Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now

×

Making Connections

After a brief pause, Mitchell Klein is back in the CI biz as CEDIA’s new VP of business development and as project manager for CEDIA Expo’s new Connectivity Pavilion.

CEDIA - Mitchell Klein
Mitchell Klein

To say that this has been an interesting year for Mitchell Klein would be an understatement. This past November, Klein, known lately for being the face and biggest proponent for Z-Wave, as well as the recipience of CEDIA’s Lifetime Achievement Award, found himself suddenly unemployed and separated from all the alliances he was working with.

“Silicon Labs cut 10% of their workforce in November,” he says. “That’s a little bit of a misleading figure even though technically it’s correct. It ended up being almost 20% of the Boston office and almost 20% of the Montreal office, as many of the engineering staff will grow in Budapest and Hyderabad, India. Unfortunately, I was in the Boston office, and I was one of many people let go there.

“I wasn’t totally surprised and I understood why they did it. I appreciated the job I had there. I really enjoyed it, I met a lot of smart people, and I was disappointed to leave. it’s a great place to work.”

Without his job as director of alliances strategy for Silicon Labs, Klein was no longer able to hold his position of executive director for the Z-Wave Alliance and all the other connectivity groups he participated in.

“Not only was I Z-Wave’s executive director, but I was also responsible for Silicon Labs’ relationships and participation in a total of 17 different alliances. When the Silicon Labs job went away, I was no longer a member of the Z-Wave Alliance nor a member of Wi-Fi Alliance or Wi-SUN or the Connectivity Standards Alliance, or anything like that. It was like pulling the rug out from under me.”

Klein’s search for his next opportunity would lead to the creation of two positions that did not exist before now — one with Emerald Expositions and CEDIA Expo and the other with CEDIA the association.

CEDIA Expo is adding a new Connectivity Pavilion.

The New Connectivity Pavilion at CEDIA Expo 2024

The first opportunity emerged when Klein connected with Emerald Expositions’ Jason McGraw, whom Klein interacted with when he was with CEDIA and McGraw was with AVIXA.

“Jason set up a meeting with us and a couple of the CEDIA Expo sales guys where they pitched this concept of a Connectivity Pavilion at the event that they felt that there was a need for. It was a brainstorming session with a lot of back and forth. Then I had a call with Jason where we spent a fair amount of time talking about what it would take, why would we do it, and how could we get participation to the point where it becomes a no-brainer.”

And from that, the Connectivity Pavilion was made a reality with Klein as the project manager.

The Connectivity Pavilion is like a mini tradeshow in the heart of CEDIA Expo, with its own exhibits, meeting spaces, and education stage all in one area and all dedicated to today’s connected device technology in AV/IT, IoT, sensors, and networking technologies for both residential and commercial solutions.

“Having talked with the exhibitors and with members, Jason learned that their lack of knowledge and the thirst for understanding and education in this area is significant,” Klein explains. “So, we created a place where the technology providers would be able to participate and bring their members along with them in a location that was specifically geared toward educating on the technologies, their deployment, and their education. The stage will be used for scheduled presentations, and there are also plenty of meeting locations within the pavilion so that participants can schedule appointments in a predictable location.”

The exhibit area will use a “hub-and-spoke” design, which will be familiar to anyone who has visited Klein at one of the Z-Wave exhibits he manned for years. Like those exhibits, the core technology, Z-Wave, for example, which has already signed on to this new pavilion, would be at the hub, with its supporting manufacturers surrounding it in the spokes. Repeat that structure for the other technologies, whose list is evolving, and that will make up the exhibit area.

CEDIA Expo 2024 Registration Now Open
Eager to check out the new Connectivity Pavilion and everything else CEDIA Expo has to offer? Registration is now open. Visit cediaexpo.com to get started.

“This is also a commercial endeavor,” says Klein, “and you’ve got things like Dante and SDVoE that are big technologies that residential guys don’t know anything about, so it’s a great opportunity for integrators to expose themselves to this technology.

“I am extremely excited about this because this is right up my alley. This is putting different technologies together in one place and showing how they can all work together. This is really good stuff!”

VP of Business Development for CEDIA

While the Connectivity Pavilion was developing, one of Klein’s contacts encouraged him to meet with CEDIA about a VP of education position the association was looking to fill. Although CEDIA global president and CEO Daryl Friedman had someone else in mind for that position — the recently hired Paul Dolenc — Friedman had another opportunity that he knew Klein would be perfect for: vice president of business development.

Though Klein is eager to start his new role, he confesses that it is still being shaped. “I’ve never even thought about accepting a position without a detailed job description, but that’s what’s so energizing to me. I’m excited to work with leadership, staff, and our members to identify how I may best deliver the growth and profitability of the association and thus our members; integrators and manufacturers alike,” he says. “I’m going to take a look at the organization in terms of how the structure might be most efficient. And it is a great time to do that since there is basically a new leadership team in place.

“What I can tell you is there will be a focus on growing membership and revenue so that the association can increase the quality and benefits for our members.  I’m confident it’s going to be more than that though. CEDIA must keep its eye on the business side of things, and revenue doesn’t mean squeezing more money out of our manufacturer and integrator members. We will be looking at other avenues and other ways to grow the organization.”

This is not Klein’s first go-around with CEDIA, as he served as chair for its Board of Directors, and he feels fortunate to be back.

“For me, it’s like coming around full circle or coming back home,” he concludes. “CEDIA is where I started cutting my teeth, and I’m very excited about being back.”

Contact Mitchell Klein at [email protected] or through www.linkedin.com/in/mitchellklein2.

Close