Name: Cory Schaeffer
Title: Vice President of Sales, West
Company: AMX by HARMAN
SCN: What is your position, and what does it entail? What are your responsibilities?
Cory Schaeffer: I’m the vice president of sales, West, for Harman in the Corporate, Education, and Government Business Unit. I lead a team of professionals made up of regional sales managers, business development managers, and some independent reps.
I am responsible for all sales in the Western United States in the Corporate, Education, and Government Business Unit. I’m responsible for the sales numbers and for motivating, leading, and developing the sales team in the West. Our team interacts with the dealer channel, as well as end users to pull through the channel.
SCN: How long have you been at this position?
CS: I started in this role July 6th.
SCN: How has your background prepared you for your new role?
CS: Although I’m new to AMX and Harman, I’m not new to leading people. In every role I’ve had, I have lead a team. My background has always been building a team from the ground up, and in this role, I have an established team. By working with an existing team, it’s somewhat easier, and I’m able to hit the ground running. I’m known for being entrepreneurial, which will serve me well in this new position as we have a lot of work to do. AMX has changed greatly over the years, and with our recent acquisition of SVSi and being folded into Harman Professional, it’s like starting a new company. We are well positioned for serious growth.
SCN: What are your short- and long-term goals?
CS: In the short term, I’m getting to know my team and my customers, to understand what works for them and what doesn’t. My short-term goals are to remove any barriers for them and to help them grow. Our organization is changing and growing, and this lends to great opportunity for our team members and our channel partners. We have a ton of resources to draw from. I want to get these resources to be better known.
Our company has gone through a great deal of change and there is more change coming. So in the long term, we want our customers to have one point of contact, and we want to be faster and more agile in helping our system contractors in how they do business with us. Our team now offers video, control, and audio in our verticals, and long term, we need to do more to earn more of this business. We are often viewed as just control, but with Harman Pro and SVSi, we are so much more.
SCN: What is the greatest challenge that you face?
CS: Within our company, it’s helping my team adapt to change. I see my role as helping the team to understand why change is necessary and where they fit within it. We’ve evolved and there is so much more to AMX than most contractors know. Getting the message of today out to the channel is my greatest challenge.
Another challenge I face is breaking people’s habit: i.e. some contractors do not consider us because they are comfortable with Crestron or Extron, and making a switch means that they need to invest time to learn about the company and our solutions. My goal is to make it easier to do business with us and to help shorten the learning curve by having them reach out to our team for assistance. We have a team of professionals who want to help the channel, and when leveraged, add great value to our partners.
SCN: Where do you see your market heading?
CS: I see opportunity with AMX, SVSi, and all Harman brands, as we are poised to take advantage of these opportunities and meet the concerns of the end users. We now have many solutions to get our foot in the door. Within my team, we focus on corporate, education, and government markets, and the IT teams within each of these are often the decision makers.
With AV systems going on the network, security is a key concern for IT. Many of us remember Target, Sony, and even recently within our own government, there were security breaches and risks to individuals’ identities. With the verticals we focus on, security has to be considered when they are making decisions as to what AV systems sit on the network. IT professionals tell us that this is a major concern, and they know that we understand it.
SCN: How can systems contractors better position themselves to profit from products and/or services that AMX by Harman has to offer?
CS: At AMX, we offer many tools and services. One of which is RPM, which is an amazing tool for programming systems. This tool allows system contractors to do more systems faster. Often system contractors want to do custom programming, which we also support; however, there are many projects where using a tool like RPM will serve them better. The RPM tool has thousands of devices and the code to control them, and to the end client, they want to know whatever is programmed today will serve them long term, even if they change out a display or other device. With RPM, the contractor can serve the client without the requirement to have to send out a technician to reprogram the system just because the client swapped out a simple display. RPM is in the cloud and more and more devices are being added all the time.
Now that we are Harman, we can provide video, control, and great audio while having them all work well together. We offer much more value to the contractor today because we understand everything that goes into a system they are designing. Having one point of contact as a resource can be of great value. We bring more to the table than ever before and have many tools. This company offers so many tools; in fact, I’m still learning all that we have. The greatest tool I’ve seen that system contractors can leverage is our knowledge of IT and the concerns of the IT professionals.
Kirsten Nelson is editor-at-large of SCN.