Commercial Integrator July 2021 - 48

INDUSTRY DEI
Audiotech and
Ownership's
ROLE IN DIVERSITY
Raymond Rooks is the owner of Audiotech, a resimercial
integration firm he founded when he was unable to break
the glass ceiling with his previous employment.
By Jonathan Blackwood
DEPENDING HOW YOU CHOOSE to look
at it, Raymond Rooks was forced into the
decision to start Audiotech, a boutique
resimercial integration firm in Richmond,
Va. founded in 2003, when he was unable
to achieve the management position he
deserved with his former employer.
While Rooks was able to escape his
adversity and find a positive outcome on
his own, the sting of being unfairly passed
over still sits with him despite his success.
Not that he regrets his decision to strike out
on his own, but who among us hasn't wondered
what might have been? Especially
when what might have been is so close to
what should have been.
Regardless, it was clear from an early age
that Rooks had the passion for technology
that leads so many to the AV industry.
A Passion for Technology
" I would hang out at the Radio Shack of all
places, " says Rooks. " The guys in the Radio
Shack knew my name. When the new Radio
Shack catalog came out, they would save it
for me. It broke my heart when Radio Shack
ran out of business because I should have
been doing commercials for them.
" That's how it all started: doing electronics
kits and building alarm systems out of
telephones in my bedroom. By the age of
12 or 13, I was installing car stereos. I used
to do those for friends of the family and
neighbors, " he says.
After high school, Rooks joined the Army
48
Commercial Integrator JULY 2021
where his main military occupational specialty
(MOS) was utilities equipment repair.
" In hindsight I would have been a communications
guy, which would have been
more closely related to what I do now, "
he says. " But I did get electronics training
through my time in the military. "
After the military, Rooks continued as a
reservist along with several jobs including
a part-time company he started on his own.
AV wasn't something he set out to do but
rather something he was drawn to through
his interested in technology.
" I kind of just stumbled upon it, " says
Rooks. " Once I moved to Richmond I would
see AV companies around. I would go to
those companies not looking to work there
but just to marvel at the things they had.
The first time I went to a company that had a
home theater setup it blew my mind. "
" I started my first company, Sound and
Secure, at 22 as a part-time business, " he
says. " I would install car stereos, CD changers,
cell phones back when they were permanent
installs in cars. Then it transitioned
to working for a music services provider
franchise company for a few years. That's
where I learned the commercial side. "
The Glass Ceiling
Along with learning the commercial side
of technology integration, Rooks learned
that the AV industry wasn't particularly
representative of people like him that
loved technology but came from a diverse
background.
" I was the only black person there out of
a team of installers, service techs, and office
people, " he says.
" They treated me well, although there
were some racial jokes and stuff like that
which I guess they didn't think was harmful, "
says Rooks. " A couple of times I didn't
think it was funny. Overall my experience
there was positive. When I left there, they
" I would go to [AV]
companies not looking
to work there but just to
marvel at the things they
had, " says Rooks.
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Commercial Integrator July 2021

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Commercial Integrator July 2021

Commercial Integrator July 2021 - Cover1
Commercial Integrator July 2021 - Cover2
Commercial Integrator July 2021 - 1
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