People are expressing their faith in Houses of Worship (HOWs) on all seven continents. Even the frigid desert of Antarctica has at least seven known HOWs. This is good news for our industry. Why? Because I believe, and thousands of years of evidence suggests, that HOWs and many different faiths worldwide may experience ups and downs, highs and lows, government oppression, paradigm shifts, and many other renaissances, but HOWs will survive and thrive as long as humans exist on planet Earth.
Although this wonderful publication primarily focuses on the use of technology in the United States, I am thinking that every so often it may be beneficial to take a global view of the significance of the HOW market. Perhaps this will trigger expansive and innovative ideas that will further your business in new locations, as globalization and new free trade treaties continue to emerge.
I am truly blessed to be able to work with wonderful people around the world. In fact, I started writing this month’s installment while working in Bangkok, Thailand, and now I am adding the final tweaks in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. On this trip, I will work with HOWs in Thailand, Cambodia and Laos. In July, I will work in South America. Then in the fall, I will be in Africa and Europe.
It may be beneficial
to take a global view
of the significance of
the HOW market.
During my 35-plus years in this industry, I have worked with the tiniest HOWs that can barely afford a simple sound system. I have also worked with the largest HOWs in the world that adopt and use the best technologies buyable. This work is not always in big international cities. On many occasions, I have taken a small generator, a laptop, a video projector and a small sound system to remote villages in Africa and Asia. These systems are used to show movies and videos that share the tenants of faith with people far off the beaten path.
Hundreds, and often thousands, of people suddenly appear out of the deserts, forests, jungles and mountainsides, and then assemble in open air spaces or mud huts. These people are mesmerized by the images and sound. Grabbing their attention offers a greater chance of message retention; thus, they comprehend the meanings quickly. There are some nations, such as Cambodia, where quality equipment is not available (lots of knockoffs). We have to design the systems in great detail in the US because there is no source to purchase items if we forget something. Then we work with manufacturers to get gear in 220V.
The biggest challenge is packing the gear and getting all the proper shipping documents in order. Then we hope and pray that the gear gets to the destination intact. None of this is as easy as it may sound. But the point is, no matter whether in mud huts or mega-structures, AV equipment is used every day, all over the world, to support ministry and teachings that are impacting many people. In short, there are opportunities for all of us to find work!
Over the years, I have witnessed many interesting production styles in these nations. I have also witnessed the shrinking of distance and time in addressing issues and problems. In the 1970s, ’80s and even the ’90s, if systems had problems, there was really no genuine solution other than flying to the other side of the world to address those issues face to face. Today, we still need such interactions to do the planning, the design and the installation, but after we leave the particular country, we can offer ongoing assistance using applications such as SKYPE to observe and address the problem in real time.
The major challenge in these global ventures is making a profit. I am not always making a profit on these projects. We make many contingency plans because there are always unforeseen challenges that pop up and impact the budget. In addition, as part of my “good-deeds” nature, we take on breakeven projects. And other times, I either raise funds or donate the funds to purchase equipment in order to serve a worthy cause.
For me, whether the project is a for-profit job, a breakeven job or a donation job, I apply my best to all situations. This good-deeds approach seems to be working because, so far, we stay very busy and we stay in the black.
Forgive me if this writing sounds like I am boasting. I am not. I know very well that many, if not most, of you are a lot smarter at this work than I am. So, I am humbled and grateful to have the opportunity to serve many wonderful people worldwide.
The United States is currently establishing new trade treaties with nations that were once our enemies or were not trade partners. Thus, I believe that we have a world of amazing opportunities to generate revenue and serve good people. That is what I believe. Please tell me what you believe.