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CEDIA’s global president and CEO discusses revelations from his first year and what the association’s plans are for Expo.

CEDIA - Daryl Friedman
Daryl Friedman

Even though Daryl Friedman officially assumed the role of CEDIA’s global president and CEO in late November of last year, he was working well in advance of that date to get to know the industry and its machinations better. It seems fitting that his first-year anniversary is coinciding with the full return of CEDIA Expo, where he will get to share his learnings with booth visitors and on the Smart Stage.

“I’ve traveled a lot of different cities and countries over the past year to hear from our members and also non-members to understand what’s important for them,” he says. “So, I’ve learned a few things. The first thing is that it’s a very collegial industry. I came from the music industry, which is incredibly competitive and it’s hard to get people to work together. Not this one. I met with one integrator in New York, and he invited a dozen of his competitors to come be part of the meeting because he wanted them to hear what I had to say, too. That shows a very special aspect of this industry.

“A second thing is that many of the services CEDIA offers provide great value to the community, but the community may not be fully aware of what we’re doing. We have to do a better job of telling the CEDIA story and the value of how we work to raise this industry.”

That need for better and expanding communication permeates the association’s goals at the show, which is to inform the industry about the three pillars it is focusing on — advocacy, connection, and certification.

“All of these pillars will be messaged to show the value to our industry,” says Friedman. “What I’m finding when I’m talking to people is that they don’t necessarily even know that we’re doing these things. They value them when they understand them, but it does need some explaining it from us. We’ll be using Expo as a launching pad to talk about a lot of these things.

“We’re doing an Advocacy Town Hall, which is to explain to the integrator community that they might be operating and not worrying about government, but government’s thinking about them. And if we don’t act proactively, then there could be dangers to our industry and our businesses. However, advocacy is more than just government relations — it’s also talking to consumers and adjacent trades to make sure they understand our role in the industry.”

As usual, CEDIA has created deep education tracks for this year’s Expo, with 60 sessions covering the most relevant topics in the industry, including lighting, health & wellness, and business management. CEDIA is also bringing its certification training to Dallas, not only to add to the quickly growing lists of qualified integrators but also to increase awareness.

“We have to get the folks who are not aware of the certification to understand the value of it,” says Friedman. “That means not just communicating to them, but also to the end users. We want homeowners, architects, and designers to understand the value of hiring somebody with that credential. And once that is penetrating their minds, then integrators want to have those letters behind their names.”

Certification, education, and advocacy are great ways to help custom integration businesses — especially in the long run — but those seem tough to take on while businesses are busier than ever. Friedman states that CEDIA is tackling that issue, too.

“I’ve worked in associations for a long time, and usually the requests you hear from your members are, ‘Get me more business,’” he says. “I didn’t hear that here — I heard, ‘We are slammed, get me more techs!’ At least in the short term, while we’re in this situation of high demand from clients, one of CEDIA’s priorities is workforce development and bringing more people into this industry.

“And it’s an attractive industry. It’s a great story to tell, especially today when so many people post-pandemic are rethinking their lives and what they want to do. Maybe they feel like their jobs aren’t fulfilling anymore. I want to tell the story of a job where you use the most cutting-edge technology to make people’s lives better. How does that sound? That’s a great story for us to tell.”

Visit CEDIA at booth 19025 and click here to see the conference schedule.