Spotlight: Shaun Trudell, CTS – President/Owner at Automation Arts
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 Shaun Trudell. Here is a brief introduction.
Shaun Trudell, CTS is the President/Owner at Automation Arts.
1. Describe your journey in the AV industry? How did it start?
My journey in the AV industry really started when I was in college and I needed a part time job. I was hired as Mobile Electronics Installer at Best Buy. For 4 years I learned about 12V Car audio installations and troubleshooting. After I graduated from college in 2003 I applied to work as a Residential AV installer for Automation Arts. I started as a rough wire technician mainly roughing houses for AV and structured wiring. I quickly moved into rack installs and final installs because I really enjoyed the detail that went into a rack build and the making the wires look like art. From there I wanted to learn more about programming side of Control Systems, and gravitated towards Project Management. Eventually I left Automation Arts and with another Co-Worker we started our own business. After 3 years of running that we went through the great recession and needed to close it down. I went back to work for a 2 different custom AV companies before getting recruited back to Automation Arts to help rebuild the company and its brand, which brings me back to today.
2. What do you think are the challenges that are facing a new person who wants to join the industry?
I think a new person wanting to get into our industry has to have a greater knowledge of IT and networking, but needs to have a passion for Audio and Video to really blend them both together. I think the job market is strong right now and the economy is in a good position that it is creating faster internal growth of companies than normal, leading employees to move through an organization faster without the necessary experience and training to be successful. The lack of formal education in our industry is hurting our ability to truly scale the industry and offer people a track on which they can gain the proper training to be successful. Instead we are all doing it as we go.
3. What are the positives of working in this industry?
The biggest positive of working in the industry is the constant change and growth in technology. Because of this I think you need to be an avid learner and want to continue to grow your knowledge and skills. I don’t think you can ever become a master of any of it, because just as you get really good at something, the industry changes, and you need to learn new ways to design and service system. [An] example would be the transition from Analog to Digital video distribution and then into IP video distribution.
[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 would change the fact there is not enough schools focusing on the industry, and providing more training in what we do. From Install, to Design, and Service. We are having a hard time getting younger people started in the industry because companies have to be willing to train these people from the ground up. If a company is in a hiring mode it is probably because they are growing and busy, thus leaving little time to properly train and ensure success in the company and industry.
5. Describe your ideal client? What do you wish clients to know before hiring you?
Our ideal client is a client that is looking for a long-term partnership. We find that these relationships are the most valuable because like any partnership there are going to be struggles and failures. But working through these and truly understanding how you can support the client and provide them with the technology and service that they need takes time to figure out. I think our clients need to know we are in the relationship for the long haul, and we hire employees that are the best in their field to make sure we provide the best experience possible. One of our core values is, Attract, Empower, Train and Retain, and if we look at this it relates to both our employees and our customers. We need to perform all the necessary items to make sure we have a successful relationship.
6. If you were going to start over, what would you do differently?
If I had to start all over again, I would create our core values, processes and standards earlier to help new employees thrive in the company faster. I think the processes could be loose, and flexible since a lot of people would be wearing many hats, but having something in place to give employees a frame of reference would help them know how to make decisions.
7. Describe a typical workday for you. What are your daily disciplines?
A typical workday for me is supporting our staff and making sure I am coaching and mentoring our leaders to carry our vision and core values through the company. I am pulled in many directions during the day for meetings regarding client proposals, strategy, financial decisions, staffing and training decision. I also make sure I am spending time in both our locations to make sure there is not a breakdown in culture between the locations, and so that our employees know they can talk and meet with me if they need to. My favorite activities are strategic planning, and working on the business to help facilitate our growth.
8. Describe the apps and gear that you use daily which makes you more productive?
We recently just implemented ConnectWise which is a CRM that will help us run all facets of our business. From sales pipeline tracking, to production, project management, and service. This was a lengthy implementation process and was no small order to get all our employees switched over and using it. We are a few months into going live so we have lots of adjusting to do to make sure it is making us productive and efficient. That combined with Microsoft Teams, we are able to communicate with our teams in Milwaukee and Madison to keep collaboration moving and our team working together.
9. How do you stay relevant in this industry?
I stay relevant in the industry by attending trade shows and conferences that will continue to challenge me to grow. Trade shows such as InfoComm, ISE, AVIXA AVEC, and USAV events are a few I attend. I also like to form relationships with other integrators to understand how they are building their business, and what they are having success with. I think it foolish to look at every competitor as a rival, vs creating a good relationship with them where you both can thrive in the market and or industry.
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