I have been planning to write this post for some time and my tardiness now requires me to start with a quick disclaimer: in November I was fortunate enough to be voted on to the CEDIA EMEA Board, which I was delighted to hear, but I wanted to emphasise that this article is about the personal benefits our company has found in being a CEDIA member; I'm sure the board would have a whole host of things to add to my list if I asked them!
The beginning being the most logical place to start, I first heard of CEDIA when I started Philharmonic AV in late 2009. Back then, I knew nothing about the technical side of the business at all - I think the team would argue that I still don't! - but armed with my enthusiasm for the wonderful world of AV, I decided to attend every training course I could lay my hands on. CEDIA's courses were the obvious choice, not being tied to any manufacturers and therefore unbiased, so I began my education in earnest.
I started with Boot Camp and Technical School (aka EST1 and EST2), gaining a great foundation of AV knowledge, and then moved on to Networking, Home Cinema, Lighting, and many other courses before unleashing myself on the public. I was also fortunate to meet my first employee, fellow attendee Steve Harper, and his knowledge and experience has been invaluable to me and the company ever since. This brings me to the most important benefit, in my eyes...
Education was the reason why I joined CEDIA and remains the primary reason Philharmonic is still a member today. From my experience, I believe the quality of the courses and teachers to be exceptional and we are always looking for the next opportunity to send a member of our team off to further their learning. The courses provide an excellent basis on which to build with our own internal knowledge and experience. Outside of the courses too there is a great atmosphere at CEDIA that encourages sharing and collaboration - from brand preferences to business tips to industry news.
With our passion for education and many training hours under our belts, providing CEDIA's CPD to Architects, Interior Designers and other professionals involved in AV projects was a natural step for us. Although we're relatively new to the teaching game, the CPD is a brilliant opportunity to approach professionals with something of value that will hopefully lead to growing relationships and future work, without resorting to a pushy sales approach that we British are so cautious of! Like so many things in life, education is the key and we love to share our knowledge and enthusiasm, as regular readers will know.
Everyone likes recognition for a job well done and the team and I are no different. The annual CEDIA awards are increasingly prestigious, with an incredibly high benchmark. The entry criteria are many and in-depth, requiring no small amount of work to complete, but those criteria are a great way to make sure all our documentation is on-point and adhering to the high standards of our industry. Over the last 5 years I have been fortunate enough to attend the awards, either with my wife or the team, and our win in 2014, along with shortlisted entries in 2015, have been very proud moments for our company. The recognition of the team's hard work was worth so much and the awards add an extra level of credibility when approached by potential clients.
As for the future, in an industry that moves so fast, an industry body like CEDIA needs to always be striving to improve and keep pace. Events like the Tech Forum have been wonderful introductions in recent years, but there is always room for further growth and improvement. CEDIA has great potential to become a forum for the sharing of best practices within the industry and a resource that helps business owners, like me, to manage their businesses better and as a new member of the board I'm excited to be a part of pushing forward this next phase of CEDIA's development.
Philharmonic Audio Visual Ltd.