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Cutting Edge: Cruising the Exhibits at the "Chief's Show"

Conference attendees were treated to a viewing of first- rate law enforcement products: possibly the largest gathering of vendors ever,

January 01, 1998  |  by Rebecca Stone

Sales Reps With a Past

It may not be generally known that representatives for several companies are former law enforcement professionals themselves. They can 'talk the talk' because at one time they also 'walked the walk' as officers. ITT Night Vision's Thorton, an example, is a former narcotics officer.

"Actually, a greater percentage of our personnel are former law enforcement," said Mike Hooper, director of marketing for Safariland. "Some have retired or have left the force for other reasons and have come to work for us. They understand the needs of the agencies. Some of our people were training officers, and training officers often make recommendations to the chief on products because they're in the field and know what's going on. They know what's needed and can talk one-on-one with customers."

Bob Weber is one of those people referred to by Hooper. In fact, he and many of his fellow representatives at the Safariland booth are retired LAPD officers.

Cavanaugh, of Armor Holdings, Inc. and Troiani, of Glock, revealed similar circumstances at their companies.

"Oh yes! A great many of our sales reps, and those in other positions in the company, have law enforcement backgrounds. It would be very difficult to operate without having the same kind of knowledge our customers have," said Troiani.

Be The First On Your Block To See It

The exhibit hall is an integral part of the conference each year. It provides an opportunity or law enforcement personnel, from all levels, to preview the latest clothing, equipment, and services that pertain to their profession.

This year, the hall took up a large part of the Orange County Convention Center, which stretches nearly a mile in length. A cacophony of sounds and a barrage of colorful booths competed for visitors' attention from every direction.

There were so many vendors, it's not possible to mention every one, in fact it was hard to resist breaking into a run to get to each booth. A brief sampling affords some idea of the magnitude of this three-day event within the framework of the conference.

There were bicycles, clothing, guns and ammo, holsters, bullet-proof vests, computers, not to mention numerous associations present- all geared toward law enforcement.

Companies often debut new products at this show, including Safariland (five new tactical vests); Allied Signal(Spectra Shield Plus); U.S. Armor(Enforcer vest); while Point Blank Body Armor showcased its technological advances in concealable protection.

Armor Holdings, Inc. attracted attention with its American Body Armor and related equipment; Protective Products International featured its concealable and tactical body armor ballistic shields; and Second Chance Body Armor displayed its soft body armor.

Among the booths featuring clothing and the fabric that makes up most law enforcement uniforms were Fechheimer; Blauer; Spiewak; Rocky Booths; Weinbrenner Shoe; Dakota; Gerber; Pro- Tuff; Helmet House; and W.L. Gore and Associates.

Holsters and belts were well represented by such companies as Michael's of Oregon, with new Basketweave Nylon Duty Gear. Bianchi featured leather and AccuMold nylon holsters, belts and accessories. Strong Holster Company displayed its line of holsters, belts, badge cases, wallets and belt accessories which are made of leather and strongcore ballistic materials. Mixon Corporation was there with leather and ballistic nylon products.

Firepower- oriented booths were always crowded as representatives from companies, including Smith & Wesson, Beretta and Glock, displayed the latest in weaponry.

Zap Electric Bikes, Trek Bicycle Corporation, and Smith & Wesson Mountain Bikes, were in attendance, complete with a multitude of accessories for policing on bikes.

On the higher end of the price scale, automobiles that cater to law enforcement grabbed center stage. These vendors included Ford, Chevrolet and Subaru.

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