AV People: Mark Coxon, AVPhenom

coxon-avpeople-0215A zoologist, an amateur fighter and an AV systems designer all walk into an InfoComm reception…

No, that’s not the beginning of a joke, and it’s not three separate people — it’s our friend and blogger Mark Coxon, all rolled into one smart, dynamic person.

Mark is all over the AV industry. He’s a dedicated rAVe blogger, he’s active on cAValry Radio and he’s a fantastic regional sales manager for Chief Manufacturing. You may also know him as AVPhenom on Twitter. However, his road to AV, much like many others, was a bit unorthodox.

“[When I was in college], I was going to school for zoology and I thought I was going to be a veterinarian some day,” recalled Mark. “Through college I was waiting tables and I was teaching kickboxing to make money. During that time I met my soon-to-be wife at the age of 19 and when we started to think about getting married, I knew I needed to get a ‘real’ job. I had to make money outside of waiting tables and kickboxing… and I somehow got hired at IBM.

“That was my first real tech job. They took a chance on me because I knew people and I was good with communicating. I had to talk on the phone a lot cold calling IT managers.”

Mark started his tech career working for IBM direct selling computers, laptops and servers. He did that for almost two years until one day he got a call from a former colleague who’d left IBM nine months earlier to work for an AV company. He wanted Mark to come in for an interview for an opening they had. So, Mark took the chance.

coxon-kravmaga-0215He went in for the interview at an AV company called iWired and they asked him what his weak points were, when he responded with, “I know nothing about AV” they hired him.

Mark was a quick learner, as evidence by his time at IBM, and iWired knew that Mark would be a good fit. So, in early 2002, Mark left IBM to work at this small, residential AV startup designing home AV systems.

While he was at iWired, Mark continued to go to school, but at some point, he realized that he was making good money and that he could see a future in the industry and really take this career path. So, Mark decided to put his dreams of becoming a zoologist behind him and pursue a career in AV.

“When I started at iWired, they were doing about $500,000 a year in sales with six employees,” said Mark. “When I left five years later, they were doing $10,000,000 in sales and they had 110 employees. I loved working for a company that was growing because you didn’t wear just one hat… you got to do a lot in a small startup like that. You have to take on the proprietor attitude and treat it like your own business.

“During my time at iWired I got hooked on that and I got hooked on the design aspect. I loved finding solutions for things.”

Today, Mark is the regional sales manager for Chief Manufacturing with his region covering California, Nevada and Hawaii.

Coming from residential to professional AV was a bit of a learning curve at first for Mark, but in the end, it’s all technology. It’s all sound and video.

“Once you learn why the products are different, why you’d use one over another, it becomes much easier,” explained Mark. “The signal flow is the same. The logic of it is the same. The goal of it is the same. That’s the common thread.”

Mark is passionate about AV and loves the industry, so much so that he spends much of his free time blogging for rAVe Publications and doing industry online radio stuff.

When he’s not doing anything AV related, he’s spending time with his wife Lesley and his kids Faith, Cade and Holly. He and his family love going to Disney… so much so that they go on an almost weekly basis and have done so since they moved to California five years ago. Every Sunday they go to church as a family and then head to Disneyland for the afternoon!

Mark still teaches kickboxing classes on the weekends and that’s his main “me” time away from work. Mark started kickboxing when he was 16 and has been teaching for over 20 years now.

In fact, when he was 18 and 19 years old, Mark was an amateur fighter, but hung up his “fighter” hat when he got married.

“When I met my wife, she didn’t like watching me get punched in the face,” chuckled Mark. “So, I decided to focus more on the teaching aspect of kickboxing.”

His years spent in kickboxing and his short stint in the fighting ring gave him a lot of confidence and taught him many skills that he actually applies to his career today.

“When I would get ready to go into the ring or prepare for a fight, I would be so nervous,” explained Mark. “Until the first bell rang, I thought I was going to walk out… every single time. I learned that it was part of the process. I had to be prepared. I’d train for months in advance to be ready and practice for every scenario that might come by way… it’s the same when I go in to a dealer meeting or a presentation. I go through every scenario possible and make sure I have a contingency plan for it.

“Good training and good planning ahead nets results.

“The other thing I learned is to not take things so personally. For example, when I was in the ring, I’d fight a guy and then afterwards we’d hang out and go grab a bite to eat with the guy who’s been punching me in the face for the last 15 minutes. There were never any hard feelings. If the other guy was better, the other guy was better… I came to the table with an open mind… and that’s how I approach a lot of what I do today.”