In my biweekly blog series, I am highlighting some of the incredible people who work for the Audio Video Industry. In this post, we are profiling Mitchell Klein. Here is his brief introduction.
Mitchell Klein is the Executive Director, Z-Wave Alliance, LLC, a consortium of 700+ leading companies in the home technology space, with its head quarters in Austin, Texas, USA.
1. Describe your journey in the AV industry? How did it start?
Way back in 1980, I was a bartender in Boston, working nights and living with a friend in the construction business. He was building a store for a local HiFi chain, Tweeter Etc,; and was behind on the finish deadline and asked me to help him. While working on building the store, I met the owner and ended up accepting his offer to become assistant manager, eventually becoming the general manager of all fourteen stores before moving on to my next adventure, Media Systems.
As Media Systems CEO, I created one of the first “custom installation showrooms”, opening up in the Boston Design Center and attempting to work with the design community on integrating audio and video – and eventually all the other technologies – in to the new and renovated luxury homes throughout New England. I was the first AV firm to work with This Old House to demonstrate how technology can be integrated in to their projects; the first AV integrator to install the Lutron Homeworks and RadioRA; along with many other channel firsts. Media systems won numerous awards during our 15-year tenure, including the first ever CEPro Custom Installation company of the year; the CEA Mark Of Excellence Dealer of the Year; and numerous other “best of” awards over the years.
During that tenure I joined CEDIA; was whisked in to the treasurer role immediately in order to establish some fiscal order, and created its’ first budget, rainy day fund, and much more. As 2-term president I launched the CEDIA certification program, established the government affairs initiative to represent our members in state bills that would have harmed member businesses; created the Management Conference to educate our members on business-related skills; and kept furthering our efforts to establish a global presence. I am still volunteering and training for CEDIA today.
After Media Systems I consulted with numerous companies including Lutron, then established Stay Tuned, an industry consulting firm with my partner Frank White. Three years later I accepted a position as Director of Business Development with Universal Remote Control(URC), where I created and launched one of the industries’ first on-line, Learning Management System training programs, with 21 self-paced courses and many more webinars for URC dealers to train on all URC products. From there I helped create Total Control, the URC whole-house control system; and launched them in to additional control categories beyond audio/video.
I joined the Z-Wave Alliance as Executive Director in 2015 and have developed and led several key Alliance initiatives including the creation of the four-time award-winning Certified Installer Toolkit (CIT), a valuable testing tool for installers integrating a Z-Wave network. Under my leadership, the Alliance has grown to over 700 global members with over 3000 certified products representing an over 60% growth in five years, including the addition of several industry leaders to the Alliance Board of Directors – SmartThings, Leedarson, Assa Abloy, Ring and Alarm.com
2. What do you think are the challenges that are facing a new person who wants to join the industry?
Education and experience – where to find and how to access the education relevant to their career preference; and how to find work in the industry. How does a “new person” learn about those potential employers, and how to rank them? Of course the endless technological changes, products and solutions continue to baffle even the most faint of heart.
3. What are the positives of working in this industry?
Working with new technologies; improving the work / home life experiences for your customers; networking and learning from peers, building new friendships.
[RELATED] : If you have missed any of my previous interviews, please click here.
4. What in your opinion would you change in the industry? What are the negatives that are prevalent?
I think we need to do more education around AV/IT and its interconnectivity with the smart home space. AV and IT management is becoming increasingly interconnected, with more devices moving to the network and both residential and commercial installations implementing smart technology. AV/IT Integrators and professionals should look to experts on the home automation and control side to manage the integration of these two worlds, including: the importance of network compatibility and smart device ecosystem interoperability on overall system performance, consideration of protocols and certification, network and device security and the impact of evolving technology such as voice control on the growth of IoT.
5. If you were going to start over, what would you do differently?
I don’t think I would do anything differently – I think that my years as an integrator and extensive experience in the custom install space gave me the purview and depth of knowledge of smart home, connectivity and networking that I’ve brought to my role in the Z-Wave Alliance and working with our members.
6. Describe a typical work day for you. What are your daily disciplines?
Morning workout, email check, read today’s blogs, meetings, conference calls, writing, planning travel arrangements, making dinner, emails, read something, pack for next trip, watch news, sleep (hopefully)
7. Describe the apps and gear that you use daily which makes you more productive?
Since I work remotely my laptop, iPad & IPhone are my critical lifelines to everything and everybody enabling me to work whatever 16-hours each day I want (or have to). I use the typical Microsoft & Google productivity suites, as well as cloud services and communication platforms such as Skype, Lifesize and Zoom.
8. How do you stay relevant in this industry?
Given the constant changing technologies, new products and brands, and how they interoperate (or don’t!), it is essential for me to stay connected with a wide variety of trade publications, social media accounts, attend and network at a wide variety of events such as CEDIA, Infocomm, ISE, Parks Connections, and numerous Smart Home and IoT summits and shows around the globe. I subscribe to several blogs, and in my role at the Z-Wave Alliance I meet with industry researchers and developers all the time.
To know more about him or his business, please connect with him on Linkedin.
Also please drop your questions in the comments below and I will make sure that he sees them.