Editor’s Note: This month, Residential Systems launches its Fresh Faces series profiling the next generation of custom integration business owners. In this first profile, we introduce Kyle Steele, president of Global Wave Integration in Los Angeles.
As a child growing up in Portland, OR, Kyle Steele once turned his bass drum into a speaker using magnets. This kind of innovation wasn’t totally surprising coming from Steele–the only musician in what he describes as a “very competitive sports family”–who taught himself how to play piano, guitar, and drums. With music as his driving force, Steele attended the University of Arizona, where he was enrolled in the ELITE program that encompassed three colleges specializing in engineering, music, and business. Focusing on digital systems engineering, Steele also interned in the UA studio.
“During my college years, I witnessed the convergence of technology and music,” Steele said. “Everything was becoming digital and computerbased. After being a touring drummer after college, it landed me in Los Angeles where I incorporated my passions of music, engineering, business, interaction with clients, and sustainable solutions into Global Wave Integration.”
Now 33 years old, Steele is president of Global Wave Integration, which he founded in 2003, beginning as an installer and Crestron programmer, and growing the business with inhouse programmers, engineers, installers, and project managers. In the 10 years he has been a custom integrator, Steele has witnessed what he calls “the fast-paced acceleration of new technology adoption” and considers it a full-time job staying on top of emerging technology standards.
“We have embraced the shift, and we feel it brings awareness to our services and solutions,” Steele noted. “It helps meet our client’s expectations as there are more and more solutions hitting the market that enables the end user to live comfortably and conveniently within their environment. Since we are software developers, the explosion of APIs available opens up the doors to so many possibilities to what we are able to accomplish, hence our tagline, ‘Imagination Driven Technologies.’”
As custom integration experiences flux due to rapidly evolving technology, greater consumer awareness of and embracing of these technologies as well as products that were once exclusive to high-end projects, not to mention the ever shifting gales of the U.S. economy, many have wondered if our niche market is sustainable in the current climate. For Steele, the answer squarely lies in how integrators approach their business.
“First and foremost, the client always comes first,” he explained. “Since we have been 100-percent word of mouth, our clients’ satisfaction is top priority. Having the ability to listen to our clients’ needs and desires, we have developed solutions specific to their needs, which we have found ways to make scalable. Sometimes there is too much focus on the technology itself than the lifestyle needs of the client. I think integrators sometimes lose sight that this is truly a service industry.”
Global Wave Integration has found success in the high-end residential market, while expanding into the commercial space as well. To ensure the firm’s longevity, Steele said that they are taking on more mixed-use projects, which he sees as a growing trend in the construction industry.
“We have always been active in the green space, even incorporating our own utility monitoring service,” he said. “That’s the Oregon boy in me. Sustainability has always been a driver, and we will continue to see that grow. Our solutions are also now being integrated into new marketplaces that will continue to grow.”
Global Wave Integration, LLC
West Hills, CA
Specialty: Digital AV, lighting design, security and surveillance, assistive living technologies, energy management, estate management
Markets: Residential, commercial, hospitality, healthcare, education
Awards: CEDIA Electronics Lifestyle Awards Winner, Crestron Integration Awards Winner 2012
Llanor Alleyne is contributing editor to Residential Systems.