Q&A with Randal Lemke, InfoComm
The executive director of InfoComm International sounded a cautionary note when the industry association released its 2008 Economic Snapshot Survey in September.
The executive director of InfoComm International sounded a cautionary note when the industry association released its 2008 Economic Snapshot Survey in September. While at the time AV professionals told InfoComm that business was still good, Lemke encouraged members to emphasize training and keep up with technology so they will be prepared if their fortunes turn.
Pro AV: A lot has happened in the economy since InfoComm conducted and released its Economic Snapshot Survey (see Marketwatch, right). How has your assessment of the market for pro AV changed in the last month or so, if at all?
Lemke: People are more worried than they were a few months ago, but they still have business in the pipeline. We have heard that the third quarter of next year might be weaker than previously expected.
Pro AV: What are your members telling you now about their businesses and the projects they're working on?
Lemke: We talk to members every day, and we have not heard of projects getting pulled back. That is a positive sign. However, there is some initial talk about projects that may not get out of the ground.
Pro AV: How are they preparing for the possibility that the economic downturn will affect the pro AV market more than it has so far?
Lemke: Members have been keeping in touch with their lenders to ensure that they have good lines of credit. Commercial AV pros have also continued to work tirelessly to meet customer needs and keep them happy. The members I speak with are not talking about laying off employees. In fact, some have spoken to me about hiring additional personnel for new positions.
Pro AV: InfoComm has been expanding successfully internationally. How does the AV market in the U.S. compare to what you're seeing overseas?
Lemke: Obviously there are some concerns about the international economy. But despite economic woes, our show in Russia has doubled in size since last year, our upcoming show in Hong Kong is the largest we have ever had in Asia, and exhibit space at Integrated Systems Europe is 90 percent sold despite the show floor being 30 percent bigger than last year.
Pro AV: How will InfoComm help its members weather a recession?
Lemke: At our next board meeting, InfoComm will discuss how the association can best serve the needs of our members during these challenging economic times. In the mean time, InfoComm continues to offer important business and training tools to keep members at the top of their game.