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CE Pro Names Top 20 Most Influential People of 20 Years [PR]

Sam Runco, Noel Lee and George Feldstein top the list of the most influential people in custom electronics since the industry’s leading publication launched in 1993.


CE Pro celebrates 20 years in print with the Top 20 Most Influential People in Custom Electronics appearing in the February 2013 issue. The feature can be viewed now in the digital issue of CE Pro. The entire story will be posted online on Jan. 23.

Celebrating 20 years in print, CE Pro magazine, the leading publication for the custom electronics channel, has named the 20 people that made the biggest impact on the industry in the past two decades.

The top three most influential people, selected by CE Pro editors and the community, are Runco founder Sam Runco, Monster founder Noel Lee and Crestron founder George Feldstein.

The magazine names 17 other influencers, as well as well as 27 honorable mentions. In addition, CE Pro names the six industry pioneers who might be considered the “Father of Home Automation.”

To assemble the list, CE Pro first turned to the community for nominees, and then put the top nominees to a formal vote. Top vote-getters made the list, and then CE Pro editors and a small circle of insiders selected five “relatively unheralded wild cards who we felt should have made the list but didn’t,” says .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), CE Pro editor at large and co-founder of parent company EH Publishing.

EH Publishing was founded by Jacobson and CEO Ken Moyes in 1994 with the acquisition Electronic House, which has been published since 1986 and remains the only consumer magazine focused on the connected home.

CE Pro’s Humble Beginnings

The first issue of CE Pro – the trade magazine for professionals who install and integrate audio, video, home automation, and other home technologies – appeared in 1993 as an insert in Electronic House. At the time, it was called H.A. Pro for “home automation.”

The first standalone issue of the magazine was published in 1995 with Tom Doherty – one of CE Pro’s Top 20 – on the cover. He was then, and still is an influential integrator with Doherty Design Group. He also co-founded CEDIA, launched the music management category with Escient and spawned the CD database aggregator Gracenote.

“Doherty might not be as well known as some of the other influencers on the list,” says Jacobson, who authored the Top 20 piece, “but those who have been in the business for 20-plus years will recognize his enormous contributions to the industry.”

Indeed, many on the list are the “forgotten ones” who pushed the industry forward either through technological innovations, training, evangelism or sheer passion, according to Jacobson.

“We felt it was our duty to celebrate some of the people who got us here, even those like Russ Herschelmann, who left the industry many years ago to run a bed-and-breakfast,” she says.

Jacobson adds, “I suspect it will be a very controversial list and we look forward to the feedback.”

The Top 20 story appears in the February issue of CE Pro magazine, and it is now live in the digital issue of the magazine. The entire story will be posted at on Wed., Jan. 23.

Throughout the year, CE Pro will reminisce over the past two decades and industry long-timers are invited to participate by sending photos and anecdotes to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) or tweet @juliejacobson.

The List: CE Pro’s Most Influential People of the Past 20 Years

  • #1 Sam Runco, Founder and CEO (retired), Runco International
  • #2 Noel Lee, founder and CEO, Monster (formerly Monster Cable)
  • #3 George Feldstein, founder and CEO, Crestron
  • Jeremy Burkhardt, former owner and president (retired), SpeakerCraft
  • Scott Struthers, founder and principal, Sonance, iPort, TruFIG
  • Joel Spira, founder and CEO Lutron Electronics
  • Tomlinson Holman, founder, THX
  • Joe Kane, founder, Joe Kane Productions
  • Joe Piccirilli, managing director (retired), AVAD
  • Chris Stevens, founderPhoenix Systems, AudioAccess, iControl; president, Harman Kardon
  • Will West and Eric Smith, founders, Control4
  • Tom Doherty, founder, Doherty Design Group
  • Russ Herschelmann, home theater designer
  • Anthony Grimani, founder, PMI, Ltd.
  • Don Stewart, EVP, Stewart Filmscreen
  • Eric Johnson, Product developer, instructor
  • Tricia Parks, founder and CEO, Parks Associates
  • Joel Silver, president and founder, Imaging Science Foundation
  • Bob Carver, founder, Sunfire
  • Daniel Tonks, founder,

About CE Pro
CE Pro (Custom Electronics Professional) is the leading trade publication for businesses that specify, install and integrate technology for homes and light commercial, including audio, video, automation, security, lighting controls, energy management, motorized shades, assistive devices and more. CE Pro magazine is published in print, and as a digital issue. Leading industry Web site generates roughly 700,000 page views per month. CE Pro can be found at and on Twitter @ce_pro.

About EH Publishing
EH Publishing, Inc., based in Framingham, Mass., is the leading media firm serving the custom electronics, information technology, house of worship, pro audio, robotics, and supply chain markets. Flagship brands include CE Pro, Electronic House, ChannelPro-SMB, Live Sound International,, Worship Facilities Conference & Expo (WFX), TechDecisions, Robotics Business Review, Supply Chain Management Review, Logistics Management, and Modern Materials Handling. Visit


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Article Topics

Press Releases · People and Places · Noel Lee · 20 Years · George Feldstein · Sam Runco · All topics

15 Comments (displayed in order by date/time)

Posted by Lou Sall  on  01/17  at  04:47 PM

It’s a good list, but you really need to include Peter McKean of ADA.  He was instrumental in starting much of where our industry has grown to over the years.

Posted by Kal Weiss  on  01/17  at  06:26 PM

I agree on most of the entries you came up with (and I actually learned a few thing about some of these people) but I was a little surprised that Andrew (Andy) Edwards from Extron is not on the list of innovators and one of the best business managers in the industry.

Thanks for the interesting article.

Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  01/17  at  06:32 PM

Looking through the hon. mentions I see we accidentally left off a chunk—my fault in the editing ... like Sandy Gross, duh. We’ll get it straightened out for the online version being posted next week.

Posted by Bulldog  on  01/17  at  10:19 PM

Great list.  I have had the chance to meet and learn from many of them.  The inclusion of Daniel is huge!  Well done.

Good stuff. 

I feel the need to do the obligatory “you should have included” thing… so I will.  Hey…thats what you get when you write a top 20 list.

At the risk of sounding like I am kissing ass, you should have included Matt Good.  He was the best trainer this industry has seen in the decade I have been a CI.  I highly doubt anyone has taught more about the most important components we use to more CIs of all experience levels. 

My .02

Posted by 39CentStamp  on  01/17  at  11:45 PM

Lutron? Monster? Speakercraft? These guys made the list but no mention of wiremunky or 39centstamp?


Posted by Julie Jacobson  on  01/18  at  12:15 AM

Not enough space in this issue, Stamp. We had to save you for an entire issue where we could devote more space for all the praise you deserve.

Posted by George Keegan  on  01/18  at  03:20 PM

20 years??.....Doesn’t seem possible.  To think some people though HA Pro was a magazine for professional joke tellers when it first came out grin

Posted by Eric Davidson  on  01/18  at  03:26 PM

Frank White should be included on the “A” list (not just an honorable mention).  CEDIA’s best instructor.  He taught all of us who started in business 20 years ago how to distribute video and terminate a coax cable.

Posted by CEDIAdude  on  01/18  at  04:20 PM

I second Peter Mckeon of ADA as a top nominee. Peter took me under his wing in 1991 and took me to several custom installation home projects which later became the genesis of Lutron getting into the CI market. He continued to be a mentor up until his death - he was one of the BIG drivers of multi-room audio and should be included..

Posted by Joe Whitaker  on  01/20  at  03:06 PM

Julie should have been on this for sure. The list is an amazing group of people that have changed not only the industry but the world forever. Thanks to this group , and Julie, for continually making what we do worth it.

Posted by Que  on  01/22  at  08:35 PM

David Bott - Founder created a site that has helped most of the people on that list in one way or another.  He not only helped a lot of manufacturers with his personal incite into the consumer, but also helped many get known or even started through avsforum.  He’s produced an industry event for the past 10 years to bring consumers and industry together as well as built other dedicated sites that helped other parts of the industry.  Kind of a shame he is not listed as he has help both the industry and the consumers. Then again, he keeps a low profile, but does deserve to be on such a list.  (In fact found this list and link here on AVS, so I am guessing he has even helped out CEPro.)

Posted by Ray Medeiros  on  01/23  at  03:18 PM

Que’s comment about David Bott is very well expressed and I agree wholeheartedly with his statements!

Posted by Ray  on  01/25  at  02:22 PM

Interesting point made by Que. David Bott in starting AVS Forum has been active in CE Industry for a number of years supporting many manufacturers by bringing facts about their technology to the consumer.  Also by maintaining an even handed forum with rules so that bitterness does not become too high maintaining a healthy place for consumers to get information about manufacturers’ products.  If not one of the top 20, recognition is substantiated in some manner.

Posted by Mike  on  01/25  at  05:25 PM

I would have included Dr. Floyd Toole on that list.

Posted by Doug McKeen  on  01/25  at  07:29 PM

Just wondering why Dr. Floyd Toole did not appear?

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