REDBAND: Ain’t No Cure for the Job Huntin’ Blues By Joshua Stackhouse

Ain’t No Cure for the Job Huntin’ Blues By Joshua Stackhouse

I realize many salty AV veterans either didn’t go to college at all but instead learned on the job or went to school for something not related to AV at all. However, as some of you will know, this “kid” is probably the only person you have ever heard of who has a degree in AV. Yes, you heard me right. Let me say that again. I have an actual college degree in audio/visual systems and electronics.

Here, don’t take my word for it. Check out this video here of my graduation commencement.

See that right there, yeah, that’s me walking across that stage receiving an actual academic degree in audio visual systems. Your eyes are not playing tricks on you. Degrees in A/V actually exist, and I am one of only a handful of people in all of our industry to have one. That makes me special…and highly unemployable.

If the that statement seems odd, let me explain by plainly telling you that just having a degree in A/V doesn’t get you jobs. In fact, it has only served to make things harder in some ways. While you might think that I have the holy grail of education for our industry, many employers do not even really recognize my degree as a valid alternative to experience in the field. This is something in the industry which I am hoping to reconcile. As you read this, if you are an employer, consider that just because degrees in A/V are relatively new, it doesn’t mean that I’m not every bit as capable as doing the job as the guys who have been doing it for years.

Now as I stated, finding employment after graduation wasn’t necessarily easier just because I held an AV degree. I faced many challenges but we’ll just focus the big five. A pseudo sixth problem which I won’t discuss, but deserves mention is that I had to teach myself through research who the players in each market segment are in my local area and the industry at large.

The first obstacle I had to overcome in searching for a job was understanding what exactly employers call each job and what that job entails.  It is a disservice to our entire industry that we still have so many job titles out there and no standards. For example, some companies have dedicated “Structured Cabling Technicians”, whereas another may very well employ someone whose sole job is to install cabling but instead is only called an “Installation Technician”.

Figuring out what each job is called is really minor in comparison to the big two insurmountable obstacles of consistent employer demand for several years experience and the desire for employees with specializations. While I have years of IT and technical support experience behind me, I only possess the experience I gained from two years of school when it comes to AV. Well, that’s sort of true, I’ve been dealing with AV my entire life off and on as a technician, though from an employer perspective that doesn’t really count. Employers consistently asked me about my level of experience during interviews, and each time I had to defend the validity of hands on trade school training.

While not quite as restricting as lack of experience, not having a specialty also made finding a job difficult. My academic studies were blanket program covering home theater systems, fire and life safety, surveillance, live sound, building automation, and more. Time after time I would be drilled on in my interviews about how deep my training went in each area. Without fail, I almost always didn’t have enough knowledge in one or two areas to satisfy them. It was constantly a “close but no cigar” situation.

Normally our personal networks provide us opportunities to interview with a company. Even if you lack a job skill or two knowing someone who can vouch for you helps employers overlook things like not having enough experience or a specialty. In my case, having no industry contacts made this door opening technique unavailable to me. Of course my professors had their contacts, but I am a significantly better designer than I am an installer, and sadly design jobs are rare. While I actively use social media and regularly attend networking events locally, the opportunity to meet A/V professionals is far and few in between.

Perhaps the biggest impediment to employment was that as a whole the A/V industry just doesn’t understand what a degree in A/V entails. Since Madison Media Institute is currently one of a kind, most of the industry has only begun to hear of academic A/V training. As the industry grows to become aware that formal education exists in our field, I believe that employment opportunities will start to open up more readily. Indeed, employers are beating the door down at my Alma Mater asking when our next crop of graduates will be ripe and ready. Each graduating class becomes more refined and better trained as the curriculum matures.

As a rapidly expanding industry that is heavily concerned with gaining recognition, we must concern ourselves with the challenges formal education creates.  Certifications will not take us all the way; we must develop academic programs that deal with specialties such as video conferencing or building automation. We should not be content to continue business as usual and be merely a trade, but instead a valid career field that colleges will find appetizing. We must embrace this change, and do whatever we can to help those entering our industry with solid education find their place in the great electron sea of A/V. The only question left at this point is what part will you play in helping that change to happen? This guy, well, I’m “Mr. AV Education” and will continue to push for formal education in AV for years to come. Will you become an agent of change and actively help or will you sit by on the sidelines as things fly past you? Which side will you be on?

 

Check out Joshua Stackhouse profile on LinkedIn and follow him on Twitter: @StackhouseAV

REDBAND: Communication is Key When Working with Contractors by Todd Anthony Puma

Communication is Key When Working with Contractors by Todd Anthony Puma 

The key to success in our business is referrals. Doing great work and providing top-notch customer service are the cost of entry, so in order to grow and expand, you need your clients to pass along your good name. While client referrals are awesome, and we all aim to get those, there just isn’t always enough volume there. That’s why we all strive to work with designers, architects, and contractors. Good relationships with our industry partners take a lot of work and nurturing, and sometimes we are willing to take big risks to enable these partnerships.

If I had to sum up my ideal client, it would be someone who trusts my direction, is understanding of the integration process, is open to communication, and pays promptly. I am currently working with just such a client on a large renovation in NYC. He has brought us on to do all of his AV and to integrate lighting control, HVAC, and security. Being the end result is for us to integrate all systems, we are obviously working closely with the client’s general contractor, as well as the other professional teams (designers, architects, landscape architects, security firm, HVAC installer, etc).

While each contractor is responsible for the operation of their own individual trade, we are not only required to ensure the AV system works in and of itself, but that the entire interface operates together as one.

During the beginning stages, each group listed what manufacturers they would be using so that we could guarantee it could be integrated together. Somewhere along the line, one of the trades changed their operating system to one that cannot be integrated by any of our control systems. Since our system will ultimately interface and control the entire home, the GC assumes that we will take responsibility in finding the solution and has put the ball in our court…

To continue reading click the link below:

http://www.residentialsystems.com/default.aspx?tabid=90&EntryId=564

ToddRedband

Todd Anthony Puma is the CEO & Founder of The Source Home Theater. Check out his  website at The Source Home Theater and follow him on twitter at  @ToddAnthonyPuma .

REDBAND: Give the People What They Want By John Sciacca

Give the People What They Want By John Sciacca

When you think about it, we custom integrators work in a strange industry… An industry unlike any other.

Often we encounter people that not only aren’t sure exactly what it is we do, but also aren’t sure they even want or need what we offer. This is a dynamic pretty much unlike any other shopping/buying experience.

As an example, consider a typical purchasing encounter that people might go through.

Customer: “I want to buy a (car, watch, piece of art, bottle of wine).”

Salesman: “OK. Do you have your eye on anything in particular?”

Customer: “Well, I’ve been doing some research and I really like this (car, watch, piece of art, bottle of wine).”

Continue reading by clicking the link Below:

http://johnsciacca.webs.com/apps/blog/show/25319003-give-the-people-what-they-want

JSRedband1

John Sciacca started a personal blog back in 2010 which dared to ask the hard questions like, “Huh?” and “Whaa?” all written in a pithy, deliciously witty and uproarious manner. His blog likes to make new friends and would love to have you over for some caramels. You can follow John Sciacca on Twitter @sciaccatweets  and at his personal blog www.johnsciacca.webs.com

REDBAND: Cultivating Vendor Relationships That Benefit Your Business by Todd Anthony Puma

We all have relationships in our lives that really matter, and then there are other relationships that we treat as more transactional, such as those with our suppliers—be it distributors, manufacturers, or reps. I think, however, it’s important to make your supplier relationships as strong as your other professional relationships because this can help you solve problems when you’re out in the field.

We got a call from our NuVo rep recently because a customer had contacted their headquarters concerned with the poor performance of their media server and that the system was continually lagging. Unfortunately, their integrator had moved out of state so they had nowhere else to turn. I could tell right away that the problem sounded software-related and that server needed to be updated and subsequently hard-rebooted. It was not a huge job, but as I’ve said before, you never know what can happen with these small troubleshooting jobs. And I also wanted to support NuVo and help them retain a customer, because I value our business relationship.

I scheduled time to personally go to this customer’s home in the SoHo neighborhood of Manhattan. It was a beautiful apartment, owned by an accomplished producer and talent manager in the entertainment business. The apartment was outfitted with a NuVo Grand Concerto 8 Zone system, multiple iPod docks, a projector in the living room, and an 80-inch TV in the bedroom. While fixing the NuVo system (the problem was exactly what I thought, and it now works great), I chatted with the property’s caretaker and now have the opportunity to maintain and upgrade the system as necessary, run new coax lines for their recently added DirectTV service, re-mount the bedroom TV on an articulating arm, and possibly upgrade the projector and screen. What started out as a quick service call as a favor to a great vendor partner turned into a client worth tens of thousands of dollars in future billings…

Continue reading by clicking the address below:

http://www.residentialsystems.com/default.aspx?tabid=90&EntryId=560

ToddRedband

Todd Anthony Puma is the CEO & Founder of The Source Home Theater. Check out his  website at The Source Home Theater and follow him on twitter at  @ToddAnthonyPuma .

REDBAND: Home Theater Doomed?! Hardly…by John Sciacca

Home Theater Doomed?! Hardly… by John Sciacca

A recent post by my brother-blogger-in-arms, Andrew Robinson, caught my eye and I felt compelled to respond. His post was “Commercial Cinema May Be Doomed But Home Theater Is Far From Safe.”

First, I think that it’s important to note that despite all of its foibles, and all of the griping that you read about here, and all of the reasons why the multiple may very well deserve to die we’ll probably always have “commercial cinema” around in some form. For many, the cost of owning even a modest home theater system is prohibitive of just impractical in their living space. There will always be a desire to see films on the largest screen possible, and that will mean a commercial experience. There will always be a desire to see films in the most cutting edge manner – IMAX, Dolby Atmos – available and that will mean a commercial experience. And there will always be films that you want to see in a shared, communal experience to revel in the roller coaster of emotions with hundreds of others.

Further you have a reluctance of film studios to break away from the theater exhibition model. Pete Kafka at All Things D recently interviewed of Michael Lynton, CEO of Sony Corporation of America and Sony Entertainment, and asked, “You are not going to fulfill my desire to let me see Zero Dark Thirty at my house for a bunch of money when it’s still in the theaters?”…

To Continue Reading Click the link Below:

http://johnsciacca.webs.com/apps/blog/show/25021620-home-theater-doomed-hardly-

 

JSRedband1

John Sciacca started a personal blog back in 2010 which dared to ask the hard questions like, “Huh?” and “Whaa?” all written in a pithy, deliciously witty and uproarious manner. His blog likes to make new friends and would love to have you over for some caramels. You can follow John Sciacca on Twitter @sciaccatweets  and at his personal blog www.johnsciacca.webs.com

REDBAND: Returning to the Basics During a Client Service Call By Todd Anthony Puma

Returning to the Basics During a Client Service Call

By

Todd Anthony Puma

One of the best ways to improve profitability is by reducing truck rolls. Lately, we’ve accomplished this by using technology such as IP-based power management products, remote programming for universal remotes, Teamviewer to troubleshoot systems, and countless other products. But an incident last week reminded me that returning to the basics during a routine service call is just as important.

For a client in Manhattan, we recently replaced a whole-home audio system and separately added new URC remotes for the TVs and video components. On Friday afternoon we returned to their home because they were having RF interference issues, and we needed to move the RF antenna around. One of our technicians went over and quickly found a new spot for the antenna that alleviated the problem. He thoroughly tested the remotes to make sure all of the components were working properly and even showed the client how to detect RF interference and what to do if they encountered it again. The client was very happy that everything worked and that they were given the tools to prevent the issue from occurring again. All was well and good, and my technician went home for the weekend…

Continue reading by clicking the address below:

http://www.residentialsystems.com/default.aspx?tabid=90&EntryId=557

ToddRedband

Todd Anthony Puma is the CEO & Founder of The Source Home Theater. Check out his  website at The Source Home Theater and follow him on twitter at  @ToddAnthonyPuma .

 

REDBAND: Three Tools for Improving Employee Morale by Todd Anthony Puma

Three Tools for Improving Employee Morale

When a new client decides they are interested in your services, they place a phone call to your office and speak to your administrative assistant or receptionist. He or she takes their information and writes down what the client is looking for, then puts them on the schedule for a technician to come to their home. The technician takes the client’s information and arrives to their home for their appointment. He asks questions and completes the service accordingly. Once the technician leaves the client’s home, the interaction with this client ends without any input from you, the owner.

As a business owner, although we would love to meet with every client personally, there just isn’t enough time in a day. The “face” of your company is often not you but the people who go out into the field representing you. But who is to say that your new client is receiving the same level of service from your team as they would from you? How can you ensure that your employees are always the best representation of you and your company?

Three tools for success that I have found work well to promote a positive working environment are education, motivation, and ambition. They mold each of my employees into a “mini me” of myself, so I am confident in their ability to represent my company with our clients…

Continue reading on Residential Systems by clicking the link below:

http://www.residentialsystems.com/default.aspx?tabid=90&EntryId=554

ToddRedband

Todd Anthony Puma is the CEO & Founder of The Source Home Theater. Check out his  website at The Source Home Theater and follow him on twitter at  @ToddAnthonyPuma .

 

 

REDBAND: Living in the Golden Age of High Tech By John Sciacca

Living in the Golden Age of High Tech by John Sciacca

My recent post on Prima Cinema’s game-changing day & date home-delivery system elicited a comment from DarkOrion69 that got me thinking. As background for appreciating Mr. 69’s comment, the Prima hardware currently sells for $35,000 and each movie viewing costs $500. The comment was:

“Interesting technology but WAY out of my price range. Until the price point drops below $10,000 for the unit and movies drop to $200 each then this will just be one more cool toy for wealthy people. It won’t revolutionize anything when only the wealthy can afford this service. Wouldn’t it be nice if a poor or middle class person with extreme physical disabilities could see movies like this?”

The truth is, Prima is expensive, and it’s not currently intended for mass-market pricing or adoption. It’s also way out of my price range. Today….

To Continue reading Click on the link Below:

http://johnsciacca.webs.com/apps/blog/entries/show/24454258-living-in-the-golden-age-of-high-tech

JSRedband1

John Sciacca started a personal blog back in 2010 which dared to ask the hard questions like, “Huh?” and “Whaa?” all written in a pithy, deliciously witty and uproarious manner. His blog likes to make new friends and would love to have you over for some caramels. You can follow John Sciacca on Twitter @sciaccatweets  and at his personal blog www.johnsciacca.webs.com

REDBAND: Color Temperature For Dummies by John Sciacca

Color Temperature for Dummies by John Sciacca

Many of you are likely ISF and/or THX certified video calibrators and thus have a terrific understanding of color temperature. And even if you haven’t been through the certification, you’re probably at least familiar with the term 6500 Kelvin – or, more accurately in cal-speak, D-65 or, even more precisely, points x=0.3127, y=0.3290 on the CIE Chromaticity Diagram. And if you are associated with this industry and don’t have any idea what I’m talking about, then please immediately go and tell your supervisor that you need to spend several minutes reading this and that you will return a much more educated and informed employee, ready to go forth with a better understanding of video technology!

The truth is, for many of your clients, the idea that color has a temperature is confusing and irrelevant. Red is red, blue is blue, what does temperature have to do with anything? Or why is a higher temp – say 9500 Kelvin – considered “cool” (more blue) while a lower temp – say 5400 Kelvin – is “warm” (more red)?

Click here to continue reading:

 

http://johnsciacca.webs.com/apps/blog/show/24351244-color-temperature-for-dummies

JSRedband1

John Sciacca started a personal blog back in 2010 which dared to ask the hard questions like, “Huh?” and “Whaa?” all written in a pithy, deliciously witty and uproarious manner. His blog likes to make new friends and would love to have you over for some caramels. You can follow John Sciacca on Twitter @sciaccatweets  and at his personal blog www.johnsciacca.webs.com

REDBAND: My Unexpected Crestron Experience By Todd Anthony Puma

My Unexpected Crestron Experience By Todd Anthony Puma

Many people in the industry know them as the behemoth booth at CEDIA and InfoComm, and some follow the misconception of them being impersonal and expensive. The more I indulge in Crestron, the more enlightened I am becoming to the level of personal attention they display towards the integration industry.

Recently, I brought my office manager as well as my project manager with me up to Crestron’s Rockleigh headquarters for a full tour of not just the company’s Experience Center, but also its manufacturing facilities. It was amazing to see good ol’ manufacturing and assembly being done in the USA. Throughout several different buildings, I witnessed a facility for printing motherboards, for assembling final products, and a full R&D center with an RF chamber, and industrial 3D printers for prototyping. In an age when everything is being moved off-shore, it’s great to see a company keeping things local…

Continue reading click the link below:

http://www.residentialsystems.com/default.aspx?tabid=90&EntryId=549

 

ToddRedband

 

Todd Anthony Puma is the CEO & Founder of The Source Home Theater. Check out his  website at The Source Home Theater and follow him on twitter at  @ToddAnthonyPuma .