Do Associations Like ALOA Still Matter?

Oct. 1, 2021

During my 30-plus years in the security industry, I’ve belonged to several associations. From ASIS to SIA, InfraGard to DHI and NFPA to ALOA, each industry association provides a different perspective of what security means to those involved. For 12 years as publisher of Locksmith Ledger in the 1990s and early 2000s, we were active in ALOA. Back then, it enjoyed robust membership and vendor participation. Today, the landscape is a bit different.

The issues aren’t unique to ALOA, as associations everywhere struggle for members and relevancy. But, as Ledger senior editor Will Christensen found out this month, new President Bill Mandlebaum is looking to return the sheen and shimmy to ALOA — soon.

After reading the interview, I began to wonder whether industry associations still have a place in our social-media-driven, 30-second sound-bite, attention-deficit world. Do remaining members really care about industry research or certification? Are training and mentoring still important? Are folks interested in peer interaction and advocating for the industry they serve?

Even though the role of associations around the security sector has diminished, it’s sad to witness ALOA’s fall. When I joined in 1987, locksmiths were viewed as frontline warriors in the security industry. Granted, ALOA members were younger then, with most Boomers still in their prime and having business aspirations that matched their vitality. Three decades later, the older generation mostly has left, and a new breed of security specialists has taken over. That isn’t a bad thing. There’s no reason today’s locksmith shouldn’t be multifaceted in their technology offerings or strategic planning.

That brings us back to my original muse — is ALOA, or other security associations, still relevant to its members? To this I say, in most resounding fashion, yes!

The important benefit of any industry association is that it’s composed of like-minded members who share the same challenges and opportunities. As many of us have realized the past 20 months, it’s difficult to replace the personal interaction among our peers or truly immerse oneself in a hands-on discussion while maneuvering a computer mouse.

At a time when technology is evolving rapidly, associations, such as ALOA, can promote standards and best practices that keep locksmiths on the cutting edge. Local ALOA chapter meetings can help to decipher vendor buzzwords and remove the P.R. grease from product cut sheets. Certification and education remain association stalwarts, and ALOA’s new leadership team sees this as an area of emphasis for their membership.

So, if it has been a while since you dusted off your ALOA badge or paid your dues, it’s time to reconsider. Visit your local chapter. Plan for the national ALOA conference in Las Vegas in 2022. Your membership in a respected organization, such as ALOA, ASIS, BOMA or DHI, is a symbol of professionalism and can be a ticket to renewing bonds you thought lost forever.