Your Candidates in Brief

Oct 02, 2018

The 11 candidates running for the open spots on CEDIA’s 2019-2020 Board of Directors filled out a questionnaire during their nomination and interview process. We’ve extrapolated some of the highlights from their responses to give you a snapshot of each candidate.

You can hear more from the candidates in this CEDIA Tech Council Podcast. (Episode 80 – you can find all our podcasts here.)

For the 2019-2020 term, there are four open elected positions, one to be filled from the EMEA region, and the remaining positions to be filled from the entire global membership. To implement this regional representation, the candidate from the EMEA region receiving the most votes will fill the EMEA-designated position and the top three candidates from the rest of the world will fill the remaining three seats.

Voting’s open until October 19, 2018. Bios on the candidates can be found here.

As CEDIA has transitioned to a single board representing the global CEDIA membership, it is important to note that all member companies are eligible to vote, regardless of where they are located. Company administrators may cast their ballot here.

Los Angeles, California

When asked why he’d like to serve, Angst notes, “After 35 years in an industry, I think I have something to say.” His vision for CEDIA is one in which the association “must be a cohesive voice for issues and changes in the industry to provide focus.”

Angst’s tenure in the business gives him this perspective: “I saw the industry become digital, so I have seen the change escalate exponentially as the years have gone by.  I believe coming changes will be both wonderful and volatile — depending on your focus and position in the industry.” Additionally, Angst says, “Our company’s position and success allow us to deal directly with manufacturers and leaders in our industry; and our reach and experience is expansive.”

Peter Aylett, Archimedia (NOTE: Peter Aylett and Michael Sherman are running for the open EMEA position.)
West Sussex, United Kingdom

When asked to encapsulate his vision for CEDIA to maintain both its relevance and prominence in the industry, Aylett says:

"CEDIA has, over the past 20 years, been formative in my professional and personal development. It does a huge amount of good in so many areas that profoundly affect the prosperity of its members. I also, however, feel that there is work to be done in the following areas:

"Be far more open and work hard to abolish the current image that CEDIA is a 'Boys Club.'

"Fix the Staff/ Volunteer/ Board relationship strongly believe that The Board are there to support staff, not the other way ‘round. Strategy and implementation should be owned by staff, in partnership with The Board. The Board are not really accountable to anyone, whilst for the staff it is their career that is at stake.

"Have a profound focus on producing output and products that have an objectively measurable effect on member companies’ prosperity. The CEDIA Board needs to publicly state SMART objectives and, with staff partnerships, hold CEDIA accountable for successful outcomes.

"As above, put volunteers at the top of the agenda. Do everything possible to support volunteers in their work on behalf of CEDIA and then do as much as possible to publicly celebrate their accomplishments and actual output."

Lastly, “We need to define ourselves as an industry with a coherent voice. This includes having competence-based certification and accreditation schemes to allow industry stakeholders to sit at construction meetings with the same respect and gravitas as all the other trades, all of whom have certification and accreditation schemes that take multiple years to earn.”

Steven Brawner, ProAudio Georgia
Atlanta, Georgia

Steven Brawner tells us, “I want to bring a whole new perspective to the board. I am extremely well educated, but also ‘country as a turnip green.’ My peers highly respect my depth and breadth of knowledge, but they also know that I will keep them laughing.” Brawner also wants to ensure that the association recognizes his peers in the region: “I want to show the people in the southeastern U.S. that CEDIA is here, and they care about us.”

When addressing the challenges members will face, Brawner says, “Commoditization of our services is top of mind. We have to find a way to convince people that what we do is extremely valuable and not just another service to be performed by the lowest bidder.” Additionally, says Brawner, “Our industry will become almost indistinguishable from the IT industry. We will become the ‘fancy’ IT people who have clean racks and better sounding music.”

Lastly, Brawner notes, “I’m an obsessive over-achiever … Serving on the CEDIA board will allow me to bring that drive and determination to our entire industry.”

Michael Cogbill, ETC Palm Beach LLC
West Palm Beach, Florida

Michael Cogbill, who describes himself as an early pioneer — an “old dog,” in his words, tells us, “CEDIA is at an inflection point given the onslaught of IoT, smart speakers, and so on. This might be the way of the future for mass market consumers, but is not the definition of a CEDIA dealer. Our dealers, to a great extent, exist to provide a service oriented/value add proposition — not compete with DIY products.

“I want to make sure that CEDIA remains relevant and leads in defining new technology and business paths that best fit the membership. I want to create certification that is desired and valued, not mandated.”

His priorities for the board: “Bring value to certification. Ensure CEDIA stays on the leading edge. Stay relevant as an important channel for the manufacturers. To do that, we need to be embracing new growth areas such as LED lighting, wellness, immersive gaming, advanced system health monitoring, and the like. Good strategic directions that don't lose sight of the historical roots that made CEDIA successful but DO embrace smart change will, I believe, be the key.”

Ric Johnson, Right at Home Technologies
Ada, Ohio

Ric Johnson says, “I want to represent the mid-range technologist companies, those that work with new construction and remodelers in the mid-market. I have a special interest in the Aging in Place and medical needs markets. I work with and understand this segment of the industry and want to advocate for the integrator, builders, and caregivers of this market.”

Johnson frames CEDIA’s challenges thusly: “As we continue to advance in both wireless technologies and voice control, our biggest challenge will be developing a trained, quality workforce. CEDIA must be the leader in advancing the educational base of our workforce.”

Johnson also believes he can leverage his experience for the association’s benefit. “I have forty years’ experience working directly with the National Association of Home Builders, being an active member of the Custom Home Builders Committee, serving on the Codes Committee and participating as NAHB’s representative to the ICC code Hearings. I am a former member of the CTA TechHome Board, Multi-Room Audio Committee, and I’m an active electrical contractor.”

When asked, “What goals would you expect the board to prioritize in the upcoming years?” Johnson says, “Membership first and foremost, through workforce development and education — not just for certification, but to improve the industry as a whole.”

Albert Mizrahi, Smartlab
Mexico City, Mexico

Albert Mizrahi’s primary focus mirrors a concern held by many colleagues north of the border: “I wish all custom integrators would have a level of experience and professionalism that would help grow the market and give confidence to final users.”

That’s why CEDIA is critical in Mizrahi’s eyes. “It´s important to have an organization that is responsible for the development of this market."

Mizrahi’s motivation to serve is succinct. “I want to help CEDIA build better tools for professionals and the overall industry.”

The challenges we face? “Do-it-yourself products will bring disappointment to home automation consumers, but at the same time, every home will become digital, and the industry will need more professionals to meet with that demand.”

Mizrahi feels he’s got the right tools to help. “I own both the largest distribution and integration companies [in Mexico]; this has helped me understand exactly what the custom installers need in order to grow, from their point of view and from a distributor/manufacturer one. I have great relations with many important brands; great relations with over 200 integration companies in Mexico.”

Eddie Shapiro, SmartTouch USA
Columbia, Maryland

Eddie Shapiro’s priority is keeping CEDIA relevant. “When I go and visit with architects, designers, builders, and clients, I want them to know who CEDIA is,” he says. “Today, all too often, no one has ever heard of CEDIA and that is disappointing. I also think that there is certain level of professionalism that is missing from a good number of members and perhaps we can help further the educational effort that is so important to this organization and continue to raise the bar for our industry.”

Internally, Shapiro strives for cooperation: “There is a lot of discussion on the local CEDIA community boards about including other members at all levels. I strongly believe that all member should be taught the best approach to working within our communities and have a certain professionalism,” no matter what demo they serve or aspect of work an integrator specializes in.

Shapiro places emphasis on educating not just the broader industry regarding CEDIA, but also consumers and governments, recognizing that vigilance is needed when it comes to potentially damaging legislation. Additionally, “How we deal with Amazon, Google, Apple and others will be very important, and finding and keeping talent will continue to challenge our member companies.”

Michael Sherman, HENRI (NOTE: Michael Sherman and Peter Aylett are running for the open EMEA position.)
Paris, France

From Michael Sherman’s perspective, CEDIA is functioning very well – in English-speaking countries. “Most of the members are still in the U.S. and UK. For the other countries, the few members are not supported enough,” says Sherman. “There is a huge amount of potential members in the world. As a global association, we could benefit from learning from those countries and reaching out to them.”

As far as broader challenges, the pace of change is a constant for Sherman. “Our industry is becoming more and more technical. The challenge for any company is to keep pace with this. This is why educating the members — about technology but also [business] management — is very important.

“Another challenge is educating outside our members, to architects, clients, and other specifiers and deciders. These people are now submerged with technology advertisements from big companies.” This creates a demand for tech, but: “A few years back we wouldn’t have imagined an end-user talking about video colorimetry or network bandwidth. All of this available information might be confusing and negative for our businesses. It is important that we succeed as an industry to bring the deciders structured knowledge and ensure that they value our expertise.”

Joe Whitaker, The Thoughtful Home
Clayton, MO, USA

When we checked in with Joe Whitaker for a recent issue of CEDIA Communicates, he shared his priorities for his tenure on the board:

My company and I represent the largest portion of our membership in scale and size. We are the “every-HTP”! My priority is to be clear in my representation of those that voted for me and weighing every decision I make based on how it would affect my company and my peers. Whether it be strategic, outreach, or workforce development, I’ll put on my owner’s hat and ask, “How will this affect my business?” I plan to continue with the same objective I’ve had since first joining the board: Putting the members that make this industry great first.

Whitaker expanded on that in a recent podcast as he runs for reelection:

"I would love to continue to work that I've done with CEDIA’s branding, being part of governance during global alignment, and now with the new step with Emerald. Seeing the teamwork between CEDIA and Emerald, I would love to be able to continue in that trend, continue working with education and workforce, and continue representing all of you guys as a member."

Ian Williams, Casaplex
Kensington, Maryland

Ian Williams top-line vision is expressed thusly: “The two things to ensure that CEDIA remains relevant and prominent is to provide world?class service and deliver world?class training/education. Training and education are done by partnering with the best manufacturers and using their resources, and the service is delivered by using these three core values: Integrity, Community, and Innovation.”

When asked why he wants to serve, Williams answers, “To give back to a community that has given a lot to me. When I was younger, I always took for granted the amount of volunteer work it takes for an organization like CEDIA to run smoothly. Now that I am older, I have a true respect for all individuals who contribute their valuable time.
“This would be a great personal challenge and sense of accomplishment for me. This is another stepping stone in my career and I am ready to work on priority initiatives that will make this organization better.”

To that end: What goals would you expect the board to prioritize in the upcoming years?
“Not necessarily in this order: Membership, Business Training, Industry Standards, and finances.”

K.C. Wolbert, Vertex AV
Huntington Beach, California

When asked what goals the board should prioritize in the next few years, K.C. Wolbert goes to the bullet points:

  • Low-voltage licensing in state markets needs to be a priority. We need to make sure there is a space for highly trained technicians to remain and not be folded into high voltage trade markets.
  • Continued CEDIA branded events and publicity.
  • Continued educational opportunities both within the Expo concept and regional events.
The challenges for the industry, in Wolbert’s estimation, include: “Finding qualified technicians and human capital resources to operate a business, and meeting customer expectations of ‘everything just working’ because they see it on TV,” to name two.

And Wolbert feels his perspectives are unique: “I started in this industry by building a company that did "mass customization" on a rapid scale. We had to hire, train, educate, process manage, and replicate custom installation in five states and five completely different markets. I now currently run a much more high-end specialty company that sells everything to a single customer. This wide range of experience can lend insight to the board.”




CEDIA blog posts are intended to provide general information and should not be regarded as legal opinions or advice.

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