Technology Integrator Top Talent Under 40: Gordon Isaac, AVAD
In a brief survey, we asked our Technology Integrator Top Talent Under 40 honoree to answer a few questions about themselves and about the industry. To see the full list of winners, click here.
Part 1: Profile Questions
Name: Gordon Isaac
Title and company: Director of Sales, AVAD
A brief description of your role there: I lead a sales team of nearly 100 Sales Associates who strive to provide the best Distribution Customer Experience throughout the United States and Canada through our 20 Branch Locations and also from our Virtual Sales Team that covers markets in which a physical branch is not located.
Years in industry: 23 years
Where you grew up: Grew up in the suburbs of Minneapolis.
Where you live now: Gilbert Arizona, a suburb of Phoenix.
College: Some went to school, I went to work. Best education has been in seeking opportunities that challenge me to learn and grow in areas that are new and sometimes uncomfortable.
Accomplishments and why those are important to you or your company: I’ve always sought after opportunities in which I could bring in my expertise and make a difference. Most of my accomplishments I consider part of just doing the best job that I can for the company I work for. While I’ve accomplished a lot in my career the things that stand out the most are the relationships I’ve been able to have with so many great employees and customers and to look at the positive impact I’ve been able to make in their journey.
Industry awards: Many, but the elusive Dealerscope 40 under 40 got away from me in this lifetime. That being said, I am very grateful for this recognition from Technology Integrator.
Part 2: Fun Questions
What I like best about my job: I love engaging with our customers and employees and helping people grow while growing myself along the way. Love being a road warrior!
What I like least about my job: Being in an office. It’s important to be in the office as an executive, but the passion and fun comes from being out in front of the customer and the sales team.
Favorite pastime/hobby: I love visiting distilleries and watching the craft and passion that goes into creating quality spirits such as Scotch, Bourbon, etc.. Lot’s of love and hard work that goes into those bottles and great conversation and experiences when you share that passion with someone else.
Last book I read: The Five Dysfunctions of a Team
Favorite movie: Depends on my mood, but can’t go wrong with The Usual Suspects
Best concert ever seen: Too many to mention. One of them was definitely when Aaron Lewis, lead singer of Staind, did a small venue tour called “Have Guitar Will Travel” and it was basically him doing cover songs and some of his own work but with just an acoustic guitar. I love live acoustic music!
Who’s my hero, and why: Would have to be my Grandpa. He is a 96-year-old WWII vet and sharp as can be. I don’t get to see him much but when I do I could sit there for days discussing any topic. He used to be a master magician for fun but now his hands can’t manipulate cards the way that he could when he was younger so now he does incredible card tricks with nothing but mathematics. It will blow your mind to see what he can do with a deck of cards and no sleight of hand.
Favorite new tech: Not sure right now, lots of “me too” products coming out that probably won’t be here in a couple of years. Technology is changing so fast right now and then becomes commodity shortly after. I’m looking forward to true AI and we are getting close. Can’t wait to have my own JARVIS.
If you could be anyplace else right now, where would it be and what would you be doing?: Wow, who would have thought this would be the hardest question of them all? I’ll take the easy way out and say that traveling around Italy in a Lamborghini and seeing the country would not be a bad way to spend a moment in time.
Part 3: More Serious Questions
What do you think is the major problem with the industry today, and what needs to be done to fix it?
For years the biggest issue has been the lack of talent available to allow for this industry to grow. There are not enough formalized educational programs to allow for the Custom Integration Industry to grow to its potential. There are many reasons for this, but we need more than low voltage programs. There are a lot of challenges that we are faced with that Electricians, Plumbers, Mechanics, etc do not have to deal with due to the amount of programs that are out there.
We need more trade school or vocational college programs that educate on all aspects of what this industry is about and attracts the next group of technology businesses. Business Management, Sales, Marketing, Operations, Manufacturing, etc.. We still seem to play by our own rules and make up a lot along the way. There are a lot of great people and businesses that have come from this approach, but more structure within our industry would solve a lot of today's issues and much of that comes from education and creation of standards and industry best practices.
What makes you believe the CI industry will get healthier and thrive during the next five years? Why?
There are several factors that will lead to the continued growth of this industry. First of them being that this industry is made of hungry entrepreneurs. People with vision, drive, and technical smarts that despite a lot of structure have found ways to build a lot of successful businesses. While the talent pool might be shallow right now, there are a lot of great companies that made it through the recession, came out stronger, and are finding ways to grow and evolve their business. Our industry has the mentality and work ethic to work through adversity and thrive.
Technology is coming out faster than ever which is great for these entrepreneurial businesses that are used to moving fast and adapting. This new technology is becoming more desired and commonplace, so more people need our expertise. Builders and Developers are starting to include more technology in their projects and they need us because what might seem like a good idea during some smart things research on the internet in the planning phase of a project could be a terrible idea when the project get’s close to trim.
Lastly, there will always be people with lot’s of money who want to spend it on stuff that is nicer than what others have and much of our technology is certainly considered luxury goods. This is the space the CI Industry has performed well in. Although the economic conditions can impact this space, even during the recession there were people spending money on the high-end goods. Less spending, delayed projects and payment, but still spending. The challenges will continue in retail and will impact the mid-market which will shrink a lot in the next 5 years. We should see many more service models come out that are labor driven and less product driven as people want the mass market products but still don’t have the time or understanding to make them work. This model is different from the current entry to mid-market business model and our entrepreneurs will need to evolve to ensure they can have a sustainable business that operates on low product margins and higher labor rates and service plans. This is a business of its own and not part of a more focused premium product integrators business. Big companies such as Amazon, Google, Apple, and Content Providers will be very aggressive in these spaces, but there will still be an opportunity for CI Integrators to differentiate and excel here.