No “state of the business” report was delivered at ProSource 2021. Instead, when Dave Workman, CEO and President of ProSource took the stage at La Cantera Resort and Spa in San Antonio, Texas, he instead declared the conference, “a celebration of excellence,” in the wake of 2020.
Perhaps it was the fact that custom integrations had been one of the few businesses to successfully weather the pandemic’s disruption. Perhaps it was the ability for so many to finally reconnect after so long. In any case, the energy and enthusiasm on display left the conference abuzz, and, at the end of the day, left dealers and vendors charged and ready to tackle the difficulties that loom ahead for the industry.
They Ask, You Answer Author Marcus Sheridan Delivers Keynote
Marcus Sheridan kicked off the keynote with energetic aplomb, despite having nearly lost his voice the day before. A renowned keynote presenter, having had several articles written on his marketing principles, and author of the marketing book They Ask, You Answer, Sheridan had his start selling fiberglass pools. And it’s that experience he pulled upon as part of the keynote.
Addressing the audience, he discussed the current market, the profile of the modern consumer and how marketing has become just as integral to making a sale as sales itself. The goal? So integrators can understand what they must do to become the most trusted voice in their respective spaces. In essence, it was all about building leadership and expertise.
As Sheridan put it, no longer can companies assume the consumer will be ignorant of all the information that’s on the market. Integrators need to be willing to talk about what others aren’t willing to talk about, show what others won’t show, and sell in ways that others currently aren’t.
He discussed the importance of owning the conversation surrounding the business online and how a straightforward, honest presentation can pay dividends in the long run before going on to discuss the key elements of businesses that consumers nowadays demand. All of it provided with actionable advice and use-cases taken from his own business in fiberglass pool installations.
Fulfilling a Need for Education in the Industry
Following Sheridan’s keynote, integrators then gathered a series of Power Meetings, led by Sheridan, with the continued focus on improving many of the customer-facing elements of the industry.
Topics included how to better put the buying process into the hands of the customer, how videographers and reporters can breathe new life into a marketing team, the role sales and installers play as SMEs and the right tools for communications.
The integrators then had the opportunity at routine intervals to break out into workshops to test Sheridan’s guidance in practice and gain valuable experience from dealers who had already implemented some of the discussed initiatives to relative success. Education and hands-on learning, it seems was the second theme of this year’s conference, in addition to excellence.
The reveal of ProSource Academy alongside news of a new lighting showroom in Dallas designed to provide finishing classes for installers in October highlight ProSource’s dedication to serving the integration industry through education. The lighting school comes in step with increased interest in the product, but more importantly, the introduction of both come at a time where the availability of qualified labor in the industry is remarkably scarce in relation to demand.
As Dave Workman put it, the goal is to be able to turn the pizza guy into the installer. As integrators struggle to find qualified talent, ProSource University and ProSource Academy aim to deliver assessments for viable prospects and then provide the finishing touch for dealers.
Breakout Demos Highlight Emerging Industry Innovations
Outside workshops and meetings, dealers met with vendors in the many demo rooms that lined the halls (as well as a few secret breakouts scattered amongst the hotel rooms upstairs). Innovations in lighting, sound and AV, among a few other select verticals, were on display from vendors like Samsung, Savant, Screen Innovations and Bluesound, among many more.
Most notable was the representation of what were once considered niche products that the event. Energy management solutions from Savant and outdoor home theaters from Samsung were just some of the standouts, as well as several products we (unfortunately) aren’t allowed to talk about just yet, but have been told we can expect to see at CEDIA Expo later this year.
Awarding Excellence Throughout the Year
Capping off the exceptional day was an award ceremony and charity event. There, members of ProSource and vendors were awarded for their excellence throughout the year.
Using the following criteria, dealers voted for the award-winning vendors based on the following criteria:
- The Vendor, through engagement with the group, has helped our class of trade more than others in the category.
- The Vendor has shown a continued commitment to developing products for our class of trade.
- The Vendor has allocated the proper resources to our individual account and can be exemplified as a company that is responsive and easy to do business with.
- The Vendor has had the most positive financial effect on our performance in the category.
Following a brief opening ceremony, the winning vendors were then announced as follows:
- Video Vendor of the Year — Sony
- Specialty TV Vendor of the Year – Samsung (Frame/Terrace)
- Audio – Electronics Vendor of the Year – Sound United
- Audio – Speakers Vendor of the Year – Klipsch
- Headphones – Vendor of the Year – Focal
- Audio – Digital Content/Streaming Devices – Vendor of the Year – Bluesound
- Specialty – Accessories – Vendor of the Year – SurgeX
- Specialty – Custom Integration – Vendor of the Year – Origin Acoustics
- Specialty – Technology – Vendor of the Year – Savant
- Lighting/Shading – Vendor of the Year – Screen Innovations
- New Vendor of the Year – AudioControl
- Overall Vendor of the Year – Sony
In the following charity event, the winning vendors competed with one another in various challenges with ProSource donating $25,000 to the Make-a-Wish Foundation on behalf of the winner.