Azione Unlimited, The Smart Home Association, opened its virtual doors for a structured two-day event this week—The Expedient Exposition, which President Richard Glikes dubbed as the last conference of its kind. While tucked together in their Chester Springs, PA, headquarters for this meeting, the Azione team exuded excitement about the current conference agenda, and looked grinningly toward in-person events in the fall. 

“This is the best year ever and it isn’t going to stop in this calendar year. Housing starts are at historic highs, renovations are booming and home offices are not slowing down, and we are directly tied to this market. Azione Unlimited is already up 32 percent for the first three months of 2021 – and that’s based on pre-pandemic levels. It’s just an amazing time for integrators.”

To kick off the meeting, Azione Unlimited welcomed 14 new dealer members:

  • Buday’s Home Electronics Simplified, Kalamazoom MI
  • Digital Interiors, Clawson, MI
  • Total Home Technologies, Calgary, AB, Canada
  • Coast Audio Video, Lawton, OK
  • K&S Electronics & Security, Winnipeg, MB, Canada
  • Northern Technology Solutions, Anchorage, AK
  • Vineyard Sound Integration, Vineyard Haven, MA
  • One Touch Media Designs, Boca Raton, FL
  • Sync AVI, Spokane, WI
  • Repel Technologies, Vancouver, BC, Canada
  • Pure Custom Audio Video, Virginia Beach, VA
  • Home Theater Solutions, Edmonton, AB, Canada
  • Kelowna Custom AV, Kelowna, BC, Canada

New vendor partners were also recognized:

  • Bryston 
  • PowerHouse Alliance
  • Somfy
  • Trends Electronics Inc.
SmartHomeHire Initiative

The most significant news coming out of the conference, however, developed as a 4 a.m. “lightbulb” moment of Glikes’ where he envisioned an answer dealers’ biggest pain point: securing passionate workforce members. And with that came the beginnings of SmartHomeHire, an online hiring portal. 

In an industry that is often neglected as an option in tech and vocational schools and, oftentimes, is categorized with ambiguous terminology, the goal of SmartHomeHire is multifaceted. According to the Azione Unlimited, the program will:

  • Glorifying the industry—providing dealers a place to highlight projects
  • Easy to Use
  • Available to AU Dealers Only
  • Show Videos to Captivate Audience
  • Inexpensive
  • Create Awareness for the Custom Integration Industry

The program’s website, which was designed in partnership with marketing/consulting firm, Blue Door Consulting, will focus on four categories of new hires: Technicians, System Designers, Project Managers and Sales. Each category will have a dedicated page; dealers will have the ability to load job listings and applications to those positions.

Furthermore, Azione Unlimited created targeted “Personas”—individuals who may be interested in the custom integration industry. These personas include DIYers (those who enjoy hands-on work), Sales Professionals, System Designers and Tech Savvy folks. The goal, according to Glikes, is to help dealers add two employees to their teams, for a price that is less expensive than hiring a headhunter.

For those who do not fall upon the site through search engines, there will be social media efforts, including YouTube videos targeting each category. Azione Unlimited also plans to work with local vocational schools to generate industry awareness.

Azione Architects Designers Alliance

The next initiative that the Azione Unlimited unveiled is its Azione Architects Designers Alliance (AADA). The goal of the program is to create a community of architects, interior designers and smart home integrators.

Azione plans to achieve this goal is several ways, including education in the form of CEUs and webinars in addition to a website that features in-depth, informational articles on smart home integration topics as well as “Tech Essentials” that offer bites of knowledge geared toward educating architect and designer readers. 

The organization’s Dream Book will serve as a tangible marketing piece, which will also include features aimed at educating partner disciplines and further glorifying the possibilities of smart home technology. Particular sections of the book can be customized for dealers as well.

The website will feature a “connect” element where integrators, designers and architect will be pinned on a map so users can identify proximity. The site will also provide the option to send a message to prospective partners.

Furthermore, the new initiative, which is scheduled for a summer rollout, will include an Alliance Affinity Program. The goal is to provide architects and interior designers a way to truly experience technology. According to Azione Unlimited, “the Alliance Affinity program offers another way to connect with architects and interior designers by inviting those members to meet in integrator showrooms. It encourages Azione Unlimited dealers to create specialized programs with the community at their discretion, forming a personal relationship between the community.”

Azione Unlimited spurred members to think about the importance of their role in the interior designer-architect-integrator dynamic. With technology driving design in recent times, dealers can illustrate how speakers can be hidden tastefully; the benefit of lights that can be programmed for circadian rhythm; the necessity of home networking, which supports working/learning from home; and much more. 

“Through education, community, business guidance and execution excellence, AADA makes the design and build community lives easier with powerful partnerships, new perspectives and timely education,” the Azione team released.