David Labuskes is still getting used to his new surroundings at InfoComm International headquarters after officially assuming the title of executive director and CEO on Jan. 1 from Randal Lemke, who retired at the end of 2012.
Still, as a consultant to the A/V industry for many years through his work at RTKL Associates, Labuskes is well-equipped to talk about the state of the commercial integration business, challenges and opportunities for integrators in 2013, the fallout of the fiscal cliff talks and how the A/V industry fits into the health care market.
Help us put the state of the commercial integration industry in perspective. Is 2013 a good time to be a commercial integration firm?
It’s always been a good time to be a commercial integration firm, but there certainly have been easier times. Right now, as everyone knows, it’s a competitive environment and an uncertain environment.
It’s always been a price competition, but the decision integrators have to make right now is whether to compete for buyers on the price-sensitive side of the marketplace. Everyone knows you can make choices between high quality and low price. InfoComm’s role is to be out there and to support our members in whatever they decide and to help them implement those decisions and be successful. One thing we’re looking at right now is how we can help our members more from a business perspective, not just with technical information.
We’re increasing our investment in all membership services right now, including both standards and certification. Without standards, it’s very difficult for an integrator to operate, so they provide an enormous amount of credibility. With certification, you can show you’re invested in your career and invested in your capabilities. Our role is to help our members shine a bright light on what being a qualified commercial integrator means.
What are the biggest challenges integrators face in 2013 and how can InfoComm help them overcome those obstacles? What are the biggest opportunities awaiting integrators and how can InfoComm help seize them?
I would be surprised if 2013 didn’t bring more uncertainty and more competition. I look at those challenges as opportunities to look at business value. You have to ask yourself what business model you bring to the client. You have to be rigorous in self-examination. Our membership is a subset of humanity, so we have some members who do that and will continue to do that and some who stick with the status quo.