CEDIA Chairman on Organization Goals: Education, Outreach
The CEDIA organization, mindful of the unique economic challenges affecting its membership, set out at the just-concluded 2008 Expo to craft a show experience just as unique, with fee-free education and a renewed post-show resolve to make the custom installation discipline better known by outside groups whose understanding and partnership are crucial to the trade’s future growth.
Attendance at the show, according to statistics released by management, was only minimally lower than last year’s 29,000 figure, and those who came to Denver were the beneficiaries of a broad suite of educational programs – offered gratis for the first time in Expo’s history, according to Utz Baldwin, CEDIA chairman, who spoke to CustomRetailer of the initiative and other industry topics during the show.
“Over 1,400 students signed up for the courses,” he said. “We provided over $500,000 in free education; all five of our colleges were represented here.”
Beyond educational initiatives, he said, CEDIA is looking to broaden its outreach past the architect and interior designer community to now include realtors and home appraisers.
“We’ve made tremendous inroads with architects and designers,” he said, “and the realtor is no less important for us. As an agent walks a client through a home and together, they see a user interface, for example, there will be the need for an educated conversation about what it is and what it does. Historically, our amenities have been overlooked by them, in better economic times. But with times as they are, realtors are now on our radar. That will be the goal of this outreach: to educate them and appraisers as to the value of the systems we install.”
Baldwin said that the organization is also striving not just to teach outsiders about its membership but also to learn as much as it can about its own changing makeup so that it may serve member interests better. “CEDIA leadership always wants to find out more about the health of the industry, so, two years ago, we initiated a ‘best practices’ benchmarking survey,” he said, adding that survey participation doubled this year over the first year.