Commercial Integrator March 2022 - 33

which reared its head in Q1/20. Earlier
that same quarter, Starin had had its eyes
on opening an office in the United Kingdom
to broaden its portfolio of offerings
outside the U.S. Following what had
been a very strong 2019, the company
was undoubtedly in growth mode. Starin
sought funding to enable European
expansion, forging strong ties with the
Midwich Group along the way. Ultimately,
Midwich acquired Starin on February
6, 2020. A bit more than a month later,
the world locked down as the COVID-19
pandemic descended.
" Twenty-twenty was hard, " Swartz
acknowledges. " We pivoted quite a bit, as
all the industry did. Big rooms...live events
- they all disappeared. " These trials
proved clarifying for Swartz and the value-added
distributor he would soon come
to lead. The challenging year revealed that
Starin should focus on its core strengths -
namely, corporate unified communications
(UC) and education - while pulling back
from other, less distinguishing ancillary
areas. " Twenty-twenty-one needed to be
a pivoting year, " Swartz explains. " It really
came back to, first, what are we best at as
a company? What is our identity? " And as
he stepped into the CEO's office when the
calendar flipped, those directional choices
laid in his hands.
A Reimagined Line Card
You might think that a young, new CEO
entering the position fresh off a challenging
pandemic year would proceed with
caution, but Swartz knew he had the
support of Midwich management and,
even more importantly, the rank-and-file
Starin team. Thus, Swartz was bold. " If
we were going to focus on those two areas
[corporate UC and education] and do
a really damn good job internally and for
our customers, and provide my people
that focus, something had to give, " he
acknowledges. The answer, he decided,
was to look at Starin's line card and
decide what contributed to its strengths
and what distracted from them. " At the
end of the day, " Swartz continues, " we
ended up walking away from a significant
percentage of our existing business
with brands that we had maintained and
commercialintegrator.com
served for many years. "
Brand changes of that magnitude can
be scary - after all, there's no instantaneous
way to fill that vacuum - but Swartz
and his team knew it was the right decision.
" We want to be the best at being a
UC and education provider, " he stresses.
" You can't be the best at everything. "
Thus, over the course of 2021, Starin
rebuilt its line card with a more tailored
jobs throughout the transition period.
Indeed, he says with pride that Starin did
not terminate any team members either
because of the Midwich acquisition or
because of line-card turnover. Part of that
commitment to Starin's associates springs
from Swartz's recognition that executive
management doesn't have a monopoly
on good ideas. " I will never say I have
all the right answers, " he says. " What I
will do is find people who have the right
answers and make sure they're optimized
to work together. " And it's not just about
hanging onto existing talent, either. Starin
grew its workforce by almost 30% last
year; what's more, this year, budgets have
been allocated for another 30% (or larger)
workforce expansion.
'It really came back to,
first, what are we
best at as a company?
What is our identity?'
- Bobby Swartz, CTS,
CEO of Starin
offering aligning with its core strengths
and the work-from-home revolution. This
agility not only fit Swartz's bold vision
but also reflected the heart of Jim Starin's
approach. The company's founder, Starin
long instilled a sense of adaptability, overseeing
its transition from being a hybrid
rep firm/distributor to a true value-added
distribution company.
Channeling another core value of Jim
Starin's - his commitment to associate
welfare - Swartz and the management
team (including CFO Nick Parisi and
COO Bill Pak) protected associates'
A Sense of Gravity
Swartz brings a sense of gravity to the
CEO's office, recognizing that his choices
have substantial reverberations. " These
are my decisions to make, " he says, " and
it's also my responsibility if I make the
wrong ones. " He handles that stress by
relying on his gut - a strategy that has
proven wise over the years - and by looking
to Starin's motto as a lodestar: " Care
more and be better. " That's care for the
company's associates, of course, as well
as for its vendor partners and customers;
however, it's also care for the welfare of
the industry and the societal ecosystem
within which commercial AV exists. " AV's
a small industry in the world, but it's important
that we do our part to have some
sustainability, " Swartz explains. " Give
back - be able to highlight other causes. "
Later on this year, at InfoComm 2022,
Starin will further reveal that side of itself.
For now, the company has moved past
a challenging 2020, surged through a
2021 characterized by immense organizational
change and set itself on a course
for growth throughout the year ahead.
" What's on the horizon is more listening,
more conversations and then more adapting, "
Swartz concludes.
These fresh, vibrant perspectives have
started to shake out the cobwebs of our
industry. And, in so doing, they've begun
to pave the way for an exciting, profitable
future. CI
MARCH 2022 Commercial Integrator 33
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Commercial Integrator March 2022

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Commercial Integrator March 2022

Commercial Integrator March 2022 - Cover1
Commercial Integrator March 2022 - Cover2
Commercial Integrator March 2022 - 1
Commercial Integrator March 2022 - 2
Commercial Integrator March 2022 - 3
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