A Week In the Life of Ash Munro

July 26, 2017

Much of what CSM Production does is detailed and intricate. In today’s event world, technology is king and integrating various forms of it including audio and lighting intricacies is required to stay on top of our game.

Ash Munro, managing director of technical production, let us tag along for a week while he attended InfoComm, the largest annual conference and exhibition for AV buyers and sellers in the Western Hemisphere.

Tuesday, June 13: Travel Day

7:40 a.m.

I’m a little late walking in to the office with a few too many things to cross off the list at home to get ready for a road trip. Just enough time to get some emails sent before the Tuesday meetings start at 8:30.

10 a.m.

Ashley and Hayden got a two-hour jump on me leaving for Florida. So much for taking me up on the offer to sleep in at least once this week.

11 a.m.

Thanks to the miracle of iPads, my boys are quiet for the first hour of the drive while I’m on the phone with Jacob and Brian in Harrisburg catching up on things for the next few weeks.

12:30 p.m.

Back on the road after a stop for Chick-fil-A, I'll spend the next 30 minutes thinking about one opening in Harrisburg near the office. Soon?

1:59 p.m.

Southbound 95. GPS said I should stay on this road for 218 miles which reminds me of I-90 being the longest interstate in the US. The things you learn when you take a third-grade quiz on the Internet. 

5 p.m.

Crossed the Florida Georgia line being serenaded by Hal Ketchum on XM Prime Country, better than the other way around. A quick peek at the radar makes me wonder how Florida got its nickname. 

7 p.m.

Pit stop at the active adult community to drop the rug rats off with Grandma and Pop Pop, then down the road to the hotel.

8:35 p.m.

Grabbed a quick bite to eat as I wind down the day and catch up with my roomie and InfoComm newbie Hayden. Ashley is getting settled in and ready for her big CTS exam tomorrow afternoon.

10 p.m.

Time to catch up on emails from the day and spend a few minutes digesting all the updates on the deliverables recap. Schedule one more vendor meeting for the show floor and think about calling it a night.


Wednesday, June 14: Show Day One

Pre 6 a.m.

Hayden and I are early risers to get our brains right, and so I have enough time for the coffee needed to get me through the day.

7 a.m.

Breakfast brings the news piece about the apartment fire in England; being at the largest AV trade show in the country suddenly doesn’t seem so important.

7:30 a.m.

We’re off to the show! Or at least the registration line.

8 a.m.

I mean the parking line.

8:30 a.m.

NOW on to the registration desk to get our stinking badges.

9:15 a.m.

Fifteen minutes into the show, and we've already been called a poster child by one of our vendors. 

9:45 a.m.

Nice to see our money spent on CM certification paying off. Hayden spends 15 minutes talking to Herb Hart at the CM booth, before we move on to a truss safety seminar courtesy of Total Structures and Pointman.

11 a.m. - Noon

Saw some REALLY cool things for the special events department, along with an idea or two for our driver intro stages.


Lunchtime in the food court at the convention center. Actually, kind of yummy, but veggie chips instead of fries? Potatoes are veggies, right?

1 p.m.

In an attempt to calm Ashley’s pre-test nerves, let’s look at something that might make Will's (her husband) life a bit easier. RF Filter, here we come. 

1:42 p.m.

With Ashley off to the CTS exam, Hayden and I wander to "find some AV tools" for him; instead he won an Apple TV playing Plinko at the RAVE booth. Has anyone ever heard of Managers-Keepers? (Spoiler: Hayden hasn’t either.)

2:52 p.m.

Knocked out a few more visits to solve a rigging thought on the SL250 stage (The Light Source) and meet our new NC neighbors (QuestEvents).

3:15 p.m.

We left early from a fall protection demo before heading up to our Live Events Forum. We should have left a 3:10 before Hayden called me out on gaining 15 pounds once I moved from project management to department management. (I'm definitely claiming the Apple TV now.)

3:56 p.m.

This just in - Ashley passed!

4:10 p.m.

Thought about applauding the meeting planner when she talked about in-house AV exclusivity contracts and how to avoid them. She referenced MPI Best Practices as a point to argue from, and to address getting it waived BEFORE signing the venue contract.

5 p.m.

After a quick call to the office to check in with Jacob, time to hit the Live Events cocktail reception and toast one of the newest Certified Technology Specialists, Ashley Tobin Rutherford.

7 p.m.

After deciding that Pepsi makes a poor mixer and soggy slider buns are weird, we have braved Orlando traffic to find a cool dinner spot to celebrate properly. I love cheese, but cheese served on a 755-degree rock burned my lip. Why Melty Cheese? What have I ever done to you???

10 p.m.

Should have worn a pedometer (you know, those things inside a Fitbit) because I'd be winning. Instead, I'm sleeping. 


Thursday, June 15: Show Day Two

6:15 a.m.

Time to wake up and lose the struggle to make the bathroom lights come on.

6:45 a.m.

Hayden tells me about the room’s master light switch AFTER I come out. 

7:18 a.m.

Let’s go find out what kind of breakfast meat is being offered downstairs. I sure hope the veggie chip buyer doesn’t work here too.

7:59 a.m.

Getting old sucks … so does 8 oz. coffee cups at the hotel. Ibuprofen takes care of the first, I hope. Several trips to the coffee urn will fix the second. Which reminds me of a story from the forum yesterday. The guy behind me joked that planners should start serving virtual coffee to leave money in the budget for virtual reality. So, I virtually punched him. 

8:14 a.m.

No need to wait at reg desk lines today so we rolled out a bit later. After giving first-stop honors to Applied yesterday, I think today should go to Elation. Or Nationwide. Toss up between getting a jump on looking at new lights we want to buy and saying thanks to the guys that make my life easy.

8:22 a.m.

‘That's What I Like’ by Bruno Mars. Must be our InfoComm jam because it played yesterday about the time we got close to the OCCC. #top40radioprogammingwhat?

8:43 a.m.

We take the steps, because I'm a people-pleaser and some people don’t like escalators. 

9 a.m.

Decided to hit the Elation booth before the crowd got deep, then spent a few minutes showing Ashley what we saw yesterday during the exam. Found the Airstar booth and discovered Jim has a quote in with them, after running through every other name in CSM Production. (Yet another reminder of how big we are, and how impossible it is to stay in touch with every project.)

10 a.m.

Hayden, Ashley and I have a good discussion about value of staying with one vendor vs. spreading the love among manufacturers. Buying power and parts sharing seems to trump chasing the coolest new toy.

10:48 a.m.

Once again, I find myself looking for the two people wearing black polos and backpacks in a sea of production folks. These beacons we have on our badges need homing features, allowing anyone registered on the same company membership to find coworkers.

11 a.m.

Back to Elation to meet our rep Rob Drachler and talk through some of the sales being offered. Looked over at the Applied booth next door and saw our work on the All Star and 500 being displayed on the LED wall!

11:30 a.m.

Just enough time for a quick bite from the “food trucks” on the show floor then race to the Shure demo room for a session on wireless spectrum.

1 p.m.

We catch up with another rep Patrick Oates in the Shure booth. He takes us through the Allen Heath booth and over to Digital Projection. The projectors have “lasers” and don’t cost one MILLION dollars. 

2:13 p.m.

Must. Get. Water. What is it with expo floors and dry air?

2:15 p.m.

The home office called and asked if we could swing by a booth to talk about a see-through touch screen for an upcoming show. Turns out they stopped manufacturing the technology a year ago. A referral leads us to another booth, where we find out their units are still over a year out from production. Life on the bleeding edge.

3 p.m.

Booth Happy Hour! We spend it with Bret Tracy and Jeff Fisher in the Nationwide Video booth, super nice guys with a great service-driven company.

4 p.m.

Rounding out our tripod of reps, Craig Bess tours us through the Harman booth before we squeeze in a quick visit to the Clear-Com booth.

5:13 p.m.

We’re in danger of being kicked out, lights turning off, ‘get out’ announcements being made, but we really want the Clear-Com guy to take his toys back out of the cabinets and entertain us. 

6:37 p.m.

Hayden finished up the comida special at Chuys. I should have remembered he's me roomie before I talked him in to ordering it. Contemplate sleeping in the car.

7:02 p.m.

Gassing up for the ride home before one last day of looking and learning. This evening’s task is to catch up on what's happening back in NC.

10:37 p.m.

Still working through catching up, calendar updates, a quote revision or two, mixed in with some emails for the scouts for a little work/life balance. Hayden called it a day a while ago. It must be hard keeping up with the 46-year-old.


Friday, June 16: Day Three- The Last One!

6:12 a.m.

Time to pack up the suitcase and might need to leave some shoes behind to fit the literature. (In hindsight, I’ll end up doing just this in LA; wore the heel off my dress shoes.)

7:48 a.m.

I ride up the elevator with a gentleman that does the close-circuit TV for SMI tracks. Small world.

8 a.m.

Let’s do this. Excited to hit the first demo for Barco after the press release last night for the EC 30 control panel.

10 a.m.

The Barco session was cooler than I expected and not just because I got a free ballcap. Quote of the day. “Aim for the leading edge, living on the bleeding edge means someone gets messy.”

10:23 a.m.

Will the world ever run out of black fabric dye?

10:45 a.m.

Run into a family friend (Ken Turner) – like I said, small world.

11:10 a.m.

We hit a booth where the catalogs have run out. So, have we, but our list isn’t done yet.

11:28 a.m.

Because we haven’t crisscrossed the hall enough, we swing by the CM booth so Hayden can thank Dave Carmack for teaching him so much about motor repair, and I can thank him for enabling Hayden and Joe getting our motors off the repair bench and in the air. 

11:40 a.m.

Trying to find a new place to have lunch on day three. Realize we all have the fitness tracker on our phones. Safe to say, we can all order dessert. 

12:35 p.m.

Photo Op with Ashley and Hayden out front, went to meet an old coworker and found another. Old stagers never die, they just find another employer.

12:40 p.m.

Soooo much LED, so many ideas for standoffs and shapes.

12:54 p.m.

Finally found the holy grail of the show. Sony Crystal LED. Something less than 1mm, absolutely black when it wants to be. Insane dynamic range. Life like, just bigger. They must mop the floor hourly to get rid of the AV drool.

1:31 p.m.

Down to wandering in circles. Figuring out what I missed and burning off the same nervous energy I get when load-out is close. Why won't my brain realize this is a backpack gig and my load-out consists of shaking a few hands and heading for the house?  

2:24 p.m.

Thanks to rAVe [Publications] being based in Chapel Hill, the boys now have souvenirs. In Carolina Blue no less. Who says I can't turn on the charm when it counts? (need to take a photo)

2:32 p.m.

Have I told you how small the world is? Just ran in to my first boss. I can't believe we're both still kicking. And both still out there getting continuing ed. AND that he went to high school with Jay!

3:10 p.m.

Happy hour started ten minutes ago. It's been a long week, and well worth it. These trade shows leave me oddly drained and refreshed. Getting to see it through the eyes of first-timers made this year much more refreshing. As did attending for the first time as a "purchase influencer." The big M (manager?) on my badge was only slightly more impactful than "he's the boss man" shared by Hayden in more than one booth.

3:22 p.m.

Happy hour is over. The ‘free beer’ was two pony kegs. Really? Do they know nothing about this crowd?

3:25 p.m.

Ah Ha! Found the hidden bar in the corner. Happy Hour is back on!

3:26 p.m.

After spending three days looking at countless new and improved products, I’m left with two questions. Which ones to buy? And does it really matter? After 20 years and countless upgrades to the tech, this business is STILL about the relationship we have with our customers.

3:41 p.m.

And now the show is done; off to see if the in-laws survived the boys – and vice versa. Mic gently placed upon a stable surface. (No mic drops for me, I’m not an animal.)


Saturday, June 17: Travel Day

8:30 a.m. ish

It is Saturday after all. Breakfast at the club with the in-laws and boys before packing to hit the road. Never hurts to mix business with a little pleasure.

9:45 a.m.

While packing the car I find FOUR open boxes of tissues. Two thoughts come to mind - who made the load list for this trip and my youngest is well suited for production. He already has the never finish a roll of gaff tape (or tissue box) down pat. 

10:39 a.m.

Drove the boys around outside of Daytona International Speedway. Grab a coffee and get this drive done. 

11:42 a.m.

With the alphabet game long ago replaced with iPads and headphones, I’m once again left to ruminate on the week. Somewhere in the 5 pounds of literature I brought back is a roadmap of the breath of our company. Corporate. Concerts. Indoor. Outdoor. Experiential. System Design. Custom builds.

1:27 p.m.

Dash thermometer says it's 96° outside, and I need to get out for gas, food, and a bio break. And I’m sure it is a wet heat.

2:22 p.m.

Zaxby’s is still the best place to stop to finish up a round of the alphabet game! And to get a compliment from one table over on how I managed my children's less than stellar behavior. Guess I’m never off duty, just change what fires I’m keeping unlit. (So much easier than putting them out.)

6:48 p.m.

Done. See you in two years!

Infocomm, day in the life, Ash Munro, audio video, tech, education, backstage pass
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