Growing-up as hi-fi geek in love with audio, Jon Sidwick got his start in the industry selling retail AV products. When he arrived at Sharp Electronics in 1987, Sidwick started to get involved in the B2B side of the company. He ran its projection division, selling LCD projectors and other products he joked people might not believe were real with how technology has progressed since. “I started to really love the pro AV market because it was something that was new, emerging, and it was in a tremendous amount of development. And there was a tremendous amount of excitement around what it could do,” he said.
Watch the video below to learn more about Jon Sidwick.
After leaving Sharp in 1997, Sidwick fell in with what was then a small distributor, Maverick AV Solutions. With Sidwick’s love of building businesses and his skill at developing new business lines, he spearheaded the launch of a plasma screen business, reworked the projection business, and helped the company reverse into tech data. His efforts combined with those of his dedicated team members ended up growing Maverick into a global firm and the largest projection distributor in Europe.
In 2015, Sidwick added a new layer to the Maverick business, unified communications and collaboration (UCC), which opened up a new slate of solutions. After four or five years of steady growth, Maverick became one of the largest AV distributors, with close to $1 billion in revenue.
After growing this small business into an AV giant, Sidwick realized he really doesn’t like the sort of challenges inherent in running a big business. “You get to a point where you say, Do I really want to spend the next 10 years just growing the same thing? Or do I go back to the days I really loved when I was with a small business and small team where we could be agile, creative, entrepreneurial, and adjust the business to what the market requires?”
In August 2020, Sidwick joined Collabtech Group as president and has been able to focus primarily on services and solutions around UCC. The company has worked with leading brands including Microsoft and Lenovo, as well as more traditional AV brands.
During the pandemic, the deployment of new meeting rooms has obviously slowed, but Sidwick says Collabtech has been busier than ever with the virtual side of the business. “If you look at our virtual business, it is now 90 percent of what we’re doing, where before it was 2 to 3 percent,” he said. He also looks at the pandemic as a possible positive for future growth within the industry. “COVID-19 is kind of like a forest fire. You need a forest fire to initiate change. When it comes through, it is horrible, but it results in a refresh that is incredible. It allows things to grow.”
With forest fires in mind, he feels that areas of the industry that might get wiped out during the pandemic were either on their way out already or needing to be phased out. He hopes that what is left will be able to grow back stronger than before. “Right now, we’re busy changing. We’re building a business that I feel will be set for unbelievable growth as we start going back to work.”
Sidwick can’t speak about his career without talking about his relationship with AVIXA, an organization he described as “like a traveling companion with me for most of my journey.” Starting with AVIXA as a member of the European Council, Sidwick went on to serve on its Leadership Search Committee and is currently serving as vice chairman of the board of directors. Sidwick said it provides another side to his work life, but also allows him to be involved in the direction and development of this industry. “It’s something I’m really privileged to be involved with.”
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