Each year, Commercial Integrator bestows the Quest for Quality Awards as a means of celebrating the people behind our industry’s top manufacturers and distributors. There are lots of award programs meant to celebrate revolutionary products and dazzling technology applications — indeed, CI awards such honors throughout the year — but Quest for Quality is something different…something special. This program celebrates the manufacturers and distributors that go above and beyond to serve their integrator partners. In that way, a Quest for Quality Award recognizes not merely the organization but also every tech-support person, sales-support professional, website designer, customer-service representative and warehouse worker who powers the company.
We believe it’s very much worthwhile to celebrate our industry’s people in every era and during any market condition, but it’s truly essential to do so when things are a bit challenging. That accurately describes the market conditions in the commercial AV world today. Although inflation has abated, interest rates are as high as they’ve been in 15-plus years, which means it’s far more expensive for integration businesses to borrow money. What’s more, the labor market is unusually tight, even as many integration businesses are searching for qualified, certified talent to bolster their ranks. And, of course, although supply-chain issues have meaningfully improved over the last 12 months, lead times are still problematic in some cases.
Here, Commercial Integrator spotlights the manufacturers and distributors that have cracked the code, giving integrators the support and resources they need to thrive. What follows is our complete rundown of winners, including exclusive quotes from many of them.
In the Manufacturer Division, Commercial Integrator readers honored Sony in the Warranty Policies category. Rich Ventura, vice president, Professional Display Solutions, Sony Electronics, says, “To be recognized by our peers for our warranty policies — an area that we’ve heavily focused on — is an honor and a testament to the careful thought and consideration that went into enhancing these programs.” He adds, “Sony’s pro AV solutions are designed with our customers in mind and synonymous with quality. Receiving a Commercial Integrator Quest for Quality Award for our strengthened warranties is a meaningful reinforcement of that notion. But our true benchmark for success is providing the best value to our customers and integrators. And through offerings such as our standard warranties, advanced replacement programs and White Glove Service, among others, we’re earning their trust by providing the peace of mind and reliability they’ve come to expect from the Sony name.”
In the Manufacturer Division, the top vote-getter in the Customer Service/General Communication category was D-Tools. Randy Stearns, CEO of D-Tools, says, “We are truly honored to receive the Best Customer Service/General Communication award in the CI Quest for Quality Awards. Winning this accolade for the second consecutive year reflects our unwavering dedication to our customers and the CI channel.” He continues, “At D-Tools, we continue to invest in our customer success team, tools and processes, all with the shared mission of helping our valued customers succeed and excel in their businesses. This recognition reaffirms our commitment to providing top-notch service and support to our industry peers, and we look forward to continuing to serve and innovate alongside them.”
In the Manufacturer Division, in the Shipping/Delivery category, Listen Technologies earned top honors. Kim Franklin, vice president of global marketing, comments, “All of us at Listen Technologies are honored to win a Commercial Integrator Quest for Quality Award for the second consecutive year. One of our organization’s core values is delivering an awesome experience for our people, our partners and our customers. We aim to be easy to work with and provide outstanding service in every interaction.” She adds, “It is an honor to be recognized among the integrator community. We’re proud that integrators recommend our listening solutions and are thrilled they see us as a partner committed to helping them succeed. Thank you to the integrator community for this honor and for your trust and partnership. Thank you also — and congratulations! — to the Listen Technologies fulfillment team, who have been instrumental in earning this recognition.”
In the Manufacturer Division, Crestron attracted the most votes in the Dealer Portal category. Brad Hintze, executive vice president, global marketing, says, “Crestron is very honored to be recognized in this year’s Commercial Integrator Quest for Quality Awards.” He continues, “Our Pro Portal is an important tool for our partners, and we have worked to make some great strides this year to create a platform that allows them to work more efficiently and effectively plan projects, with detailed access to the status of every order. We hope that our continual improvements will only strengthen the value of this site and help our dealers make every project a success.”
In the Manufacturer Division, Commercial Integrator readers have spoken and selected NETGEAR to win in the Technical Support category. Vikram Mehta, senior vice president, SMB Products and Services, says, “It is indeed an honor to have the AV integrator community recognize all the hard work the NETGEAR Pro AV Design team has done to help ease the transition to AV-over-IP.” He adds, “We continue to listen to the integrators to help shape our products and services, and we look forward to more success together in the future.”
In the Manufacturer Division, in the Training Programs category, the top vote-getter was Q-SYS. Patrick Heyn, vice president marketing, Americas, says, “Thank you to Commercial Integrator readers for recognizing the value of the Q-SYS Training program. We strive to deliver a unique approach to learning, with trainers that are not only knowledgeable but also fun and engaging, as well as content that aims to help integrators and end users apply what they learn to real-world situations.” He adds, “We take a lot of pride in educating the industry, and it’s wonderful to see the community finds real value in our approach.”
In the Distributor Division, Commercial Integrator readers have spoken, choosing Exertis Almo in the Training Programs category. Melody Craigmyle, vice president of marketing and communications for Almo Corp., says, “Thank you to the integrator community for voting Exertis Almo the top training/education distributor. Now in its 13th year, the E4 Experience has become the industry’s go-to regional, one-day education/training and product showcase for integrators. The curated experience features a triad of networking, education sessions and an intimate exhibit hall so integrators can learn more about the newest products in the industry. The timely lineup of AVIXA CTS-certified business, technical and trend sessions are designed to keep integrators learning and earning.”
Craigmyle continues, “Integrators have told us that their favorite part about the E4 Experience is that they can fully customize their day. They also like that the E4 comes to their local area, so minimal time away is required. With free parking and a full breakfast and lunch, it’s a worthwhile day for integrators, where they are guaranteed to leave with fresh ideas and new connections.”
In the Distributor Division, our Quest for Quality voters selected TD SYNNEX for top honors in the Technical Support category. Sandi Stambaugh, senior vice president vendor management, says, “We are absolutely thrilled to receive the Commercial Integrator Quest for Quality Award, Distributor Division, for Technical Support.” She continues, “Our TD SYNNEX team strives to deliver best-in-class, end-to-end services and support to empower and enable our partners. We are humbled at the recognition of our efforts by the integrator community!”
In the Distributor Division, in the Shipping/Delivery category, Starin earned the most votes from our integrator respondents. Bill Reimer, vice president of sales, says, “Starin is honored to have won the Quest for Quality Award for Shipping/Delivery for 2023. This award means so much to our team, aligning with Starin’s mission statement of ‘Care More, Be Better.’” He continues, “We believe reaching the achievement of this award perfectly reflects our ability to adhere to our mission statement, working to care for our customers and encourage constant improvement. Starin recognizes the significance of creating a strong supplier and customer bond, and we work to assist the customer in ways that go beyond solely delivering the project. We actively collaborate with our customers to meet crucial deadlines and carry out important deliveries. We here at Starin are incredibly grateful for this award, and we hope to continue to reflect the ideals it represents in years to come.”
In the Distributor Division, in the Dealer Portal category, Exertis Almo attracted the most votes. “We are grateful to receive this award for the second consecutive year,” Craigmyle says. “Our goal is to ensure our integrators always have their fingertips on the tools, resources and training they need to best manage their inventories and installations.”
Craigmyle continues, “The Almo Access portal also features a host of programs and promotions designed to help integrators cost-effectively secure the products they need for AV projects. We are continually working in lockstep with our integrators to optimize the effectiveness of the Almo Access portal so that it remains a valuable resource.”
In the Distributor division, in the Customer Service/General Communication category, the top choice among our Quest for Quality respondents was ADI. Commercial Integrator’s audience of integrators, installers, consultants and designers commended the entire ADI team for its dedicated, helpful customer service, as well as its proactive communication. Strong service and communication are, of course, central to a distributor’s value proposition.
Demonstrating Superior-Quality Service
As part of our Quest for Quality questionnaire, Commercial Integrator offered an opportunity for integrators to share anecdotes and shout-outs for manufacturers and distributors that demonstrated superior-quality service in relation to their integration business. What follows is a sampling of the write-in responses.
- “Extron tech support is able to get engineers on the phone quickly for fast diagnosis. But that’s only if their products have an actual problem, which is few and far between.”
- “From pre-sales to technical service, Listen Technologies provides amazing service. They’re quick with quotes, questions and order statuses, and they ship the same day product is ordered. And, after I receive product, it’s easy to get ahold of their technical services team for any help!”
- “Crestron’s CTI training program is invaluable. They have a wide variety of content and offer virtual, in-person and online self-paced training.”
- “QSC reached out to set up training sessions for our company.”
- “Trans-Lux has been a strong relationship for a number of years now. They always demonstrate the utmost respect and professionalism when partnering on a project. They approach every conversation with a client-centric attitude and are able to work seamlessly with our team to ensure a project crosses the finish line on time and within budget.”
Ameliorating Industrywide Economic Issues
As this article has emphasized, it’s difficult to be an AV integrator these days. Sky-high interest rates, a tight labor market, long lead times, etc., mean that integration businesses need support from their manufacturer and distributor partners. Thus, Commercial Integrator asked Quest for Quality voters to share an anecdote or a testimonial about an instance of a manufacturer or distributor lightening their load in challenging times. What follows is a sampling of the write-in answers we received.
- “AVPro Global has evolved to be one of our go-to companies for a wide range of AV products. They came into the picture when other manufacturers were having difficulties in the supply chain. We pivoted, and AVPro Global proved to be a reliable relationship.”
- “QSC helped provide alternative designs to alleviate long-lead-time items.”
- “L-Acoustics did a good job in pushing our small order up in their manufacturing process so that we got our order earlier than their six-month initial lead time.”
- “Listen Technologies has kept 90% of their products in stock, and most orders ship same day.”
- “Crestron Electronics does their best to inform us with the most up-to-date information on product lead times. Their product quality is the best in the industry and worth it.”
Next year, Commercial Integrator plans to expand the Quest for Quality Awards program, thus giving manufacturers and distributors an even grander platform to showcase their people, processes, practices and principles. Keep your eyes peeled for announcements in the months ahead!
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