Looking at the spacious new DeVance Electronic Lifestyle showroom, which covers nearly 9800 square feet, it may be hard to believe that the Carrollton, Texas-based business started in the home of owners Matt and Dana DeVance. From those humble beginnings more than 20 years ago, the DeVances have grown from a home-based business to an office, then from an office to a small showroom, and, now, to the brand new demo/event space that they officially opened late last year.
More than just increasing the amount of space they have, with each move DeVance Electronic Lifestyle has more than doubled its business. So, when an opportunity came to create a space in a new building that was just being built a few blocks from their previous location, they jumped at the chance to grow again.
“This showroom is definitely a step above where we’ve been before,” says Dana DeVance. “We went from a drop ceiling in a rental office space that we turned into as nice of a showroom as it could possibly have been, and we now have a 24-foot ceiling in the main showroom area. We have several vignette areas, a conference room, a high-end 2-channel listening room, and a home theater, as well as a lounge area. We also included space for our offices, which has lent itself to the literal doubling of our business by having a very intentional space for the different departments in our company.”
Starting from scratch, there was no end to the possibilities the space could offer. “It was four walls, a ceiling, and a foundation — no, electrical, no plumbing, and no HVAC,” says Matt DeVance. “From there we had to get our architect and our interior designer together to figure out how we’re going to build out the space.”
Start Your Engines
Visitors to the DeVance Electonic Lifestyle showroom are first greeted by the company’s Client Concierge. To the right is a wall that displays all the awards the company has won; to the left is a conference room, which, as Matt states, gets used more than any other space in the showroom. “We have iron doors that slide open, and inside is a conference table and a big TV behind an art screen that goes up and down,” he says. “We also have some cabinetry in there that we house demo products for when we want to show Lutron keypads or whatever it may be.”
To get to the showroom area, guests must walk through a Ferrari-red tunnel. “The reason we did that kind of tunnel — and why we did it in red — is because we do a lot with the local car clubs here, especially the local Ferrari Club,” says Matt. “We host many F1 watching parties where we will have the races on all the TVs and offer food and drinks. The members show up to watch the race, and they have all their automobiles out front. It’s a fun time, and we wanted something that popped and catered to that, so, we painted the tunnel Ferrari red. People love it.”
The main showroom is two stories tall, with a custom, industrial-design staircase that takes visitors to the second level. To the right is a headphone bar that displays headphones and headphone amplifiers. Beyond that is the 2-channel listening room that features gear from manufacturers such as McIntosh, Sonus faber, Focal, and Naim.
Next up is the bar area. The bar is 17-feet long, and behind it you will find industrial-grade restaurant gear, including a 150-pound ice machine, an oven and a warming drawer, full-size refrigerator, sinks with wells, and much more. This section plays a key part in the many events held at DeVance Electronic Lifestyle.
On the other side of the bar area is what the DeVances call the “family room,” which features a 100-inch LED fireplace and five different sizes of Samsung’s Frame TV. “We display them in all different areas — we didn’t just line them up,” explains Matt. “We made it look like art hanging on the wall. We ordered different frames for each TV from framemytv.com to show the different styles you can have.
“It has turned out really well. It helps the architects, designers, and clients visualize the size of those TVs. It has also helped us upsell because people will see a 65-inch and say, ‘Oh yeah, that’s not big enough.’ Then they see the 75-inch Frame TV we have in the back of our bar and decide that is more of the size that they want. Or, if they want bigger, we have the 85-inch model in our Brick Lounge.”
And with that bit of foreshadowing, the next stop on the tour is the Brick Lounge, which gets its name from the three walls covered in brick. In addition to the 85-inch Samsung Frame TV, that room also features a reference system from Focal Powered by Naim, including the Grand Utopia speakers, as well as three Middle Atlantic racks that are flushed into the wall so the client can see the gear that powers the showroom. This room also features an opaque glass garage door, which is another key for events held here.
Next up is the home theater, which, like the 2-channel room mentioned earlier, is acoustically isolated from the rest of the building. “For both those spaces, we built a room inside of a room,” says Matt. “We have 6-inch metal studs, a 1-inch air gap, and then another set of 6-inch metal studs. We sprayed all the studs with an anti-resonant material from QuietRock and then put insulation in between those. We also did a layer of 5/8-inch sheetrock with some anti-resonant glue, and then another layer of QuietRock on top of that.
“We made sure that the walls and the ceilings did not touch each other, so there’s a 1-inch gap where the sheetrock itself is floating and it doesn’t touch the floor. It doesn’t touch any adjacent walls or the ceiling. We used QuietRock material to seal up the walls and cover up the backs of the J boxes.
“We used acoustical pocket doors for these rooms. Once it’s fully closed, there are gaskets around the back side of the door that seal the room off. We spent quite a bit of extra money to make these rooms special.”
The home theater features Focal Utopia speakers, a custom 2.35:1 screen, and a projector built into the soffit. On one side, the traditional black fabric wall has been replaced with a creative alternative. “We partnered with a local artist, Hope Harrison, and we silk-screened her art on one of the walls. When you walk in the room, you see this beautiful mural that is made of fabric and we have the speakers behind it. So, it looks great, but it’s serving the purpose of allowing our speakers to be hidden.”
All the gear in the showroom area is run through a Torus Power power conditioner, which was seen as a necessity for this from-the-ground-up build. “One thing that I realized when we’re building the space is we have to do the foundational stuff now because we can’t go back,” says Matt. “I worked with the guys over at Torus Power to install them and control the main showroom space. Everything that’s in the showroom that we demo to clients runs through those Torus Power pieces. This allows us a way to show clients that, if they are doing a remodel or a new build or anything like that, they must do this at the beginning, at the foundational stage. Let’s put it in now and then everything that we’re going to be installing will be wired to it.”
For the final section of the first floor, visitors can get a behind-the-scenes look at the warehouse area and see the back of the racks that are featured in the Brick Lounge. A second staircase leads up to the offices, but first clients pass the “Wall of Fame,” which holds the certifications that each employee has, as well as “Employee of the Month” honorees.
Upstairs also holds the VIP Lounge, which is how the DeVances refer to their employees. The open floor looks down into the main showroom area and can also be used for events.
Expanding Into Events
From the bar and garage door areas alone, it is clear that the DeVances are serious about hosting events at the showroom. Holding gatherings there has had a big effect on their business — both in getting new clients and finding new talent.
“Building this showroom out the way that we did, with the focus for having events, has turned into something that was unexpected,” says Dana. “Our employees love to use it, and it’s one of the perks of working for us. This is a special place to be in. We have an incredible culture with the hard-working team that we have, and they like to have movie nights and happy hours and enjoy the showroom themselves. It’s turned out to be a big part of our culture and a surprising recruiting tool. When we’re interviewing new people who we want to join our team, they’re blown away that they could work here every day.”
In terms of clients, the DeVances don’t charge for the use of the space, and they keep it open for their connections, which are many with Dana’s role in The Rotary Club of Dallas and Matt’s Board position in the Ferrari Club of Dallas. Even without direct promotion, they are kept busy.
“We have had events with Avondale Aston Martin and McLaren where they pull one of their cars into the showroom through the garage door in the Brick Lounge and have it on display inside our showroom,” says Matt. “They’ll have cars outside for test drives, and they’ll have their clients sign up here to take those test drives. We’ll have food and drinks, and they can enjoy our atmosphere and home theater while they are waiting.
“We recently had a car event for a local car club here that started at our showroom and ended at another facility. One of the attendees was in our showroom and didn’t know anything about us until he came for that event. He’s working on a sizeable project and will be including us as a result of his visit. Those types of opportunities are presented to us just by getting people in our space.”
“We have fun doing what we do,” adds Dana. “When people come in and see that we set the space up for entertaining, many times that translates into them being able to see themselves entertaining this way in their homes — maybe not driving a car into their living room — but definitely the theater or the Frame TV on the wall that looks like a piece of artwork when you’re not watching it.
“The showroom has definitely lent itself to helping us with even more word of mouth, just by having good times with a lot of different people.”