CABLING THE WORKPLACE '97 will be the very first conference to be held in the brand new Atlantic City Convention Center. The city has gone all out to welcome the attendees to this ribbon cutting first conference at their new "jewel". If you have not received information on this conference, you can FAX your request for information to Cabling Business Magazine, Dallas, TX, (214) 319-6077 or Association of Cabling Professionals, Jacksonville, FL, (904) 645-3181. This is the first CTW conference to be held on the east coast and it will be the best one yet. This is a serious training conference for contractors and end users, as well as an ideal common ground to interface with a wide selection of top quality vendors in the cabling business. Last year, each registered attendee got the training classes, conference-sponsored meals, admission to the exhibition hall, and the training books and materials. The conference manual (Over 1,000 pages - two volume conference training manual) was worth the entire conference fee by itself. Chalk this one up as a real value for 1997.
BICSI (Building Industry Consulting Services International - Tampa, FL) held their annual conference in January at Disney World. Overall, this was a fine show with some good presentations. The weather was magnificent and most of the attendees enjoyed outside pursuits (everything from the Teacup Ride to the 19th Hole) BICSI announced a new era and introduced what many exhibitors referred to as the 15-Minute Tradeshow. The exhibit hall was only open to attendees for brief periods during the breaks between the daily sessions. In the evenings, the exhibit hall hosted food, mixed drinks and beer. The hall was packed like sardines with most of the attendees that returned from "networking" on the golf courses and the theme parks. Nightly at 8 p.m., the exhibit hall closed and the revelry migrated to the hospitality suites. This year the vendor's hospitality suites were "extreme" as they competed for attendance.
BICSI, with profits that seem larger than most of its' members, rolled out their installer's manual and the opportunity for an individual to plunk down $10,000 for their first year as an official BICSI installer trainer. We interviewed a cable manufacturer about their official BICSI Installer Training Program. They said they would be training the students with their own wire products and an associated manufacturer's connector hardware. When asked if any other manufacturers' wire and connectors would be part of the course, they emphatically said, "NO!". So much for impartiality at BICSI.
COMNET® (Washington, D.C.) - this annual conference and tradeshow is now almost twenty years old. COMNET® has survived and grown in quality and size while many other conferences peaked and withered during the radical changes in the voice and data communications industry. The focus has shifted to stay in step with what's hot and what's not. This explains the attendance of more than forty thousand.
For example, in the past four years, COMNET® went from about 10-12 exhibitors on distribution system products to this year's massive representation of the cabling sector of our industry. We toured what seemed like more than a mile of booths exhibiting voice and data cabling network products. There was a much wider selection of vendors and products dealing with cabling at COMNET® than we saw at most other shows. At this show, we saw all of the regular exhibitors and some new players.
Walt Chiquoine, President, Transport Management Group, Inc. (Wilmington, DE 302-657-5940) told us their business continues to grow at a healthy pace as more companies realize the value of the TMG offerings for facility management. You can check them out at Cabling The Workplace '97 (May 12-15) at Atlantic City, NJ. Mr. Chiquoine said this was their first time exhibiting at COMNET® and he was very pleased with the traffic at their booth.
Another new player with an impressive new innovation was K. St. James, Inc. (York, PA 717-755-5168). James L. Kraft, President, demonstrated their new pre-connectorized multi-jack terminals. This new product, Ezspeed™ (Manufactured by: Identicomm, Inc. - a sister company) bundles four-pair CAT 5 enhanced cables to a 36 pin connector which plugs into a pre-wired 2, 3, or 4 RJ45 connector block. This application is a definite winner in a stable pre-wired environment where voice and data are needed. We ran this design by one of the leading hotel design firms and got a quick thumbs-up. Watch this company in the future, either somebody's going to buy them out or they are going to make substantial growth on their own. This is another case of innovation moving faster than the codes and standards level. In defense of EIA/TIA (Electronics Industry Association / Telecommunications Industry Association), progress cannot be suppressed. You either lead, follow, or get out of the way.
More exciting news of industry growth was uncovered at the Prestolite Wire Corporation (Sidney, NB 800-272-9999) booth. Preston Speers, VP - Telecomm. Products Group, announced a multi-million dollar expansion project for its Sidney manufacturing plant that actually targets the creation of new jobs over the next two years. The proposed Sidney Economic Development Plan is an important incentive to the development of this project. In an era where force reductions, corporate downsizing and streamlining the labor force dominate the dark side of the news, it is damn good to hear about a company investing in growth and new jobs. Prestolite Wire Corporation has an impressive family of high-quality products including the NetLink 2000™ 350 MHz UTP 100% FEP insulated, Enhanced Category 5 cable.
Tim Berelsman, Prestolite's Data Market & Technology Team Leader, gave us a quick peek at a total quality program for contractors that will be unveiled soon. We couldn't get alot of information for the record, but the program seems to integrate a tight specification for quality products coupled with a comprehensive contractor training and certification program to ensure the end user is receiving the highest value with the correct methods of installation. Other vendors are working on similar concepts and we applaud Prestolite Wire and any other company which drives the quality all the way to the end user.
At the Accu-Tech booth, we interviewed Dale Yarber, Vice President of Market Development, Accu-Tech Corporation (Roswell, GA, 770-751-9473). Last year, they opened branch offices in Kansas City, Kansas & Columbus, Ohio and made a major expansion in the Tampa, Florida location. This distributor organization is staffed by some very enthusiastic and dedicated employees. The market is right and their total commitment to service are the driving forces to this company's success. We expect Accu-Tech will continue their pattern of opening at least two locations this year.
ANOTHER VOICE HEARD FROM:
We received an interesting letter from a member of the IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local No. 1 - St. Louis, MO). The writer called our attention to a selection of installer training courses offered by the IBEW - NECA (National Electrical Contractors' Association). Last year, over 300 journeyman electricians took advantage of these courses at an average cost of $225 each course. The writer emphasized that these courses were NOT the "fly-by-night, over-priced, puppy-mill, training programs that promise much and deliver little." However, you must be a journeyman member of the IBEW to have access to these programs.
Deja Vu? Several sources have reported that Anixter, one of America's leading communications products distributors, is considering reinstituting the "Levels Program". Before EIA/TIA setup the Category Standards Program to define the level of performance, the industry was led by Anixter's original "Levels Program". In fact, much of the EIA/TIA standards program was copied from Anixter's lead. The concept made sense then and it makes sense now. The EIA/TIA standards have been unable to keep pace with the rapidly developing technology. If Anixter came out with a program to address levels 6, 7, and maybe even 8, it would help the marketplace recognize and place various products in their proper perspective (performance-wise). We are pleased to see Anixter's continued support of quality and safety. We understand the Structured Wiring Systems continues to support the 100% FEP insulation on Plenum cables. Hats off to Anixter! While some hybrid constructions (3x1 or 2x2, or 0x4) may meet the minimum standard for fire safety, we need to learn more about fire safety margins and consider this important parameter in our selection of cable types and construction. There are some places that you just don't want to cut corners.
CDT (Cable Design Technologies, Pittsburgh, PA, 412-937-2300) recently moved from NASDAQ to the New York Stock Exchange. Look for CDT. This company continues to have the "Midas Touch". Last year's acquistions have been a good fit with the existing operations.
Berk-Tek (New Holland, PA - 717-354-6200) recently announced a new enhanced performance Category 5 product, HYPER-Plus. This new product meets the stringent POWER SUM Near End Crosstalk requirements of ANSI/TIA/EIA-568-A for backbone cables. Both Berk-Tek's HYPER-Plus and LANmark-350 utilize 100% DuPont Teflon® FEP insulation and deliver enhanced performance. The HYPER-Plus cables have improved flexibility, smaller diameter, and easy link verification.