was plenty of opportunity to network with others. “It’s a nice social environment,” Loud said.
At the showcase, I got a chance to see for myself something I just blogged about recently: a new system designed to alert homeowners if their windows are unlocked. It was developed by Honeywell and Andersen Corp., of window fame. John Kovach, Honeywell’s global director of marketing for sensor products, showed me how it works on a window, protecting homes from burglars and also winter drafts.
He also showed me Honeywell’s new 5816OD Wireless Outdoor Contact, which the company says “is the only wireless magnetic contact designed for harsh outdoor environments.” Used with a 5800 Series wireless sensor, it can protect outdoor things like detached garages, barns and other areas too costly to protect with a wired solution. “There’s nothing like this in the industry,” Kovach told me.
Stephen Wheeler, president of Holmes Security Systems, told Kovach he’s trying out the product. Holmes, a Fayetteville, N.C-company founded in 1908, has had four generations of the Wheeler family working for it, Wheeler told me. He said the company has been a First Alert dealer for at least a dozen years. That’s one of the things that stands out for me about this convention—how many Mom-and Pop companies are a part of the First Alert Professional program.