HTSA Marks 20th Anniversary in Puerto Rico, Introduces Masterclass Series for Members

The revamped industry buying group is refocused and committed to supporting its dealer members.


Home Technology Specialists of America (HTSA), a national member-owned dealer buying group, just wrapped up its Spring Conference 2016 and 20th Anniversary Celebration in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The event showcased a new executive director and board of directors.

As the first group meeting to take place in the wake of former member Jon Robbins assuming the role of executive director of the group, the event can be characterized as a week full of enthusiasm and attendee engagement.

Major Manufacturer Support

Control4, in a sign of commitment to the organization, attended the Spring Conference 2016 with six top executives, including chairman and CEO Martin Plaehn.

“Momentum and energy … you feel that from the HTSA members,” says Plaehn.

Robbins also noted the energy level of this year's meetings, and he says the exciting thing for HTSA members is that the group is at the beginning stages of its new strategies. 

“This group is fired up,” boasts Robbins. “In a group of 65 members, we had 270 attendees at this year's conference. Our latest high-caliber member and vendor additions are just the beginning – we are really just getting started on implementing entirely new programs and strategies to turbocharge our members' and vendors' businesses.”

Attendee reaction to the entire Spring Conference and 20th Anniversary Celebration was also positive.

“Well, first of all, the venue is awesome,” says David Wasserman of New York City's Stereo Exchange. “There was more intimacy and interaction between members this year.”

This year's conference marked the organization's 20 year of business, and as part of its celebration to mark this figure the group balanced fun and education in a week's full of activities. Each day, after a series of meetings attendees came together for cocktails, dinners, entertainment and dancing. 

A Fresh Approach

HTSA's new management took a fresh approach with the agenda for the Spring Conference 2016. Included this year was a “State of the Union,” which featured a self-assessment for the organization with Robbins telling attendees that after early successes, the group had grown complacent, while pointing out that new competitors emerged and its momentum had stalled. Those days are over, said Robbins. He said there is a new honesty, transparency, responsiveness and drive from HTSA.

Event More Efficient for Attendees

In a move to provide more member usefulness HTSA introduced a new education initiative called the “Masterclass Series.” Unlike other dealer education programs, HTSA's “Masterclass Series” enlists a prominent outside consulting firm to develop and produce a program customized for HTSA members' business models. The first Masterclass initiative is called Sell More Audio and will offer techniques for members' sales teams to move clients up to higher margin, higher performance audio solutions. The Sell More Audio Masterclass will take place May 10 to 12 in Kennesaw, Ga., in conjunction with the Prime Media division of alliance partner Nationwide Marketing Group.

“While others may choose to pursue low-grade, high volume solutions, HTSA will be the industry's leading provider not only of sophisticated home automation solutions, but of high-performance audio/video systems,” says Robbins. “This is our channel, and we will take leadership in sustaining and growing that channel.”

Event Focuses on Market Diversity

HTSA also looked at some of the latest trends in the consumer video market, including high dynamic range (HDR). Group vendors Sony and LG each presented their views on the technology and its ramifications on the video industry. Each manufacturer delivered separate sessions on the different types of HDR and each brand's view on how to present and sell HDR for greater profit.

Control4 offered a presentation that discussed in detail the company's thinking behind its recent Pakedge acquisition. Plaehn's presentation was capped with a question-and-answer session in which the CEO fielded questions from HTSA members. 

The always popular one-on-one sessions gave vendors and members the opportunity to hold face-to-face business meetings to discuss any issue. And the agenda offered participants many opportunities to further hold private meetings during breaks or other down time.

Arguably the highest value sessions may have been the Member/Vendor Discussion sessions where vendors and outside professionals offered a variety of topical presentations conducted jointly with an HTSA member. The list of the topics these sessions included:

  • Selling Performance Audio in the CI Model
  • Marketing to the Builder, Designer & Architect
  • Selling Performance Video in the CI Model
  • Recurring Monthly Revenue Initiatives & Processes
  • Emergence of Video Display Advertising in the Digital Arena

Wrapping Things Up

The meeting was capped off on Thursday with a keynote presentation that some might think a bit unusual for a business conference. The presentation by author and speaker Steve McClatchy, whose recent book Decide: Work Smarter, Reduce Your Stress & Lead By Example is on the New York Times Best Seller list, shared with attendees techniques on how to be more productive, reduce their stress, and achieve their goals. McClatchy, who was recently on the Today Show, told HTSA Spring Conference attendees they need to follow three simple steps: “schedule your want to's,” “defend them” from unimportant urgencies, and “catch-up on maintenance” issues later.

About the Author

Robert Archer
Robert Archer:

Bob is an audio enthusiast who has written about consumer electronics for various publications within Massachusetts before joining the staff of CE Pro in 2000. Bob is THX Level I certified, and he's also taken classes from the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF) and Home Acoustics Alliance (HAA). Bob has also served as the technology editor for CE Pro's sister publication Commercial Integrator. In his personal time beyond his family, he's studied guitar and music theory at Sarrin Music Studios in Wakefield, Mass., and he also studies Kyokushin karate at 5 Dragons and Brazilian jiu-jitsu at Binda Brazilian Jiu Jitsu.