Ex-Bon Jovi Tour Member Rocks One-Man Shop
Nick Tamburri’s Aggressive Home Automation & Design, Inc. caters to rock stars and everyday clients with superb technical expertise and customer service.
His background is the material of high-school boy dreams. Nick Tamburri, CEO and president of Aggressive Home Automation & Design, Inc., (AHA & Design), spent a portion of his life as part of the inner circle of the platinum-selling rock band Bon Jovi. As a childhood friend of Richie Sambora, Jon Bon Jovi, Don Maggi (founder of iMaggination, Inc.) and company, Tamburri served as the band’s Winston Wolfe (think Pulp Fiction) while enjoying the excesses of the rock-and-roll lifestyle.
By the mid 1990s, however, Tamburri grew tired of the travel, girls, parties and general, non-stop nature of his rock-and-roll existence and decided to leave the business. By 1997, the charismatic and bluntly honest New Jersey native set up shop in a burgeoning new industry: custom electronics.
Now 15 years later, Tamburri operates a thriving one-man shop just outside of New York City in Newark, N.J., and in true “Nitro Nick” fashion, the outspoken electronics professional is out to show everyone that not all single-person shops are the trunk slammers that big firms make them out to be. His focus on training, customer service and technological expertise has helped AHA & Design stay a small, nimble integration company.
Who Says You Can’t Go Home
Anyone who has met “Nitro Nick” Tamburri knows that he operates at one speed: full throttle. That approach to life started long before he and his close-knit circle of friends achieved the highest levels of fame and success that a group of Jersey kids could ever imagine. Surprisingly, though after years of living a rock-and-roll life Tamburri had his fill. Looking back on that period, Tamburri says it did provide him with invaluable experience on learning how to make things work even when circumstances weren’t ideal. Tamburri says the one thing that has remained consistent from his rock-and-roll days to now is that knowledge is still king.
“The guys [Bon Jovi] needed personalized control of their properties and that’s how I got into the business,” he recalls. “The major thing that hasn’t changed since those days is that I still have to learn about every product on the market. I do that so I’m not just slapping in a product or system and installing it. You need to research and educate yourself. Back then you didn’t have the Internet like we do now, so now you can research products in advance before they actually come out.”
Years in Business: 14
Number of Employees: 1
Specialty: This is a tough one … control and automation, home management systems
Top 5 Brands: HAI, Crestron, URC, Triad Speakers, Liberty Wire & Cable
FYI: Look for another business … no just kidding. You have to be available to your customer on a 24-hour basis because you’ve got control of their home, and if they’re watching a football game for example, they want the problem fixed. Availability and service is number one.
During his early days in the business Tamburri’s expertise lied in A/V - Jay Vicari, the sound engineer for Saturday Night Live, mentored Tamburri - as well as the security products offered by the Pennsylvania-based distributor Worthington Distribution, which supported him with manufacturer training. Later with the support of the Worthington training, Tamburri was able to diversify his knowledge base to other categories that included home control and automation, networking and commercial electronics.
More recently Tamburri followed the advice of Worthington’s founder, Richard Scholl, and joined the Consumer Electronics Association’s (CEA) TechHome Division to help him learn more about the industry on a broader scale. Tamburri now is a board member of the trade organization, which is designed to help small custom electronics businesses compete in a market filled with big-box stores and online retailers.
“The information on the TechHome website has lots of white papers and the CEA spends lots of money on research,” he points out. “It’s great to have all that access [to the CEA’s industry statistical information]. The information is priceless, because the numbers represent what the public is doing.”
Driven by his ever-increasing knowledge and desire to be the best, Tamburri has seen his company grow even during times of economic recession. Resisting the temptation that comes with growth, he remains committed to maintaining control over his small business even during his company’s highest revenue periods to ensure his comfort level.
Reflecting back on those decisions to keep his company simple, he asserts that his conservative approach likely saved AHA & Design from going out of business, particularly back when he started the company.
“If I would have tried to expand, I probably would have endured financial hardship,” he admits. “So I kept it [my business] small and simple.”
I’ll Be There for You
Real estate agents often tell perspective business clients that “location, location, location” is the key to building a robust business. Tamburri applies the same, single-minded philosophy, but with his business it’s service, service, service.
“Service is the most important thing, as well as talking to the customer as a human and giving them options. Because when you are in someone’s home you are a reflection of what they want. Some customers know what they want, so you build up a trust and relationship. That includes everyone from the parents to the kids.
“I’m working on a project now with a family who has a son with health issues and I put some technology in the house so they could monitor his status. An A/V guy may just install a basic system. I want to provide a service on a personal level. I want them to go to me and not the big-box store. You get personal service from a custom installer. If I can help someone with technology, it makes the customer happy and I have a customer for life. Most of my customers turn into permanent business relationships.”
Beyond the challenge of meeting his customer service standards, Tamburri says - like many other small custom installation owners - the ancillary tasks outside of the technical aspects of the job are the biggest burden to his company. “The office-work part of it is time consuming. You have to keep a pen and pencil handy even while you are driving,” he admits. “You can’t do those tasks electronically. You need checklists to keep priorities.”
Bob is an audio enthusiast who has written about consumer electronics for various publications within Massachusetts before joining the staff of CE Pro in 2000. Bob is THX Level I certified, and he's also taken classes from the Imaging Science Foundation (ISF) and Home Acoustics Alliance (HAA). In addition, he's studied guitar and music theory at Sarrin Music Studios in Wakefield, Mass. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Robert at [email protected]
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