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Help a Fellow Integrator

I just had to share another great experience that I had with integrators helping each other out.

I just had to share another great experience that I had with integrators helping each other out.

Image: Thinkstock

I’ve written several times about having people you can trust in the industry to share work with (to back you up on vacation or in an emergency, and to bounce ideas off of to get a second or third opinion). Back in the spring, one of my friends in the industry was looking to expand into home automation. He had been doing URC Complete Control, RTI, and Pro Control remotes for AV solutions but wanted to expand into lighting, shading, HVAC, and all of the other aspects of whole-home automation. Plus, he needed a system that was better equipped to work in a centralized rack, and still have solid connectivity performance for the remotes to work in faraway rooms.

He had four key criteria
1) Ease of programming
2) Hardware integration and programming native to the control company (ie. lighting controls, thermostats, door locks, etc.)
3) Customizable GUI
4) An entry-level “one-room option” for less than $1,000

He was considering three main brands—Crestron, Control4, and Savant. I had worked with him to get a basic Crestron system set up in his home using Pyng and Crestron Studio, but he found it was too complicated and required too much programming knowledge; he wanted something simpler. He did a lot of research on Savant and Control4. For Savant there wasn’t a “Pro” level one-room option for less than $1,000, and he felt that Savant didn’t have enough native product (while they have some lighting controls, they mostly rely on integrating with other manufacturers). He was really interested in Control4, but since they do not have a showroom in or near New York City, he couldn’t get a great feel for the product, its capabilities, and its strengths and weaknesses. This was not a decision to undertake lightly. It would cost upwards of $15,000 in opportunity cost (missed productivity and sales while away at training for the new line) and product cost (outfitting his home/showroom with the new line).

As an avid reader of Residential Systems, he knew that John Sciacca’s company Custom Home Theater and Audio does a lot of work with Control4. He asked if I could put him in touch with John to get his impressions of the line and to pose a few questions. I reached out to John, and he was happy to oblige.

After a few back-and-forth emails and conversations, John had answered all of the questions and made my friend feel comfortable that Control4 was a solid fit for his business. He realized it wasn’t going to be able to meet all four of his criteria, so speaking with John about the Control4 GUI and how his company handles its limited customization capability gave him confidence to move forward. Shortly thereafter he booked the training in Charlotte with Control4, and immediately upon returning home from training outfitted his home with a complete system including distributed audio, distributed video, full lighting control, and door locks.

In the last two weeks, he has sold two mid-sized Control4 projects and is very happy with the line and what it offers his business. Unfortunately he and John didn’t connect at CEDIA where my friend wanted to buy him a beer and thank him in person for all of his help.

John was fantastic in contributing his time and expertise to help my friend make this decision that he had been agonizing over for a few months. It is selflessness like that, which makes me love this industry even more.