Joel Hagen on his first time
I was 22 when I had my first AV encounter. Back in the summer of 2001 in Golden Valley, Minnesota, I was at a shopping center grabbing a sandwich for work (I had yet to figure out how to make food at home and bring it). As I walked back to my car, a guy nearly hit me with his van. He rolled down the window and started talking to me.
“Hey, dude,” he said, “you look like someone who appreciates good music.” I stopped, because I was raised to understand it’s impolite to ignore someone who is talking to you. He kept talking, “meet me over there,” pointing to a nearby empty parking spot.
I did so because, well, I wasn’t particularly bright.
He hopped out of the driver seat and hustled around the van to open the sliding door. Inside were five huge boxes of speakers; bigger than I had any right to be interested in.
“I just picked up this shipment, and I’ve got to go install them, but they gave me an extra speaker. My boss will be pissed if there’s extra, so I need to get rid of one.”
He went on, throwing out technical terms and value as I nodded mutely. I vaguely understood that even if I had a big-ass speaker, I had nothing to hook it up to, nor would I know how to hook it up.
Then he asked for $200 for it, which was more than my net worth at the time. I demurred. He insisted. I said I didn’t have anything on me, he countered with a “we can go over to an ATM, you will never get another deal like this again.” I said I didn’t have $200. He said whatever I could get worked for him.
As he continued to try to push me into a sale, unbeknownst to him I simply did not have money, two cops strolled up behind me. They asked him for a merchant license. They didn’t seem interested in me, so I took the opportunity to stroll away.
I had no clue why he would have an extra speaker. I didn’t know what AV meant at the time. He might have been a legit installer, or he just had some hot merchandise. Either way, it wasn’t the best foot forward for a first impression of an industry.
It took 11 years for my path to cross the AV industry once again with my current marketing position. In the past several years, in person and online, I’ve come to know and really enjoy the many passionate people involved in every aspect of the industry. Every day a new blog post comes out full of tips for businesses, opinions on the future direction of AV, post mortems for failed new technologies and predictions for the latest trends.
There are a few things that I remember every time I read an ‘AV is dying/dead’ opinion piece. One: they’ve been saying the same about newspapers for decades, and though the industry has changed dramatically, I’m still getting my Sunday paper. Two: underlying the hundreds of articles and thought pieces that run on AV news sites and blogs is the theme of learning. To succeed in AV, you never turn off the learning piece of your brain, you grow and adapt to new technologies and marketplace realities.
That’s why changes don’t scare me. I know that there’s an entire ecosystem of AV professionals already evolving every day to accommodate new realities and challenges.
The ones that don’t…well, they might just find themselves in a parking lot talking to cops.
Joel Hagen has been reporting/writing for a dozen years – working his way from newspaper journalism to university alumni newsletters to AV copywriting. He’s been working for an AV manufacturer in Minnesota for three years and is always on the hunt to learn more about the industry, marketing and life in general.
Photo used under creative commons licence
Copyright Athena Kay
Joel Hagen on his first time