Behind NSCA’s Randy Vaughan Founder’s Award

Randy Vaughan Founder’s Award scholarship provides free registration to the NSCA Business & Leadership Conference each year.

Tom LeBlanc

Randy Vaughan died on the same week that the first issue of Commercial Integrator was printed.

For a long time we had kept our noses down, working hard to come out of the gate with a strong inaugural magazine. Our goal, however, was to be even more prolific in our online coverage of industry news.

It was disappointing in a way that the first major development that broke since CI launched was the passing of a well-connected and well-liked industry icon. Vaughan, who died after an illness on December 23, 2010, was 63. He was president of Virginia-based AE Systems for 38 years before semi-retiring three years before his death.

I knew a little bit about Vaughan from my days of covering the residential market for sister publication CE Pro because AE Systems had a residential presence, but I didn’t know enough about the man.

Researching Vaughan’s career proved invaluable to CI‘s entire editorial staff. As reporters we had no problem writing about the “who/what/where/when” of the industry, but Vaughan’s career pointed us to the “why” — a passion for the industry.

I thought it ironic at the time that even in death Vaughan was pushing us editors at a little publication nobody had ever heard of to dig deeper, commit more and approach our industry coverage with more passion.

Learning from the Man

Vaughan served on the NSCA Board of Directors from 1997-2008, including a two-year term as president beginning in 2005. Additionally, he served as an instructor for NSCA University for more than 12 years, and was named its Educator of the Year in 2007.

He also served as chairman of the NSCA Education Committee for a number of years. He created NSCA University and the Business & Leadership Conference.

“Randy was not just a business colleague, he was a great friend,” said NSCA executive director Chuck Wilson in a statement released right after Vaughan passed. “He was a passionate person for those with whom he was involved, both personally and professionally … He has always had the best balance of work and family and a keen sense of how to balance the important things in life.

“He truly loved his life and the people in it. This is an immense loss to both the commercial and residential electronic systems industries. Randy served as a valuable and knowledgeable leader who left his footprint on so many of today’s leaders and those who will lead future generations.”

RELATED: NSCA BLC Attendees Match Wits With Chuck Wilson

That the NSCA soon after announced its Randy Vaughan “Founder’s Award,” which provides free registration to the NSCA Business & Leadership Conference, made perfect sense. Vaughan dedicated a significant part of his career to the Education Foundation. The “Founder’s Award” scholarship reflects the Foundation’s mission to develop young talent by targeting first-time BLC attendees.

Just before the 2015 edition of NSCA’s BLC in Tampa, Fla., we learned that Josh Srago, an AV engineer at San Jose, Calif.-based ISC Integration and contributor to CI and AV Nation, has been honored with the “Founder’s Award.”

Rarely at a loss for words, Srago would not have been able to make the cross-country trip without the scholarship. It’s fitting that four years after his passing Vaughan is still invigorating conversations and pushing the industry forward.

NEXT: Meet a Randy Vaughan Founder’s Award Recipient

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