“COVID-19 stymied education,” says Peter Dyroff, president of Strateres, a veteran independent rep firm serving the Northeast. “There’s just not enough education for dealers and people are ‘webinared out.’ They need to be together, face to face so they can network and be part of a community.”
That need-for-training principle is the driving force behind the Strateres Dealer Development Expo, which debuted last year and was held on June 7 this year at the Mystic Marriott Hotel Hotel & Spa in Groton, Conn. In all, 165 integrators registered to attend the one-day event, which included 46 separate trainings packed into a tight schedule with eight concurrent 45-minute sessions being held. Sessions focused on lighting, home theater, wellness, outdoor lighting and audio and more.
“One of the worst things about this industry is that we never got to the place where dealers believe training is worth paying for. Most training in the custom electronics industry is free, and when something is free, it has perceived lower value. Many integrators sign up to attend training sessions and then never show up,” says Dyroff.
Strateres’ focus on training is so committed that Dyroff hired Jeff Rogers several years ago to run his training events. Rogers has an extensive background with URC, Tweeter, and Savant over the years.
“One of the worst things about this industry is that we never got to the place where dealers believe training is worth paying for. Most training in the custom electronics industry is free, and when something is free, it has perceived lower value. Many integrators sign up to attend training sessions and then never show up.”
— Peter Dyroff, Strateres
“I’ve always believed that the strongest salesperson at an integration company is going to be the most educated salesperson,” adds Dyroff, who says he plans to continue to hold the Strateres Dealer Development Expo every year.
Among the 14 participating brands that returned this year are Sony, Monitor Audio, Coastal Source, Leon Speakers, Kaleidescape, Seura, Lutron/Ketra, Progressive Screens, RePure, and Legrand AV. New brands participating include Amina, JL Audio, IC Realtime, and Josh.ai.
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One training area was a fully setup demo area using Ketra and Josh.ai as the control. The session, conducted by Terry Rogers of Strateres and Joseph Brown of Lutron, stepped dealers through various dimming and color temperature levels, including the Vibrancy Mode designed to highlight artwork and the Natural Mode that changes light levels and color temperature based on the time of day.
The duo noted that many lighting designers default to a 2700 Kelvin color temperature to mimic sunlight because that is the maximum output of old incandescent light bulbs. However, today’s LED light sources with individual diodes are capable of much broader ranges. So, while 2700K might be ideal to mimic natural light for a particular latitude and longitude at a particular location, it should no longer be considered the “default” setting for producing natural light in a room.
In all, 14 vendors participated in the one-day event. New this year was a raffle. Attendees who went to four sessions were eligible to win Paul McCartney tickets at Fenway Park in Boston.
Another session introduced integrators to the Panasonic indoor air quality (IAQ) solutions, including the new WhisperAir Repair air purification and odor elimination system. The ductless system, which uses nanoe X air purification technology, simply installs in the ceiling. It covers a 200-square-foot space and dissipates both smells and allergens.
Another session from RePure focused on the wellness space.
“Integrators are already wellness contractors, they just don’t realize it,” says Michael Don Ham of RePure. He noted the main elements of wellness are:
“Integrators are already doing most of these. Only Community, Materials (sustainability products like fabrics, etc.) and Nourishment (food) don’t apply to dealers now,” he notes. Ham cited data that over half of the U.S. population has wellness “top of mind” and the overall wellness market is an astounding $1.6 trillion annually.
“Also, 83% of people are willing to pay more for a healthy home, and the average is $60,000 more. If that is the average, think how much more affluent home buyers who are being served by custom integrators are willing to pay?” he asked rhetorically.
Erik Bernal, CEO/President of Elite Water Systems, showed attendees the various levels of water quality systems they can install for clients. The systems require filter changes, thus providing RMR potential for dealers.