For Better or Worse, Emerald Expositions a Majority Industry Stakeholder
Covering this industry for the past two years - which I swear is closer to a decade in editorial years - I've seen a lot of narratives change in the industry. Some are fleeting, some are subtle, and some reveal a divergent future for integrators and the custom integration business at large.
Emerald Expositions focus on guiding architects, builders, and designers into the same ecosystem as home technology professionals is the definition of an industry shifting narrative.
And Emerald Expositions has been busy. Using their resources at hand - a scattering of 55 B2B trade shows across a number of industries that cover everything from road paving to pizza making - they are already pressing the issue. Of course, the most apparent example stemmed from the acquisition of CEDIA Expo last year, but their tradeshows like the International Contemporary Furniture Fair and the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show underscore how homogenous this company can be.
Turning the corner on their first CEDIA Expo, that impact has already materialized for its attendees in the form of the Design Connection pavilion. The pavilion leads 30 design professionals through guided tours from CEDIA board member Joe Whitaker or design pioneer David VanWert, visiting industry leaders including Control4, Origin Acoustics, and Barco Residential among others. In a word, it brings leading minds from our industry and the design industry on the same level.
And just weeks out from the show, Emerald Expositions has doubled-down on that commitment by acquiring some critical pieces from EH Media. A deal approximated at about $28 million in cash, according to MarketWatch, allowed Emerald Expositions to acquire CEPro, Commercial Integrator, Security Sales & Integration, and Campus Safety as well as their hosted-buyer event Total Tech Summit.
If you are keeping score at home, Emerald Expositions has acquired the largest custom integration tech show from CEDIA, nabbed some of the most influential media voices in the game, and mixed in their expertise from a few of the most authoritative construction, design, and architect shows the nation has to offer.
And we applaud them for doing so.
The industry is primed for change, and it's becoming more and more apparent from every corner that integrators are ready for it. Go to any buying group, Technology & Business Summit, or show floor across the nation and the overarching issue is integrators being left out of the conversation or going largely ignored by their working industry partners.
The difference between the one-off "trunk slammer" and the budding integration firm looking to ascend into the next million-dollar tier is a business plan that can evolve as quickly as the times. And right now, the initiative demands that an integrator become as crucial as architects, builders, and designers to a client but also being able to accurately and succinctly portray that value.
Yes, up-selling speakers, upgrading networks, implementing RMR services, and implementing proper SEO terms is essential, but your business will not survive if you are unaware of how to market your solutions like the other industries to the homeowner.
Which is why our venture at Connected Design has become so important not only to the team at Technology Integrator but to the audience of architects, builders, designers, and integrators it influences. We, like Emerald Expositions, have noticed this shift and have been publishing home builds, talking to leading-edge associations, and sharing the stories from industry peers that have already embraced the change.
And while some integrators are not ready to embrace that change, Connected Design and Emerald Expositions have already started, marking a new era for the custom integration industry.
However, I still want to address the elephant in the room.
Emerald Expositions has acquired many of the main streams of thought in the industry, especially after obtaining CEDIA Expo and a publishing arm as potent as CEPro - and they may not realize how much influence they now have. Yes, the old guard of buying groups, industry veterans, and associations will continue to make their mark, but there is no bigger show than CEDIA, and there is no more prominent mouthpiece than CEPro. Seemingly overnight, they now have a duty to continue an ethical, neutral, and transparent appearance that intends to raise all ships with the tide, not the ones they want to see succeed.
And there is no evidence to support that they would play favorites and I would be hard-pressed to believe that a company can make it as far as they have by doing so. But much like Emerald Expositions will now be held accountable for pushing narratives; it is the responsibility of each integrator, as well as the watchdogs that populate it, to shine the spotlight back to make sure they are keeping the industry's best intentions in mind.