Dealerscope 2020 40 Under 40: Michelle Guss, Crestron Electronics
For a look at the rest of the 2020 40 Under 40 honorees, be sure to check out the 40 Under 40 homepage.
Job Title: Director, Business Development – Residential
Company: Crestron Electronics
Years in Industry: 13
Where You Grew Up, Live Now: Grew up in Laverne, CA; Live in Scottsdale, AZ
Education: University of Phoenix
Accomplishments: The biggest accomplishments in my career thus far have been creating our business development team and launching our design-build program. These two movements have allowed us to support our dealers in new ways by providing additional resources for them to work alongside the design-build community and ultimately, it’s introduced a whole new level of revenue growth for the company. Some of the other career accomplishments I’m proud of include having been one of the top producing RSMs for Crestron, as well as facilitating the process of getting all of our design showrooms off the ground and running while ensuring the trades were delivering on what was expected of them. I’m also a current CTA smart home division board member and I previously held the title of President of the ICAA – Southern CA Neo-Classicists, which was an experience that really helped me gain the knowledge I needed to get me to where I am in the design-build industry.
CE Industry Awards: I haven’t personally received any CE industry awards, but just this year Crestron Residential has won CE Pro Quest for Quality Awards in the Best Technical Support and Best Dealer Protection Policies categories, as well as Residential Systems’ Stellar Service Awards in the Customer Service/General Communications, Dealer Programs, Sales/Marketing Support, Shipping/Freight Policies, and Warranty/Return Policy/Tech Support/Web Portal/Online Tools categories. At ISE 2020, our team took home CE Pro Top New Technology Awards for Crestron Home and our 4-Series Media Controller.
What I Like Best About My Job: I love leading our business development team by analyzing different markets and building strategies for how Crestron can be effective in those markets. Crestron has really empowered me to make those important decisions while being able to guide our team. I also really enjoy working alongside the design-build community. I take pride in bridging the gap between Crestron’s technology and how it relates to the design-build industry. I’m fortunate to have access to so many resources and education programs that allow me to be creative in how I present the Crestron technology to them.
What I like Least About My Job: Although I have to present on a weekly or so basis in this position, I really struggle with public speaking. Even though I get really nervous before every presentation I make, it does push me to grow outside of my comfort zone which is something I appreciate.
Pastime/Hobby: Horseback riding and yoga
Last Book Read: Lean In – Sheryl Sandberg
Favorite Movie: Wild Hearts Can’t Be Broken
Best Concert: George Strait
My Hero, and Why: My hero is my dad because he exemplifies hard work and dedication. He was in a competitive field in his career and throughout my life I saw him always push himself to grow and expand his knowledge to succeed, an attribute that inspires me in my own career. He taught me from a very young age how to work hard and be resilient. He always supported and encouraged me and instilled in me the principle that if I set my mind to it, I can accomplish anything with hard work and dedication. My dad is my biggest fan and I still call him to hear his advice and guidance when I face challenges in my career.
Favorite CE Product: Not to sound biased, but my favorite CE product is Crestron Home. I am passionate about it because I am by no means a Crestron engineer, but Crestron Home is a product that is so simple, yet so intuitive, that I love being able to show it to my clients and explain, in terms we both understand, how it can deliver the smart home experience they are searching for.
If You Could be Anyplace Right Now, Where Would it Be and What Would You Be Doing?: I would love to be back in Rome, Italy, eating good food and exploring the beautiful history, art, and architecture.
Major Industry Problem and How to Fix It: A major problem our industry faces is the lack of knowledge and education resources provided to the public about the industry. It seems like our dealer base is always struggling to recruit quality professionals from every level, from technicians to programmers to project managers, and I think it’s because there isn’t a formal way for people to be exposed to our industry; many people just kind of fall into it. I think there needs to be a clearer path for getting the word out to people who might be interested in exploring the smart home technology space, because it’s a really exciting career.
I also believe we need to diversify a quality workforce. There aren’t a lot of women in our industry, and there isn’t a ton of diversity in race, either. I believe we need more diversity across the entire board. I think that by getting the word out, maybe through organizations like the CTA, we can make the masses more aware about the career opportunities available to them and that could help solve the industry problems we are currently facing.
What Makes You Believe the CE Industry Will Thrive in the Next 5 Years: This is a tough question to answer, given the current times, but as someone who works so closely with the design-build community, I see that the demand is growing. Today, technology is being considered very early on in the design process, where it previously was almost always an afterthought. Seeing technology being considered something that is more of a must-have for a home, than a nice-to-have, is something that is going to drive the demand further and it’s going to cause the CE industry to continue to thrive and get healthier. I also think that as the industry as a whole starts to find new ways to work with design-build professionals, they’re going to gain a level of comfort they didn’t have before and even when a client may not be requesting technology, they are going to feel more comfortable bringing it up to them as an enhancement to the structure of the home, similar to how they would bring up a particularly beautiful marble finish for the kitchen flooring.