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With Retirement Ahead, Crestron’s Randy Klein Reflects on 30 Years

Crestron’s Randy Klein will be retiring in the autumn of 2021.
Crestron’s President and CEO, Randy Klein will be retiring in the autumn of 2021. (Image credit: Crestron)

In an industry governed by flux, there are notable constants. We’re grateful for them. We rely on their steadiness. Their unshakeable presence. Like lighthouses.

Crestron is such a beacon. With its dedication to quality—of its technologies and its relationships—Crestron has become a globally influential, billion-dollar company.

The name Crestron has become synonymous with AV, and it continues to set the pace for workplace technologies, automation, and unified communication (UC) solutions for organizations across virtually every commercial and residential market. Fifty percent of Fortune 500 corporations are Crestron clients, as are the top educational campuses, governmental and transport facilities, and more. Since its founding, in 1971, Crestron has been designing the software and hardware solutions that keep people connected—wherever they are. More than 90 offices across 100 countries back the company’s products, providing sales, concierge-level support, and training.

What I'm most proud of is that we that did it one product and one customer and one sale at a time."

Randy Klein, President and CEO, Crestron

How does Crestron, a name as familiar as the word audiovisual, manage to stay two steps ahead of the trends?

The culture of excellence starts at the top.

Crestron’s Randy Klein has been a tried-and-true guardian of the Crestron vision and mission for more than 30 years. The last eight years, Klein has served as president and CEO. With that record of success firmly in place, Randy Klein will be retiring in the autumn of 2021 on a high note. Daniel Feldstein, current chairman and COO and the son of Crestron founder George Feldstein, will assume the role of president and CEO.

With great pride in Crestron’s achievements, confidence in the future, and gratitude for his own AV journey, Randy Klein shared some gems of characteristically positive  wisdom.

Crestron founder George Feldstein (left), and Randy Klein, President and CEO.

Crestron founder George Feldstein (left) and Randy Klein, president and CEO. (Image credit: Crestron)

Culture of Dedication

The ripple effects of COVID have shaken industries large and small, but Crestron is in a “better place than it has ever been,” Klein said. The company thrived during the past 16 months, and they are eager to open new chapters of R&D and channel growth.

As the business landscape continues to shift, Crestron will maintain its commitment to engage with its community, invest, and iterate to meet the needs of an ever-expanding marketplace.  

“We Did It the Hard Way.”

With Randy Klein, there are no shortcuts. “I'm a 100 percenter,” he said. “This industry has been my life.”

For the past three decades, Klein has put his energy and passion into the daily work of growing Crestron—striving to build something truly remarkable. It was a tremendous honor to build on the legacy of George Feldstein, Crestron’s founder, who was “like a father” to Klein.

“Could I ever have imagined we would have achieved this?” Klein enthused. “Not in anybody's wildest dreams. I don't think anybody could. We went from from $1 million, to well over $1 billion.”

Klein shares the billion-dollar figure in context, not to focus on how massive Crestron has become, but of how the team did it. Every single employee at Crestron was crucial to the company’s success.

“What I'm most proud of is that we that did it one product and one customer and one sale at a time,” Klein noted. “Our core belief and our core principles have always been centered around products, people, our customers, and sales. We did it the old-fashioned way. Not through all this other fancy roll-up stuff. We never bought anybody in our life. We did it the hard way.”

Always Revolutionary

Klein fondly recalled early spirited “debates at InfoComm,” fielding complaints that he and Crestron were going to ruin the industry by letting the “computer people” join the AV party.

Here’s how he views it: “We were the first people to discuss digital. I say this in all humility—we singlehandedly transformed the analog industry into a digital industry.”

It was a passion—an obsession, arguably—for which Crestron was criticized. But the team trusted their instincts. They saw the momentum for digital and the migration to mobile devices as inevitable. And the industry is better for it.

 Always Moving Forward

Crestron’s knack for forecasting consumer habits and technology trends—from AV over IP to the cloud—will serve it well, after COVID and well beyond. Klein is confident that the Crestron mission and methodology will continue to carve the paths forward.

“Our resellers [are empowered] to support their users,” he stated. “It is another one of those ways we lead the industry. We help [our resellers] be efficient, help them ensure that they deliver installations that work, every time. That means they're keeping our customers happy. The technology involved evolves in many ways. Some of it is the physical box. Some of it is the software and the UI. And some of it is the tools for how you deploy and support that. It’s really us taking that next step into the future,” Klein said.

Balanced but Confident

Technology is one key to the puzzle, but nurturing talent, offering best-in-class technical training, and raising awareness are also important. Klein remarked: “I’m proud of our commitment and continual work on relationships. We are making huge progress. We've been out there at the forefront forever—teaching people how to program, moving from analog to digital, and the list goes on. But you don't get to do that without sticking your neck out there.”

As the president of Crestron for nearly a decade, Klein knows that embracing change carries risk. Through his tenure, though, he has maintained one solid, core principle: “Never bet the ranch on everything.”

With balance as a centering philosophy, Klein believes that to grow meaningfully, you must take “measured steps forward,” continually, day after day. The alternative is to “lose your balance,” he said.

It’s the delicate balance between smart investment and consistent innovation that has kept Crestron ascending.

Highlights

The return-on-investment equation is an easy one for Crestron. Two recent highlights tell the story. USC, for instance, is the company’s largest educational install to date, with 300 classrooms that are Flex-enabled. It’s also XiO Cloud-connected to 4,000 endpoints across campus.

[ USC Makes Campus-Wide Pivot to Hybrid Learning

In the enterprise, one look at the Williams and Corning companies reveal how Crestron is at the top of its field. Williams, a Fortune 500 company responsible for supplying 30 percent of the natural gas in the United States, has a full Crestron Flex/Microsoft Teams deployment. The installation is “spectacular,” said Klein.

All Heart

As with most profound changes, Klein’s retirement is “bittersweet,” he said.

“There are some days, I can't believe it. Some days, I am excited. But, as I tell everybody: I know I'm leaving the premises, in body, but never in heart and spirit.”

A luminous promise from an AV pioneer.

Randy Klein’s immense contribution will continue to make a lasting impression.


Related:

Randy Klein to Retire from Crestron

IMCCA Honors Randy Klein, Eric Yuan with Lifetime Achievement Awards

Crestron’s Klein Shares Roadmap at NEXT 2020


Cindy Davis

Cindy Davis is the brand and content director of AV Technology. Davis enjoys exploring the ethos of experiential spaces as well as diving deep into the complex topics that shape the AV/IT industry. In 2012, the TechDecisions brand of content sites she developed for EH Publishing was named one of “10 Great Business Media Websites” by B2B Media Business magazine. For more than 20 years, Davis has developed and delivered multiplatform content for AV/IT B2B and consumer electronics B2C publications, associations, and companies. From 2000 to 2008, Davis was the publisher and editor-in-chief of Electronic House. From 2009 to present, as the principal of CustomMedia.Co, Davis developed content plans and delivered content for associations such as IEEE Standards Association and AVIXA, content marketing for Future Plc, and numerous AV/IT companies. Davis was a critical member of the AVT editorial team when the title won the “Best Media Brand” laurel in the 2018 SIIA Jesse H. Neal Awards. A lifelong New Englander, Davis makes time for coastal hikes with her husband, Gary, and their Vizsla rescue, Dixie, sailing on one of Gloucester’s great schooners, and sampling local IPAs.