What #AVTweeps Are Thankful For in 2020

Give Thanks
(Image credit: Future)

2020 has been a rough year for all of us—personally and professionally. But there are always rainbows after every storm and our industry continues to move forward and discover new ways of innovating

With Thanksgiving 2020 around the corner, AV professionals reflected on the year and shared what they are thankful for in 2020.

Melody Craigmyle, Almo

Melody Craigmyle, VP of Marketing and Communications, Almo Corp. 

I’m thankful for new opportunities. While 2020 presented many roadblocks, AV has been an essential conduit for business, education, healthcare, socialization, worship, entertainment, fitness, and more. It’s hard to believe that we have been working, meeting and learning without stepping foot in an office or on a tradeshow floor for a majority of the year. We’ve even figured out how to “beam” ourselves into events and meetings via holographic telepresence! The opportunities will only continue to expand for our industry.

Lisa Barlow Flournoy, DVIGear

Lisa Barlow Flournoy, Marketing Support Manager, DVIGear

Few of us could have anticipated how profoundly challenging this year would be. True to the resilience of the human spirit, we have found a greater sense of community—even in isolation. Events and opportunities that demanded foot traffic heretofore have opened doors by going virtual. We’ve seen this from exhibition hall to museum to classroom. While family and friends have been shut in, we have discovered that videoconferencing technology is not that difficult to master and is as, or more, rewarding than our streaming services. While admittedly we lose much in forsaking face-to-face interaction, there has nonetheless been a proliferation of creativity activity, from dining room table to corporate halls. I am grateful for what joins us together, and the many opportunities we have had to grow in compassionate understanding of one another this year.

Andrew Gross, Crestron

Andrew Gross, Director of Sales, UC Enterprise, Crestron

I am thankful for my work family at Crestron, and all of the relationships I have been able to build with our partners and dealers. Through the power of technology, we have all been able to effectively collaborate and connect people even through the most challenging of times. The AV industry has overcome many obstacles, and I am honored to be a part of such a dynamic, hardworking group that has made a difference for so many people.

Rachael Harris

Rachael Harris

Rachael Harris, Service Assurance Engineer, Large Financial Institution

I am thankful for the communities that I have become aligned with through the experience of this extremely unpredictable year. Mandated distancing allowed me to get to know the friends, family, and colleagues in my immediate sphere more intimately. This has also been a time for building new relationships. "Going virtual" in 2020 opened an opportunity to meet, see, and hear the thoughts of AV pros who I would not have been exposed to in my normal routine. I have made some great friends, found a brain trust, and even have the opportunity to share my own thoughts. I am so impressed by the creativity, brilliance, and energy of my AV industry colleagues. I am very grateful to be a part of this community and look forward to meeting, hearing, and contributing much more.

Paul Richards, PTZ Optics

Paul Richards, Chief Streaming Officer and Director of Business Development, PTZOptics & HuddleCamHD

The pandemic created urgent demand for the hardware supporting video conferencing, broadcasting, and livestreaming. I am grateful for our shipping and operations teams for rising to the challenge and fulfilling the high demand for our cameras and accessories. Some days we are moving more product than our warehouse can fit! I am also grateful for our live streaming studio and producer Mike Luttermoser. Combined with Mike’s stellar production capabilities, we have been able to use the studio and our hardware solutions to stay connected with our customers—recording tutorial videos, broadcasting our weekly shows, and even live streaming events. 

Tomer Mann, 22 Miles

Tomer Mann, EVP, 22Miles

This year, I’m thankful that I have had the opportunity to help keep people safe amidst the pandemic through my work with 22Miles. When the pandemic first struck, we were able to quickly pivot our business to provide necessary and beneficial applications, such as our TempDefend thermal screening solution and Protection-as-a-Service software suite, addressing safety, hygiene, and continuity to help keep people, businesses, and facilities of all types safe and support re-opening measures. We’re looking forward to continuing to develop new technology to help promote safety and wellbeing worldwide.

Cory Schaeffer

Cory Schaeffer

Cory Schaeffer, Director of Alliances and Market Development, QSC 

I am thankful to be a part of such a supportive and connected industry. Over these past several months, I’ve witnessed an overwhelming level of support among my AV peers, and it’s very encouraging and heartwarming to watch—whether it’s reaching out to someone that lost their job to offer help, guidance, or even just to listen; offering sympathy to those that have lost a loved one; listening to peers as we deal with the unrest of a divisive world; or even to encourage connections through virtual happy hours or #AVFitness. 

This year has shown the best of our industry! We have leveraged technology to stay connected, create an even stronger AV community, and inspire each other on a more personal level. It’s been a challenging year, and yet we’ve seen so many people rise up with strength and support. For that, I’m thankful.

Tim Albright, AVNation

Tim Albright

Tim Albright, Founder, AVNation

Each year, we sit back and reflect on what we are thankful for. This might come as a bit of a surprise, but I am genuinely thankful for the year 2020. No, I don’t wish the hundreds of thousands who have perished from the COVID-19 virus. The challenges, though, has forced me to rethink, re-invent, and get creative. It’s also forced some interesting mental and physical changes. Sitting here on the precipice of 2021, I can confidently say I can’t wait to see what next year has in store ... 'cause we’re going to handle it. 

Joe Way

Joe Way

Joe Way, Ph.D., CTS Director, Learning Environments, University of Southern California

I am thankful for the connection that I have made with both my AV family and higher ed colleagues. This pandemic has brought us closer to one another in ways we couldn’t have imagined pre-COVID. The care, love, uplifting, and unity of one another has inspired me to want to give back to our AV community even more than before. I know I couldn’t have made it through this without you all, and it’s the strength I get from you that I am able to use to build up my own staff, for whom I am also extremely grateful for. 

Steve Durkee, Legrand AV

Steve Durkee

Steven Durkee, President, AV Division, Legrand

Although it’s been a difficult year for many, I’ve been very thankful for our team at Legrand and our partners this year. The character, perseverance, and focus of our team—specifically over the past six months—has created many reasons to be thankful despite the challenges. Everyone rallied around the efforts to ensure our teams’ safety and maintain our ability to continue to deliver essential services. And we couldn’t have done it without the support of our partners; it was really impressive to see our relationships get even stronger when the going got tough, that’s when you know you have true partnerships. I’m also thankful for the strength of some of our categories this year and the future opportunity in AV—not only will some of the categories that realized growth during COVID evolve into long term market growth opportunities, I’m confident the AV market is positioned to rebound in general. 

Katie Rogina, Spinitar

Katie Rogina

Katie Rogina, Marketing Manager, Spinitar

In a year that has brought so much uncertainty and doubt, 2020 has given me plenty to be thankful for… In March, when the economy tanked, my employer, Spinitar, fought hand-over-fist to keep their employees employed, and succeeded. In July, my husband and I welcomed our second beautiful baby girl, Dani Jo, who was healthy and bright-eyed from the moment she was born. In October, with the help of fellow #AVTweeps, family and friends, Spinitar raised $55,000 in charitable donations for City of Hope, a leading cancer research hospital in Southern California. Overall, while 2020 left a negative impression in our history books, it wasn’t too bad to me. Today, more than ever before, I am thankful for my family (fellow Spinitarians included), faith and friends. 

Mark Corbin

Mark Corbin

Mark Corbin, President, Vanco Intl.

First and foremost, I’m thankful for the health and wellness of our staff here at Vanco International. I am also grateful to contribute to an industry that continues to thrive, even when faced with the many challenges presented this year. At Vanco, our whole team—from product management, to customer service, to tech support, and everyone in between—works exceptionally hard to provide creative solutions for our supportive and loyal customers, and we pride ourselves on delivering products that aid in helping our dealer community continue to build on their successes year after year.

Lauren Simmen, SurgeX

Lauren Simmen

Lauren Simmen, Director of Marketing, SurgeX

I’m thankful that this is the industry I get to stand on the front lines of every day. That pandemic revealed just how collaborative, caring, and creative a group the AV industry is. Dealers, manufacturers, and even competitors have all come together to share best practices on how they’re helping each other stay afloat and relevant throughout rapidly changing market conditions. Masks, travel restrictions, and stay-at-home orders may have us apart but the camaraderie and compassion that we have shown for one another from afar, is something for which I am truly grateful.

Pippa Edelen, Avocor

Pippa Edelen

Pippa Edelen, Director of Global Marketing, Avocor

I’m thankful to be able to be a part of an industry, and a company, that values keeping the global workforce safe during these unprecedented times. The team at Avocor has worked tirelessly this year to develop products that support a hybrid approach to sustaining the ongoing workplace, classroom, and office culture shifts. We understand that the future of work looks a bit different than it once did, and in order to stay connected in today’s market, businesses—large and small—need to invest in collaboration technology to support distributed teams and students.

Dennis Holzer, PowerHouse Alliance

Dennis Holzer

Dennis Holzer, Executive Director, PowerHouse Alliance 

I am truly thankful for my mentor who guided me into the AV industry in the first place. As a result, I have developed many strong relationships across my career that I am grateful for—especially those who make me look good! 2020 has been a year of "If it can happen, it will happen.", and the PowerHouse Alliance distributor members have not missed a beat. Never once, have I heard “Why us?” or “Why now?” from anyone across our team. The members have come together to mind share, innovate, and adapt procedures and practices in order to protect our employees while continuing to fulfill orders efficiently and offer exceptional service to our dealers.

Paul Hales, Theory Audio

Paul Hales

Paul Hales, President and Product Designer, Theory Audio Design

We started shipping the first seven Theory products just ahead of the pandemic—not an ideal time to launch a new brand! For that reason, I am especially grateful for the stellar Theory team and all of our reps, distributors, and dealers that have worked so hard to support the brand’s mission to change the commercial audio landscape in 2020 and beyond. Via a thoughtful ecosystem of high-utility products, we aim to bring a new level of performance and product refinement to the commercial AV segment and it wouldn’t be possible without these dedicated partners.

Megan A. Dutta

Megan A. Dutta is a pro AV industry journalist, and the former content director for Systems Contractor News (SCN) and Digital Signage Magazine, both Future U.S. publications. Dutta previously served as the marketing communications manager at Peerless-AV, where she led the company’s marketing and communications department. Dutta is the recipient of AVIXA's 2017 Young AV Professional Award and Women in Consumer Technology's 2018 Woman to Watch Award. Dutta is co-founder of Women of Digital Signage, an organization designed to provide a pathway to promote networking, mentoring, and personal growth.