A Firsthand Look at Crestron's West Coast Experience Center
3/13/2012 4:19 AM
by Steve Harvey
Crestron celebrated the opening of the company’s latest Experience Center--its first on the West Coast--at its office in Cypress, just south of Los Angeles, on March 1. More than 400 guests had an opportunity to tour the offices and support center and attend afternoon sessions in the classrooms before the Mayor of Cypress and other local dignitaries cut the ribbon to officially open the facility’s new product showroom.
|(Left to Right): Cypress Council Members Todd Seymour and Dr. Prakash Narain, Crestron Regional Director, Dave Sell, Crestron ExecutiveVice President, Randy Klein and Cypress Mayor Doug Bailey.|
“The Experience Center is an environment where our dealers, our industry partners and end users can come and see examples of what we do, touch our product, see it work, or just stand in it and get the whole picture--or a good portion of it, anyway,” explained Dave Sell, regional sales director, Crestron, and the Cypress branch manager.
“Most of our customers don’t have a proper perspective on how wide and deep our product line really is. We’re now capable of providing an end-to-end solution for an AV integrator on the good majority of their commercial and residential projects.”
“We make a lot of different things that work really great together to ultimately do what our customers want, which is for the most part to simplify their lives in some way,” added Sean Goldstein, VP marketing, visiting from the company’s corporate headquarters in Rockleigh, NJ.
“There’s no better way to support our dealers and our customers and tell them the Crestron story than for them to actually see it. Seeing is believing, and that’s what the Experience Center does; you get to see and play with our technology,” said Goldstein.
Crestron’s Experience Centers are intended primarily for dealers, consultants, architects, lighting designers, electrical contractors, vendor partners and the like. The company, which maintains 57 offices worldwide, has also built out what it calls Design Showrooms, where residential customers can experience Crestron products in a domestic setting. In the U.S. there are Crestron Experience Centers and Design Showrooms in New York City, Las Vegas and Phoenix, and at the Rockleigh world HQ, and internationally in London, Frankfurt, Shanghai and Beijing.
Crestron’s Southern California presence is about to further increase, Sell revealed. A Design Showroom is currently under construction in the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood and is scheduled to open in May.
“A Design Showroom shares many of the same attributes [as an Experience Center],” he explained. “However, it’s more lifestyle-based. There’s a large media room/living room, a bedroom, a kitchen; so three or four vignettes that show our products in real life applications in an integrated manner.”
Afternoon seminars on topics such as "Grow Your Business with Crestron," "It's a Digital World" and "Integration with Apple" finished promptly at 5 o’clock for the grand opening. Sell was joined by Cypress mayor Doug Bailey, mayor pro tem Dr. Prakash Narain, Cypress councilman Todd Seymour and Crestron executives and staff for the official ribbon cutting ceremony. "This facility will allow visitors to experience the technological innovations that have made Crestron an industry leader for more than 40 years," said Mayor Bailey.
The new Experience Center includes examples from Crestron’s core product lines. Guided tours highlighted newer innovations such as the CaptureLiveHD lecture capture system, Sonnex multiroom audio system and DigitalMedia high-definition video distribution system.
One product in particular stood out--shading solutions, a brand new venture for the company. “Our manufacturing operation is set to go,” reported Sell. “We’ll hopefully be shipping by May 1st. We’re in the final stages of finishing the design software tool that we’ll distribute to our customers that will allow them to enter in the critical data for an order to be created.”
As demonstrated by one large exhibit, “Touch screens are not dead. When the iPad first hit, the knee-jerk reaction from the integrator community was that it’s all over. We actually sell over $100M of touch screens a year. That makes up 20-something percent of our revenue,” Sell said.
“It’s far from over. In fact, the line is expanding,” he added, pointing out the V-Panel 24-inch HD touch screen display.
Pride of place perhaps belongs to Crestron’s DigitalMedia line. “DigitalMedia is roughly 30 percent of our company’s revenue, maybe more. It’s becoming the de facto standard,” he said.
DigitalMedia is both a product line and a transport, Sell further noted. “HD, 1080p, uncompressed, HDMI 1.4, 3D-ready signal, transported up to 330 feet over a single Cat5--that is pioneering technology. We’re the only manufacturer that can do it.”
Crestron manufactures such a broad range of products that some may get overlooked. “Many of our customers don’t realize we’re an audio company,” Sell commented, indicating the Procise line of residential surround sound amplification and processing.
The company also makes loudspeakers, for in-wall and in-ceiling applications. “You don’t have to have a Crestron amplifier to power a Crestron speaker,” he noted. “We sell a lot of speakers to a wide variety of customers.”
Also on display is a dizzying selection of wall-mounting switch and keypad control panels. “We still engrave every button ourselves. We can tailor the description of the functions per job per keypad. We’ve got a group of workers in New Jersey who do nothing but engrave buttons all day long, every day,” said Sell.
Elsewhere in the Cypress office--as in each of Crestron’s facilities--classrooms are available for training everyone from dealers, system designers and programmers to end users. “Every day of every week we have students in here taking one course or another--programming, introduction to Crestron, system design, lighting control, shading products. We provide training to all of our customers free of charge.”
In the service center, a dozen technicians field phone calls. “We also have service agents in Phoenix, Northern California, Las Vegas, Dallas, Chicago, Florida, Atlanta, New Jersey and the Washington, DC area,” Sell enumerated. “So we have technical resources and training in all of our offices across the country, and around the world.”
Indeed, with the sales force typically on the road, he said, “Each one of these offices, although it may not have an Experience Center in it, is really designed and built for training and support.”