The confidence to take a leap of faith—the readiness to jump from comfort to uncertainty when an opportunity arises—is what separates those who are remembered from everyone else. It’s why so many in the AV industry know Steve Greenblatt’s name.
The son of a businessman, Greenblatt grew up learning from his dad the merits of entrepreneurship. But with strengths in math and science, in high school he found a calling in physics. “The light bulb just went off, that this is something that I really love,” he said. “I knew at that point that engineering was something I wanted to pursue.”
He enrolled at Lehigh University, where he studied electrical engineering. Not set on any particular application for a career, he kept an open mind after graduation. That’s when he discovered a medium-sized technology company that was hiring: Crestron Electronics. “It was a tough job market and they gave me an offer,” Greenblatt said. “They were local to where I grew up, and I took it.”
Greenblatt started out doing control system programming for Crestron, which he said had only about 100 employees at the time. “They needed in-house programmers to work on projects because there weren’t that many people who understood how to program their systems,” he said. “They needed people for when integrators couldn’t do it themselves.”
This custom programming work suited him well, and eventually he came across a golden opportunity. “I saw a real demand for programmers, and I wanted to do programming on more of a personal basis,” he said. “I wanted to do something where I could offer myself to clients, to be able to invest in building relationships and figuring out how to do things more customized, more suitable to their needs.”
At the age of 26, Greenblatt took his leap of faith: he left Crestron and founded Control Concepts. “I benefited from the fact that I didn’t know what I was getting myself into,” he said. “I took the chance on doing it because I was confident in my skillset and I had people I was comfortable working with. The business side of it was completely learning on the job. I think that if I knew what I was getting into, I might have been more nervous about it.”
But his instincts paid off, and he found steady work. Control Concepts grew, and he began hiring employees to help handle the volume of customers. Eventually he was forced to make a difficult decision. “I had to switch gears and say that I could no longer do programming and run the business [at the same time],” he said. “I had to choose one.”
Greenblatt decided to become a full-time business manager, despite reservations that the longer he spent away from the hands-on side of the job, the harder it would be to go back if he wanted to. “But I found my passion in running a business and working with people, and still keeping my head in the technical side of things, even though I don’t do it,” he said.
Control Concepts continues to excel in the niche market of independent control programming, recently surpassing $1 million in revenue for the first time, and Greenblatt is committed to continually bettering both the business and himself through his involvement in organizations, and by simply listening to people.
“My favorite thing is the people and the passion they have for what we do, and also the relationships that you build,” he said. “There’s just this camaraderie and support system, and a real sense of belonging in the AV community.”
READ MORE: SCN Hall of Fame 2020