Back in June, Installation revealed its first ever Pro AV Power 20 list, rounding up the most inspiring and influential figures from across the AV and installation market. To get to know them a little better, we sat down with each of our Pro AV Power 20 inductees for an in-depth chat. Here, we meet Robin Van Meeuwen, CEO at TIG…
How did you first get involved in the AV marketplace?
I was seven when my father was hired by Jack Minor, VP of sales at Technicolor (California). Technicolor made loop rear projection systems (those usually installed in kiosks in stations and airports to entertain kids). When I met Jack, he and I really hit it off and he became a mentor and grandfather. He lived near Disneyland in California and he promised to take me with him. When he visited our house in the UK in 1978, I packed a little suitcase and sat in the back of his rental car waiting for him to leave to the airport. I fell asleep and my parents ended up looking everywhere for me to say goodbye to Jack. After several hours of distress for my parents, Jack had to leave and they finally found me fast asleep in the back of his rental car. I was packed and ready to go with fresh underwear, toothbrush and toothpaste and gutted that I couldn’t go with him to Disneyland. Luckily, three years later my dream came true!
My father always was involved in the AV industry. I met some great people along the way as my parents often entertained customers in our home and I was always invited to join the dinners. I quickly saw how genuine the people were, and felt they were like family. This is an industry I wanted to be part of, and make a difference.
What would you say are the most significant changes/ developments to have taken place in the industry during your time?
• The transformation of analog to digital
• The way in which AV has become an essential part of any business
What personal and professional achievements are you most proud of?
Personal: great wife, great daughters, university degree + MBA, achieved my pilots licence.
Professional: we started the business with three people in 1997 and 20 years later built a company spanning the entire EMEA region, in 15 countries with 300 staff.
Do you have a philosophy that you live by professionally? If so, what is it and how has it helped you in your career, benefitted businesses you’ve worked with and the wider industry?
Never give up. Always stay positive. Don’t ever go back on your word. In business there are constant challenges; without this mindset you won’t succeed.
Benefitted businesses I’ve worked in/with: never going back on your word creates amazing bonds with people and they know they can always count on you. No BS!
Benefitted the wider industry: with a large team we have, I constantly make this our key philosophy and try to ensure that we all live and die by these lines of thinking, thus ultimately benefitting our customers and their customers.
Prior to the outbreak of the global pandemic, what would you say were the biggest areas of technological or operational challenge for the AV industry?
The industry is very disjointed. Not one organisation operates with the same approach. There are no standards to anything, from design, deployment, and servicing. Manufacturers don’t work together to drive these standards. Everyone seems to be doing their own thing.
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?
The pandemic has made me realise what resourceful, determined, and resilient people we have in our business. They have all continued to use initiative and are determined to get through this successfully. Due to having deployed Microsoft Teams from the onset, the team is working closer than ever. So in essence, this has been an extraordinary test for our people, and we feel that we will come out of this better and stronger.
Long term, it will make businesses realise that they need to adapt the way they work, with people working remotely, with the focus on collaboration. This will be a driving force of change and ultimately show how important AV is to any business. We are the glue that makes everything work!
You may also be interested in:
- Meet the Pro AV Power 20: Carys Green (No.20)
- Meet the Pro AV Power 20: Paul Clark (No. 19)
- Meet the Pro AV Power 20: Tobias lang (No.18)
- Meet the Pro AV Power 20: Andy Dyson (No.17)
- Meet the Pro AV Power 20: Aidan Williams (No.16)
- Meet the Pro AV Power 20: Kevin McLoughlin (No.15)
- Meet the Pro AV Power 20: Jon Sidwick (No.14)
- Meet the Pro AV Power 20: Brandy Alvarado (No.13)
- Meet the Pro AV Power 20: Samantha Ventura (No.12)
- Meet the Pro AV Power 20: Dee Reed (No.11)
- Meet the Pro AV Power 20: Justin Kennington (No.10)
- Meet the Pro AV Power 20: Chris Neto (No.9)
What needs to change in the industry? What do we as a community need to get better at?
More collaboration and more standards. There is too much ‘bespoke tailoring’ and end users need simpler, easier to deploy systems.
In your opinion, what will be the biggest driver(s) of change for the AV market in the next five years?
We have been speaking about the convergence between AV and IT for at least a decade now. In my opinion, IT has already converged with AV. They have realised that they need AV to make IT work. There will be further consolidation between AV contractors and manufacturers changing the landscape quickly. We all need to embrace these changes not fight them. For some of the organisations, the founding members were here since day one and they need to recognise that this is not a threat but the future of our existence.
Finally, what would be your message to those starting out their careers in the AV community?
This is a fast paced industry full of opportunity. Technology moves quick, people sometimes adopt slow, but if you are determined and focussed, you can have a great long successful career, with a lot of fun of course!
I joined the AV industry exactly 25 years ago. First setting up our company in the UK, followed by similar satellite offices in Germany, Paris, Dubai, and Milan, and in 2005 I became sales director for Crestron EMEA and built the organisation to 15 offices and over 200 sales and support staff across the territory. During this time we further expanded Crestron in countries such as Russia, eastern Europe and South Africa.
We also invested in experience centres and a beautiful residential showroom in London where we could show the technology in situ. In May 2014, I acquired the European entity from the family and became CEO. In January 2019 Crestron EMEA became Technological Innovations Group (TIG), the exclusive sales agency for Crestron and added a handful of other complimenting vendors to the portfolio shortly thereafter.
The experience I gained during my 25 years in the business has helped me to re-think the current AV needs and has inspired me to offer an ecosystem of smart space solutions to better answer the specific requirements end users have. This will result in TIG experience centres in Frankfurt, London, Paris and Dubai with an innovative virtual experience on TIG’s website (launched on 3rd June). We continue to prepare for the future once the COVID-19 crisis has passed, adding more sales people to the team.
I am absolutely driven and passionate to bring IT/AV solutions to the business which change the way in which our integrators deliver technology and the way the end users work in this forever changing world. Over the past 25 years I have been extremely fortunate to have developed close, deep-rooted relationships with our customers and the people I work with. This is the key motivating factor in my professional career; to see everyone successful and have fun on the way!
Who’s had the greatest influence on your career?
Myself: I am determined and self motivated. Of course I will call on help from some very important people in my life, but ultimately, in order to be successful running a business of this size, you must bring this influence from within yourself.
Who did/do you look up to as a role model professionally?
Dad? Bill Stephenson.
How do you measure success?
The success of our people and customers. When they succeed, we have done our job.
What’s your biggest professional regret?
I really don’t have any regrets. I feel I have done my best in every given situation, acted correct and respectful to customers and work colleagues. Making many good friends along the way.
If you were a teenager today, what profession would you go into?