CE Pro Eu caught up with new CEDIA CEO Vincent Bruno (known as Vin) on the last day of this year’s Dallas exhibition to share his thoughts on the future of the organisation.
What is immediately clear is that Vin is an incredibly open and approachable CEO, stressing the point that he wants to be kept in the loop with what’s going on with CEDIA members and the wider industry – at all times.
Handing CE Pro Eu his brand new business card (at the time of writing he has been acting as CEDIA CEO for just two weeks), he points out that he has included his phone number on the card and encourages people to contact him whenever they need.
“You’re welcome to publish it,” he confirms. “I have nothing better to do than to talk to our members. I return every phone call and email on the same day – the same day may be 11.59pm, but I don’t let the day pass without at least acknowledging the request, the comment or the concern – I want to speak to everyone who has something to say that can help us improve what we are doing and I acknowledge every recommendation and concern.”
As part of its new branding strategy (evidenced by a modern, new logo and vision statement: ‘Life Lived Best at Home’), CEDIA has also stated to align its education programs to meet integrators where they are, whether new or seasoned and provide development pathways to help them move to the next level.
On top of this, CEDIA also pledges to develop and facilitate new community-building initiatives for year-round networking, mentorship and idea sharing.
“The new logo is not just a look, it’s about a new energy and openness, so the idea behind the brand strategy is to emphasise to not just our employees but to the entire industry that we are an open and energetic organisation and that we are the connectors between the manufacturers and the great technology that they invent to make life lived best at home,” he explains. “We want the integrators to have the profit opportunities that come from these new technologies.
“CEDIA – my organisation – is charged with getting in front of those technologies before they’re actually announced, developing curriculum to maximise success and profitability to manufacturers and our member integrators.”
CE Pro Eu asks what CEDIA means when it says it plans to ‘align education programs to meet integrators where they are’.
“I am a forward facing person by nature; when the CEO selection committee was going through the process of selecting this position – they wanted a forward facing CEO,” begins Vin.
“I have a brilliant staff back at headquarters in Indianapolis and I have a brilliant staff in England and they are going to do our work that aligns to our vision and the vision that I set.”
In line with being open and proactive, Vin reveals that he is going to extend his open nature to being out in the field. “But for the first four to five – possibly six months I will spend Mondays through Thursdays in the office realigning the organisation such that sales, marketing, technology will report to me, while human resources, operations, finances will report to my brilliant COO, Tabatha O’Connor.”
Vin will be out in the field with the manufacturers, understanding the technologies they have on the horizon, and with member integrators to determine and learn their needs and challenges and encourage membership and mentorship.
“I’ve got ambitious plans and they all require me being in front of the members and not from behind doors.
“First we will take a look at the curriculum that we already have; secondly we will see where the holes are and develop that new curriculum and through good communications practises – old fashioned marketing – we will push that information out to them.
“Then we’ll pick up the phone, get face-to-face and talk to them about their needs. If you take a look at what is taking place on the show floor here, all our training is sold out. People have come to me and said: ‘I don’t know what to do, I signed up too late and now it’s sold out’.”
Not wanting anyone to miss out, Vin personally walks him or her to the session and ensures they get a standing space.
“I don’t see any problems with filling classrooms,” he says. “The quicker we get the education out and localise it in different regions, the quicker we’ll get people educated – I’m talking global. I am very encouraged and excited about implementing our new initiative.”
Will CEDIA be doing anything differently in terms of the kinds of education sessions it offers?
“First and foremost, we are going to meet commitments,” Vin asserts. “If we make a commitment, we are going to meet it. Every door at CEDIA is now open, we work openly, we work together and we also divide responsibilities so we can get more of the things done and meet commitments.
“We’ll take a look at the curriculum we have and we’ll discuss the curriculum we should have and we will go about implementing it. The network in the home is the hub of all technology and when the network is not done right, it compromises the rest of the technology and the systems in the home, which I’ve heard countless times throughout this show – so that tells me we need some better network curriculum.
Community Building Initiative
Vin reveals that the new initiative takes the form of various CEDIA groups, comprised of six groups of integrators from different parts of the country that collaborate monthly through technology CEDIA provides, be it a go-to meeting or any kind of content system that CEDIA uses. CEDIA provides a moderator who sets the agenda based on what the group wants to talk about and they share ideas, stories, successes and failures.
“Coming to this CEDIA exhibition I have addressed a group named the International Professional Representatives Organisation – they want in on this, so we facilitate putting those groups together,” he explains.
“It’s time to build a community of manufacturers, reps and integrators into groups. This has been very successful and my marketing folks tell me about another community program that’s in the works that will be launched on March 1st.”
CEDIA And The Consumer
“We need to raise awareness,” Vin says straight away. “Our consumers don’t know what CEDIA means. Through our brand strategy, we’ve realised that the custom electronic design and installation association is a mouthful, so we trademarked the name CEDIA to have consumers think ‘technology for the home’, ‘life lived best at home’– we have our work cut out for us.”
Through partnerships with the press and by working with its US and UK PR teams, the organisation is ready to do the work necessary to communicate to the wider world exactly what CEDIA is.
“What I want is for CEDIA to be the place where homeowners come to find people that actually do the design, install and upgrade of the technology for our lives.”
It is understood that this year’s CEDIA saw a 16% rise in integrator attendance when compared to 2014, with the overall show attendance rising 1% from last year to 18,700.
On the exhibitor side, the show saw a 6% rise in exhibitor participation with 510 companies. Of those, 124 exhibitors made their debut at CEDIA this year.
“The energy out on the floor is like nothing I’ve seen since 2007; it’s uplifting,” Vin enthuses. “The manufacturers are very happy – I do know that we have had quite a good spike in attendance from integrators. The manufacturers here are enthusiastic – it’s a feel, you walk out there and there is a buzz and an energy that I can’t describe. It’s been a lot of fun.”
Leaning in, Vin says: “And I will tell you this, we are going to triple in size as an industry in five short years – this is based on industry research. CEDIA’s responsibility is to stay ahead of that and facilitate that success. We can’t just keep up with the technology; we’ve got to stay ahead of it. I’ve made everyone aware, including our board of directors, that this industry is booming – and just what’s taking place on the show floor is evidence of that.”
As CE Pro Eu wraps up the interview, Vin has one more thing to add. “The look of CEDIA is going to be very much in your face at ISE. We have a presence that I’m proud of – a real step up.
“You’ll walk in and it will be right in front of you. And by then, through working with our EMEA team and our new senior director of marketing, our message will be out there. They will know what CEDIA is, what we stand for, how we’re here to help and I can’t wait.”