There was a great moment during my behind-the-scenes tour of Crestron’s Rockleigh, NJ, headquarters back in 2009, when company founder (and president and CEO at the time) George Feldstein joined our small tour group in the company’s cavernous R&D facility to demonstrate his latest pet project. It was an HVAC humidification system that he hoped would be a more efficient and healthier alternative to traditional offerings. He hadn’t quite worked out all of the details, but testing was underway and he was confident it going to work.
The project was hardly anything like the automation and control electronics that Crestron has become known for, but it gave me insight into the mind of a tinkerer…an inventor. Through that side project I witnessed how engineering a solution to a common human challenge was George Feldstein’s passion and probably the main reason Crestron grew from a one-man, one-room operation in 1969, to a rather significant success story in the AV integration business.
George Feldstein passed away yesterday, and many people are mourning his loss in our industry. He was a pioneer in commercial and home automation/control products, and an enthusiastic and generous supporter of the trades in which his company sold products. The privately held company re-invested heavily in R&D for new products, supported its employees even during downturns in the economy, and provided extensive training opportunities for its dealers over the years. During his lifetime, George Feldstein earned 14 patents—both in AV and personal curiosities, such as bicycle lubrication.
Back in March, no doubt well aware of Feldstein’s failing health, the company announced a succession plan where long-time executive Randy Klein assumed the president and CEO role and Feldstein’s son Dan became vice chairman and COO. Crestron continued to tick along with this new leadership structure, culminating in a very successful product launch at CEDIA EXPO.
I’m sure that even with the loss of Feldstein, that the company will continue to evolve and grown to address an increasingly competitive and challenging technical landscape. And, much of what Feldstein established as the vision for his company likely won’t go away. What will be missing, however, is the opportunity for visitors at Crestron’s headquarters to connect with George Feldstein—the tinkerer, inventor, and successful entrepreneur.
To learn more about Feldstein and more about that HVAC humidification project, check out this thorough profile from forbes.com.
Jeremy Glowacki is editorial director of Residential Systems magazine.