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Home Technology Association Looks to Certify Top Integrators

The Home Technology Association is a new, independent organization created to educate and empower homeowners in their technology purchases, recognize exceptional businesses, and elevate the technology integration industry’s status and stature with a rigorous third-party certification process.

Founded by integration professionals and supported by industry veterans who serve on the HTA Board of Advisors, the Home Technology Association wants to serve as the custom integration industry’s version of the “Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval” for household goods, the GIA grading system for diamonds, or 5-star Safety Ratings for automobiles. An HTA Certification distinguishes the top 10 to 15 percent of integrators in any given U.S.-based market through a stringent third-party, 60-plus-point vetting process.

Taking what the group considers “highly valuable CEDIA technical knowledge and training certifications” to the next level, HTA Certified integration firms must consistently provide exceptional service in three categories: Technical Ability, Customer Service and Aftercare Support, and Reputation. Integration firms must pass a series of scoring factors that include having three consecutive years of successful business performance, structured customer service, and after-care support policies in place, and be able to supply endorsements from three industry manufacturers as well as three local industry professionals to qualify. Candidates must also not have any negative reports regarding financial history or stability, and work primarily in residential low-voltage systems or have a dedicated team within the company that does.

Led by former VIA International national marketing manager, Josh Christian, the HTA was created after receiving input from a board of advisors that, in addition to Clancy and Glikes, includes Frank Sterns, VP of A/V specialty/CI for Sony; David Weinstein, VP of residential sales for Lutron; Noah Kaplan, president of Leon Speakers; JC Murphy, executive VP of Savant; Bryce Judd, SVP worldwide sales for Control4; Jason Sloan, chief sales officer for Dana Innovations; and Jason Knott, VP of the CE/security group for EH Media.

The HTA was formed with the belief that relatively low barriers to entry in the residential low-voltage market have led to too many disreputable firms taking business away from quality integrators. And, with no third-party rating or endorsement system to classify and certify integration firms, consumers have been led to make decisions based on price alone, the group says.

The HTA seeks to end these challenges with a rigorous certification process designed to enhance the technology experience for consumers and give high-quality, HTA Certified integrators the leading edge in the marketplace.

“In an industry with no side rails or quality standards and easy access to products, what happens is chaos. HTA has developed standards to move our industry into one which imbues trust, standards, and regimen. It’s about time!” said Richard Glikes, president of the Azione Unlimited buying group and a member of the HTA board of advisors.

HTA has developed a proprietary technology budget calculator designed to educate consumers about how much it will realistically cost to fulfill their technology needs and give them the confidence they are contacting the right integrator for the audiovisual systems they both desire and can afford.

“I am excited that our industry is banding together to get behind the HTA certification system,” said John Clancy, VP residential sales for Crestron Electronics and a member of the HTA board of advisors and the CEDIA board of directors. “As a manufacturer and former integrator, I look forward to a future where consumers choose the right integrator the first time, and the ‘takeover’ project is a thing of the past.”

HTA Certified integration firms will carry the HTA Certified Mark of Excellence logo on their website, work trucks, business cards, and other marketing collateral and will, additionally, be listed on the HTA dealer locator.

As CEDIA exists to provide education, tools, support, and certification for business owners and technicians, the HTA’s mission is to certify and support technology integration firms based on tiers that represent the type of clientele and projects they excel in. HTA believes that this “complementary approach” will elevate the reputation of the industry at large while supporting HTA Certified companies with referrals and marketing tools.

“Having an organization such as HTA to institute a benchmark will pay dividends for the entire CI Community in the long-term,” Murphy said.

“If you look at the service industries, almost every other industry has some designation that separates the best from the rest. The home technology industry has never really had that distinction and, as a business owner, I’m looking forward to it,” concluded Travis Leo, CEO of Residential Systems Inc.