Three months worth of data may not paint the most complete picture, but looking at the year over year data, Azione offered a fair warning to its dealer members during the opening general session of its spring event here in Bonita Springs, Florida. During the first three months of the year, the group is tracking 2.5 percent below where it was during the first three months of 2018. To be fair, Azione dealers are coming off of an impressive 2018, in which they showed year-over-year growth in 11 of 12 months and finished the year up 14.63 percent over 2017.
So, for what it’s worth, they may be experiencing some leveling out of sales.
Still, the short trend here is one that Azione Unlimited founder and president Richard Glikes has foreshadowed for some time now—that this period of prosperity would at some point start to regress.
It’s with the recent data and his own experience in the business that Glikes decided to shift things up for this biannual dealer meeting. Azione events have always had a strong sense of networking and idea sharing, but this Fulgent Fling in Florida takes things to the next level with Brand Brainstorming sessions and small-group dining events that are intended to place dealers, vendors, and other attendees in more intimate settings—thus, more open and free—where they can learn from one another and talk about what works in their business and what doesn’t.
But beyond these fluffy and common themes, the group put a special focus on the types of technologies and relationships that it believes will help members get through any sort of market slowdown. In searching for those things, Glikes said he had to ask himself, “Where does the business start?” One answer to that question led him to the American Institute of Architects. AIA will be well represented at this show—particularly in a panel session moderated by yours truly and accompanying presentations.
“Architects don’t understand technology” from the point of view of the integrator and the full-blown automation systems and behind the drywall work that they’re doing today, he explained. And that fact ought to give both sides the impetus to develop a strong relationship so they can help one another early on in construction projects. Ensuring a strong relationship with that part of the homebuilding industry entails more than just educating architects on technology though. Glikes anticipates having to walk dealers through self marketing plans and more, in order to get them to be better partners with architects—and vice versa.
On the tech side, Azione will look to tie everything they’ve been preaching in their past few meetings together, with things like lighting, energy management, and more, playing an important role in expanding their dealers’ offerings. But they ought to be looking even further down the road, which is why Azione presented a panel on 5G technology and the changes it will bring. With all of the coverage we’ve given to the technology, it’s clear that manufacturers and telecom companies are ready to start pushing the 5G network—and some, rather misleadingly, already have. But as they push the idea and concept of 5G, consumers are going to start to have questions around what 5G is, what it’s capable of, and what that means for their in-home and on-the-go tech devices. The specs for the next-gen network are still months away from being signed off on, but nows the time to start thinking about how to address 5G with customers. As the panel discussion showed, manufacturers are already working on integrating a 5G product strategy, which means its high time for integrators to get themselves up to speed in order to prepare themselves and their clients for the next wave of networking technology.
So, while plenty of challenges certainly lie ahead for the custom integration dealer, there’s also plenty of opportunity. Azione, it seems, is set to address both here this week in Florida.