Wrapping up Home Technology Specialists of America’s biannual meeting in Dallas, Dan Paulson had one word for the group’s posture - “energized.”
“We have all the buying group benefits, but that’s not even what people talk about anymore,” said HTSA Board of Director President Paulson. “We have all these education opportunities that are really making our members best-in-class. It’s a skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been, and the group is energized.”
“It’s all about the education consortium,” he added.
Championing that focus on education, HTSA certainly has a ‘post-grad’ atmosphere to it. Their extensive list of educational opportunities has materialized in the form of master classes, EOS training, standardization - all the usual suspects that will take their members business to the next level. But newfound focused narrative on lighting, wellness, and energy management has also begun to pique members interest.
In fact, a third lighting class was added by popular demand, and Executive Director Jon Robbins says that’s only the beginning.
“We are incredibly busy,” Robbins said. “It’s lighting; it’s entrepreneurial training... I don't think we've had a single month where our members were not engaged in one form of education or another. Our ultimate goal with all these initiatives is to look around the industry and evaluate everything as an opportunity to make them leaders in their market.”
Synergy in Practice
What makes HTSA’s approach unique is their ability to see the common denominators in the three fields that may not be so obvious.
Take circadian rhythm for example. It’s an incredibly buzzworthy word floating around the industry at large that encompasses a lot more than just making lights transition from red to blue. But understanding that depth of technology and, more importantly, how to effectively sell it is where Tom Doherty shines.
Doherty joined the team at HTSA just a short year ago as Director of Special Projects but has already put in some serious work. Their original roadmap took a turn after their relationship with Ketra didn’t fully pan out. Not wasting a moment, they approached the American Lighting Association in Dallas to continue pressing the issue.
As an organization, the ALA is responsible for certifying lighting designers in core competencies across America. Their three tiers, Lighting Associate, Lighting Specialist, and Lighting Consultant, represent different levels of increased education and qualifications earned. Typically, training can take three-and-a-half days of training and tests knowledge of 900-page manuals.
Doherty noted that of the first batch of dealers resulted in five Lighting Specialists by June. By October they had 25. And while Robbins would love to make every member a qualified Lighting Consultant, he notes that there is a “seriously minuscule” amount of them in America and even less as related to the CI industry.
But the rewards, he notes, are worth the effort. It’s more than just adding revenue; it’s controlling the experience from wall to fixture. It’s a tool that develops a deeper value prop to both clients and trade partners. And importantly, proper knowledge of how lighting works and how to effectively buy it means less profit loss when speccing a house.
“Our thing wasn’t about slapping lighting on the board and creating a new business. That’s not what it's about. There’s a much bigger picture,” Robbins said. “If you are proficient in lighting - and that is a serious amount of training - we can get people into the conversations far earlier. Clients and builders want lighting way before they want AV and that’s a huge opportunity for our members.”
With the lighting initiative, HTSA has also ramped up their efforts with wellness in the home. As a whole, wellness occupies a truly emerging market. Their partnership with Delos has accurately summed up their mantra as a ‘LEED certification for humans.’ That means monitoring water, air, sleep, and a host of other factors that make the home a better place to live. Their deep dedication to learning has produced insight into how music can affect your living conditions and just how healthy the air in your house.
But more importantly, their efforts to scale into residential vertical has made them an invaluable partner for HTSA.
“The group has a quest for knowledge,” Robbins said. “I’m really not trying to put too many things on the wall and hope it sticks. We go in with a power of intention to make this the real deal. We do the research, we build a strategy, and we make it work.”
Odds and Ends
HTSA also announced a handful of awards for their members and vendor partners:
- Innovation Awards
- Samsung for 8k TV
- Crestron for Pyng2.0
- Future Automation for the Servo Lift with Swivel
- Seura for the Smart Mirror
- Millson Custom Solutions for Millson CinemaFrame
- Accessory Vendor of the Year
- Legrand AV Milestone
- Audio Vendor of the Year
- Video Vendor of the Year
- CI Vendor of the Year
- Dana Innovations
- Special Recognition for President of HTSA in 2018 (gavel presented): Dan Paulson