#6 Chris Miller, executive director, PSNI Global Alliance
How did you first get involved in the AV marketplace?
Out of college I started working on the production and broadcast side of the industry. After years of travelling and working long hours, I knew it was time to focus more on starting a family and less on road time. Acquiring audio and video equipment for our production business introduced me to salespeople working for industry manufacturers that became good friends. Eventually, I sold my share of the production and post production business and moved towards the sales and eventual ownership of AV and broadcast systems integration companies. I just wanted to stay in the business.
What would you say are the most significant changes/developments to have taken place in the industry during your time?
Certainly from the integrator owner perspective is the mergers and acquisition market in the AV technology space. This has shifted from a lifestyle company model where owners were not compelled to reinvest profits because there were limited exit strategies to recoup those investments to a professional subsector of a larger technology industry that rewards business processes and a path for partners to invest, expand their businesses and be rewarded accordingly. This has elevated the overall professionalism of the industry and made stronger companies, which has made for a better industry.
What personal and professional achievements are you most proud of?
Personally, my time as president of InfoComm (now AVIXA) during the period in the mid-1990s when the association was near financial insolvency and working with the board of directors to resurrect and reposition the association for the greatness it has now achieved through the efforts of countless boards, volunteers and leadership since that time. From a more recent perspective, the planning and execution of the expansion of the PSNI Global Alliance network to include over 190 offices worldwide. It has been very gratifying to see business owners from around the world come together who would have never met without our network.
Do you have a philosophy that you live by professionally? If so, what is it and how has it benefitted your career and the businesses you’ve worked with?
Our time on this earth is limited; don’t waste it. There are no do-overs. Get it right the first time if you can. In terms of businesses I’ve worked with: the famous quote “Vision without implementation is hallucination”.
What impact has the pandemic had on you and your business, and what do you think will be the longer-term impact of this extraordinary period on our sector?
PSNI serves as an extension of our individual global alliance stakeholders around the world. Their successes and challenges are a reflection on team PSNI and vice versa. We are all in this together with our stakeholders. It has also required us to explore new ways to provide unique value to our stakeholders and their customers. We look forward to the opportunities.
Near-term, AV technology companies with cash reserves and diverse services will become stronger while companies that were sickish prior to the pandemic will be very challenged to survive going forward. This will impact competition, deliverables, and market pricing. Staffing levels, for the near future, will remain at highly efficient minimal levels and the time from order to completion on projects will extend. Longer term, AV integrators will embrace new technologies and products that may not have been part of their portfolio a year ago. It’s a great time to hit the reset button and implement new programs and approaches to the market.
What needs to change in the industry?
Profitability and recognition of our unique contribution to the many vertical markets that we provide technology solutions for that are essential and critical to our daily lives. We still discount our value too much.
What do we as a community need to get better at?
In your opinion, what will be the biggest driver(s) of change for the AV market in the next five years?
End users. They drive technology now; not hardware and software manufacturers and programmers.
Finally, what would be your message to those starting out their careers in the AV community?
Have patience. Where you start in your learning is not likely where you will end up in this business. Do more than is expected of you. Find mentors and champions where you work. Be open to new ways of doing things. Get excited and be passionate about all you do.
Who’s had the greatest influence on your career?
My dad. He led me to this industry when I had no idea what to do in high school.
Who did/do you look up to as a role model professionally?
I’ve been blessed to have many individuals who served that role for me. I would hate to list names, I might leave someone out! Many of them were part of PSNI in the early days when my company was a member.
How do you measure success?
One day at a time.
What’s your biggest professional regret?
Taking it all too seriously.
If you were a teenager today, what profession would you go into?
First, recognise and leverage all of your god-given talents and follow your passion. Trust yourself. Listen. It doesn’t really matter the profession. Help and inspire others.