Smith, the founder and president of Custom Electronics in Falmouth, Maine, recently chatted with CR’s Nancy Klosek.
Many CEDIA installers have hobbyist backgrounds that drew them into their current businesses. Your background includes a stint as a management consultant with a Fortune 500 company. Does that give you a somewhat unique perspective with which to approach the tasks before you as CEDIA’s new president? Are you a hobbyist as well?
I worked for Digital Equipment Corp. as a management consultant, and had the chance to interview many in the company and discover what went on, what issues abounded. I also provided training intervention for the various groups within the company. This all gave me a unique perspective from the business world that I feel I can use in this organization.
CEDIA was started by technically-oriented hobbyists with some very good business instincts, but a lot of them, in the beginning, were tech people who didn’t necessarily have the business backgrounds to grow their businesses smoothly. What I think I bring to the table is my practical experience in the business world.
I was a hobbyist; I really like the stuff, have great passion for it, and have moved over the years from a tech role to a business role. But I was fortunate in that I learned installation and technology; there isn’t any job in my own company that I haven’t done.
From a personal perspective, one benefit I bring is my ability and propensity to be a facilitative leader. In working with my team, the executive committee and the board of directors, I’ll be taking more of a facilitative approach than may have been taken in the past. In so doing, I will be using the skills and knowledge of people on my team, and formulating those opinions and skills and that knowledge into what I think is a really powerful way to move ahead—in a nutshell, a little bit less directive and a little bit more facilitative.