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The InfoComm Show Through The Decades, By Sam Taylor EVP and COO, Almo Professional A/V, Written for Sound & Communications - August 24, 2017

The InfoComm show: an annual gathering of commercial AV manufacturers, distributors, resellers and end users from around the globe, all there to learn about everything happening in our industry. It requires months of preparation; then, it becomes a three-day blur of meetings, booth visits, sessions and events. That’s followed by months of followup, new relationships, new business and industry certifications…and then preparation for next year’s show, as the cycle repeats.

Thirty years ago, I entered this industry by accident. The company I was working for focused on the CAD/CAM market. Everything changed when a new display product was introduced by Mitsubishi that had both computer and video inputs. It was at that point that I discovered the world of commercial AV.

I’ve officially been in the commercial AV market since 1987; however, my first InfoComm experience was in Philadelphia PA in 1992. Although minuscule as compared to the InfoComm that we know today, the show was an eye-opener for me. It was there that I realized that AV was a much broader market than we were addressing at the time.

Here are two of my first memories of InfoComm:

  • Distribution was all but hidden from the show floor. I’ll never forget visiting a distributor’s booth, which was located under a stairway in a dark corner of the exhibit hall. That was a reflection of how commercial AV distribution was viewed back then—a very minor role on the outskirts of the industry. Today, distributors are stationed everywhere throughout the show. They are sponsors, speakers, trainers and leaders.
  • The projector shoot-out was the center of attention. Manufacturers were given the opportunity to showcase the latest and greatest projectors in a pitch-black room. Product managers could calibrate their brightest products at the start of the event, and that was it. Attendees walked through the room to see which projectors were the brightest and delivered the highest-quality image. Afterward, they voted on their favorites. If your projector had a problem during the voting hours, you were out of luck.

Products were the focus during the early InfoComm days; the value-added model of AV solutions, services and training had yet to begin.

Although there are new professionals entering the industry each year, one thing does remain the same: many—dare I say most—are here to stay. They might be wearing different company shirts at the trade show, and they most certainly have grown their role within the industry. However, the bottom line is, they realize the value in staying.

The most exciting time to be in this industry is right now. InfoComm has become so much more than just a trade show; it’s the commercial AV industry association focused on providing the education, and the tools, to help its members grow their businesses.

I look forward to seeing how the InfoComm show evolves over the next 30 years!

For Sound & Communications’ full InfoComm 2017 review, check out our August issue feature, “Connecting Dots Or Connecting Clouds?: InfoComm 2017 revealed industry trends that we must recognize to survive.