Jack Mayhugh: Being a Small Business in a Big Industry
Jack Mayhugh is a partner at AVTek Staffing and the Chair of the Independent Technical Services (ITS) Council. Learn more about what he has to say about the Independent Technical Services Council.
Q. What is the Independent Technical Services Council?
A. The ITS Council provides a forum for companies that are registered members of the Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association and whose primary business model and revenue stream is the supply of technical services, typically in the form of engineering services, project management, control system programming, installation labor, rack fabrication, field service, drafting and documentation services, live event staffing, recruiting and other similar technical services associated with the AV, IT and broadcast industries. My company, for example, operates under the temporary staffing model. The membership of the council is now close to 40 companies. ITS Council members do not enter into franchise agreements, dealer agreements or similar resale conditions with manufacturers, distributors or other channels associated with or intended for the sale or resale of any specific AV product or line of AV products.
Q. What is distinct about this segment of the industry?
A. We're all small businesses. Being a small company in an industry that is largely integrator or manufacturer based, you can easily get lost. We’ve pulled together to form this council to have more of a voice in the industry through the council and membership support of AVIXA.
Q. How does the council help, or how is it useful, to its members?
A. We look at it as power in numbers. In the past, when you went to the AVIXA website you couldn’t easily find my company or the majority of the ITS members because the website supported mainly the integrator and manufacturer model; this has changed, I believe. Now that we have this group we get more noticed and we have more recognition and clout. We are also very big on sharing information. Even though a lot of us do the same thing and we’re competitors, we end up getting more business out of it as a group than we would if we were on our own. It is very common to reach out to each other sometimes, particularly between territories. If we have opportunities in areas we do not serve, we send off an inquiry to the entire membership to see who can. We’re scratching each other’s backs, so to speak. I feel there is plenty of business for everybody.
Q. What are people in the Independent Technical Services Council passionate about? And what worries them?
A. We're passionate about the small business being noticed in the industry. I don’t think people realize how involved we are with these larger companies and their business models. We’re more entrenched in the AV industry than one might think, even though we're small businesses. I work with some of the largest integrators in the world; they rely on small companies such as ours to help provide them outsourcing that fits their needs, whether it's surge support when they're really busy or just part of their everyday business model. Our main concerns are not having a voice at the table and not being recognized in the industry.
Q. How long have you been involved with the ITS Council?
A. I've been involved going on six years. I came in a year or so after the council formed. This will be my second year as Chair; you can have a two-year tenure if you want. In fact, I’m going to be phasing out early because of family issues, but I’m still acting as Chair until a replacement is found. After that, I’ll still be taking part and very active in the council.
Q. What does the ITS Council hope to achieve in 2016?
A. Our goal every year is to be recognized and have exposure at the trade shows. For a couple of years we’ve had a booth at the InfoComm show; one year was sponsored by AVIXA, for which we are very grateful. Growing the council is important, so adding more companies is another goal; we're close to 40 companies now, and that's just scratching the surface of the small businesses that support integrators and manufacturers. We hope to grow to more than 100 companies over the next two years. More companies means more exposure and more new ideas. We have monthly conference calls with occasional guest speakers and we will continue to support training/education certification and encourage our members to get their staff CTS®, CTS-I and CTS-D-certified.
This past year we started some charity initiatives, which we will continue to develop in 2016. It was one of our members that suggested we look into giving back to the community. The East Coast companies are working with Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., on setting up a basic system to provide videos or interactive games and learning using smart technologies. Our West Coast group of companies are working on something similar, possibly for something like a youth center. The charity work allows us to give back, as we have the resources and relationships available to us already.
Q. What are some of the qualifications that make you suited for the role as Chair?
A. I've been in the industry for 22 years and I've been involved with AVIXA for that entire time. I believe in its education offerings, certifications and standards and I’m passionate about InfoComm and what it stands for. I have met a lot of great people over the years in the industry and especially at AVIXA-sponsored events.
Q. Tell us a little about your day job and what you love about it?
A. AVTek Staffing provides AV support for integrators, as well as facilities and managed services support and live events. We help employ people who aren’t employed or who are transitioning. I’m passionate about getting people to work and getting them a paycheck, and providing support for clients that need the help and understand the benefit of our business model. It’s a two-pronged reward: I get satisfaction from both sides. I do a lot of grass-roots recruiting and it’s very satisfying marrying the employee with the employer.
Q. What has been your career path and experience in the AV industry?
A. I started out in live events/rental and staging and I moved onto systems integration. I did live events, mainly hotel stuff, for three or four years. Then I got a job with an integrator, which I did for 12 years, and I've been in the staffing side of the business for about seven years. I’ve gained a lot of different views of the AV industry, which is very beneficial to the work I do now.
Q. What has been your involvement with AVIXA?
A. I've always been involved somehow. I try to attend most of the local events within my territory, which is the northeast corridor: D.C., New York and Boston. I was also briefly involved in the AVIXA AV Heroes program in 2012–13, which involved training veterans in a hands-on eight-week course in Fairfax to eventually test for their CTS and start a career in the AV industry. My role was placing them in jobs in the AV industry once they had completed the course. I started a veteran employment initiative. Several of the vets I worked with are in the industry and some are still on my payroll.
Q. What is your favorite InfoComm memory?
A. I have a couple of favorite memories. The first one was at the InfoComm 2012 in Las Vegas. The council was up and running quite strongly and we had an ITS Council booth at the show. The InfoComm executive staff presented us with a cake at our booth and we had a little cake-cutting ceremony. That was a pretty great moment. It was nice to get recognition of the hard work we’d put in to getting the council started and thriving. Believe me when I tell you there are a lot of people that worked long and hard to get this council off the ground, and the cake cutting on the show floor was a memorable moment for sure.
My second favorite moment would be at InfoComm 2015 in Orlando. We had actually obtained corporate sponsorship for the first time ever and that helped support the 2015 ITS Council Happy Hour. Full Compass Systems and FDW Corp. both jumped in with us and it made for an awesome time and a large turnout that year. There must have been 100+ folks that came through that afternoon and evening. The place was packed. It was another great milestone for the council.