Widgets Magazine

Inside the Chocolate Factory

This week I spent a few days in Anaheim, California. It was not for a trip to Disneyland nor was it to see former St. Louis Cardinals player Albert Pujols. Anaheim is also the headquarters for Extron Electronics.
Over the last few years my relationship with Extron has been interesting. When they stepped away from both ISE and the main U.S. InfoComm show it felt as if they were walling themselves up inside their factory, much the same way Willy Wonka did in the Chocolate Factory. When we would request those folks we knew or had connections with to come on it would be a “no” or sometimes no response at all.
Last month I received a call from Casey Hall, VP of Sales and Marketing for Extron. He asked if I would be interested in coming out for a visit and for an interview. You can see the interview here. Some dates were agreed upon and I headed out to southern California not really knowing what to expect. To say I was pleasantly surprised would be an understatement.What I discovered was an organization filled with very passionate, talented AV professionals. From Joe da Silva who was one of the first 50 employees at the company, to a man named Homi who is in charge of testing and certification of their products, this place has people excited and engaged. Their production and engineering teams are knowledgeable and working on some pretty exciting things.-*They have an entire team dedicated to making power supplies because they weren’t happy with the ones they were buying. That’s impressive.
For better or for worse I got the sense that, just like the Chocolate Factory, they would rather design and make a component themselves rather than rely on someone else. From a manufacturing standpoint I’m not in a position to say whether or not that makes sense. It feels a bit extreme but so does closing down a product line because someone decided not to make a chip set anymore.
During one part of the day we were having a back and forth about various things such as programming, InfoComm/ISE shows, and AVNation. I was asked why Extron has had such a rough time on our various programs and blogs. The question took me aback. Being asked the question I felt obliged to give an answer. My answer was not sufficient; at least not to me. I said something about them being a bit closed off and it feeling like they were very close to our main competitor. However, that isn’t good enough. I had been a bit rougher on Extron than most other companies.
As I reflected on this trip as well as the other organizations I have visited in the last few months I came to the realization that I owe Extron as well as our audience an apology. I have not been fair. I have allowed my own personal feelings and connections to cloud my coverage of this industry. For that I am sorry. This is not to say I agree with everything that Extron, or any company, does. We still disagree about their trade show schedule for instance. What this trip has done is shine a light on a bad habit I have fallen into and one that I will work to undo.
So, thank you to Casey, Kristine, Joe, Mike, and everyone I met while in Anaheim for making be a better broadcaster, reporter, and commentator.
That’s it for this week. Thank you for taking the time to read my blog. Have a great week.

About Author

Tim Albright is the founder of AVNation and is the driving force behind the AVNation network. He carries the InfoComm CTS, a B.S. from Greenville College and is pursuing an M.S. in Mass Communications from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. When not steering the AVNation ship, Tim has spent his career designing systems for churches both large and small, Fortune 500 companies, and education facilities.

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