Emerald EVP Brian Pagel on Fostering Design and Technology Relationships

By Danielle Karr | Posted August 30, 2019

When it comes to bringing the design-build communities and the technology communities together, Brian Pagel is one of the forerunners of the emerging dialogue. As the Executive Vice President of Emerald Expositions, he is directly responsible for a growing portfolio of events, publications, and online brands focused on residential connected technologies, kitchen and bath design, and paving maintenance. An active volunteer with both the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) and the International Association of Exhibitions and Events (IAEE), he is also a frequent industry speaker, blogger, and guest columnist. Pagel will be one of the expert panelists on the Women in Consumer Technology Panel at CEDIA to discuss the necessary intersection of the design-build community with smart home professionals, and so we sat down with this industry innovator to learn more about his mission to facilitate necessary conversations and collaboration between design, construction, and technology.

What are your goals in bringing the design-build and technology communities together? 

I have been at the helm of the residential design business at Emerald dating back to 2008. Specifically, I have responsibilities for the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show and KBB Magazine. Even prior to acquiring CEDIA and CEPro, I was a regular attendee at the Custom Electronics Design and Installation Association (CEDIA) Expo. The National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA), owners of the Kitchen and Bath Industry Show (KBIS), and CEDIA have had a longstanding relationship and have collaborated on a number of activations, including the Collaboration Station, which was a joint effort between CEDIA, NKBA, and National Association of the Remodeling Industry (NARI) to promote a strong working relationship amongst the trades. My ultimate goal remains the same, which is to help bring the design and custom electronics worlds together. Doing so, of course, has a number of positive outcomes for the CEDIA community, design community, and the consumer/homeowner.


How do you see trade shows and other events as a space to start these dialogues?

I see this taking place through immersive and curated experiences that continue to keep the topic top of mind. However, it goes well beyond that, because the show is really the culmination of months and months of planning. For this to really make an impact on elevating this topic, it is going to take a 24/7/365 approach. This is where our media platforms like KBB and CEPro, along with our social media assets, will play a very active role in the conversation.


How do you see these audiences learning about the right shows or events for them?
In my opinion, there is no shortage of ways that the community will learn about events covering this subject matter. Methods will include traditional forms of marketing, conversations taking place on social media, coverage in the media, and through peer-to-peer conversations. From the Emerald perspective, this is where we plan to leverage the depth of our databases in both the CE and design communities. In both instances, we have strong media platforms and robust social communities that will, in many cases, become evangelists for these efforts.


What would you say is one of the biggest things you wish the design-build community and smart home professionals knew about working together?

I think it is critical that we work to elevate the CEDIA community and integrators as a trade. Unfortunately, the design community, in many cases, does not know this trade exists. I also hope that through our efforts we can help to articulate the value the CEDIA community can bring to a given project. In many cases, integrators are looked at as subcontractors that are only producing an outcome and needs to be managed vs. a strategic partner on a project.


How can developing these relationships help each group succeed with their projects?

It’s simple: the customer will have a better experience, ultimately getting a solution that meets their needs. Not unlike the green boom in the early 2000s, this will likely come in the form of a higher point of sales, which can equate to more profit for both the builder and integrator. However, I think the real opportunity long-term will come in the form of recurring revenue streams from system maintenance. 


What are you most looking forward to at CEDIA 2019?

Continuing the Design + Connection discussion is really top of mind, along with the wellness conversation, which I believe plays into the broader collaboration discussion. Between our curated tours of CEDIA for the design community, strategic networking opportunities, and engaging in a broader dialogue on this topic, I believe we will continue to make great strides in terms of encouraging collaboration amongst the trades.

To hear more about this topic from Brian and the other panelists, join us at the CEDIA Stage at 3 p.m., Thursday, September 12.



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