Update: I received a follow-up call from Jeff Kussard today saying that the Seattle stop on Capitol Sales’ CEDIA University on the Road tour had been canceled due to low pre-registration numbers. This news, he said, prompted a couple participating manufacturers to note, “Seattle’s always been a bit of a black hole for CEDIA training for some reason.” I could detect a “now they tell me,” tone to Kussard’s voice on that one, and it reminded me of the line in This is Spinal Tap, where the tour manager responds to the cancellation of a Boston-area concert by telling the band not to worry about it, because, “Boston’s not a big college town.” I’m chalking this one up to the Seattle anamally and putting my faith in a successful San Francisco stop, May 3-5.
I had the pleasure of catching up with a good friend of mine this past Friday to discuss his latest education initiative in the custom installation channel. Jeff Kussard, an industry veteran who most recently worked for Russound, is now a team member for Eagan, Minnesota-based Capitol Sales, where he’s help lead a new partnership with CEDIA University On The Road (CU OTR) to bring more than 80 manufacturer and business training hours to cities around the country.
In truly modern fashion, I conferenced in with Kussard, who was in his home office in New Hampshire, from my hotel room in Los Angeles, while Capitol’s PR guru called in from his home office in Brooklyn. Once we got that all figured out, Kussard and I talked about his expectations for Capitol’s first CEDIA On The Road stop in Seattle, April 19-21. Although when he decided to take their annaul Dealer Education Showcase on the road, essentially, he envisioned better times for the industry, Jeff is still looking forward to 150-200 attendees at each event.
To further stimulate attendance at the first two training events (Seattle and San Francisco), Capitol is offering a $100 merchandise credit through the end of July for those who attend either event.
According to Kussard, the events won’t have the mini trade show component featured in previous Minneapolis annual events (due to logistical challenges.) However, the three-day events will offer 30 different manufacturer training classes, and fees will include breakfast and lunch, as well as a Monday night social event. The 80 hours of class time also will include ESP certification testing.
“The goal is to create the same feel that the old CEDIA Regional events used to have,” Kussard told me. “It’s time to bulk up and get ready for the future rather than hiding from the present.”
Kussard also gave me a few hints of other Capitol Sales initiatives that he’s exploring for the future. One was his goals, he said, is packaging together “no new wires” solutions in a “systematic way” for dealers seeking retrofit business or simply a more balanced portfolio of offerings. Working with products from Leviton, Lagotek, Audio Engine, and Russound, Kussard hopes to simplify the way integrators sell these solutions, bringing opportunities to the channel that have become much more viable in recent months.