InfoComm Executive Update

Notes from the Kitchen Table  

One of the most honored places in a home is the kitchen table. The dining room, if you have one, might offer a more elegant setting, but it is often reserved for more formal occasions. The kitchen table is where families and close friends gather to eat, play games, read the paper, share their stories, and hash out problems. The table may be scratched from daily use, but its beauty derives from its function as the place ideas are exchanged among those we value most.

For much of last year, InfoComm was embroiled in a dispute with CEDIA and NSCA regarding government relations activities and licensing initiatives. Of issue to InfoComm was the lack of transparency in our partners’ legislative agenda, the attempted use of government mandates to secure a competitive advantage for association certification programs and the pursuit of legislation that could create onerous burdens on all players in industries involved with technology design and integration without consultation.

Several weeks ago, InfoComm was part of a meeting involving CEDIA and NSCA, as well as BICSI, the Consumer Electronics Association, the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association, and the Security Industry Association. The aim of the meeting was to revisit the events of last year, and determine if and how we could better work together to address common concerns. I am pleased that our association executive directors, presidents and government relations staff were able to gather around the “kitchen table”, address concerns about previous events, offer and accept apologies, and move on to the task of creating a framework for working together to achieve common ground.

At this meeting we all committed to sharing our government relations activities with each other in a transparent manner, respecting each others’ positions and avoiding legislative or regulatory efforts that will impact or divide the group.  We were also assured that the new ESPA Certification Program, designed to create a new entry-level certification program for various industries, will not contain a government relations component.

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I believe that by adhering to these principles our associations’ members will greatly benefit. Over the next year we will be working to identify common goals. In the meantime, we have been able to unite in responding to legislation in Massachusetts and Pennsylvania. And perhaps most importantly, we will be able to settle our differences at the kitchen table, as family, rather than at the legislative hearing room table.

This meeting had the ideal outcome for the audiovisual industry, as well as for the other industries involved. The leaders of InfoComm look forward to continuing this spirit of cooperation.

I am aware that industry watchers have been curious about InfoComm’s position on the new ESPA certification. Indeed, InfoComm has only commented on ESPA once, and some have chosen to fill the information void with their own, and unfortunately wrong, characterizations of InfoComm’s position.

InfoComm’s Board of Governors was concerned about the potential for ESPA Certification to become a required third level of certification for our members through mandated state licensing, as promoted by an ESPA-produced government relations program. InfoComm would be opposed to such requirements, and we were very happy to receive assurance that this course of action will not be pursued.

InfoComm strongly supports the goals of the ESPA program. We have a critical need to bring more qualified entry-level staff into the audiovisual industry. We applaud all groups that try to accomplish these goals even when they are doing it in a manner different than ourselves. Around the kitchen table in Dallas, we wished CEDIA and NSCA well with their ESPA project.

Randal A. Lemke, Ph.D.
Executive Director
InfoComm International