Why Crestron Withdrew from CEDIA Expo 2016, Plus Photos from CEDIAs Past

Crestron isn’t exhibiting at CEDIA 2016, but the high-end home automation giant swears it is still committed to residential. Has CEDIA strayed from the luxury market?


A few weeks ago I heard that home automation giant Crestron was pulling out of CEDIA 2016, the show formerly known as Expo and, for a very brief time, Future Home Experience.

My source told me, “They don’t think CEDIA is doing enough in the luxury market.”

This week, a consumer addressed me on Twitter: “My integrator just told me that @CrestronHQ is getting out of the residential market. Is it true?”

Someone else sent me a map of the CEDIA showfloor with the note, “Maybe you have noticed there is a big booth missing from this map. Would love to see a story on that.”

So here’s the story.

Crestron has indeed bowed out of CEDIA this year, after 25 years of anchoring the event. They won’t be greeting us with their behemoth booth as we enter the exhibit hall. You won’t see spokesman Jeff Singer dazzling crowds with product presentations on the half hour. You won’t find new devices to attach to Pyng and Digital Media. There will be no little round mints in a fish bowl. No CTO Fred Bargetzi dripping with adoring fans.

Crestron is skipping CEDIA “because our strategies are not the same as those exhibited by the association today,” says Linda Rigano, Crestron’s newly appointed director of corporate communications, in an email exchange with CE Pro.

Crestron doesn’t come right out and say it, but the suggestion is that CEDIA may not be as squarely focused on the luxury market as Crestron would like. 

As to whether or not Crestron is exiting the residential market, Rigano replies, “Not at all. We are increasing our investments while becoming more precise with our target market focused on the luxury space.”

javascript:void(0)What year is this? Crestron DigitalMedia is born. View the gallery Crestron at CEDIA.

True, that message sounds a lot like AMX’s long goodbye to the consumer market, but I’ll take it at face value: Crestron is not abandoning residential.

Today, Crestron’s business is overwhelmingly commercial – something like 80 or 85 percent of it. We know too that a substantial majority of service calls comes from residential dealers, even though consumers represent less than 20 percent of Crestron’s business.

So it wouldn’t be a terrible idea to abandon residential; however, unlike AMX back in the day, Crestron shows no signs of letting up. The company continues to develop around the Pyng platform, which is heavily in the resi camp.

They’re also breathing new life into the user environment now known as Crestron Home Elements, which provides pre-written, pre-tested control modules to incorporate into a system — Pyng or otherwise. Dealers need not start from scratch to create user interfaces and common, yet complicated, integrations.

“Crestron continues to be a technology leader through further development of innovations like Pyng and Home Elements, and coming soon, 8K DM,” Rigano tells us. “All this enables our valuable partners to take their businesses to the next level.”

So, no, Crestron isn’t leaving the residential market. And I say this not because Crestron says so, but because it wouldn’t make sense given Crestron’s continued investment in the category and their long-time leadership in the market.

Crestron Hires Ami Wright, Opens Florida Showroom

Rigano tells CE Pro that Crestron may be skipping CEDIA, but it is supporting the channel in new ways.

For starters, the company has hired Ami Wright, a longtime marketing exec in the home technology channel. She was a Lutron sales rep for four years, national sales director of Universal Electronics for six years, and spent two years at Crestron as residential marketing director. Most recently, Wright was director of sales and marketing for the industry marketing firm One Firefly.

Wright was just named director of residential programs for Crestron, and the company will shortly announce a new VP of residential systems.

PHOTO GALLERY: Crestron at CEDIA, from 2000 to 2015

Second, Crestron has opened another multimillion-dollar showroom in the Design Center of the Americas in Dania Beach, Fla. – its ninth such facility.

At the same time, Crestron is “increasing the number of marketing and other events in North America, as well as around the globe,” Rigano says. “Additionally, we will be extensively expanding our sales and marketing tools for dealers, interior designers, architects and luxury home builders.”

Is this the end of the 25-year Crestron + CEDIA lovefest?

Rigano says, “We’re proud to be a CEDIA member and continue to support the organization’s activities around industry education and certification. Exhibiting at the association’s annual event may fit into our plans sometime in the future.”

What CEDIA Says

CEDIA declined to comment specifically about Crestron’s decision to not exhibit this year, but the association does “thank them for their support of both the organization and the show,” says Bruno in a statement for CE Pro.

When pressed about the idea that CEDIA might be straying from its high-end heritage, Bruno responds:

CEDIA is an inclusive body for installers, distributors and manufacturers, operating at all levels of the market. Whenever and wherever home technology is professionally installed, be it in fully integrated homes, super-yachts and premium-end luxury cinemas or multiple developments, mid-market apartments and family media rooms, CEDIA is there to offer the resources for growth for both manufacturers and home technology professionals.  

[Note: update coming shortly]

While CEDIA regrets Crestron’s absence this year, Bruno notes that the organization, the industry and the 2016 show are solid.

“There are a significant number of new players entering our growing market as evidenced by the 2015 show’s 24-percent increase of first-time exhibitors and the overall 6-percent increase in the number of exhibitors who participated,” he says.

Exhibitor re-book for CEDIA 2016 “went extremely well,” at the 2015 event, according to Bruno.

The big winners in all of this?

Core Brands (SpeakerCraft, Elan, Niles Audio, Panamax and the gang) occupies the dream location in a 6,300-square-foot space at the front of the hall. Epson moves to the front, as does Lutron.

Planar, RTI, Sony, ADI, Dish, Artison, Elk Products, Russound and Atlantic Technology all inch a little bit closer to the main entrance. And little 10×10 Worthington Distribution is right up there in the big leagues.

Just a glance at the expo floor tells us we have some big companies coming back to the show. DM Group (Denon, Marantz, et al) is there. LG is back. The Finest Brands returns in a 60 x 80 booth after a few years’ absence. We hear B&W might be back, too, but no sign of them so far. (UPDATE: Nope, they're out.)

We’ll miss you Crestron.

CEDIA 2016: Sept. 14-17, Dallas

Slideshow: Crestron at CEDIA, from 2000 to 2015

About the Author

Julie Jacobson
Julie Jacobson:

Julie Jacobson is founding editor of CE Pro, the leading media brand for the home-technology channel. She has covered the smart-home industry since 1994, long before there was much of an Internet, let alone an Internet of things. Currently she studies, speaks, writes and rabble-rouses in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V, wellness-related technology, biophilic design, and the business of home technology. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, and earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a recipient of the annual CTA TechHome Leadership Award, and a CEDIA Fellows honoree. A washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player, Julie currently resides in San Antonio, Texas and sometimes St. Paul, Minn. Follow on Twitter: @juliejacobson


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