Same Show, Different Perspectives

July 18, 2018

Another ALOA convention is in the books. There are many positive aspects to each show. A lot of volunteers make every ALOA happen. Dedicated trainers take time off from normal business to share their knowledge with attendees. Exhibitors spend time and energy to fill the convention floor with their latest product offerings.

A locksmith who visited ALOA this year shared his views via social media. Judging by his comments, he fully enjoyed the convention. First, he mentioned the long drive from his home to Washington D.C. and the interesting sights along the way. He was impressed by the amazing hotel facility. He took one traditional all-day class and highly recommended the instructor. He enjoyed visiting with other locksmiths at the Thursday night party. Finally, he appreciated what larger manufacturers had on display at the convention. This locksmith obviously left ALOA in a satisfied mood.

My perspective of ALOA 2018 was from behind our Locksmith Ledger booth table. Like every other exhibitor, we come to ALOA conventions each year to display our products, visit with attendees, and hope to make a few sales. Exhibitors understand that every attendee may not stop and find interest with their products, but enough locksmiths will pause and talk to make each convention day an enjoyable experience for all.

Making any convention run smoothly requires numbers. As with several ALOA conventions over the last few years, attendance has not been overwhelming. There are several factors which are all meeting at the same time. As indicated by the locksmith on social media, he drove to the convention. Most of the locksmiths I talked with were from the Mid-Atlantic. Mention was made during the annual meeting that a high percentage of ALOA members are middle-aged. Perhaps these people see no advantage in attending ALOA. Perhaps young locksmiths tend towards interest in electronic security products and look elsewhere for training. Somebody at ALOA should notice that an electronic access control product by a new company called AirAllow was voted best new product at the convention.

By any count, the numbers were not there. Instructors I spoke with were hoping for larger amounts of students.  Perhaps ALOA conventions should be more centrally located since a significant amount of locksmiths drive to the show.

The bigger issue is how to recruit young persons into this great, rewarding business of locksmithing. This is something for all of us to think about.