Five companies recently earned InfoComm International Audiovisual Provider of Excellence (APEx) certification, expanding the group to about 40 integration firms since Zdi became the first honoree in August 2014.
San Diego-based Anderson Audio Visual, Kenilworth, N.J.-based Diversified, Marshalltown, Iowa-based Mechdyne, Chicago-based Midwest Computer Products and Visual Sound of Broomall, Pa., are the latest to qualify for InfoComm’s marketing recognition program for integration companies and AV design consulting firms.
To earn the APEx designation, companies must reach prescribed levels in standards conformance, customer satisfaction surveys, CTS certified staff, InfoComm University courses and staff certified in other approved certifications. APEx companies must renew their designation every year and maintain staff CTS levels and other standards.
“This is something we wanted to be part of from Day One,” says Chris Bosworth, VP of operations at Anderson AV. “It shows our commitment and sets us apart from other integrators. We made some pretty significant changes in our company to be part of this, including requiring some people to become CTS holders if they hold particular positions.
“It’s made a difference in our installation team, with all lead techs now needing to have a CTS. It’s gotten everyone more involved and really brought up our overall quality,” says Bosworth.
Earning APEx is “a pretty rigorous process” and “very time-consuming,” says Diversified senior VP Tom Spearman, but well worth the effort. “It’s a meaningful representation of our skill set.” Because of Diversified’s size, the company spent significant time on training and certifications to earn the APEx designation.
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“It validates our commitment to the process and illustrates the repeatability of the experience,” says Spearman.
“The larger an organization is, the more meaningful it is to achieve that level of certification and training,” says Kevin Collins, Diversified executive VP and COO. He likes “being part of a more exclusive group,” but Spearman sees it as a plus that more companies are earning APEx.
“At the end of the day, it’s the customers who benefit,” says Spearman. “It’s about instructing the marketplace about the type of skills they need from their integrators.”
Mechdyne senior VP Jim Gruening says his company has always been process-driven and focused on client surveys and other pieces of APEx designation so “we didn’t really have to change anything.” It was important to earn as the company’s 20th anniversary approaches in August, he says.
“I’m excited to see InfoComm promote this type of standard,” he says. “It helps to raise the quality of what all of us are doing.”
Although the process of earning the designation was relatively simple for Mechdyne, Gruening says those companies that need to make wide-ranging changes to their companies are probably the ones who should try hardest to earn it.
“If it’s not simple to achieve, you probably should go through the hard work to achieve it,” he says. “At the end of the day, our clients choose to work with us because of the value we bring. We’ll use [APEx] as a differentiator any time we can.”