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Industry Q&A: CEDIA Management Conference Chairman Outlines Annual Event’s Program on Strategies for Success

CEDIA is hosting its annual Management Conference, March 24-27, 2004 in Huntington Beach, California. In an Industry Q&A, learn more about this three-day event's curriculum, and how it has been tailored for custom installation company owners and managers who are looking to improve the way they run their businesses

CEDIA is hosting its annual Management Conference, March 24-27, 2004 in Huntington Beach, California. This three-day event offers a curriculum tailored for custom installation company owners and managers looking to improve the way they run their businesses. In the following Q&A with Residential Systems editor Jeremy Glowacki, Management Conference chairman Utz Baldwin explains why this conference is the ideal opportunity to acquire information, peer support and critical acumen specific to the industry.

Jeremy Glowacki: Generally, what were some of the goals you and your committee set to achieve with the 2004 CEDIA Management Conference?

Utz Baldwin: First of all I would like to thank the committee members (Kendall Robbins, Kathleen Dintruff, Ken Dawkins, Mitchell Klein and Carol Matson) for their dedication to CEDIA and their efforts in planning this year’s management conference. We knew going [into it] that we had some challenges to overcome in elevating the program’s educational curriculum and ensuring the content was pertinent to the attendees’ needs. The committee wanted to capitalize on previous successes of the conference and develop a program that would offer tangible results that benefit owners and managers regarding their short- and long-term goals.

What, if anything, from this past year’s cancelled program are you keeping in tact?

I can speak for the entire 2003 committee in saying how disheartening it was to hear of the cancellation of the conference due to the war. CEDIA has never had to cancel an event before, and I commend the executive committee and the board of directors for making such a tough decision. It was in the best interest of the attendees and generous sponsors of the event. We are pleased to say that the program we developed for 2003 will not go to waste. The 2004 CEDIA Management Conference is based on the tools needed to measure success within your organization. Balanced Scorecard is a method of providing your company and its people with measures to view its actions and policies beyond the financial goals. These measures look at the areas of execution, human resources, customer service and financial performance. CEDIA is pleased to have “Results-Based Leadership” as the facilitator for the event. Results-Based Leadership brings refreshing clarity and directness to the leadership discussion, providing a hands-on program that will help business leaders and managers succeed with their leadership challenges. It starts with the development of a clearly defined business strategy and value proposition. This will become the foundation for the development of the “Balanced Scorecard,” which identifies a set of relevant measures of results produced for employees, customers, investors and the organization itself.

What changes are in store for the Management Conference program that make it a must-attend for returning attendees and first-timers, alike?

I think that any owner/manager would agree that networking with peers and sharing ideas within CEDIA is what makes it the great organization that is has become. The management conference has been a great forum for communication and education among industry leaders. This year we have added dedicated time specifically for open discussion in “Facilitated Sessions.” These open forums are based on the four areas of the Balanced Scorecard, and attendees can select which session they would like to attend. I have asked many previous attendees what they like best about the conference, and the overwhelming response is the interaction with their peers. We are very excited about this addition.

Have you signed a keynote speaker yet? If so, tell us who it is and what their focus will be.

Starting off the event is guest “keynote” speaker Marcus Buckingham, who is one of the world’s most sought-after consultants and speakers. As the Global Practice Leader for The Gallup Organization’s “Strengths Management” practice, he has spent the last 15 years helping his clients find, focus and develop the most talented employees. His work has translated into two best-selling books, First, Break All the Rules and Now, Discover Your Strengths. Unconventional, dynamic, and highly entertaining, he is, quite simply, one of the world’s best business speakers.

Generally, what types of folks from the industry should attend the CEDIA Management Conference, and what is the most convincing reason why they should take time out from their busy schedules to attend?

The conference is designed specifically for owners and managers with the desire to become better leaders and managers. A common misconception is that the conference is only for the big guys. I can tell you from personal experience that this is absolutely false. I attended my first conference two years ago, and found myself in the middle of a group of individuals that are as passionate about our industry as I am. I had the opportunity to speak to the best in the industry one on one. The amount of information that I left with was worth far more that the cost of the event. I went home inspired and motivated, and was able to apply what I had learned to better myself and my company. Some may think they can’t afford to spend the time or money to walk away from the day to day operations, but once they attend the Management Conference, it becomes perfectly clear that they can’t afford not to. I would also like to stress the benefits of bringing an executive or manager from your company. Exposing these resources to someone else within your organization doubles the amount of information you receive. Think about it; your function within your company may be one of marketing and sales. If your field operations manager came to this event, his/her focus would be entirely different than yours. I brought my lead project manager to the last conference, and the payoff was huge. He came back as a leader, developing his team into a unified enthusiastic profit center. I am bringing my COO in ’04! CEDIA is also offering discounts on second attendees, “early bird” specials and payment options to sweeten the deal.

Jeremy Glowacki is editor of Residential Systems.