This year, IPRO is celebrating 20 years as an organization, while next
year, CEDIA will be celebrating its 20-year mark as well. Isnt it
interesting that these two organizations found their beginnings at
virtually the same moment in time?
In 1998, a group of prominent representatives had the conviction and
vision that the audio/video specialty market was headed into a new,
distinctly different and bigger direction. They created IRPO. From the
dealer perspective, there were many young leaders that wanted to do
more than just sell electronics one box at a time. Instead, they wanted
to create changes in peoples lives and lifestyles using electronics.
In addition to creating education efforts for recommended practices,
CEDIA was the key organized initiative and force in creating an
entirely new marketunacknowledged by many traditional suppliers of the
time. Although the inception of these two organizations is close in
time, its too much of a stretch to think that it was a coincidence or
The Dream Continues
Out of curiosity, I recently asked several professionals in our
industry where the people that created AVAD came from. Very few of them
could recall or were able to put the pieces together correctly. Many
founders of AVAD came from a group of representative principalsseveral
of whom were former leaders of IPROthat created new geographic points
for product fulfillmentmaking access to many installation companies
needs even easier. This came at a time when the CEDIA channel was
beginning to spread its wings and fly higher. Amazingly, this did as
much to confuse peoples views about the role of a manufacturers rep
company as anything thats happened in the last 10 years.
So, what does this have to do with the dream? Most of my activity
within this industry over the last 10 years has in large part been
focused on growing the manufacturers rep company that I created 17
years ago. But the dream I saw was larger than any one of us was
capable of independently achieving. The dream is driven by the
conviction that by collaborating with many professionals in varying
roles within our industry, we will have a more compelling influence
that will benefit us all.
Imagine if all of the achievements mentioned above happened without
concerted and mutual dialogue from all parties. Fortunately, a
lot of what Ive seen from the representative/IPRO side of the equation
has been a renewed willingness to represent all points of viewas
ambassadorsin the market. Along with this, Ive seen unprecedented
moves and efforts within CEDIA staff and leadership to help create the
forum for this new, enhanced exchange and dialogue.
This spring, CEDIA completed the formation of its new Associate Member
Council framework. The addition of a Distributor Action Team completes
this new beginning. Now, whether you are a veteran regional or national
distribution company, or some variation of the representative-formed
distribution company or group, theres now, for the first time in our
industry, a forum to discuss and advance the dialogue with one another
and with the members of the Manufacturer Action Team, the Sales
Representative Action Team, and the Professional Services (consultants)
While all of this is happening, a growing number of IPRO reps are
offering CEDIA certification training in their regional shows.
Additionally, CEDIA is providing new education efforts to the reps both
inside and outside of IPRO. Using the image of a chain as illustration,
the strength and weight that these new initiatives are capable of
lifting will be dependent upon our mutual efforts in making the weakest
link even stronger.
Over the past 20 years, with the evolution of all of the market
solutions and transitions producing the significant benefit, growth and
maturation of this market they have, imagine how much easier, more
productive, and less confusing the next 20 years will be if we continue
to walk and talk in concert with one another while were getting there.