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Executive Q&A: Liberty AV VP Steve Cohan - AvNetwork.com

Executive Q&A: Liberty AV VP Steve Cohan

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NAME: Steve Cohan

COMPANY: Liberty AV Solutions

TITLE: Vice President of Business Development

OVERTIME: Former CEO of Intelix, Cohan started making the transition to wearing his current title last year when Intelix merged with Liberty. Today, he is a driving force behind continuing efforts clearly demonstrating that Liberty is not just about cable and wire anymore.

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SCN: What is your position, and what does it entail? What are your responsibilities?

STEVE COHAN: I played a founding role at Intelix. As of June 1 last year, Intelix became a division of Liberty AV Solutions. I’m now Liberty’s vice president of business development. First and foremost among my new responsibilities is to support a variety of marketing efforts regarding Intelix. These would include training, product development, and interaction with designers, installers, and industry groups like InfoComm and CEDIA. Beyond that I’ll be involved with special projects that are part of the One WESCO initiative. Liberty AV Solutions is a subsidiary of Communications Supply Corporation, which is owned by WESCO International, a publicly-traded Fortune 500 holding company headquartered in Pittsburgh, PA. WESCO is involved in a number of ventures involving AV, lighting, high and low voltage electrical systems, security, and data communications. The One WESCO initiative actively supports the entire portfolio of WESCO products and services to all of its customer groups.

SCN: How long have you been at this position?

SC: I officially took upon this role as of June 1 this year, but I started transitioning toward the job when the company was merged with Liberty last year. I’m still based in Middleton, WI at Intelix headquarters.

SCN: How has your background prepared you for this role?

SC: As an entrepreneur, I’ve dealt with managing the daily activities of a business at all levels. Now I’m bringing all the wide-ranging discipline and experience I’ve gained in the past to bear upon very specific tasks. Things I had to do before as an owner are being taken over by other people: The accounting functions, operational issues, etc. We have a top-notch support staff that is very good at what they do, and that allows me to focus all my energy on building for the future. Things are going more smoothly here than ever before. I have more time to interact with individuals within our industry. That’s the part I really love—getting out in the field and talking with designers, working with projects, helping people that need something that doesn’t exist in the market and finding a way to build it for them… I did all this before, but now I have more time to really roll up my sleeves and dialog with customers and industry people at an even deeper level. Everything in my background has prepared me for this moment. 

SCN: What are your short and long-term goals?

SC: My short-term goal is to continue to grow the Intelix brand in the world market. Secondly, I want to further integrate with related markets such as security, IT, and other crossover markets. The evolution within our industry is happening so rapidly that when we focus our attention on six months to three years out, that’s fairly long-term. Yes, we are cognizant of five and 10-year plans, however, we’re at a crucial moment industry-wide where the rubber really has to meet the road in terms of clearing up some questions concerning compatibility between things that are currently incompatible or challenging to make compatible. 

SCN: What is the greatest challenge that you face?

SC: Trying to make sense of the multiple standards that occur within our space. What I mean by that is all the industry standards out there, most of which currently fall among three groups: Those supported by organizations like InfoComm and CEDIA, those our customers have come to feel are the best to use, and those that have been adopted by overlapping industries such as those found in the data communications world. Given the realities of this current situation, there are three different perspectives on how to solve problems. Our biggest challenge is to make sense of it all for the AV consumer and insure that they aren’t bewildered by all the options available to them.

SCN: Where do you see your market heading?

SC: Like everyone else within the AV industry, our market is in a headlong rush to converge with the crossover markets I mentioned. Distinctions between these markets is becoming increasingly blurred. Savvy manufacturers going forward are going to be the ones who can adapt and help their customers make the transition successfully as well.

SCN: Are there new initiatives we are likely to see from Intelix?

SC: The answer to that is unequivocally yes! Obviously Liberty is no longer just a wire and cable company. Just by nature of the Liberty partnership with Intelix, they’ve entered a world of electronics manufacturing capable of matrixing, extending, and distributing signals. Within that space we will be focusing attention upon new efficient ways of doing more of that. We’ll be providing infrastructure solutions that may involve wire, fiber optic connections, wireless solutions, or even all of the above in a single application.

SCN: How can systems contractors better position themselves to profit from products and/or services Intelix has to offer?

SC: Become educated. Know what you don’t know before you start the project. You have to become knowledgeable about the concepts and the product’s use before going to the job site. At the end of the day it’s all about knowledge. Products are only products. How you apply products within a particular application is really the important part of the exercise. If you’re fully educated before going to the job site, you’re going to be able to make products do things customers never even thought of—you’re going to go way beyond expectations. This makes for happy customers, and the installer can get in-and-out of a project under budget and in less time.

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