Work hard, sell hard, play hard
By Ron Goldberg
Elan Home Systems' Trio Summit has become an annual event for its dealers, gathering the faithful from all ends of the country for a weekend in Kentucky to talk business, the market, the latest techniques and, of course, Elan.
This year's event built on last year's success with a full house of training, sales and marketing seminars held in the company's hometown of Lexington.
In essence, the Trio Summit is like a mini trade show for Elan dealers and integrators. New products are showcased, seminars by industry experts are delivered throughout the event, and awards are granted to the most successful dealers and installers.
On the product side, Elan showed off additions to its VIA system, including a new pedestal controller, the VIA 64, a 6.4-inch LCD touchscreen that can swivel and also work under or over a counter. The company also showed its new VIA DVDJ, a DVD server that uses Elan's simplified front-end user interface. As a service to Elan dealers, the company has also cut a deal with CD-ripping service ReadyToPlay, which has developed an API for the Elan music servers. Other products given the showcase treatment included the VIAQuad, which allows monitoring of up to four video cameras simultaneously, and the latest line of Elan speakers currently under development.
Technical seminars were offered on both specific topics like Elan programming and more generalized concepts like lighting control, with individual sessions led by Lutron and Vantage Controls. Elan also provided an interactive roundtable opportunity for its tech attendees to make suggestions and ask questions directly. The dialogue not only serves as information from the horse's mouth to the dealer, but also acts as a sort of alpha testing for new product ideas and developments.
On the business side, offerings were targeted to a wide range of attendee interests and experience. On day one, the keynote was delivered by Chuck Martin, author of Tough Management, who provided insights on decision-making and vision in today's market. This was followed by, among other events, a panel discussion led by Thiel President and former CEA Chairperson Kathy Gornick on how to manage personnel without an HR department. Personnel management has become one of the key issues of the integration business. In addition to Gornick's panel on this topic, Daniel Abramson of Staff Dynamics presented his well-honed material on hiring and team building.