For CEDIA EXPO planners, the motto “Hyper-Change” is much more than just a metaphor for the way products and technologies are evolving at a rapid rate in the custom integration channel. As CEDIA chairman Larry Pexton explains it, it also reflects the mad scramble by the association’s full-time staff and army of volunteers to help promote new manufacturers in Denver this week and to adjust its educational programs, on the fly, to reflect the most current tech trends. Here’s what else we learned from our conference with the CEDIA chairman.
Residential Systems: This year's EXPO theme is pretty succinct: "Hyper-Change." In what ways is EXPO evolving to better present new opportunities, in terms of the show floor and new educational opportunities?
Larry Pexton: We’ve been incredibly nimble on all fronts for this year’s show. Whether it’s helping one of our new exhibitors prepare to make their debut at the show or adding a panel on object based audio. CEDIA is committed to providing attendees with an experience that shows the full picture of the industry and that includes evolving and emerging technologies and topics.
We have over 95 new companies exhibiting at CEDIA EXPO this year and more than 90 products launching at the show, so I think it’s safe to say that CEDIA EXPO is always evolving just like the industry is. There are specific areas on the show floor that highlight new exhibitors (Rookie Row) and new products (The Product Launch Pad)—I encourage everyone to make time in their schedule to visit those areas.
On a training side of things, CEDIA has courses and panels on THE vital topics that are hitting the industry: 4K, object based audio, and commoditized home automation, the Internet of Things, and IP. Each of these courses features experts that will help attendees see where the industry is going and how these “hyper-changes” will affect their business moving forward.
RS: What are you, personally, most excited about at EXPO this year?
LP: Returning to Denver is always a pleasure for me (my business started in Aspen), as is seeing the hundreds of people I have had the pleasure of getting to know in the CEDIA community. I look forward to meeting many of my fellow founding members as we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the organization.
I am personally most excited see and hear the launch of Dolby Atmos on the show floor. Atmos is the first substantial improvement in the structure of creating movie soundtracks in the home in 17 years. The combination of Atmos and 4k Ultra HD projectors and displays will drive a great deal of new activity in what CEDIA is calling the New Theater Experience as new content becomes available over the next two years.
RS: You've obviously experienced CEDIA as a manufacturer and as a member of the CEDIA Board of Directors, but this will be your first EXPO as chairman. In what ways do you anticipate this responsibility changing your experience, positively and negatively at EXPO?
LP: CEDIA EXPO has obviously always been a busy week for me, but serving as the chairman adds a new level of pride and responsibility for me. I have a greater understanding and appreciation for all that goes on behind the scenes to get the show ready.
RS: In what ways do you think your experience as a manufacturer has affected the way you've led the CEDIA Board of Directors so far?
LP: It has been very helpful. I have a much fuller sense of the whole interdependent ecosystem that is the CEDIA community. From my 30-plus years of manufacturing and another five years of retail, I have learned what is realistic and achievable and what isn’t. The latest fads don’t knock me off course.
RS: Is there anything exciting and new in the works from the association, post-EXPO, that you can tell readers about?
LP: There are really big things coming, but nothing I can talk about in detail yet. In 2015, especially at EXPO, everyone will experience a completely new CEDIA both programmatically and visibly across the globe. Also in 2015, CEDIA will be delivering a unique, one of a kind business focused event for leadership/upper management. This isn’t your typical “conference”. This is the type of program that allows you to roll up your sleeves and dig deep into the biggest business challenges alongside peers and experts. The event is scheduled for April 29-May 1 in Houston, TX. In addition to the great content and workshops, the event is located next to NASA, which is an experience in itself.
For those who still think of CEDIA as just EXPO, how do you make the case for joining the association?
LP: If you look at what CEDIA does year round, it’s a compelling story. There is so much more than the show. This year alone, CEDIA has launched a new industry facing website, heavily expanded online training offerings, and created a new entry-level certification. Beyond that CEDIA works tirelessly to protect members from harmful legislation at a state and national level and provides members with client referrals through the consumer facing website and finder service. There is a lot that goes on at HQ that most of us are too busy to notice until it directly impacts us. I encourage everyone to stop and pay attention to the great things CEDIA is doing on their behalf and this industry’s behalf.