The results are in, dear members: You’ve got a new-look Board.
On October 31, CEDIA announced the top vote-getters for the three open elected positions on the Board of Directors. The winners — newly elected directors Matt Scott and Heather Sidorowicz and re-elected director Ken Erdmann — begin their term at the start of January 2018. (The folks filling the remaining two appointed positions will be voted on at the first board meeting of 2018.)
A recent CEDIA Tech Council podcast interviewed all seven of the candidates vying for the open seats. Here are some highlights from our chats with the ultimate winners. Heather Sidorowicz
Heather Sidorowicz is president and owner of Southtown Audio Video, a custom installation and integration firm in Hamburg, New York, on the western edge of the state south of Buffalo.
Sidorowicz is something of an integration lifer. “I have been in this industry for over 15 years, since early 2000. My father started the company back in 1984. After working in the company for over a decade, I purchased it from him in 2014, making me sole owner and president,” Sidorowicz says.
When asked about the challenges of the channel, Sidorowicz is fairly blunt: “I think that one of the biggest things is remaining relevant as an industry. We are in a major state of change, possibly the biggest industry shift since the smartphone and the MP3 player. And I think we need to tread carefully. We are no longer an industry about products, but we're about services, or as I say, solutions. And how we go to market with this moving forward is essential.”
Following that setup, Sidorowicz gives us what may be the most visceral metaphor for where the CEDIA integrator needs to go. “We are becoming more like car dealerships,” she says. “A Ford Focus is a Ford Focus, no matter where you get it. What makes you buy from one versus the other is about the service you're going to receive. It's about the relationship. It's about the human factor. It's about amenities. And I think we're getting back to that human factor.”
And as for the Board? “I'm a big advocate in transparency and understanding what the rules and regulations are, and saying that to the rest of our tribe. We're a small association and an intimate association, and I think that we need to get back to that priority.” Matt Scott
Matt D. Scott began his career early on, running sound (front-of-house P.A.) at an event in his native Canada at the age of 12. From there, he started Omega Audio Video “at 17 straight out of high school. We got into some House of Worship pro sound then got into residential in ’07.”
Top of mind for Scott when it comes to the association? Providing more bang for members’ bucks. “They invest a lot of time and a lot of monetary commitments into the organization, and proving value for them is key. Beyond that, it comes to helping members in negotiations in the changing technology, whether that be networking, IT security, IOT. And lastly, I think it really comes downs to training. Training is going to be the thing that keeps CEDIA members relevant.”
Scott’s also focused on CEDIA’s evolving demographic: “I think also that as the association changes, we need to reflect that with the younger generation coming in, and the need to grow that younger aspect.”
As far as what defines the CEDIA channel, Scott breaks things down thusly: “I see the industry shifting into three segments. We've got our ultra-high-end — that's not going to go anywhere.” Next up: the mid-range client. “It's gonna be that customer that wants a fully connected home with all the bells and whistles, maybe not ultra-high-end, but something above DIY.” When it comes to the DIY/DIWM group, Scott sees them morphing into something aspirational: “There’s a ton of potential there, and if we become the experts in it, that gives us the ability to take those clients from that range, move them into mid-range, and potentially even into the ultra-high-range.” Ken Erdmann
If Sidorowicz and Scott provide the Board with new ideas, then count on Erdmann for institutional knowledge. Erdmann’s served on the Board before (including a stint as Chairman) and performs a vast number of volunteer functions, most recognizably as a CEDIA Boot Camp instructor. “I suppose if you look inside you'd see there's little CEDIA logos all over the place inside of my brain,” he jokes.
“I am a licensed electrical contractor in addition to being integrator,” says Erdmann, who co-founded and remains part owner of Erdmann Electric, Inc. in Springville, Utah, “So I have a unique perspective to both sides of the big bad world of high- and low-voltage.”
Erdmann’s long been a vocal champion of the CEDIA Government Affairs department, and that informs his other concerns: “I think CEDIA's most important role is to protect the role of the integrator, to make sure that they can continue to function as integrators in a world that's very competitive, both with legislative and with technology challenges. And then, finally, I think a very important role is that CEDIA must participate in the education of the industry and the integrator, in particular, on how to deal with these disruptive technology changes and challenges and how we can all profit from them.”
Marketing the CEDIA channel to the end user is another in key in Erdmann’s view. “We need to continue to convince the consumer that the integrator is their best pathway to getting the technology in their homes.” To that end, becoming a “residential IT expert” can’t hurt: “As the IoT continues to be a common part of our daily lives and everything becomes connected, the industry's going down that same road. We're going to have to facilitate robust enterprise-grade networks in homes. The old saying that ‘Own the network, own the home,’ has never been more accurate than it is today.
Lastly, Erdmann echoes a point Scott hammered home: “We've got the service customer that really wants the really high-end stuff and doesn't want to do it themselves. We also have to live in a do-it-yourself world where they start out doing it — wanting to do it themselves — and we end up doing it for them.
“In both cases, we have to be there and be profitable.”