A Letter to The ControlTrends Community

Dear ControlTrends Community,

Hello and Happy New Year! The operative word here being new! It’s been a while and we have missed you.

In this post and a couple to follow, we want to answer a couple of questions and tell you what is next for ControlTrends.

First Question we get is … What happen?  Where did you guys go?

To answer that question, you have to understand why we even created ControlTrends in the first place. You see…

ControlTrends has always been a passion project for me and Ken. We love the industry. We love the incredible people in the industry.  When we created ControlTrends we wanted something exciting and unique.

The result was an independent website that used video and podcasting as a way to deliver content. The site was not vendor specific.  So we could focus on all the great products, people, and companies in our industry.  It was open to anyone who had something to contribute to the community.

We gave talented minds and companies a platform to show us new and innovative products and solutions.

When we started in 2007, video was pretty much nonexistent.  To be able to go to ControlTrends and see a video of how to install a gas pressure regulator, or to get a video tour of a master systems integrator’s office and see their set up was pretty revolutionary stuff.

We put a camera and spotlight on our industry.  We captured relevant content that was shared globally.  Because it was useful and different the community responded and grew at an exponential rate.

Then we started the ControlTrends Awards to celebrate and honor our great people, companies, and products.  We created an event with the look of Hollywood’s Academy Awards for a night where everyone walked the red carpet and everyone was a star.  We made sure to capture it all on video and show the rest of the world just how cool our industry and people are!  We created a Hall of Fame and we archived it all to capture our moments in history.

It was fun, it was important, it was magical…  it gave Ken and me an important reason to get up in the morning…

Then Covid hit.  And everything changed.

No more face to face with customers, no more travel, no more shows.  No more ControlTrends Awards.  People became isolated and harder to connect with.

What were the sales and marketing teams to do?  Lockdown was new and no one knew how to engage with customers that were sequestered in their home offices.

Unable to engage clients face to face, marketing machines created massive amounts of content.  Zoom meetings, podcasts, email campaigns, and newsletters.  It was the logical thing to do, maybe the only thing to do….

But it became excessive.  The marketing onslaught was relentless.  Most people I know, no matter how great the content, became dead to it.  Too much of a good thing is still too much…

Most of the content was really good, and lots of people figured out how to do video and podcasts.  Not just figured it out, but figured out how to do it really well….

Ken and I decided that no matter what we created in would be noise and aggravating to the wonderful community that had entrusted us with their attention.  So…..

On May 23, 2021 after recording Episode 400 of ControlTalk NOW, The Smart Buildings Video and Podcast, Ken and I took a big gulp and decided to step away until we could figure out what we needed to do next to create value for our viewers.

In art or business you cannot create real value if what you are doing is just another version of something already being done.  When this happens in business your product or service becomes a commodity.  When it happens to thought leaders, content creators, or artists they become irrelevant.

Picasso, Madonna, and Apple are a few examples of artists and a company that stayed relevant by reinventing themselves before they had to.

They understood the concept of creating unique value by being unique.  Once Picasso mastered a certain style and others began to copy him, he changed his style.  Madonna changed her look.  Apple changed how we view products.

As one of my teachers use to say, “Different is not always better, but better is always different.”

Reinventing yourself, your company or product without an understanding of how it is going to create unique value is a fool’s errand.  But how do you figure out what is next?, when your audience is already over-contacted and over-surveyed and just plain over it…..

The first thing we did was disengage.   We gave our community a break and began to look elsewhere for clues… some of what we discovered will be included in my my next post.

One of the hardest things to do is to let go and change…  especially, when what you were doing worked so well in the past, it is risky and scary.

It is important to Ken an me to make ControlTrends cutting edge again, and the question becomes:  What does that mean?

The truth is we don’t know.


We have some ideas and some things we will be rolling out this quarter.  We will pay attention, listen, and evolve…  we could use your help.

If you have any ideas, we would love to hear from you. Email is probably the best. stromquistcompany@gmail.com

In my next post, I will share what Ken and I did and learned while we were away, and let you know some of what is next for ControlTrends.

Remember:  Be Bold, Stay in Control, and Stay Relevant!

Eric and Ken


For competitive prices and great service the HVAC and building automation control pros trust Stromquist @ Company

6 Responses

  1. Look forward to seeing what you come up with, as you say times are changing and the way we work nay be chabged forever…
    Would be nice to get back to the bar for a few beers with like minded folk once again though.

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