The Pro AV industry is loaded with talented people, and at SCN, we're proud to celebrate the achievements of the newest members of our Hall of Fame.
Hailey Klein may have never discovered the AV industry if things had worked out with Black’s Greenhouse and Nursery.
It’s not that she had issues with mulch or was reprimanded for a lack of sprinkler etiquette. As part of a five-month independent study project for her bachelor’s degree, she promoted an art show, complete with local artists and other vendors, to drum up some publicity for the Minnesota-based nursery. It was her first real-world experience in marketing—and it was a success.
Fast-forward after graduation: Klein was in an unfulfilling sales role when she was contacted by Andris Straumanis, her advisor and an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin River Falls, who had lined up the nursery project. Turns out he had also taught Kelly Perkins, an AV industry veteran who was working at Vaddio at the time and needed some help for her marketing team.
When she started, Klein knew almost nothing about the AV world. She recalled walking into the warehouse and seeing the company’s videoconferencing cameras for the first time. “That’s what we sell?” she asked.
Since then, of course, Klein has become a lot more tech savvy, though she continues to be impressed with pro AV. “It’s such a welcoming industry, and the technology we get to play with is the coolest,” Klein said. “It’s technology—it’s not going anywhere. And I really get to experience some jaw-dropping moments.”
Klein has fond memories of her almost five-year run at Vaddio, including almost two years as director of marketing and communications. “We just had the best team,” she said. “We were excited to go to work. It was such a great way to enter the industry, such a great company. I’ve got nothing but great things to say about it.”
Not only was Klein part of the company’s launch of its first USB cameras, but she was thrust into a more serious role during the company’s sale to Milestone. She had to adjust to more corporate, less creative responsibilities. “It became a lot about data and analytics,” she recalled, “but I think it was a good pivot in my career.”
That pivot eventually led to PSNI, an exclusive network alliance of elite AV integrators that works closely with a network of manufacturers, distributors, and service providers. When she started as director of marketing and communications, PSNI was a “30-year-old industry secret,” supporting fewer than three dozen integrators, also known as certified solution providers (CSPs). A year later, PSNI’s executive director, Chris Miller, made the decision to go international and announce the change at InfoComm 2017.
With a small team, Klein has led the effort to overhaul the organization’s messaging. “PSNI’s history in North America was heavily focused solely on its own integrators and preferred vendor partners,” she explained. “After going global, we had the opportunity to offer something more than ever before. We were always speaking to manufacturers and integrators, but now we were adding an end user audience. We started to shift our tone from what we have to why we have it. With 30 years of innovation behind us, we knew we were built for such a strong purpose.
“Built for you is our ethos. PSNI Global Alliance is everything you—whether you’re an integrator, manufacturer, or end user—need to communicate, collaborate, and inspire anywhere. That’s the problem that we’re solving. Whether a project takes you between floors or across borders, The Alliance is built to tackle that need.”
The organization remains selective; a very small percentage of integrators are accepted as CSPs. “Putting your business into someone else’s hands is a big deal,” Klein explained. “We make sure we get the right companies in our organization, and then establish a set of processes through unique PSNI-certifications to maintain quality. Everyone is brought in for a specific reason.”
Implementing the new marketing strategy has been a “cool, fun new challenge” for Klein—and another success. In less than five years, the PSNI Global Alliance has grown to more than 90 CSPs, including more than 50 offices throughout the EMEA region, 49 throughout APAC, and 120+ at its roots in US/LATAM, while working with 25 preferred vendor partners (PVPs). The Alliance has documented more than 900 projects completed together in both service and integration in 2021.
“The power of an alliance is that we can do more together than a single integrator can on its own,” she said. “Now, our goal is to be the number one global solutions provider in our industry. We are an alliance and proud of it.”