Jeremy Caldera of Pearl Technology is the latest inductee to join the Commercial Integrator #AVLivingLegends honor roll. Caldera, who holds both CTS-D and CTS-I certifications, is a recognized educator and prominent thought leader in the AV industry. Indeed, back in 2016, AVIXA (then InfoComm International) named Caldera as Educator of the Year. Since that time, Caldera has only accelerated his efforts to share his considerable knowledge with AV’s next generation. At the same time, in his role as executive vice president of Pearl Technology, Caldera continues to flex his muscles as a strategic leader.
In this exclusive conversation with Caldera, we explore the formative moments when his passion for AV ignited. He brings us back to his school-aged years, and he spotlights the individuals who put him on his current trajectory. In addition, Caldera touches on AVIXA and its pivotal role in expanding his career. Specifically, he expounds on his important work with the Leadership Search Committee (LSC) and shares anecdotes about ISE Shows past.
We hope you enjoy this conversation with Jeremy Caldera of Pearl Technology. This AV industry stalwart is the perfect 35th entrant to the Commercial Integrator #AVLivingLegends series.
And if you’d like to read even more coverage relating to our #AVLivingLegends, like Jeremy Caldera of Pearl Technology, check out our hub page. It, of course, includes direct links to every living legend!
Commercial Integrator: What motivated you to join the commercial AV industry?
Jeremy Caldera: I was one of the fortunate few who started my love for AV in high school and college. Attending Columbia College Chicago in the Audio Arts and Acoustics department, I majored in acoustics/systems contracting. Immediately upon graduating, I joined Thompson Electronics in Peoria, Ill., an AV integration firm. My passion for the industry only grew from there.
Commercial Integrator: What has kept you motivated and engaged in the decades that followed?
Jeremy Caldera: Decades… this question is really making me feel old!
I moved through my career in various roles and at a number of different firms. As I did, I became more involved in the industry, through associations such as AVIXA and in education. My love for our industry strengthened as I grew personally and professionally at these organizations. Specifically, as I got more involved in education and certification at both AVIXA and Columbia, my motivation only increased. It was great to be able to teach and mentor a wide variety of individuals, including college kids, by doing everything from teaching advanced AV design at Columbia to instructing other industry professionals during InfoComm three-day classes. My involvement with AVIXA — I chaired the CTS program for many years to, later, was elected to the leadership as part of the LSC — has also contributed to me having a motivating and successful career in AV.
Commercial Integrator: Reflect on your role as both a mentee early in your career and as a mentor later in your career. Who helped shape the trajectory of your professional life? How have you tried to help shape others’ careers?
Jeremy Caldera: I don’t know where to start with this question!
My earliest mentors include my theater teacher in high school, Fr. Dominic Garramone, who put me in front of a sound console and taught me the importance of education. The list continues to Doug Jones, Ted Uzzle and Jeff Lipp, who, while I attended the Audio Arts and Acoustics department at Columbia College Chicago, taught me the fundamental skills of what we do. Without all these individuals, I would not have gained the knowledge of the technical side of what I do, and I would not have developed the passion, inspiration and desire to give back. I began teaching thanks to the encouragement of, and ability to learn with, so many great individuals. Specifically, I’m thinking of Jay McArdle, Bill Nattress, David McNutt and Chuck Espinoza. Teaching and learning with these individuals only strengthened my knowledge. When I get to share the instructional stage with such great individuals, I receive more than I give.
In recent years, Chuck Espinoza and I have brought a new level of passion, energy and learning to the classes that we teach together. That’s especially true of the CTS prep class we have taught together so many times over the past several years. He continues to be a motivating factor in furthering my drive to help others love our industry as passionately as we do.
Commercial Integrator: What’s the most memorable story/anecdote of your career in commercial AV?
Jeremy Caldera: There are so many memorable stories — most of which I cannot share on this platform!
In all seriousness, I think that my time on the AVIXA LSC stands out the most. That time allowed me to learn from and talk with so many great individuals from our industry and throughout the world. I recall one dinner with the AVIXA board of directors and the LSC in Amsterdam at an ISE show. I was seated with Mike Blackman, Julian Phillips and Dave Labuskes at dinner. Only recently at that time, I had become the CEO of IAS Technology in Peoria. The conversations I was able to have with all of them that night, as well as the advice they all took the time to give me, contributed more to the success of my role at that organization — and my roles now — than they will ever know. Those great relationships are what will always stick out to me as the most memorable moments of my career.
And, yes, Julian, I will never forget: Cash is king! Not the most technical advice for what we do, but definitely one of the best business one liners drilled into my head forever. And it is so true.
Commercial Integrator: What has been your greatest professional accomplishment to date?
Jeremy Caldera: I have been able to work on some of the best projects and with some of the coolest clients. However, the greatest accomplishment for me was when I was recognized as the AVIXA Educator of the Year. Because I have such a love of teaching and giving back to the industry, that recognition meant more to me than I could ever express. To be included with such a small class of exceptional individuals is an honor. Those other instructors I have had the privilege to work with in our industry have all taught me more than I’ve ever taught anyone else.
Commercial Integrator: What has been your biggest professional regret to date?
Jeremy Caldera: My biggest regret to date is my departure from weekly teaching at Columbia College Chicago. Teaching a three-credit-hour college class and introducing a new generation to the audiovisual industry was very rewarding. My new role at Pearl Technology, as well as my growing involvement as my children are getting older, requires more and more of my time professionally and personally. I never anticipated how time-consuming kids’ sports could be! I love it, but it does mean I cannot do as many professional “extracurriculars.”
Commercial Integrator: What’s the best advice or pearl of wisdom you either received during your career or came to realize on your own?
Jeremy Caldera: The best advice I can give anyone is not to take on the world by yourself. This applies equally to your personal and professional life. I would not be where I am today without the teams of people I have in my life. My successes are a direct result of their contributions. Friends, family, the leadership/operations teams at Pearl Technology and AV friends alike — all of them have made me and the teams themselves better.
Would you like to nominate a peer or colleague — or perhaps yourself! — to be featured in this #AVLivingLegends series, just like Jeremy Caldera of Pearl Technology was? If so, just email Dan Ferrisi, group editor, commercial and security, Emerald, at [email protected].
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