Celebrating CEDIA success with a look to future

Following the announcement that the CEDIA Board has extended his tenure through to 2027, Amy Stoneham talks to Daryl Friedman about his longer-term goals for the next few years.

With almost three years under his belt as CEDIA’s global president and CEO, Daryl Friedman has been credited with many achievements, which have contributed to the recent growth and success of the organisation. Focusing on its members and the ever-changing needs of the industry has allowed Friedman to help shape various new programmes and initiatives to steer CEDIA in the direction of stability and growth.

Along with CEDIA’s Board of Directors, Friedman helped to navigate the organisation following the pandemic while achieving profitability for the association for the first time in almost five years, as well as record high new membership acquisition rates, with CEDIA members now represented in over 80 countries, plus the addition of multiple new programmes, toolkits and more.

“There’s a whole team of folks who have been really committed to CEDIA and making sure these things happen,” says Friedman. “We have a great Board of Directors, amazing staff, our volunteers who extend that reach and expertise for us, and of course, our members. But I think the key thing for me was to listen; our best ideas come from the membership, so I spent the first 90 days of this job travelling the world, talking to members and understanding their needs and how CEDIA can be more helpful. We learned what is really needed and the focus of CEDIA’s priorities have been on those very things, like workforce development, advocacy, and increasing the value of the industry and the membership.”

Year of consumer

With the extension of his contract, Friedman is now focusing on new roadmaps and long-term goals for the next three years. Still focused on listening to members, Friedman explains that CEDIA will continue launching new initiatives to ensure its members are constantly at the centre of the association while also focusing on making consumers aware of the industry and the opportunities a professional integrator can bring to a customer’s home.

“Having this consistency and continuity through 2027 and hopefully beyond gives us a chance to really continue the work we are doing and stay focused on the goal,” explains Friedman. “In the coming years, we have a number of pretty ambitious goals for CEDIA and our industry. One of those is to increase the consumer awareness that we even exist, CEDIA as an industry and CEDIA as an association. We are putting a lot of resources behind a consumer campaign to really make sure people understand that there is a professional CI channel here. I’m calling this year the year of the consumer for CEDIA because it really is the focus. When somebody searches smart home or installer, we want them to go straight to CEDIA because then we can refer them to a qualified CEDIA member as opposed to them being directed to buying a device in a store and plugging it in.”

Friedman also highlights the importance of governments being aware of the industry. “We want to do more work on the advocacy front and really work with governments all around the world to establish this category of integrator as an official occupation to make sure regulations and policies are friendly to our business and to just make governments aware that this important industry exists.

“Finally, this year we will be launching a foundation that will be able to get grants from private foundations and governments to fund workforce, awareness and help make this industry even better. Those are some of the key priorities for the next year or two.”

Spread the word

One key area that CEDIA focuses on is talking to young people and encouraging them to consider a career in our industry. “When the integrators have taken this tool into a technical college or career centre, they found it really eye opening, especially the video as it’s a really nice way of explaining the excitement of this industry. When you think about a young person who wants to choose their career, they can work with technology and make people happy in their homes while earning good money, and they can get a job tomorrow. Everything about it is great but they don’t know we exist.”

While this initiative is great, one problem that is being recognised is that integrators are struggling to find the time: “We’ve had many members do this and it’s working really well. What we haven’t had is enough people using the toolkit just because integrators are so busy. Therefore, we are going to take that next step with our workforce development group to help them find the right career centre and even make those calls and connections so they can use those tools without taking time out of their day essentially.”

As well as making consumers and young people aware of the industry, another of CEDIA’s priorities is to work with other trades such as interior designers and architects. “We have the COI programme, CEDIA’s Outreach Instructor, which many integrators have built their businesses on,” adds Friedman. “I encourage everybody to take advantage of that as it’s a great way to get in front of those interior designers and architects and explain to them how an integrator can add value to those projects. We’ve done focus groups with designers to try and learn how we can do better. But I think as we continue this campaign about consumer awareness, that will also spill over into awareness of our industry for the allied trades as well.”

Members first

Friedman has been praised for his people-first mentality which has played a big role in CEDIA’s success. During his extended tenure, ensuring members still have plenty of opportunities to make their challenges and needs known is still very important to Friedman. “My favourite part of the job is talking to our members,” he emphasises. “They give me my best ideas and tell me what’s really on their minds, so I try to get out there as much as possible. Occasionally I send an email out to members to tell them what I’m working on and ask their thoughts. Often, they’ll approach me unprompted, and I get to hear great ideas.”

One of the annual events that sees the CEDIA community come together is the CEDIA Smart Home Awards. During our conversation, Friedman revealed that the EMEA Awards will be held on 18th October in London, UK (venue to be announced). This year, CEDIA has introduced three new Individual Award categories: Best Newcomer, Best Technician, and Best Sales Representative.

“We wanted to make it more inclusive and make it something that’s available to everybody,” explains Friedman. “Obviously, our awards are fairly significant at the high-end for major projects, although we do have different levels. But it was really company projects and we wanted to champion the individual, those people who really do the work and who are making those projects so great. We want to have an award ceremony where entire companies will come and cheer on their nominees for the best technician.

“We also have a best newcomer category because I think when you’re new in the industry, you can be doing incredible work but not feel ready to enter an award yet because it’s your first or second year,” Friedman continues. “We also have best sales representative because I think those people are important to the connection between the brands and the dealers. All of these things are exciting for us to take our awards to the next level.”

Watch the full interview below:

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