This year, IPRO is celebrating 20 years as an organization, while next year, CEDIA will be celebrating its 20-year mark as well. Isnt it interesting that these two organizations found their beginnings at virtually the same moment in time?
In 1998, a group of prominent representatives had the conviction and vision that the audio/video specialty market was headed into a new, distinctly different and bigger direction. They created IRPO. From the dealer perspective, there were many young leaders that wanted to do more than just sell electronics one box at a time. Instead, they wanted to create changes in peoples lives and lifestyles using electronics. In addition to creating education efforts for recommended practices, CEDIA was the key organized initiative and force in creating an entirely new marketunacknowledged by many traditional suppliers of the time. Although the inception of these two organizations is close in time, its too much of a stretch to think that it was a coincidence or accident.
The Dream Continues
Out of curiosity, I recently asked several professionals in our industry where the people that created AVAD came from. Very few of them could recall or were able to put the pieces together correctly. Many founders of AVAD came from a group of representative principalsseveral of whom were former leaders of IPROthat created new geographic points for product fulfillmentmaking access to many installation companies needs even easier. This came at a time when the CEDIA channel was beginning to spread its wings and fly higher. Amazingly, this did as much to confuse peoples views about the role of a manufacturers rep company as anything thats happened in the last 10 years.
So, what does this have to do with the dream? Most of my activity within this industry over the last 10 years has in large part been focused on growing the manufacturers rep company that I created 17 years ago. But the dream I saw was larger than any one of us was capable of independently achieving. The dream is driven by the conviction that by collaborating with many professionals in varying roles within our industry, we will have a more compelling influence that will benefit us all.
Imagine if all of the achievements mentioned above happened without concerted and mutual dialogue from all parties. Fortunately, a lot of what Ive seen from the representative/IPRO side of the equation has been a renewed willingness to represent all points of viewas ambassadorsin the market. Along with this, Ive seen unprecedented moves and efforts within CEDIA staff and leadership to help create the forum for this new, enhanced exchange and dialogue.
This spring, CEDIA completed the formation of its new Associate Member Council framework. The addition of a Distributor Action Team completes this new beginning. Now, whether you are a veteran regional or national distribution company, or some variation of the representative-formed distribution company or group, theres now, for the first time in our industry, a forum to discuss and advance the dialogue with one another and with the members of the Manufacturer Action Team, the Sales Representative Action Team, and the Professional Services (consultants) Action Team.
While all of this is happening, a growing number of IPRO reps are offering CEDIA certification training in their regional shows. Additionally, CEDIA is providing new education efforts to the reps both inside and outside of IPRO. Using the image of a chain as illustration, the strength and weight that these new initiatives are capable of lifting will be dependent upon our mutual efforts in making the weakest link even stronger.
Over the past 20 years, with the evolution of all of the market solutions and transitions producing the significant benefit, growth and maturation of this market they have, imagine how much easier, more productive, and less confusing the next 20 years will be if we continue to walk and talk in concert with one another while were getting there.