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The CEDIA Awards Panel

A look inside the minds of past CEDIA Award winners.

Cantara’s Dual Hidden Projection project won Best Media Room, Level II, Americas in the 2020 CEDIA Awards. Photo by Hunter Kerhart.

As part of this year’s CEDIA Talks at the virtual Expo Experience, Jessica Thornburg, CEDIA’s member programs manager, hosted a panel of CEDIA Award winners. Here’s a quick read of part of those conversations.

Related: 2020 CEDIA Award Winners Announced

What motivates you to enter?

Jason Vorhees, Cantara: Initially, when we started the company, the objective was to use it as a tool to show potential clients and partners that we had the chops to do larger projects.

But these days the real motivation is for my team. What we do is not getting any easier. If someone has mastered audio and video installation and smart home stuff, that’s not really good enough. You’ve got to be great at installing shades, and you’ve got to be great at designing and managing fairly large networks, and you’ve got to be great at lighting control systems.

I think that winning the award from CEDIA is a moment to just kind of pause and celebrate as a team and reflect that, although the work is really hard, other people think that we’re doing the best work.

Albert Mizrahi, SmartLab: First of all, recognition; besides recognition in the industry and in what we do, it’s a very helpful way to motivate my team.

Nic Black, The Pyramid Group: I’m a great believer in the notion of “do what you say and prove it.” Being able to prove that you’re technically competent and able to work within a set of industry wide-guidelines — and meet or exceed them — is really the ultimate goal for any company. It shows to your peer group and your clients that you’re actually working at the highest possible level.

What is one piece of advice you would give to a potential entrant who is debating whether to dedicate the time to submit for a CEDIA Award?

Jason Vorhees, Cantara: One of our strategies is that we take the application and then we divide it up among several people, and then it becomes doable as a team. If more people on your team are working on the award submission, they naturally have that sense of investment and ownership. They become even more excited about the entry because, not only did they do the actual project, but they helped with the submission.

Albert Mizrahi, Smartlab: You have to submit a lot of information and a large number of documents.

When you enter the first time, you might not have all the documents ready — the way you operate might not include them. Entering the awards will help you develop all these documents and will help you become more professional with your team, with your clients, and with your architects. It’s a great benefit because it will change the way you work, and help you become a better company.

Nic Black, The Pyramid Group: You know, a lot of people say to me that the CEDIA Awards are really hard work and it’s a difficult process to go through. But there’s a reason for that: You have to show that you are technically competent, that you understand standards, you understand how to design correctly within the guidelines, and achieve or exceed those standards. Let’s make sure that we’re as technically competent as we can be, and let’s ensure that we have the evidence — and that will always improve our documentation.

Related: Tech Showcase – Residential Systems Best of Show Winners at CEDIA Expo Virtual 2020

How do you share your award with industry partners?

Albert Mizrahi, Smartlab: We actually send them a copy. We make copies of the awards and we send a copy to the client and then another copy to the architect.

Jason Voorhees, Cantara: We’ll mention that we were honored to receive the Best Integrated Award in 2019, but we’ll make an even bigger deal about the Life Lived Best at Home Award that we won last year. We let our partners know that this award is extra special because it’s actually judged by a design and architecture team. That’s actually the ultimate recognition: That we were able to enhance the everyday lifestyle for this client and make their average Tuesday night better. The meaning of the word “Cantara” is “to sing.” We want these technology systems to just sing for our clients. We want them to feel like their home is just this magical environment.

This year’s CEDIA Awards programs — one in each region, Americas, EMEA, and Asia Pacific — were broadcast on YouTube Live on October 8, 2020. You can find recordings of all three at the CEDIA HQ YouTube channel. CEDIA is now accepting entries for the 2021 Awards.