Where do you hail from and where are you based now?
I was born in Epsom, in Surrey, and lived there until my early 40s. We moved house to Great Bookham (about 8 miles away from Epsom, where I live now) in 2007.
How did you get started in AV; what brought you to ISE?
My entrance into the AV industry was back in 1990 when I started to publish manufacture-sponsored hi-fi retailer sales literature. I worked for the likes of Sevenoaks Hi-Fi, Audio T,
Audio Excellence, Practical Hi-Fi and Rayleigh Hi-Fi.
This work evolved, and in 1999 I was lucky enough to secure a contract with CEDIA in the UK helping with their UK Expo. My role involved exhibition space and sponsorship sales, and also the publishing of their Expo Show Guide and Seminar Guide.
I joined Integrated Systems Europe on July 1, 2007.
What advice can you give someone starting out in AV?
For me my personal advice was always ‘don’t profess to know too much technical stuff’! I think I am the least technical person in the AV industry so how I’ve lasted 32 years with the limited technical knowledge I have I’ll never know! However, I’m hugely grateful that I have. However, the advice I would give others is to appreciate what a great industry it is, be true to yourself, give back, be courteous and remember it’s not all about money, ego and status.
How did you fill your time during lockdown?
Cycling had [already] become a ‘thing’, but it become a bigger part of my life during lockdown. It’s a great release both physically and mentally. I also project managed an extension on our home that began about a month before the first lockdown. The scheduled 4 month build became a 16 month build so this filled a lot of lockdown time!
Having left ISE in February, and my scheduled contract with KNX postponed indefinitely, lockdown also gave me time to reflect and decide on what I was going to do for rest of my life. Along with the help and persuasion of many of my industry colleagues I committed to further Together For Cinema at the end of 2020.
What football/rugby/other teams do you support, if any?
West Ham United and Harlequins. However, having been a member of Epsom Hockey Club for 36 years, and now a trustee of the Sports Club Trust Fund, I am passionate about them.
Tell us something about you that may surprise people
I have a fear of flying and have never had a cup of coffee in my life!
What’s your outlook on life, and if you could change one thing about your life, what would it be?
Always consider the implication of your actions and treat others as you would want to be treated. Work hard, play hard, take but give back. Maintain a balanced perspective, and remember it’s not all about you! Accept the things that I cannot control. If I see a wrong or feel a wrong is being done it doesn’t sit well with me!
Tell us about Together for Cinema
Together For Cinema is an AV industry good cause enterprise whose main focus is to design and install cinema rooms in children’s hospices and other suitable locations across the UK. These rooms not only benefit the children and young adults, but also their families, carers, staff and volunteers. Together For Cinema has comprehensive support and backing from our industry, hence all products and install services are donated.
Increasingly there are other opportunities presenting themselves that show there is much more than can be done, be it linking up international AV companies with good causes or recycling second hand AV equipment it is clear there is the need for an industry conduit to liaise with good causes in the UK.
It all began in 2009 when I was watching a programme on TV called The Secret Millionaire and a scrap metal merchant had gone to Blackpool. He visited a holiday home for children with short lives called Donna’s Dream House and he was visibly moved by this, as I was.
I wanted to do something to help so I contact Len Curtis at Donna’s Dream house (Donna’s Dad) and about 14 months later our first fully donated cinema room was opened.
With the realisation that ‘if we can make one room happen, we can do another’ I set about looking for our second installation, and so Together For Cinema was born.
From 2009 to 2020 this was run in my spare time whilst I was working hard in my role as International Sales Manager at Integrated Systems Europe. It was a great challenge to help grow the ISE show from what it was to what it became in 2020 – the largest AV trade show in the world. However, and with our changing world, developing Together For Cinema now seems so much more of an impactful thing to do.
In 2012 a target was set to complete 25 cinema room installations by 2020 and this was hit in September 2020, even with the effects of Covid.
As of today (October 2021) we have now installed 27 rooms at a normal installation value of just over £600,000, and we have a new target, which I am confident that we will hit, of 50 rooms installed by the end of 2026 with a value of over £1,000,000.
How has Together for Cinema done during Covid? What plans have you got for it as we continue to move out of Covid?
Covid was quite possibly the best thing that could have happened for Together For Cinema. Let me explain… I left ISE in February 2020 and was due to join the KNX Association in May, giving me the chance to have a couple of months off to ‘regroup’. Little did I know at the time that getting out of exhibitions was smart move, but sadly Covid put pay to my chance to join KNX in May. Had I joined KNX I suspect Together For Cinema might have limped along or even fizzled out.
However, and move forward several months. Job offers came my way but all the time my friends and peers in the AV industry wanted to know what was happening with Together For Cinema, and basically the industry persuaded me to commit to the cause and therefore further develop Together For Cinema and hence continuing the difference our industry makes to so many children, young adults and their families.
After much preparation I went full time on Together For Cinema in March of 2021. Sponsorship was quickly secured to cover the operation in 2021, and renewals and new sponsorships will be processed (I hope!) in December for 2022. We need continued support and funding so if any of your readers would like to help secure the future of Together For Cinema please ask them to contact me at [email protected]
Looking ahead, the future of Together For Cinema is looking extremely positive. There is a clear need for what we do, there is a clear route to execute delivery and there is clear support from the industry to help make it happen.
So many companies in our industry have sponsored, donated, helped install and also helped with operational assistance. With our industry coming together in such a united fashion there is little doubt in my mind that Together For Cinema is here to stay and will continue to develop it’s link between our industry and good causes.
I am very conscious that I am in a privileged position to represent our industry in developing a good cause enterprise that really makes a difference by donating our products, skills and ultimately the end result.
So many of us, and our clients, almost take home cinema for granted but if you could see the end result and the joy we bring to these children it would make your heart sing…