For Doug Weinstein, the struggle is still real – and all too familiar: “I literally had somebody refer to an integrator as an ‘AV guy’ a few days ago.” Weinsten, editor-in-chief of Technology Designer Magazine and the host of an upcoming CEDIA Expo Smart Stage presentation called “The Performance Home: Where Technology Meets Design,” knows that there’s still work to be done when it comes to educating the general public on the expertise of those who design and install the electronic systems of 2021.
Weinstein’s presentation – a panel discussion that will bring in experts from many facets of the residential tech industry (including VP of Marketplace Pam McNally of the NKBA, who’s got some “Design Trends” research to share regarding what end users are most excited about in the kitchen and bath) – will stress the importance of bringing the right infrastructure to projects from the outset. And to do that, integrators need buy-in from architects, builders, interior designers – everyone.
Making the Connection
Despite that particular “AV” anecdote, Weinstein is seeing ever-broadening desire for all the custom connected-home solutions in the integrator’s toolkit. “I’m getting inundated with queries from the design/build community and consumers who are getting ahold of our magazine – there’s a real hunger there for these experiences.”
Shanna Haecker, vice-president and founder of Indiana’s TRI Phase Technologies, has a system for getting that knowledge to the design/build folks. “We host an annual lunch-and-learn tour for our builders and architects and designers,” notes Haecker, who’ll be part of the panel on another Smart Stage session, “Marketing to Designers: Effectively Connecting with the ‘Other’ Side of the Project.”
Haecker’s firm now works with 30 to 40 builders and a handful of architects, but they started small 20-plus years ago. “A local custom builder in Central Indiana gave us our first shot,” she remembers. It took time – TRI Phase was founded in 1997, and they completed their first whole-home cabling project some two years later.
Showing Off the Showroom
Those lunch-and-learns are a huge key to Haecker’s success. “We discuss not only new products that our homeowners will be excited about but also ensure that they have an understanding of the services we provide and how it will make the design and build process easier. The relationships we have fostered over the years have made for a much smoother and exciting process for everyone involved.”
The TRI Phase showroom is elemental to Haecker’s education initiatives. “We just completed it about five months ago, and a tour of the space takes about an hour to 90 minutes.” It has been a hit with the very people who can provide those critical referrals. “The designer, builders, architects — they get so excited about being in our showroom they bring their clients in way before even breaking ground and that is how it should be.”
If there is an overarching message to these Smart Stage sessions, it’s this: Weinstein wants to ensure that every integrator is actively marketing themselves to the design/build community.
“They need to be in early before the budgets have all been spent. We need to be in there before they pick marble and the drapery material. I know we’ve all been trying to do that for 30 years now.
“And you know, fortunately now we’re gaining a lot of ground.”
Interested in more? The CEDIA Expo Smart Stage will showcase three full days of inspiring and educational talks from connected technology experts sharing insights into what the future holds for the custom integration industry. It’s your chance to dive deep into a broad array of trending topics, including the sessions mentioned above. Check the CEDIA Expo site for updated scheduling info.
Ed Wenck is Content Strategist/Manager/Developer at White Good.