“I used a lot of solder when I was kid,” said Brian
McAuliff, in describing himself as a longtime
This media room features a subtle integration of technology into the brick fireplace that can be enjoyed from the open kitchen space.
McAuliff, the president of Bri-Tech, an electronics
systems contractor in Bohemia, NY, started out
building heathkits after his uncle gave him some test
equipment, initially working out of his home and
transitioning into an electrical contracting firm. As the
young contractor got into more complex electronics,
“clients asked us to do things in their homes,” he said.
“That’s how we grew.”
Since making that progression, the electronics
side of McAuliff’s business has been three times
larger than the electrical contracting business.
McAuliff has developed a unique understanding
of the ESC business from watching it evolve over the
years. This perspective has helped him transform his
business into a brand name in high-end integration.
The current breadth of work for Bri-Tech
includes as many technologies as possible, including
security, shading, and gate control all wrapped into
one system with the capability to do a lot more. The
21-year firm currently employs 35 people between
its original location on Long Island and a satellite
office in Greenwich, CT.
Bri-Tech’s business today is split about 40/60
between residential and commercial installations,
and as most electronic systems contractors have
experienced over the past few years, its midlevel
$30,000 to $40,000 jobs have virtually
disappeared. Yet Bri-Tech has continued to earn
high-end $200,000 installs to keep itself busy. “We
give a lot of value to high-end systems,” McAuliff
Brian McAuliff, president of Bri-Tech
One way that Bri-Tech provides this high
value is by taking system reliability very seriously.
This attitude stems from one of McAuliff’s early
influences working in a failure analysis job early
in his career. “When you’re networking 200-300
processor-based components into one system, you
can’t afford a problem or a
third-rate supplier without tech
McAuliff, therefore, bases
most of his buying decisions on
product reliability, rather than
a simple fascination with every
new widget that comes along.
In this respect, he hasn’t always
followed the hottest new trends,
which he admitted sometimes
works to his advantage, yet
sometimes does not. He was
initially against iPods and tablets
because he is an audiophile,
for instance. That attitude had
to change, of course. “All our
systems are fully integrated with
mobile now, and I love them,”
In terms of reliability,
McAuliff has been really careful
with the vendors he chooses to
do business with, selecting such
partners as Crestron, Lutron,
and SIM2. He cited the support
that these brands provide him
as the top reason for his loyalty
to them. Bri-Tech also tests
new products extensively before
recommending them for clients.
This dedication to the highest
quality service and standards led
McAuliff to develop a unique,
in-house software system,
called Symbiant Automation. A
former customer that had worked as a high-level
programmer for one of the top business software
companies in the world engineered Symbiant
for Bri-Tech. “For three years, we put him off in
a corner to write the software professionally,”
The result was a very organized, welldocumented
home automation control system that
uses Crestron touchscreens and controllers. “Our
software code is written like an encyclopedia,” he
said. And the intention was for all Bri-Tech controls
to have “depth of control,” since many clients end
up limited by software complexity.
Symbiant Automation allows clients to adjust
source volume, bass, and treble. Clients can drill
down to each component to make personalized
adjustments. Although not every client chooses
to make these adjustments, they have that option
without the necessity of programming know-how.
McAuliff has attempted various direct marketing
efforts over the years, but he found that as soon as
he stopped doing so and turned that attention to
further quality-control initiatives, “that’s when we
grew,” he said. Bri-Tech experienced this growth
in the worst economy, simply from word of mouth.
The key behind this thinking is a no-brainer: “make
sure our stuff works.”
(Above) The current breadth of Bri-Tech’s work includes as many technologies as possible, which in this case include custom LED lighting over
a bar integrated with a dedicated theatre room.|
(Below) Bri-Tech often integrates technology very discretely, yet impressive in scope and functionality. Pictured here is the sunroom of an
estate on the north shore of Long Island.
With this attention to quality firmly established,
McAuliff makes sure to charge enough for Bri-
Tech’s services to not only walk away with a profit,
but to enable the company to invest in talent and
expertise. “You can’t just buy a guitar and play
it. And this is like an orchestra,” he said of the
advanced systems his company installs.
Bri-Tech designs technology that is very
discrete, yet impressive in scope and functionality.
The company also stands behind the practice of
not issuing bill of materials to clients. Each system
installed is based off of a client-designated budget.
Bri-Tech performs a “posh” presentation of
proposals using its own paperwork and brochures
and presents the firm as a brand within a brand
by using the Symbiant Automation logos with
subsequent manufacturer logos. By avoiding a
bill of materials presentation, clients don’t have
the opportunity to become overly fixated on small
elements of the project, and they are left to fully
trust and depend on Bri-Tech’s expertise.
One of Bri-Tech’s recent projects was for a
penthouse apartment in Trump World Tower
at the United Nations Plaza in New York City.
The installation included a dedicated home
theater and fully integrated automation system.
Bri-Tech integrated Crestron DigitalMedia HD
connectivity and AV switching, as well as an ADMS
Intermedia Delivery System. Twelve wall-mounted
touchpanels, four handheld Wi-Fi touchpanels,
and three iPads control 10 HD video monitors, the
ADMS, 72 lighting zones, six climate control zones,
15 rooms with dual motorized shades, 300 feet of
LED lighting, an eight-camera surveillance system,
and a player piano system. Music is distributed
through a 16-zone entertainment system capable of
IP radio and featuring multiple iPod docks.
Bri-Tech recently finished a lakefront country
home on the south shore of Long Island. The
residence has two street entrances and a back alley,
having originally been designed as an estate in the
1920s. Bri-Tech furnished the property with a
dedicated theater and billiard room featuring two
screens and motorized brackets over the fireplaces.
A great deal of attention was paid to matching
security cameras to the house’s moldings and
creating custom faceplates.
One light commercial project Bri-Tech is
currently working on is the Parrish Art Museum
in the Hamptons. Advanced security, Crestron
lighting control, video surveillance, integrated AV,
as well as networking and communications are all
part of the plan. When completed, the museum
will be one of the most technologically advanced
buildings on the east end of Long Island. “When
we build this museum out, we’re over building
it,” McAuliff said. “We’re putting this together
meticulously. That’s what makes us special.”
Lindsey Adler is associate editor for Residential
Systems and Systems Contractor News.