Azione Fall Conference to Focus on Lighting, Process, Operations

Azione Unlimited buying group’s fall conference in Seattle expands focus on lighting fixtures and improved business operations.


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Convening in Seattle for its annual Fall conference Oct. 14-16, Azione Unlimited is hosting more than 250 dealer and vendor members for three days of focused education sessions on lighting, operations/HR, and process. Dubbed the Symphystic Synod, Azione Unlimited’s Smart Home Association has prepared three distinct courses to introduce, reinforce, and inspire new initiatives for dealers to adopt.

“The most powerful aspect of Azione Unlimited is its ability to absorb a wealth of information, generate a strong strategy, and implement a robust initiative for our members,” says Richard Glikes, president of Azione Unlimited.

“By offering more extensive education opportunities in lighting, process, and operations, our members avoid the fatal pitfalls of starting from scratch. It pushes the starting line closer to the goal, reduces takeoff friction, and establishes a long-lasting success in every aspect of their business.”

Each of the three tracks in lighting, operations, and process will be distributed as introductory, intermediate, and advanced education sessions, building on the inertia from broad topics into more granular points. Each course is designed to promote two-way conversation between instructors and members, further supplemented by small group meetings and open-ended discussions on real-world scenarios. Dealers will also be treated to a night of fine dining at the Seattle Aquarium, with a sponsored AudioControl factory tour wrapping up the conference.

Turnkey Lighting Solutions

As the industry continues to manufacture new verticals, lighting design and procurement has erupted into one of the most profitable additions to any business. Controlled and tunable lighting has quickly dominated the industry and has matured as a critical initiative for Azione. The shockwave has led Azione Unlimited to bolster its offerings, adding Circa Lighting and Breakthrough Lighting to its current foundational vendor-member portfolio that already includes LumaStream, Coastal Source, and USAI Lighting. In turn, Azione Unlimited has curated a select number of lines that offer full support that covers education, support, procurement, design, implementation, and more.

The lighting education track will commence by introducing basic design specifications, such as the interplay between light and elements. Dealers will learn how space, form, texture, and color can impact how to spec lights and when to implement different solutions. President of Breakthrough Lighting Joe Pineda will build this foundational information from its most basic level, “especially the relationship between light and people,” and how lighting “enhances the aesthetic appeal and dictates the mood and ambiance of any living space.”

“As lighting technology continues to advance and become more dependent on system controls and software programming, it will require integrators to become more knowledgeable about its functionality, performance, and purpose,” Pineda says. “Breakthrough Lighting’s first mission is to provide Azione Unlimited members with a foundational lighting design comprehension. Dealers can then communicate that value to their clients and generate new profitable revenue streams through service, product, and installation.”

USAI will conduct the higher-level application lighting tracks, offering business-focused insights including when to correctly utilize a lighting designer. Led by USAI Product Manager Greg Barret, the track is built to investigate three main concepts: building a dialogue with a client, owning the design process, and creating a dynamic value add with lighting.

“Lighting is an incredibly powerful component of a build environment, but it’s only through proper education that you can implement it effectively,” says Barret.

“For a dealer just getting into lighting, many of the concepts translate fluently from traditional AV. Many of the motions of becoming the education authority and building trust with your client will be familiar, but the next steps are where dealers see pushback. We know Azione Unlimited dealers are pursuing lighting and we want them to not only be prepared, but also know they aren’t alone in their venture.”

VITAL MGMT Partnership Springs Profit Growth

Led by Paul Starkey and Steve Firszt, VITAL MGMT continues its previously announced partnership with Azione Unlimited by heading all three process-themed education tracks. Alongside Starkey and Firszt, Northstar Operations Management founder Brian Righetti will complement the duo, supporting dealers in overcoming several complex obstacles to identify new profit, revenue, and growth.

“Most buying groups help the dealers get to the two-yard line… the process education track is committed to helping them recognize how to finally score big,” says Starkey, CEO of VITAL MGMT. “We have worked with more than 50 dealers since Bi4Ci launched in 2017, with a majority of our partners sustaining a five to 15-point improvement to their bottom line. Azione Unlimited has remained concentrated on growing member profitability, and we are thrilled to add horsepower to that objective.”

From a training standpoint, dealers will be introduced to new ways of utilizing QuickBooks information using simplified KPI’s to efficiently direct guidance and decision making. Dealers are then enabled to validate results against the entire peer group and understand how and importantly why their business is growing.

“The overarching goal is simple in theory, but implementing it can sometimes feel like a maze,” says Glikes. “We want our dealers to recognize profit the same way, standardize operations for things such as one-off’s, and create tangible responsibilities for everyone in their organization. Engaging with Brian, Steve, and Paul will show dealers how to implement these new operations and begin maximizing their current revenue streams.”

Operations Education and Peer Networking

The final component of the buying group‘s three-track Fall conference is in operations and HR. Directed by Vice President of Human Resources at TruStile Doors Kathleen Brenk, members will undergo a building sequence of educational presentations that incorporate all aspects of HR from basic terminology to organizational structure.

“For better or for worse there is a monumental amount of information regarding HR and operations, meaning most dealers become overwhelmed and fall behind,” says Patrick McCarthy, Azione Unlimited director of member services and new business development.

“That’s why utilizing the expertise of Kathleen has become so important. Her ability to effortlessly navigate complex topics will be a huge benefit to dealers who don’t know where to start. By educating dealers and creating simple ways to implement new practices, Kathleen has empowered dealers to start with an enormous head start.”

Azione Unlimited’s Symphystic Synod will also update members on many rolling initiatives including an architect update, introducing a marketing playbook, and updates to the group’s wellness initiative. Keynote speaker Dan Caulfield will address the group on growing revenue, using his experience as a CEO coach and entrepreneur to inspire fresh strategies for growth.

Lighting panels, small group discussions, and talks on “How to Sell Performance” will be led by Azione Unlimited members, allowing peers to help guide each other to succeed. The conference will also host dealers before the conference for CEDIA-certified COI training and energy education seminar from new vendor partner Sonnen.

“What has always fascinated me about this organization is its ability for members to motivate and encourage each other,” says McCarthy.

“As we continue to introduce new enterprises and verticals, the camaraderie between dealers continues to grow multiplicatively. More and more dealers are sharing their experiences on slack, in emails, and at conferences, creating a genuine network of members across North America that have a genuine interest in the success of their peers. It has become a genuinely inspiring foundation for Azione Unlimited to continue to develop.”