Achieve More by Working with an AV Distributor: Herman’s Jeffrey Wolf on Commercial Integrator (video)

Rack fabrication

CI Distribution & Labor Survey: Integrators Ask. Herman Answers.

Logistics, customer service, and skill – that’s the general wish list of Commercial Integrator’s recent survey respondents.

Spooky AV Wiring

System Integrator “Tricks” To Avoiding A Wiring Nightmare

Congrats to our CI Integration Award #WINNING Partners!


Commercial Integrator recently profiled the impressive AV installations that were the winners of the 2019 Integration Awards. All of the winners deserve acknowledgment for solving complicated challenges and delivering great results for their customers. The Herman team is especially proud of our partners who are among the winners (more than half the winners are Herman partners!)

While the best installations are recognized by CI, they could not have been accomplished without the innovative and high-quality products and components used by the award-winning integrators. With that in mind, we’re also very proud of our many manufacturer partners whose products contributed to the winning projects. CI has also done great case studies on each of the winning installations with a detailed breakdown of the challenges, the solution, and the equipment used. We’re honored to be partnered with the winning integrators listed below. Click on the links to the CI case studies for more details on each of their projects.

McCann Systems for Casino: Ocean Casino Resort, William Hill Sportsbook
Red Thread for Corporate Campus: PTC Headquarters, Seaport Boston
M3 Technology Group for Government/Mission Critical: ERDC Headquarters
Whitlock for Health Care: Kimmel Pavilion/Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital @ NYU
Level 3 Audio Visual for Higher Education: The University of Arizona Health Science Innovation Building
South Central A\V for Hotel/Hospitality: Dream Hotel
AVI-SPL for Meeting Room: White & Case LLP
Troxell for K-12 Project: Portsmouth Public Schools
Electrosonic for Museum Project: Sheikh Abdullah al Salem Cultural Centre

Every Pro AV integrator works hard to satisfy the needs of their customers, and every successful installation is a win for our industry. Getting special recognition for a job well-done is especially rewarding. Congratulations again to all the winners and to our winning Herman partners who have been recognized by CI for achieving more!

How to Get the Most out of AV Labor Subcontractors

Perhaps one of the most difficult things about being a subcontractor in the AV Industry is the way we are most commonly engaged. Let me paint a picture.

A salesman comes back to the installation department and says “Customer just got a budget for 3 more rooms, but they need to have them installed by next week; can we get them installed?” After the installation manager looks at the calendar to see their installers are all busy he says, “Maybe, if we can get a sub to do the labor,” and then asks, “do we have all of the gear or can we get it?”

Here are the problems I see already. The integrator is going to take a quick turn project, hopefully be able to get all of the gear and will likely not do a proper scope/walkthrough, and then they will call us and ask for us to complete the job in a smooth timely manner.

So much of this is wrong, however, we do understand as a subcontractor that we can stand out from competitors by being responsive, capable, and efficient in turning projects like these. We believe we can help make this process better if the integrators will work with us subcontractors side-by-side. With this in mind, here is what integrators need to ask and answer about their subcontractors in order to realize a new level of success in working together.

What are the subcontractors capable of? Perhaps the first thing you need to do before working with any subcontractor is have a discussion in order to better understand and agree upon what their installers are capable of. Specifically make sure you understand what their leads are able to do versus their helpers. Furthermore, if the sub is going to be responsible for commissioning the job and interacting with the client make sure the sub knows the specific equipment they will be working with.

Know your role!  Another important step is to clearly define responsibilities prior to the work starting.  The most successful jobs we do are the ones that are clearly laid out stating what the subcontractor is responsible for and what the integrator is responsible for.  This cuts down on any finger pointing and naturally improves the communication.

Our most successful relationships entail integrators that think of their subcontractor as a partner or an extension of their company and not just in the installation department. This includes working hard to make them feel as if they are part of the team and giving them confidence that they won’t take the blame for anything that goes wrong.  In return, you can bet they will work tirelessly to represent your company positively in the field.

Get the Facts about the Subcontractor.  I often hear horror stories about subcontractors that really didn’t have the qualifications to work in this field and that is a shame. But if you make that type of hire, it may be as much your fault as it is theirs. Do your homework on not just the subcontractor but also the company. Be sure to know if they employ their own staff that is trained and certified or are they going out and just finding people to put on site.  What skills do they have and tools do they own?

Technically speaking, do you have tech support? Does the company you are contracting have their own technical support staff to support their guys in the field or is that going to be your problem.  What does that team provide? Do you have the staff to support the potential technical requests?  In short, many times the subcontractor sends a very capable field person, but they still need to be backed up. Who is responsible to give them that support. Some subs have that in house while others will need your resources. Are you prepared for that?

For integration companies, the ability to take on quick turn projects is a terrific way to grab profitable incremental revenue, however, knowing how hard it is to successfully complete projects on a standard timeline, is a great indicator of all that can go wrong when a project is asked to be completed on a short turn.

The beauty of a solid relationship with an AV subcontractor is that we can provide you resources quickly to not only help with short term projects, but also to provide resources for all of your projects and in many cases even technical resources like a programmer or engineer. To foster this solid relationship, it comes down to strong communication, division of responsibility, and knowing the real capabilities of the subcontractors you hire.

With a little planning and a great partnership, more work can be done and more customers will be won over by your ability to quickly meet their needs.  Learn More.


New Year’s Resolution #1: Avoid these Common AV Mistakes

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, isn’t it? Sure, so long as your AV installation projects are wrapped up, profitable, and your customers are happy. After all, isn’t that the goal of every business? Ring in the new year with great results, happy customers, and smiling employees?

Let’s face it, ending the year on a high note can be difficult.  I’m the beneficiary of supporting, doing, and in some cases fixing hundreds of installation projects on an annual basis and not everyone crushes it. Some of the work that is done flat out stinks.  While the blinders may keep some integrators from seeing the flaws in their work, over time customers always figure out if their integrator knows what they are doing or not.

When you’re in a AV subcontractor role like ours and you’re supporting the integrator while trying to make the customer happy, it’s even a more unique position, because our experience with multiple integrators has taught us what works and what doesn’t.  Sometimes companies insist on doing things that will almost certainly FAIL. Want to take the ‘almost’ out and make failure a certainty?

Here are 3 ways to make that happen:

1. Creepy Scope: Sure, you’ve heard of scope creep, but if your scope is just littered with undefined outcomes and uncertain deliverables you’re almost certain to see your projects go south. So, if you want to FAIL then it’s simple, just make sure your scope of work is really undefined and has lots of holes so you can have scope creep drive massive profits out of your project, all the while irritating your customers and installers.

2.  Crunch Time: It’s one thing to be ambitious on a project, but it’s another thing to just be unreasonable. After doing enough installations, you should know how long things take.   No matter how much you want to meet an unreasonable deadline to win a project, it just won’t happen. To FAIL here, it’s simple. Set impossible timelines to ensure equipment doesn’t arrive on time. Also, make sure you don’t have time to properly test the system so you can maximize return trips that will surely piss off your service department AND the customer.

3. Out of Control: Touch panels for system control are still a huge part of making complex systems simple. However, with so much available customization, it’s easy to miss the mark.  You need to get your clients involved in design and workflow to get these right. But if FAILING is the goal, and trust me, it too often is the goal, then don’t have your customer sign off on touch panels. This way they can request that you change them several times until they are perfect.  And since your SOW wasn’t well written, you can’t ask for change orders because that would be rude.

Sure, I know I’m being a bit silly or even snarky here. But hey, isn’t the end of the year a time to decompress and share our joy AND our frustration with friends, loved ones, and those that stop by our blog for new insights?

So, while the remarks may be a little brash (I’ll take my lumps), I really passionately believe the advice here is sound. There are certain ways to ensure that your projects will go badly, and it bothersome to see good integrators fall into traps that hurt their customer relationships, employee morale, and ultimately their bottom line.

The good news is we’re at the start of another year. A clean slate and a new chance to get things right when it comes to delivering great project results and even better customer experiences. Don’t go down the rabbit hole of scope creep, unreasonable timelines, and missing client communications. It’s the most concrete way to get your year off to a bad start and to feel a little bit guilty when you come across articles like this.

Share some common mistakes that have sent your projects south.