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We Will Thrive and Prosper

Three Big Reasons Why Our Industry Will Bounce Back Quickly

The CEDIA University Resource Guide

I don’t know about you, but I have had enough. Like many of you, I own and operate an electronic systems contracting company, so I am more than aware that the “world has changed” and that our industry and everyone associated with it has been hit and, in many cases, hit hard. However, I am equally clear on the fact that this is the very same industry that created itself from nothing in less than 20 years.

Frankly, as I planned my trip to CEDIA EXPO this year (my 17th year in a row) it occurred to me just how tired I am of hearing nothing but negative commentary on the state of our industry and how it could take years before we see any significant turnaround. I don’t buy it, you shouldn’t either, and here’s why.

It’s easy to forget, but even with the global financial meltdown there are still very wealthy individuals out there, and these people make up the core of our client base. If this does not describe your current client base, then you are targeting the wrong people.

The fact is that only the very wealthy are, in any way, insulated from catastrophic financial calamities like the ones that we have just experienced. Consider that if one of our clients had $200 million in assets and then lost perhaps 70 percent of their wealth, they are likely to be seriously bummed out, but still retain $60 million in the bank and are more than likely to complete that new home. Interestingly, I have read accounts recently of wealthy individuals deferring the purchase of extravagant luxuries (cars, boats, jewelry, etc.) not because they do not have the money, but simply because in this time of financial difficulty for most, they would prefer not to be seen “flaunting” their wealth. Note that they are not suggesting that they will cancel these purchases, simply that they will delay them. The point is that these people still have substantial means and we are among the very few fortunate enough to have access to these kinds of “recession-proof” clients.

Consumer electronics, in general, have become easier to use and integrate. It’s also true that our clients have no desire to select and install these products in their homes, any more than they want to clean their own pool or wash their own car. This industry needs to remember that we don’t sell easily understood commodity items. We sell complex, custom-designed solutions that improve our clients’ enjoyment of life.

Richard Millson (richard. [email protected]) is president of Vancouver-based Millson Multimedia.

Yes, we sell luxury and prestige, but we also sell comfort, convenience, security, and peace of mind. These are things that the wealthy will always want and be willing to pay for, even in difficult financial times. Also, the very nature of the projects we undertake means that we have the opportunity to consult with and advise our clients on a wide variety of details related to not just their homes, but their lives as well. Unlike any other trades, ESCs have a unique opportunity to develop long-term, trusting relationships with our clients spanning many years and many homes. Managing and nurturing these relationships is one way for us to be at the front of the line when our clients are deciding what to spend money on, and whom to trust.

It seems to me that we have forgotten the things that we as an industry have to celebrate, take pride in, and even be optimistic about. Our industry consists of some of the hardest working, passionate, creative, and visionary people in any industry, anywhere. Only 20 years ago, we had nothing. We had none of the products, software or tools we all take for granted today, and yet we still took on large and complex projects and simply found a way to make them work.

Talented individuals created amazing solutions, often working with nothing more than repurposed commercial products, a bunch of wire, a wall of relays, and a steadfast refusal to fail. Our success created a demand for better, more capable, technologies designed specifically for homes. Then, we responded again with whole product companies created almost overnight. Some of the largest vendors in our industry today started by identifying a need for a solution and fearlessly creating entire product categories that we now see as commonplace.

We are smart, courageous, inventive, and doggedly determined to succeed despite whatever comes our way. We have developed these traits to manage the speed of growth and change both in terms of the technology that we sell and the ever-increasing expectations of our clients. What I am saying is that this stuff is hard to do well, and we have every reason to be very proud. This is also why I believe that we will not only survive, but continue to thrive and prosper despite whatever challenges come our way.