When Brian Jaworoski started his own company, Cabling Technologies LLC, a fear of leaving the office set in. I was afraid to go home before 4:30 in the afternoon, he said. Going to work for myself was all new to me.
Cabling Technologies is a Fairfield County, Connecticut-based professional system integration company doing 75 percent of its work in new construction and the remainder in retrofits. Its products include Crestron, Sonance, SpeakerCraft, Triad, Marantz, B & K, Draper, JBL Synthesis Pro and AudioRequest.
The company has formed a symbiotic relationship with Advanced Electronic Systems LLC, a security firm, in which Advanced receives a commission for A/V projects that it brings to the Cabling Technology table. Advanced gains by being able to offer a complete package of services to its clients and by doing prewires.
Jaworoski came to custom A/V through a back door. A self-described computer nerd, he grew up in Stamford, surrounded by his fathers CB radios, oscilloscopes and soldering guns.
My first computer was a TRS80 Radio Shack with test games, Jaworoski said. I did not go to college; my cousin worked for an electrical contractor who needed a hand, so I started there at 18, right out of high school. I took to it fast, and within a year I was an apprentice on projects, and then became licensed.
What captivated him as a young electrician proved valuable to Jaworoski as he progressed toward A/V. I thought that problem solving and customer relationships were cool, he said. Before you could pull wires, the circuits had to be configured properly, and there was a lot of thinking involved that was interesting and fun.
Jaworoski apprenticed for an electrical contractor in Fairfield County for about four years, under lead electrician Kieran OHara, who later became his business partner.
In the early 1990s, we were doing the grunt work, working closely with A/V contractors on high-end residential, doing A/V wiring as well as electrical, he said. Lighting control systems were starting to get popular.
The A/V contractors with whom Jaworoski worked never quite understood code issues, strict requirements, methods of wiring or even how light bulbs affected circuitry, he says. But he took notice when these same contractors whipped out their IBM laptop computers to do their systems programming. Thats what initially sparked his interest in exploring A/V installation work further.
When OHara started his own electrical contracting business, Jaworoski joined that company, and as their projects unfolded they became more involved in prewiring for A/V and lighting. We also did web design on entry-level applications, he said. I was hooked on computers. We were one of the only area contractors doing full computer networking for clients. We pulled Cat-5 and computer wiring and tested and certified it. Then we started to dabble in entry-level A/V systems.
What he saw at some of these jobs, Jaworoski said, was A/V guys walking out with big checks after dropping hardware on the floor. There was a lot of miscommunication involved.
These lighting systems never went as well as they could have, and the contractors were blaming us for flaws in the system, he said. We didnt know enough to ask if the problem was in their programming.
Jaworoski and OHara decided that more education was necessary. They went to Utah and became certified for Vantage Controls products.
Ninety-percent of the people in their training program were contractors, Jaworoski said. We were shunned as not really being in the industry. We werent even looking to become a dealer; we purchased through a local distributor.
After starting Cabling Technology, the two began getting more and more proposals from contractors to do Lutron. Jaworoski and OHara became certified residential systems contractors (CRSC) for Lutron. That was their approach to not calling us dealers, Jaworoski said. We still bought product at a reduced rate through a distribution chain.
Early clients included builders of 10,000-square-foot homes. All of a sudden it seemed like we had to propose distributed audio to compete, Jaworoski said. We did Niles and Russound, the only products available through distribution. We were skilled at prewiring, and we knew the structure. We also attended the trade shows to see what else was out there.
When Jaworoski didnt see the company growing in the direction he wanted, he bought out OHara so that he could focus on custom.
There was a ton of competition, he said. I found a new home project, and the client wanted distributed audio, lighting and home theater. I called Crestron, and they interviewed me. Toby Daschbach at Sapphire Marketing (Paramus, New Jersey) got me in the door. Six months later, Russ Wishtart took over this area.
Wishtart says that Jaworoski runs his company with one part business savvy, one part customer service and two parts good-natured humor. Hes a consummate professional who provides the highest level of service to clients, Wishtart said. The entire staff at Cabling Technologies is inspired and driven by Brians philosophy on the custom integration business. The end result is a group of very happy customers with powerful, easy-to-use systems that operate flawlessly.
Becoming a Crestron dealer was particularly exciting because of the programming possibilities, Jaworoski said. Now I had a chance to take on control systems, design and development. I dove head first into it and did Crestron training Levels 1, 2 and 3, in a short period of time.
With new applications in hand, Cabling Technology began offering complete system integration. By 2002, the company was working on a few $500,000 projects, Jaworoski says.
I had a couple of ins with large lighting companies making high-end chandeliers, and they started recommending us, he said. We were offered a project in a 10,000-square-foot custom home in New Canaan with three media rooms, dedicated theater, full Crestron system, distributed HVAC and intercom.
Enter Howard Friedman, of Advanced Electronics, one of the largest privately owned alarm companies in Fairfield County. I was looking to move and Howard offered us rental space in his building, Jaworoski said. We have 1,500 square feet and are developing another 900 for a custom theater designed by Acoustic Smart.
Under an arrangement with Advanced Electronic Systems, Jaworoski pays a commission for sales brought in by Advanced salesman Fred Harris. This allows Friedman to offer his security system clients a complete package, keeping his client base happy, and to work as a joint venture for new construction jobs.
More and more security companies are doing this, he said. Howard has 18 guys on his staff and he wanted to do my prewires. This leaves me time to do programming and focus on other areas. Were not partners but I pay them to get sales for us. In 2004 weve gotten $2.2 million in high-end contracts through Fred Harris. Its awesome; we have low overhead and the alarm guys are a more affordable labor force for prewire, and we can sell it under one roof.
Cabling Technologys recent and current projects include a 100-percent Crestron integrated system for the Florida home of a Connecticut client, a 37-seat home theater complex with bowling alley, gymand stage for a New Canaan client, and five $5 million spec homes that will be outfitted with Crestron systems.
There are 30 to 40 other contractors in our area, but we bump heads only occasionally, Jaworoski said. Kieran (OHara) has started a company, but hes a friendly competitor. Theres so much work here and not much price-shopping.
In 2003, Cabling technology did $130,000 in Crestron hardware. So far this year, since June, they have done more than $150,000, according to Jaworoski. Its a little overwhelming. I still look at it through new eyes. Im trying to learn to relax, he said.
Karen Mitchell is a freelance writer based in Boulder, Colorado.