As part of our I AM CEDIA series of profiles, we had a chance to spend some time with Ron Wanless at the 2017 CEDIA Business Xchange in San Antonio. Wanless founded Technology Design Associates
in Bend, Oregon. ON STARTING OUT
I got into the business when I came out of the military 35 years ago and literally there was no other job in the electronics field other than getting involved with another integrator.
I started as a ditch digger, planting wires — so I've literally done everything there is in this business. I started digging trenches and pulling wires and putting in satellite TV systems.
I tell a story to all my clients about how my first integrated remote control system was connected with a wire to a TV and it went, "cachunk, cachunk, cachunk." ON HOW FAR HE’S COME
I have six total children, five girls and one boy. There was a time in my life when I had nothing but women in my household so I've learned to be fairly laid back and tried not to stress too much.
The company's been through a lot of different renovations over the years. We've been through three recessions. We've gone from a one-person company to a one location company with 22 employees to five locations — and growing continuously. ON CEDIA AND THE BUSINESS XCHANGE
I came to the first Business Xchange as an attendee and gained so much out of it that I joined the committee to put on the Business Xchange for the last two years. I think it's one of the most excellent opportunities for education that our industry provides.
CEDIA is for me an educational opportunity. They provide a ton of education and they provide a ton of information throughout our industry for people like my employees and myself to gain the knowledge to become better for our clients. ON THE CHALLENGES HE’S FACED
Three years into my professional life, I was involved in a head-on collision and I actually died on the table. Currently everything in my cervical vertebrae is one big, giant cluster of bones. That was the biggest hurdle, and continuing on after that was always a challenge.
Business-wise, being through three recessions, being in a position where you're employing many people and trying to keep people in work and keep their families fed during a recession has been a huge challenge. I've learned from a lot of mistakes that I've made during those times and grown from it. ON HIS PASSION FOR THE WORK
I'm always trying to find ways to improve clients' lifestyles by simplifying all of the systems that they utilize and making it easier for them.
I love the challenge. I'm big on challenge. I love to join with the customer, sit down, have some conversation, have them come up with a question that challenges my knowledge and makes me think twice about what I can do to make that opportunity better for them.