Azione Unlimited Wraps Up Donnèe in Denver, Focused on Sharing Ideas
With Azione Unlimited's Donnèe in Denver now in the rearview mirror, the message from the buying group is clear - it's time to start sharing ideas.
That message has constructed itself in the shape of four committees that are focused on education, membership, technology, and marketing. These foundational pillars are what drive President Richard Glikes to grow his group and make good on being one of the most influential buying groups in the market. And his efforts are seemingly aimed at keeping his group of 201 members afloat as the economy takes a turn, hamstrung by turbulence in the housing market, tariffs, inflation, labor shortages, and wage hikes.
"It's 2007 all over again," Glikes said in an expectedly candid talk with his members. "If you think that labor shortage is bad, Amazon is ready to pay $15 flat. Think about what you pay your [technicians] now and think about how easy it is for them to go to Amazon, make the same, and not even have to open their minds."
This underscored Glikes thoughts from his last meeting in Philadelphia, where he shared his foreboding thoughts on the current state of the economy.
"All I'm trying to do is protect," Glikes said earlier this year in Philadelphia. "These dealers can do more business, even in good times. All I want to do is give them more opportunity."
But Glikes has a plan and it seems like a good one. He wants to cast a "silhouette" on the marketplace and leverage his group's professional skills as a captive workforce. This has materialized as a dedication to lighting, energy, and wellness as well as the aforementioned committees.
"We have big challenges but we also have big opportunities," Glike said. "We can finish this year strong... and maybe have a little fun while we are at it."
Committees Develop Group's Growth
What really showcased the group's growth was four member-driven committees that focused on different parts of a functional business. And for what it's worth, the groups had no reason to feel as mature - but sure enough, the dedication from those involved made the venture feel fully developed.
The concept is pretty simple. Let the members commit small boards that focus on four important topics - education, membership, technology, and marketing - and build programs to help the group. Although four groups are being spearheaded by Seura's Gretchen Gilbertson, SurgeX's Jimmy Paschke, Cloud9's Chris Smith, and Azione's very own Glikes it certainly feels like a group effort.
And their presentations covered a lot of ground. The education committee wants to improve community education, build networking seminars, and develop Azione University; a hub for continuing education. It serves as a launch pad for dealers looking to maximize their learning efforts within the group and develop pathways to get there.
The education committee is gazing deep into the crystal ball to figure out what products, markets, tools, and everything in between will be useful for the members. It looks at whitespace that Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon may never tread and augments the potential for their integrators to capture it.
The membership committee is dedicated to vetting members and building the captive audience of integrators to cover the market. While the groups magic number may be right around 250, the quality of the member and the territories they cover are also important.
And finally, the marketing committee wants to create a marketing and operations manual to aid businesses in their growth. It was a short and sweet presentation, but Glikes is calling his operations playbook "The Bible" which should say all that needs to be said about its influence.
If those feel like ambitious goals, it's because they are. But that doesn't make the unachievable either. The groups feel hand-selected to their strengths and that becomes really important as they set out to accomplish those objectives. It will be an exciting project to see come to life.
After attending his first TED Talk, Glikes wanted to bring the format to the group. Dubbed Inspiring Insight, their rounds of TED Talk inspired keynotes hosted industry stalwarts, a few outsider perspectives, and one beautiful retrospection from a legally blind man's incredible two-month run from coast to coast - the first to ever do so. Topics included how (and why) you should be earning more money, the importance of blockchain technology, and a charged speech about how you should rethink the customer's journey.
However, two important talks came from Ann Schiffers, Senior Vice President at USAI Lighting and from Tim Sinnaeve, Managing Director for Barco. While their talks we're massively different in purpose, their goals were the same. They intended to show just how important design and lighting can be for dealers. Azione has also been interested in promoting these concepts, introducing Boston-based lighting designer Wolfers and the newly acquired System 7 at their Philadelphia show earlier this week.
Seemingly, the concepts are making an impact. Barco has long been a leader in both working with design partners and being a premium projector experience for the truly affluent market. USAI has recently partnered with Savant to bring some truly remarkable use cases for circadian rhythm and how to sell lighting and lighting fixtures as a solution. Combined, their insight really paints a picture that explains how important design and lighting is going to be for the future.
The entire project was interesting, to say the least, and it gave a platform to think about how companies operate, what's around the bend, and how to solve unusual pain points.
And despite some economy doom and gloom, the closing thoughts on Azione Unlimited's group felt positive. A dedicated focus to sharing ideas and a commitment to bringing in design partners made progress feel tangible. And despite the brewing storm, Glikes feels confident in his members. There is a focus on wellness, energy, and lighting that umbrellas the entire show and reflect white space for whatever economical trouble lies ahead.