I believe in being loyal. When I was a TD, I built several key relationships with vendors, manufacturers and reps and funneled as much business as I could to them. Rather than shop every single purchase, I went to one of my two vendors, got a price, and if it felt right, I placed the order. Same with gear. Once I found a company that made products that worked for me, I stuck with them. We had the same make and model of wireless mic in every ancillary room in the building. We used the same DSPs, the same speakers and the same accessories.
There is a lot to be said for being loyal to brands. It makes support a lot easier because most companies do things similarly, which makes problems easier to figure out. You have to stock fewer parts. And when you buy more from a company, they take better care of you, being a larger customer. So being loyal is a good thing. Until it isn’t.
One of the challenges of being loyal to a brand is that times change. So do companies. Sometimes one company stays put with a given piece of technology while the rest of the world is busy developing newer and better versions. The eponymous blue personal mixer is a classic example. When it first came out, it was the shizzle. But over time, more companies entered the market and produced superior products. Locking into that brand for the long haul would have meant you were not getting the best product in the category after a while.
Other times, companies change. Or more correctly, the ownership does. More than a few companies have been sold and the new owners are not nearly as passionate about creating great products as the old ones. More often than not, the new owners are really interested in squeezing out as much profit as possible, which may be great for the owners, but less great for the users.
We’re starting to see this with several big companies right now. Products that were once the standards of quality in the industry are now looking less shiny as the new owners off-shore production in the name of lower prices and speed. Lower prices are good. Lower quality, not so much.
Sometimes a product or company that has had a bad rep turns around and starts making great products. I’ve seen too many people pass up on great products because they have a brand anti-loyalty. They so dislike the brand, they can’t bring themselves to consider that it’s a new day. Don’t miss out because of past experiences.
Stay Loyal, But Evaluate Often
What’s a tech guy to do? My advice is to stick with what works, until it doesn’t or something better comes along. It’s important to be continually scanning the horizon to see if the sands have shifted. The world of AVL technology is a competitive and rapidly developing one. New companies and products come along all the time. It’s important to keep an eye on what is working and what is not.
Don’t assume the company or product line you loved 5 years ago is still the front-runner. Also, don’t assume that a company that made sub-par products 5 years ago is still doing that. Either or both may be true, but don’t assume that because it was, it is. Don’t miss a great advance in technology because you are clinging to the past. You’ll not be serving yourself or your church well.