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Crestron’s Ami Wright Explains CEDIA Snub

There’s already been a lot written about Crestron’s startling decision to pull out of the CEDIA trade show this year. After maintaining the largest physical presence on the convention floor, even the during the worst economic times, “Planet Crestron” will no longer grace the convention halls of CEDIA.

The final Crestron booth at CEDIA 

There’s already been a lot written about Crestron’s startling decision to pull out of the CEDIA trade show this year. After maintaining the largest physical presence on the convention floor, even the during the worst economic times, “Planet Crestron” will no longer grace the convention halls of CEDIA.

CEDIA’s CEO Vin Bruno told Residential Systems editorial contributor Ted Green, of the blog, that he personally asked his former employer to reconsider their decision, because the show “serves as a gathering point for the entire channel, and it is the physical presence that reinforces the industry.” But Crestron clearly no longer finds value in the annual convention, due to what Bruno told Green were “philosophical differences between them.” Bruno suggested that Crestron is “really focused on promoting their brand in a luxury marketing environment,” rather than the wider technology category that the company believes CEDIA is addressing at its show.

The residential channel is a relatively small percentage of Crestron’s overall business, and the company has never made a secret to the press that commercial AV takes up most of its resources. Yet, back in 2014 it invested heavily in a resi-only product line, Pyng, which was well received with great enthusiasm by reviewers and dealers. The company also recommitted to the channel by hiring resi veteran Ami Wright as director of residential programs will soon announce a new VP of residential systems.

Those individuals will have their work cut out for them as they hit the road to reassure current dealers that Crestron still loves them and plans to support the channel in every other way short of reinforcing its brand messaging at CEDIA.

Crestron isn’t the first major manufacturer to exit a show that it once dominated. Extron took much the same approach at InfoComm a few years back and, by many accounts, is stronger than ever. And at CES, where “all things technology” are on display, Apple never exhibits. It happens, but it’s sure to raise major questions and open the door for competitive barbs.

Residential Systems reached out to Wright, who has served during her career as a Lutron sales rep, national sales director of Universal Electronics, in a previous stint at Crestron as residential marketing director, and, most recently as director of sales and marketing for One Firefly. Here’s how Ami answered our questions:

Ami Wright, director of residential programs, Crestron 

What’s the primary reason Crestron chose to pull out of the CEDIA trade show?
Our strategies are not the same as those of the association today.

Was there a specific reason for doing it this year or has this idea been in the works for a while?
We are always asking ourselves what can we do differently to achieve our growth goals and the decision was made during the 2016 planning and strategy sessions that started in the fall of last year.

What is Crestron doing to counter the argument that by not exhibiting at CEDIA, the company may appear as if it’s abandoning the channel?
We are not focused on “countering arguments,” we are focused on implementing our plans and initiatives to help our valuable partners take their businesses to the next level and achieve greater success in the luxury market. To lead that charge we have appointed a residential executive team, which includes myself as director of residential programs and a VP of residential systems is also coming on board.

What would the company say to dealers that think that by not exhibiting at CEDIA, Crestron is conceding the channel to its control system competitors?
We have a laser beam focus on the high-end space and are continuing to innovate with new technologies and will empower our dealers with more resources than they’ve ever had from us before to help them achieve greater success in that market.

Is Crestron following a playbook of any other manufacturers that have pulled out of major trade shows yet remained successful?
Our decision was based on looking at our goals and determining the best mix of strategies and activities to achieve them. Trade shows are the event marketing component to a business plan and this year the CEDIA’s annual show did not fit into our plans.

Will Crestron maintain its status as a member company of CEDIA?
Yes, we’re proud to be a CEDIA member and continue to support the organizations activities around industry education and certification. We may exhibit again in the future.

What value does Crestron still get out of shows like InfoComm and ISE that it wasn’t getting out of CEDIA?
A significant, and growing, percentage of attendees are end users. The end users that attend those shows align with our target audience: IT and AV specifiers and decision makers at companies, colleges and universities, government agencies, hospitals and hotels. We continue to exhibit at trade shows where interior designers, architects, real estate developers, yacht builders, and high net worth individuals attend. In fact, we will be exhibiting at the Architectural Digest Home Design Show March 17-20 in New York City.

What alternative initiatives will Crestron be offering to maintain support for dealers that count on CEDIA for training and new product introductions, or will the company be investing the money saved (by not exhibiting) into other areas?
We will make it easy for our dealers to see our new products and solutions and attend training at various events that will be held throughout the year at our facilities. Additionally, we are expanding our learning offering beyond product and technical education and will be providing courses on sales, marketing and market development specific to helping our dealers capitalize on the luxury market. Also our nine design showrooms and experience centers – with the newest in Dania Beach, FL—are always accessible for dealers to visit and bring their clients and trade partners to see our new products and solutions.