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The Elephant in the Room

The U.S. economy can't get out of its own way. Banks are failing, jobs are going away, and, as of this writing, credit is harder to come by than it has been in a long time.

The U.S. economy can't get out of its own way. Banks are failing, jobs are going away, and, as of this writing, credit is harder to come by than it has been in a long time. Still, early results of a Pro AV 2009 forecast survey indicate more than half of the respondents expect more revenue next year than this year (and more revenue this year than last; full results will appear next month). According to InfoComm International's new Economic Snapshot Survey, 66 percent expect the coming months to be "strong" or "good" from a business standpoint (see Marketwatch, page 15).

<p xmlns="http://www.w3.org/1999/xhtml">Brad Grimes, Editor</p>

Brad Grimes, Editor

Credit: James Kegley

Can all this be true? Can the AV industry really whistle happily through what many experts say already is a recession, and what some call the most dire financial crisis since The Great Depression?

InfoComm's study, which is an excellent read, includes a section where survey respondents give written answers to specific questions. One of the comments from an AV pro who expects strong results in the future shines a light on the elephant in the room–the spectre of a challenging times ahead. Regarding his/her company's performance, this person wrote, "No end or let-up in sight ... yet."

Yet. Surely no industry will come through this economic downturn unscathed, right? Commercial AV may not take it as hard as its residential AV brethren, but it can't help but be affected when recession grips parts of its client base.

Maybe banks themselves have been some of your biggest clients in the past. Then you may know what Bruce Banbury of Video Systems of the Carolinas learned in September when one of his crews showed up at a Wachovia building under development in Charlotte, N.C. The install team and $67,000 worth of AV equipment were turned away. Now the job is being broken down and reassembled by a new consultant (see "Up Against It," page 14).

The word of the day is "prepare." It's what InfoComm executive director Randy Lemke said in an e-mail update announcing the otherwise rosy economic snapshot. It's what NSCA executive director Chuck Wilson told an assembly of AV pros in Washington at last month's Electrograph Display Technology Experience. Emphasize training, strengthen that balance sheet, and prepare for possible "changing tides, " as Lemke called it. Prepare.

Brad Grimes - Editor
e-mail: bgrimes@hanleywood.com



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