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CEA, CEDIA Form Coalition

CEA and CEDIA stepped up their cooperative efforts by forming the CEDIA-CEA Industry Coalition and creating a joint membership program that delivers new benefits to installers.

CEA’s TechHome division and CEDIA “share common goals but have unique strengths,” division chairman Duane Paulson said in explaining the two groups’ drive to increase their cooperation. “Integrator education is CEDIA’s strength, and market research is ours.”

Under the joint membership program, installer members of either association will be given the option of paying an additional $100 in annual dues. The additional dues will entitle current TechHome members to the discounts that only CEDIA members have enjoyed on CEDIA-sponsored training and installer-certification programs. TechHome members will also be able to access CEDIA’s legislative Web site and get CEDIA newsletters.

In return, CEDIA members will get access to all CEA market research conducted in the home automation, networking and distributed-audio industries. CEDIA members will also get TechHome’s quarterly publication and monthly e-newsletter.

Both associations will reserve the additional dues for special joint projects, including training programs and regular market research studies measuring the size of the custom-installation business. The first study might be finished as soon as mid-2004, said Kara Dickerson, senior manager for TechHome member relations. It will be based on manufacturer-reported sales data and a survey of installers, she said.

The coalition’s benefits will also extend to legislative lobbying, which CEA president Gary Shapiro said “will be strengthened through cooperation and a unified voice in Washington and state houses.” The two associations have collaborated in the past, most recently on last year’s defeat of a Massachusetts proposal strictly licensing low-voltage installers. Nonetheless, CEA offers legislative expertise on such topics as recording rights, said Kathy Gornik, chairman of the CEA board.

The program starts in the fourth quarter.

Between the two associations, about 2,800-3,000 installers are members, Dickerson said. About 65 percent of TechHome members are installers, but TechHome’s distributor and manufacturer members aren’t part of the coalition, she said.