Many people in the industry know them as the behemoth booth at CEDIA and InfoComm, and some follow the misconception of them being impersonal and expensive. The more I indulge in Crestron, the more enlightened I am becoming to the level of personal attention they display towards the integration industry.
Recently, I brought my office manager as well as my project manager with me up to Crestron’s Rockleigh headquarters for a full tour of not just the company’s Experience Center, but also its manufacturing facilities. It was amazing to see good ol’ manufacturing and assembly being done in the USA. Throughout several different buildings, I witnessed a facility for printing motherboards, for assembling final products, and a full R&D center with an RF chamber, and industrial 3D printers for prototyping. In an age when everything is being moved off-shore, it’s great to see a company keeping things local.
I was struck by the level of investment made in new products, manufacturing, and testing facilities. This is not something you would typically see any public company doing on U.S. soil. That is the advantage of being privately owned. It was reassuring to know that if I installed a product for a client and was having difficulty, not only was there tech support nearby, but also the engineers who actually developed the product were just a building away.
One of the most impressive resources I uncovered was that Crestron has an engineer in its facility that can rework or retool the company’s products to work with a specific design aspect or space restriction on a given project. If you are working on a larger installation requiring integration of a system that you are unfamiliar with, you can send Creston’s engineer the specs of that system or piece, and he will provide you with suggestions for the best way to integrate it.
While in Crestron’s Experience Center, I had the opportunity to walk through the company’s expanded areas dedicated to DigitalMedia (there’s a nice video wall that showcases the capabilities of DM) and Crestron Shading Solutions. There’s also a new speaker wall that puts the company’s new ceiling and in-wall speakers through their paces, and another area with all of Crestron’s mobile offerings.
But it’s the people that make a company stand out in this industry. Especially since I have not historically been a Crestron supporter, I was surprised at just how genuine everyone was to me. A perfect illustration of this occurred as we were walking through one of the company’s facilities and crossed paths with Crestron CEO and founder George Feldstein. He had no idea I was a blogger for Residential Systems, or even that I was a dealer, but he stopped and spent at least ten minutes chatting with us about our business, the products, politics, you name it. I have found that the most successful and inspired companies are those where the CEO interacts with the rest of the team. In my experience I’ve seen this demonstrated by Screen Innovation’s Ryan Gustafson and Wanjoo Park of URC, and it was refreshing to see it at Crestron, too. These company executives seem to be in tune with the realities and everyday struggles of their company and dealers, so they are able to provide a level of support that brings positive results.
I know I have said it before but I can’t stress enough the importance of choosing the right manufacturing partners—those who invest in their products, their brand, and their people, making our jobs easier. Installs can get complicated and having the manufacturer in your corner will only help alleviate this extra burden. There are great companies all throughout the industry that can help us thrive. The best way to identify them is to simply call and ask. Have them show you around and introduce you to the staff. It’s always more comfortable when you’ve put a face to a name or voice. Those are the companies that are going to back you up and help you in sticky situations. The ones that won’t give you the time of day for a visit are not going to give you much more than that when something goes wrong on a job.
Todd Anthony Puma is president of The Source Home Theater Installation in New York City.