I’ll be honest [not that I’m usually lying]: I don’t know how some of you maintain your energy and enthusiasm for your work when you’re spending so much time as road warriors. The constant on-the-go lifestyle and all the hotel rooms, cross-country flights and late-night schmoozing isn’t for me.
My dad worked in sales for most of my life and that was long before a trip to the airport meant getting there hours ahead of time. He always made it seem glamorous and made sure to bring me home a small souvenir from most of his trips, a tradition I keep up today with my daughter.
But now that I’m traveling a decent amount for work, I know it couldn’t have been easy having to sit on transatlantic flights for hours—often overnight or super-early in the morning depending on where he was going. I can see all of you nodding your heads in agreement now.
With all of that said, business travel is a lot less cumbersome when I feel like I’m coming away from it with some interesting stories to share with loyal CI readers, as was the case with my two most recent trips to the HQs of Johnson Controls in Milwaukee and Christie in Ontario, Canada.
I’m not saying I’ve always had Milwaukee on my list of must-see cities—although I did make the most of it by going to a Brewers-Cubs game and visiting the Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Bronze Fonz while I was there—and the Ontario visit at least gave me another stamp in my passport and the chance to try something called an apple butter burger with a longtime industry friend and fashion guru.
What stood out on both of these trips, though, is something I wish more companies understood and did: giving a behind-the-scenes look at how you do the things I write about every day is entirely different than the myriad booth visits we go through at a trade show or even at a regional event.
The Value of Behind-the-Scenes Access
I mentioned specifically to the Christie marketing team who invited CI and many of our industry peers to their headquarters that I wish more companies did something like that.
We got a full tour of the company’s manufacturing facility, including a unique opportunity to wear what they call a bunny suit.
I’ll certainly never be confused for any of the engineers whose minds are the origin for the myriad AV innovations we see through press releases every day, but seeing how these products are built and hearing the stories behind why they were created gave me a fuller understanding of this industry.
I’ve done a handful of these tours in my almost nine years on this beat and while I couldn’t tell you all the particulars of the products I saw being built before my eyes or the rigorous testing process each of them go through before they come to an AV install near you, I did feel more educated after each visit.
Maybe some companies worry we’re going to give away their trade secrets or cost them their competitive advantage if they take us behind the scenes, but I can assure you that’s certainly not in my plans.
I’m more of a visual learner, so seeing these products in action is pretty cool for me.
I’m hereby challenging more AV manufacturers and integrators to invite me and my media brethren—although I’d certainly welcome the exclusive—to go behind the scenes of their operations. Even if that means a few more frequent flyer miles and a little less tread on my Cole Haan shoes.