Photography by Alice Schmatzl

When Azione announced their Spring 2022 conference as the “New Dreams in New Orleans” I was hopeful that with COVID seemingly in the rear-view, integrators riding 30 percent year-over-year growth, facing a shortage of both products and labor to fill the increased demand, that integrators wouldn’t be too “busy” to focus on their businesses. A dream indeed!

Can we all agree that the word “busy” might be the worst and most dirty four-letter word in the English language? People are often too “busy” to take time away from their business, learn something new, have a different perspective, network and grow.  

Far from a dream! It was a beautiful sight to see so many people from our industry in attendance – Integrators, manufacturers, and press joined together to create an environment rich in growth opportunities. Not a single person “too busy” to be truly present and seize the opportunity. 

On the first day, ahead of the kick off, I had a chance to address many of the manufacturers in a roundtable discussion regarding evolving strategies for working alongside and communicating with integrators in an effort to optimize mutual growth. I often (always?) wonder if the message resonates; it was reassuring to see one of the manufacturers take the stage immediately after our session and completely revise his approach as a result!

And it didn’t stop there – throughout the week I was surrounded by integrators both eager to learn and keenly focused on their development in various sessions and topics. 

In a trifecta of knowledge-dropping session openers the attendees were provided a TED Talk-inspired series by Jason Sayen, myself (Chris Smith), and Stacy McKibben. We covered process documentation, empowering your team, and growing revenues, respectively.

The following day I had the pleasure of hosting two different roundtable discussions. The first on Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s) and the second an introduction to Profit & Loss (P&L) statements. How do you know if you are winning if you aren’t keeping score?!

On the last day, before heading to the airport, Stacy and I hosted an “Ops Discussion.” It was a fantastic group of people, shedding ego, being vulnerable and helping each other with myriad operational issues.

And that’s just what I was involved with! Imagine the other session I wasn’t privy to. I can’t wait for the next Azione get together to see what people are learning and using to evolve their skills, business, team and self. Thanks Azione!

Chris Smith is the Principal and Founder of TheCoTeam. Bringing 20 years of industry experience to the custom installation space, they Coach | Consult | Collaborate with integrators and manufacturers to solve problems and run a more efficient business.