Richard Colman, company director at Luxe Smart Homes, discusses how attending industry training allowed him to set up a successful installation company and why all integrators should maintain standards by regularly signing up for education courses.
I joined CEDIA just over a year ago, as I wanted to gain access to their training program at the membership prices. I was the first inductee under the “individual membership” program. I was transitioning from a different industry and needed to gain a solid understanding of how to set up an installation company and all the various aspects involved in doing so. I’m now 12 months on from this stage, and, looking back, I don’t think I would be where I am today if it hadn’t been for that CEDIA training I initially undertook.
I traveled to the CEDIA EMEA HQ for three consecutive weekends as I threw myself into the Boot Camp, Technical School, and Networking School classes. While my brain may have been slightly overwhelmed by the sheer breadth of information I was taking in, it was all fitting into place and building upon the knowledge I had already learned myself through playing around with AVRs, projectors, and computer networks in the past.
I think the biggest thing I took from those first few weeks was the confidence to go into a new industry and be taught with the highest of standards that CEDIA is committed to delivering. Once I had completed my ESC-T and ESC-N certifications, I was able to apply what I had learned instantly when working onsite. When I encountered fellow technicians who had years more experience than I had, who didn’t understand the reason for using one wireless radio channel over another, or when to use a CAT6a cable instead of CAT6, I knew that the investment I made in training myself was immediately paying off.
After I completed the previously mentioned CEDIA classes, I then dove into product-specific training courses with AWE, Invision, Control4, and Lutron. This advanced my knowledge even further – to the point where I can now design, specify, install, and maintain an overall home automation control system that can incorporate a home cinema, lighting routines, and smart home security.
Another benefit of continued professional development that has helped me grow my business is all the fantastic people you meet through these classes. There are usually plenty of breaks and lunchtime chats to discuss the state of the industry or the latest technological innovation. Not only that, after leaving the classroom, it’s been invaluable to be able to communicate with colleagues and friends on a regular basis. I’ve been able to build up a network that has years more experience than I have, but have all happily helped me along my way. Even junior technicians who I have met at these classes have been able to make connections post-classroom that have led them to further employment opportunities.
My company is growing at a rapid pace, and I’ll be looking to take on new staff members in the coming months. I’m a firm believer in investing in human capital as a means to attract, secure, and retain talent in the future. A well-motivated, fully educated technician is going to have a calmer and more professional demeanor when facing challenges that present themselves onsite.
So, for all those companies that have wondered where the value is in sending their staff on training courses, be it at CEDIA Expo or at one of the many distributors and manufacturers that offer excellent training, think about the time a knowledgeable technician will save you on site, the extra money that will keep the smile on his or her face, and the more significant number on your bottom line for having a fully trained workforce.