HTSA Fall Conference 2020

By Maureen Jenson
Published on: October 30, 2020

Pump it Up! HTSA Virtual Fall Conference: Education, Communication & Energy!

It was just so good to see the HTSA members starting with Jon Robbins State of the Union on Monday Oct 26, and concluding with HTSA Partner Awards on Thursday afternoon.


Jon Robbins

Executive Director Jon Robbins promised members that time spent online wouldn’t lock viewers into hours of screen time. “We’re going to talk about things we’re confronted with, and plan on this being a benefit to both members and vendors.” And indeed it was.

Heralding that our industry has been so much luckier than most, Jon said, “We’re in an industry that is actually benefiting from” the stay-at-home consumer behavioral patterns that are proving problematic for so many other businesses.

“In a year that’s been most challenging, we’ve continued to thrive. The state of the HTSA union is strong and education and communication are of utmost importance.” While Jon was optimistic about the positive business trajectory, he also stressed that vendors need to continue to report purchases “on a timely basis for the rest of the year. We need to see where we are, notice the trends and drive business.”

Every presentation and panel discussion was laser focused and tight on facts and problem solving. There was no fluff.

HTSA’s Chief Learning Architect, Keith Esterly, presented the keynote entitled “Let Go of the Vine!”. Delivered in typical Esterly fashion, the keynote was a good deal of humor tempered with great points about when to “change vines”, ie your business strategy over time.


Keith Esterly

His vine analogy, which was the theme of his speech, cemented Tarzan analogies: If you get too comfortable, you won’t switch vines and your business will falter. You have to commit and make the choice to let go and grab onto a new vine to move forward. The worst part is not in choosing the new vine, but in letting go of the comfort and familiarity of the first vine.

The knowledge packed presentations benefited from groups of in-the-trenches panelists that provided real world examples of their topics.

An excellent example was the “Re-imagining the Project Process—Case Studies: Member Results on Standardization”, presented by Richard Millson, Millson Technologies, and included panelists Brian Perreault, Barrett’s Technology solutions; Franklin Karp, Audio Video Systems; James Sanfemio, Wicked Smart Homes and Michael Rossmiller, SAV Digital Environments, Inc.

Re-imagining the Project Process—Case Studies: Member Results on Standardization: Top to bottom: Richard Millson, Millson Technologies; Brian Perreault, Barrett’s Technology solutions; Franklin Karp, Audio Video Systems; James Sanfemio, Wicked Smart Homes and Michael Rossmiller, SAV Digital Environments, Inc.

Panelists delved deep into examples of how they have used the Millson standardization process to their own benefit. Said Jim Sanfemio, Wicked Smart Homes, “Using the proven standardization practices,  gave us the ability to get into MDUs and drive home that through this standard practice we can tackle these large scale projects way more efficiently. It results in our industry becoming far more respected by the other trades we are working with. We are not just the AV guys.”

Franklin Karp, Audio Video Systems, took it a step further, “Our industry has changed dramatically. I was concerned our margins weren’t going to get better. Through standardization of our work flow, from design through in-house system pre-install testing, I see Millson as our Holy Grail.”

HTSA’s Tom Doherty brought conference attendees up to date on health and wellness trends. Assisting him were panelists, Jan Vitrofsky, HEDsouth; David Daniels, Xssentials and Severin Carlson, Delos.


Top left clockwise: HTSA’s Tom Doherty; Jan Vitrofsky, HEDsouth; David Daniels, Xssentials and Severin Carlson, Delos.


Said Tom Doherty, “While no one wanted a pandemic, the topics of health and wellness have never been hotter. Your customers want to hear every way possible to improve the air, water and lighting in their homes.” Added Jan Vitrofsky, HEDsouth, “We have to be educators in the field of health and wellness. Our customers are going to look towards us for solutions and we have to have the scientific answers. Delos offers us a great opportunity and we are head and shoulders above any group in bringing these solutions to market.”

David Daniels, Xssentials, who has a dedicated health and wellness space in his showroom commented, “This is something you have to commit to and see the potential in. We have the client’s ear and are becoming experts in the field of air and water purification, circadian lighting and more. Our team members are having systems installed in their own homes; we can talk to our clients about the benefits with first hand knowledge and passion. We want ourselves healthy, our employees, healthy and our customers healthy.”

Commented Severin Carlson, Delos, “At Delos, we are constantly expanding our solutions base. Our partnership with Crestron will broaden our platform: every home should be a Darwin home and being with Crestron makes it seamless to deliver health and wellness in the home. You start talking to your clients about how through air purification we can filter down the air to a micron that is smaller than then micron size of COVID and they are eager to listen.”

The other panel presentations consisted of the equally compelling, Brad Whitehead’s presentation of the Entrepreneurial Operating Systems (EOS) platform led into two full days of member educational opportunities:

Clearing the Digital Marketing Misconceptions with Ron Callis Jr, One Firefly.


Rising Tides – HTSA Raising Level of Client Outreach: A Review with Cat Toomey of CATalyzing on HTSA’s Industry Leading Initiatives


Hiring Talent for Tomorrow, Work from Home: Marketing Opportunities & Sales Strategies

Learning the Vault 2.0

Lighting Design Services: In-house or 3rd Party



The HTSA Partner Awards Fall 2020

The Partner Awards go to….

New Partner of Year                                          Sound United

Video Partner of Year                                        Sony

Audio Partner of Year                                        JL Audio

Custom Install Partner of Year                         Sonance/James Loudspeaker

Accessory Partner of Year                                 OvrC

Growth Partner of Year                                     WhyReboot

Person of the Year                                              John Bagby, Paradigm/Anthem

Lighting Partner of Year                                    Tech Element


The Innovation Awards go to…

Innovation Award                                         Samsung Terrace Series

Innovation Award                                         Crestron Home

Innovation Award                                         Control4 Chime

Maureen Jenson

Maureen Jenson

Maureen is editor-in-chief for the Technology Insider Group. She has been the editor-in-chief of Audio Video Interiors, Stereophile Guide to Home Theater, Home Theater, Technology Integrator, E-Gear and CEDIA’s Electronic Lifestyles Magazines. She is a CEDIA Fellow and IPRO Lifetime Achievement Award honoree.

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