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Backstage with Harry Meade: An Expert in AV, Drumlines and Free Swag

Harry Meade’s passion for AV is matched by his love of competing internationally for drumline supremacy and desire to find the perfect tradeshow tokens.

The newest design engineer at Cenero, Harry Meade, 42, has also been playing drums for 30 years, is a contributor to AV Nation and is married to one of the industry’s most well-known (in social media circles particularly) marketing directors, Net-AV‘s Dawn Meade.

Let’s go Back Stage to find out more about Harry Meade:

Craig MacCormack: How did you get into the AV business?

Harry Meade: “I’ve always had an aptitude for AV. I was your typical AV geek in high school. I always say I worked throughout high school with the drama department, but never on stage. I also did some stuff with car stereos, but nothing major.

After high school, I worked in residential heating and air conditioning for a while until I had a friend recruit me to a company that was growing and needed some help on the AV side. At (Advanced Video Systems in Owings Mills, Md.), I started doing cable pulling and worked my way up.”

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CM: How have you found working with your wife?

HM: “I’ve actually worked with her twice, starting at AVS, where we shared a 10 x 10 office. I brought her into AV. She originally started working on our webpage in the fall of 1996. We got together in 1997, then got married in August of 1999” (Harry remembers his wedding date Aug. 21, 1999 because it’s one week after his Macmillan Pipe Band team won the world championships as best drum corps in Scotland).

“When it comes to working together, we had to make sure we didn’t let work things intrude at home. It took a while to figure that out. She’s in marketing and I’m in engineering so I was out in the field a lot more. I’ve learned a lot about writing from her. She translated my techno-babble into English so other people could understand it. I’m a lot better at it now.

The funny thing is people always assumed that because they told one of us something, that meant they were telling both of us and we tried to tell them it didn’t work that way.

When we’ve worked at different companies, we were able to learn how each other did things and apply those where we worked. We also were able to make recommendations about jobs we weren’t going to bid on but the other’s company might want, and also tell each other to make sure our companies didn’t bid on a job we wanted for ourselves.”

OF NOTE:

  • Married since August 1999 to Dawn Meade, director of marketing at Net-AV
  • Drum player and drumline instructor for Macmillan Pipe Band
  • About 20 years in integration business, including Advanced Video Systems, CCS Mid-Atlantic, Net-AV and Cenero


CM: How did you start playing the drums?

HM: “I’ve been playing for about 30 years. My dad did it starting in high school and there are pictures of me at my first band concert at about 4 years old. I’m naturally competitive and this feeds that urge and we get to travel to different places.”

The season runs from about April to October and includes one or two competitions a month, from local festivals to the North American championships in Ontario, where about 60 or 70 bands competed in five levels. Meade, his wife Dawn and his sister all play in the band and Harry teaches the team’s Level 4 drum line.

CM: You’ve become known for your InfoComm swag hunt. How did that start?

HM: “For a while, the joke was I never bought any T-shirts because I could get my supply in June. It just grew from there.

As I get more friends in the industry at more companies, I’ve had people pointing out things to me. With the InfoComm swag hunt — and the ones I’ve done at the CI Summit and other shows — I always try to not only talk about the swag when I post something on Twitter (@AVGrump) but also to say something about the company and what they have in their booth or whatever.

Some of the companies have gotten on board with my swag hunt because they want to be promoted and I’ve gotten my own special swag bags at some booths.”

Meade understands why many manufacturers don’t want to give booth visitors water since the bottles are disposable and thrown away after the person drinks the contents, but Meade said he’d love to see someone give away cups with the company logo that can be refilled by visitors.

“I always look for practical things like tools and USB chargers, but there’s a lot of stupid stuff out there. I’ve gotten a lot of tech screen cleaners, and the Crestron mints are always good. There’s been a lot of upping the game in the T-shirts too. I actively avoid most pens, because I’ve got two huge tins on my desk. I don’t need another pen.”

About the Author

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Craig MacCormack is a veteran journalist with more than 25 years of experience covering local and national news and sports as well as architecture and engineering before moving into his current role. He joined Commercial Integrator in January 2011.

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