CEDIA Member of Excellence: one year on

At ISE 2019, CEDIA launched a new type of membership – the CEDIA Member of Excellence. One year on, Amy Wallington looks at how members can achieve this accolade and what it means for businesses.

Being a CEDIA Member of Excellence (MoE) is currently the highest status you can have as a CEDIA Member. The title is only given to CEDIA Advanced Members with a record of award-winning craftmanship and a dedication to advanced industry certifications. 

Speaking to Jenn McGuire, the global member services manager at CEDIA, she says the initiative has had a great reaction. “Since launching at ISE last February, it has been really well received by the membership. At the time, only about seven percent of the membership were eligible to become an Advanced Member, but we have since seen that some companies who didn’t have some of those elements to be part of the advanced programme have gone out of their way to become CEDIA certified which has been really great to see. It is an opportunity for members to elevate themselves and shout about the great things they do.”

According to McGuire, the programme came about because members were asking for a way to differentiate themselves between their peers. “We have the awards programme, we have our certifications, but they wanted an additional way to be able to distinguish themselves, because as we grow and we promote using a CEDIA member, how does an outsider looking in decide on who they should use.”

CinemaWorks became the first official CEDIA MoE in March 2019. Owen Maddock, owner of CinemaWorks, explains: “At first, I had hoped to be an Advanced Member, which is a sensible level for a company at our size and at our stage of development. We do a good amount of training and have CEDIA certified staff. We were fortunate in that our CEDIA Award entry for 2018 won ‘Best Media Room’ at which point we became eligible for Member of Excellence status.”

Advanced vs Excellence
The step up to become an MoE from an Advanced Member is not huge but it has more stringent requirements and gives integrators even more credibility. There are three requirements to becoming an Advanced Member company, as McGuire outlines: “Firstly, they have to have a CEDIA certified individual as part of their company. The second is a nod to continuing education. Based on a sliding scale, a percentage of their staff will have to obtain at least 10 continuing education units (CEUs) per year. The final piece is the community and outreach, where integrators have three options; they can either be a volunteer or instructor with CEDIA, they can be a CEDIA Outreach Instructor (CEDIA’s CPD provider programme to engage the design community), or the company can have an active Corporate Social Responsibility policy.”

However, to become an MoE, the company has to fulfil all of those requirements of a CEDIA Advanced Member, plus they need to be a CEDIA award winner or finalist within the last three years and a percentage of the technical staff (depending on the size of the company) must be CEDIA certified. The organisation will also ask for references from three clients and two CEDIA trade supply members. “This is so we can show their customers saying that they have done a great job,” she says. “But it’s not necessarily all about the work, it’s also about how they have conducted themselves – if they were professional, courteous, on time – all those values we want to ensure our members have.”

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An example of a CEDIA award-winning project from BNC Technology in South Africa

There are multiple benefits from being a CEDIA member and these grow with the advancement of the membership. Being a CEDIA MoE can be used as a great marketing tool for integrators. 

“Firstly, you’re automatically placed at the top of the CEDIA Finder service whenever someone is looking for a CEDIA company in your area, which has definitely led to client enquiries and project work,” says Maddock. “We’ve been getting more, better qualified enquiries, and from further afield. Recently, we’ve done projects in Dorset and Hereford, which had never happened before last year. We’ve now got one just starting in Wales.”

This has also been the case for integrator, Homeplay, as owner James Ratcliffe explains: “I’m always looking for ways that will set us apart from other integrators and I thought this would be a good thing to do, and it has been actually, because we’ve already won a couple of jobs, some decent sized ones, purely on the strength of being an MoE.”

But it’s not just the clients and projects that Homeplay has attracted. “It has benefitted us in attracting staff too. Anyone who is looking to progress their career or get into the industry will go to CEDIA and then look at the list of members and see that some are more qualified than others. We actually had a cracking guy start with us recently who came to us just because we were an MoE.”

Although clients are not always aware of CEDIA and the different memberships, Maddock always uses it in his pitch and explains the credibility it gives them as a company. “It definitely helps in your ‘why you should use us’ pitch. Customers might be a bit hazy on what the exact differences are but it’s still a qualification. Having external accreditations bolsters your general credibility and also helps you maintain your pricing.”

MoEs global
Two of the first companies outside of the UK to become CEDIA MoE qualified was HENRI in France and BNC Technology in South Africa. 

Nick Caripis, managing director of BNC Technology states: “Receiving this accolade means a lot to us because it puts us at the top of our class amongst our peers around the world. What it also means is that we are consistent in our business and strive for excellence in everything we do, and we are very proud of this achievement.”

He continues: “Being in South Africa, I don’t think we get as much recognition as the rest of the world but it does separate us from the field in this region and elevates us to an international platform which is important to us and we use this when discussing every job with our clients.”

Similarly, HENRI applied for the MoE credential because of the distinctions it gave the company. Michael Sherman, general manager of HENRI explains: “It was a good opportunity for us to stand out and show that we tick all the boxes regarding the quality of our installation and the service we deliver to our clients. It’s a distinction that is well done because it shows different aspects of the company that you want to be able to show potential clients.”

"Receiving this accolade means a lot to us because it puts us at the top of our class amongst our peers around the world."

For Sherman, becoming an MoE was more for pride and something to encourage the team rather than to help push the business in its region. “It hasn’t made much of a difference to the business, but I think that’s because we’re in France. It might be different in the UK or the US, but the association isn’t as developed here. Even when we win CEDIA Awards, it’s not really something that our clients or architects understand as they don’t know about it. But I like to still do it because firstly, suppliers and other people in the industry understand what it is, and secondly, it’s pride for ourselves as a team. When we win CEDIA Awards, we’re very proud to compete with all those great companies in a big area and to win. Being an MoE for me is very important for my own team.”

Industry enhancing
I think most integrators would agree that CEDIA is highly beneficial to the residential technology market, and the CEDIA advanced programme only builds on this. It’s reassuring that a company cannot simply buy their way into becoming an MoE; they have to have won a CEDIA Award or been a finalist in the last three years to prove they are worthy of the title. 

Maddock recognises this: “We will definitely renew the status as far as we can, but it’s a bit out of our hands. If we keep doing decent projects and keep entering the awards, we have a fair chance of keeping the status. If we’re unlucky with that in the next year or two, then we’ll drop down to an Advanced Member, which is still a really strong achievement and very much worth having and talking about.”

Sherman also thinks it’s a good scheme to build the industry: “The CEDIA MoE and Advanced Member programmes are great because it encourages companies to focus on different aspects of their business in order to achieve the requirements. I think it’s going to bring more quality to the association as a whole.”

Similarly, Caripis adds: “I believe it’s a great initiative and this is an important platform to grow the industry and continue adding value back to our clients. I also think that the more professional our industry becomes, the more credibility we will build to compete with or add value to the likes of other professionals like engineers and quantity surveyors.”

Future MoEs
Hoping to become an MoE in the near future is integrator, IDS. Speaking to Tas Kyriacou, director of IDS, he recognises what the title means for integrators. “We are and have always been a company that wants the very best for our team and clients. We feel that being an MoE can give us a competitive edge and in turn, this would contribute to our profile, development, company status and growth.”

He concludes: “Having the credibility will give a prospective client the confidence that they are working with a company that is highly technical and well versed in their field and extremely capable of delivering a project seamlessly with the clients’ brief and satisfaction at the top of the agenda.”

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