Coastal Source Trains on Outdoor Performance

60-Plus Dealers, Integrators, and Industry Members Met in Florida to Learn More About the Brand
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When it comes to quality, performance, and ease of integration into the outdoor environment, the products from Coastal Source are hard to beat. More than 60 dealers, integrators, landscape designers, and reps learned that point firsthand as they attended the company’s three-day training event in Marathon, FL earlier this summer.

The company’s product line consists of four main categories: landscape lighting, outdoor audio, waterfront lighting, and architectural lighting. Knowledge, value, and greater profits are Coastal Source’s focus. And, according to president Franco D’Ascanio, one of the main purposes of its training event is to show dealers “what a true opportunity outdoor lighting and audio is,” and to sell more and profit from existing customers.”

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A warm reception at Coastal Source in Marathon, FLThe three-way Ellipse bollard speaker

“I’ve done hundreds of on-the-road demos and almost every dealer has said that we have the best sound in the industry,” Franco boasted during the training session. “We are serious, serious players and our dealers believe we have superior outdoor sound.”

That being said, Coastal Source also prides itself on simplicity and working to design solutions to outdoor challenges. For example, the company doesn’t need to have dozens of SKUs for bullet lights.

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Mike Hench, L.P. Hench, Florida and Len Cobb, Meads Bay Partners, San Juan, PR.Franco D’Ascanio, Coastal Source president, with the company’s bestselling Ellipse Bollard outdoor speaker

“Our dealers don’t have the time, nor is it necessary to peruse dozens of catalogs; our line is more flexible,” Franco noted. “Better for us so we can put more money and time into producing superior products. It’s also better for the dealer, as it helps streamline their business efforts, and better for the customer, as they get better performance installed more quickly.”

Perhaps the company’s strongest attribute is its thorough testing of not only its own lighting and audio systems in harsh environments, but competitors’ products, as well. For example, salt spray chambers are utilized to replicate real-world conditions. The chambers are capable of causing corrosion at an accelerated rate to allow rapid learning about materials and construction methods. Another important tool is the company’s X-Ray Fluorescence (XRF) metal and alloy analyzer. This tool can test products instantly to identify their elemental makeup and grade at any time in the design and development process. It also provides a quick and easy way to verify the quality of finished products.

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Coastal Source lighting and speakers transform this garden.

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More than 60 integrators, reps, landscape designers, and others gathered at Coastal Source for the three-day training event.

Because most manufacturers focus on only one part of the system (i.e. fixtures), end users tend to face problems with their landscape lighting systems. Coastal Source scrutinizes the entire lighting system and reengineers every component to last longer with salt water, wind, rain, sun, and whatever else harsh outdoor environments throw at it. Coastal Source Bullet Lights are constructed of solid brass right down to the screw that holds the knuckle together. The fixtures will never rust or corrode shut, according to the company. All Coastal Source fixtures are designed to be forever serviceable, and available finishes include beaded brass, vintage brass, white, nickel, and copper.

But an outdoor system is obviously made up of more than just the end component. With connections being the number-one cause of failure in lighting systems, training class attendees went hands on with the Coastal Source Patented Coastal Connector. This plug-and-play cabling system makes designing, installing, and maintaining systems beyond easy, and it was fun to watch how quickly attendees could hook up a system. The flexible connectors are water- and airtight for twisted-pair direct burial cable. There are five layers of protection and no tools are required.

“We have less than one percent backorder; our products don’t have months of stock out like the rest of our competitors,” Franco said. “The wire and cable infrastructure in the yard for the foreseeable future is still very important. The six-conductor Coastal Source Cable is unique to our dealers; you’re not going to find this at a Home Depot. We supply you with more things to sell your customers.”

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Catalyst AV members Patrick Boyer, AV Warehouse and Steve Presti, Roberts AssociatesPhilip Gray, Classic Gardens, and Suzanne Spence, Zenscapes, Jamaica

During the event, the attendees learned everything from the “Science of LEDs” to hands-on lighting and audio installations, all of which seemed very well received.

“This is certainly one of the most well-conceived and well-executed training courses I have ever attended,” said Audio Video Warehouse and Catalyst AV member Patrick Boyer.

Tim Freund, from Lights Up New Jersey became a Coastal Source dealer only recently after extensive research into the category. “The Coastal Source stuff is 10 times better, and there are no internet sales!” he said. “They use better materials, their website is excellent, and you can always get them on the phone. They really are selling the future of outdoor wiring and provide great margins. They don’t saturate a market with too many dealers, and they are not inexpensive products. You have to market to the right clientele. In my opinion, they are reinventing the outdoor lighting industry.”

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The number-one failure in an outdoor electrical system is the connection, so attendees went hands on with the waterproof, patented plug-n-play, four-step Coastal Connector Cabling system.

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Off site, attendees performed audio and lighting installations in a real-world environment.

Another way Coastal Source is helping their dealers with profitability is through its Coastal Source Design Service. The in-house program, which will provide assistance for jobs of all sizes, helps partners achieve an increased close rate, improved presentations, and increased job size.

The Rep Perspective

Independent rep Mike Hench, from Florida’s L.P. Hench, said he has known D’Ascanio for 30 years, but only added the line to his portfolio in mid-2012. “The outdoor lighting line was born out of frustration,” he said. “After Franco asked me if I would rep to AV guys, I got a great reception from dealers when we talked about the benefits of selling outdoor lighting systems. Then about a year ago I started selling the audio. I have had a great entry into that market with the bollard-style speakers.”

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Mike and Becky Martin, from L.P. Hench and Co.Pena Magaly, D’Asign Source and Jarrod Daeffeler, Kenmar General Contractor

Over the years, the Coastal Source team has worked and reworked solutions for its dealers and reps. Acknowledging that recurring revenue is one of the most challenging aspects of the custom integration industry, Franco explained how outdoor systems could bring dealer partners monthly, quarterly, or annual service plan income by coming back to aim and adjust lighting and speakers; offer detail trimmings; provide lamping adjustments, maintenance, and lens cleaning; or selling seasonal lighting and lens packages.

“The day I am finished with an exterior lighting system is the day the system starts changing and will need attention,” he said.

Coastal Source dealers are hand-selected and trained. Tradition is thrown on its ear in pursuit of the best and making it all work together seamlessly. “From the power source, to the cable/connections, to the fixtures, to the last LED lamp, there are no excuses!” Franco added.

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Jason Sanders, systems engineer, demonstrates how salt spray chambers are utilized to replicate real-world conditions for testing Coastal Source and competitive products.John and Gay Lynne Langley from Sunrise Services on Cedar Key

“What Coastal Source is providing us with is a best-in-class product line, proprietary solutions to difficult situations,” noted Steve Presti, a Catalyst AV board member from Roberts Associates. “Outdoor audio as well as lighting, low voltage profitability, and incredible dealer, tech support, and design services. It doesn’t get much better than that!”

A Family Business For More Than 50 Years

Born in the Florida Keys, Coastal Source is the brainchild of the D’Ascanio brothers, Tony, Franco, and Amedeo. Their company, D’Asign Source, designs and builds waterfront estate properties. With more than 50 years of experience, they have faced countless encounters with products boasting lifetime warranties and claiming to be rustproof, marine-quality, and 100-percent corrosion resistant. Yet these products typically deteriorated in the harsh, coastal Florida environment, often quickly.

Starting in the 1970s, the D’Ascanios began to design and manufacture truly weatherproof outdoor speakers and audio systems. They also experimented with incorporating exotic materials into concrete molds to arrive at more durable architectural elements and features. These experiments led to the design of new materials and technologies they continue to incorporate into the properties they build.

The D’Ascanios pushed to find exterior fixtures, hardware, and accessories that would stand up to the harsh conditions in their coastal environment. A number of companies were designing products for the coastal market, but after thorough investigation, testing, and real-world trials, the vast majority of these companies only addressed coastal needs in a superficial way, according to Coastal Source. In fact, many large manufacturers actually void their warranty if the item is within a few miles of a saltwater coast. Due to this, coastal contractors and homeowners often chose to buy a replacement product, rather than deal with a manufacturer. The market simply did not work well for coastal residents who wanted to purchase quality products backed by a meaningful warranty. Not satisfied with these industry standards, the brothers invested in staff and equipment to produce truly coastal-quality products for the home.

To manufacture and distribute these types of products, the D’Ascanios turned to longtime D’Asign Source clients, the Zimmermann family, who shared the D’Ascanios’ vision. Through their family business, Artcraft Promotional Products, the Zimmermanns had built world-class capabilities in domestic and overseas manufacturing, distribution, web, and catalog sales. More importantly, they shared the same family business ethics and passion for quality as the D’Ascanios.

Based in Los Angeles, Maureen Jenson is a contributing writer to Residential Systems.

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