So what do I think of CEDIA’s pick for its first-ever CEO? Easy. I think Utz Baldwin is a great guy and will be an excellent “face” of the organization.
I’ve known all of the past CEDIA presidents (now called “chairmen”) pretty well since Mitchell Klein’s two-year term in the late 90s. During this “modern era” of CEDIA leadership, all of these men had unique leadership styles and all had affable personalities.
Over the years, the role of the top board of directors member seemed to be reduced in significance by the growing strength of the association’s full-time staff and the development of active volunteer committees. Both of these evolutionary trends removed much of the heavy lifting from the shoulders of the volunteer leader, and allowed him to provide visionary leadership on the board level, more or less.
With CEDIA becoming a private company this year (breaking away from the Raybourn Group management company that had run it virtually from the beginning), a permanent management structure had to be developed beyond a simple “executive director” who ultimately answered to the ownership group, and the rest of the full-time staff and volunteer board and committes. Within the new corporate structure, the executive director, Don Gilpin, became the COO, and the volunteer president is renamed “chairman” of the organization. The only missing piece, until Baldwin’s hiring, was the top position of CEO.
Essentially, Baldwin, a bright, thoughtful, and very funny individual, will serve as the face of CEDIA to the outside world. It’s much like the role he filled as chairman over the past year, but now he is a CEDIA employee, instead of a volunteer earning his living running a CI firm in Houston.
I’ll enjoy working with Baldwin going forward and will also continue to enjoy chatting with his replacement as chairman, Ken Erdmann, a fine leader in his own right. I think Baldwin and CEDIA have got a big challenge ahead them as the market matures and the economy continues to struggle along. Kinda sounds like someone else just elected to higher office.