Name: Mike Brandes, CTS
Title: Product Manager—Q-SYS Video Solutions
Location: Denver, CO
Overtime: When he’s not working, Brandes likes to disconnect and go outdoors—sometimes even taking an 8-mile hike in the morning before he gets on the plane to InfoComm.
Why You Need to Know Him: Mike Brandes, CTS, is a transformer, and not the kind you’ll find in a Hollywood blockbuster. “I’m incredibly passionate about solving problems and transforming things in general. The AV industry is no different,” said Brandes, age 32. “The industry affords a ton of opportunity for people, but comes with its own pain points and threats.”
It’s Brandes’ passion for problem-solving that allows him to work alongside the AV community to bring new ideas to the table and new products to market. As QSC’s product manager for Q-SYS video solutions, Brandes spends the majority of his time speaking with customers—from tech managers to integrators—to discover pain points in installations, and then working with a team of engineers to develop “products, features, and services that can alleviate these pain points and grow QSC as the leading provider of end-to-end audio, video, and control systems for professional AV.”
Starting Point: Brandes started out studying exercise science in college, but moved to audio production. He graduated during the recession and took the first full-time job he could find, as a technical director for a children’s choir where he cut his teeth setting up sound systems and running concerts around the country.
After a year of non-stop traveling, Brandes found a more stable position doing classroom technology support at a university in South Florida. “Taking that job really brought me into the complete fold as the AV industry is concerned,” he said. “I worked with video distribution systems, large- and small-scale audio systems, as well as lighting.
“The university job wasn’t the most rewarding job financially, but having the opportunity to learn so many skills in a short period was very rewarding and set me up for success.”
Those skills would later help Brandes earn his AVIXA CTS certification in 2013. He’s not embarrassed to admit that he “barely passed” the exam and was concerned about some of the questions—particularly those on VGA and S-Video. He reached out to the team at AVIXA who offered him a volunteer position working with a group writing CTS exam questions. “I jumped at the chance and haven’t looked back,” Brandes said.
Factor It In: Brandes believes that AV industry gripes and problems boil down to two things: issues that go unresolved and poor relationships. “If you can solve someone’s problem, or form a relationship with that person and provide value in that relationship, you’re going to go a lot further in becoming a valuable partner than anything else you can do,” he said. “As a former end user, getting a nice steak dinner from a rep was something, but I only bought from integrators and manufacturers that I had a good working relationship with and whose products and services solved my issues.
“For an industry that seems incredibly focused on prices and shrinking margins, the biggest way to overcome that is to have a relationship that supersedes a transaction.”