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CE Pro of the Week: Steven K. Sumners, Sound Insights

Compare and contrast this week’s honoree with Homer Simpson.


Tom LeBlanc · August 6, 2010

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Steven K. Sumners, CEO, Sound Insights

Each week, we aim to provide an informative - yet colorful - profile of one of your fellow CE pros. Interested in being featured yourself? See below.

How would you use Twitter to describe what your company does (140 character limit)?

Where Technology and Entertainment Become One with easy to understand control and extreme attention to detail

After you complete a project, what do you think your typical client tells his friend about the experience?

“Look at this! The techs at Sound Insights were professional, they treated my house with respect, arrived when expected, finished on time, exceeded my expectations and the best part … It works!!”

Sound Insights
  • Principal: Steven K. Sumners, CEO
  • Location: Jensen Beach, Fla. (“hybrid office … with great boardroom and small theater”)
  • Web site: http://www.sound-insights.com
  • Years in Business: 13
  • Number of employees: 8
  • Residential/Commercial Split: 80%/20%
  • Number of 2009 Installations: 26
  • Top 3 Brands: Crestron, Kaleidescape, McIntosh

What can CE pros learn from your company to make them think differently and run their business better?

I believe that providing your clients with exceptional service is becoming a lost art.

It’s more than just designing a system that works.

It’s listening to your clients about what they want and what type of budget they have.

It’s responding to a cell phone call at 11 p.m. on a Saturday night. (Yes, all my clients have my cell number and are encouraged to use it.)

It’s checking in with them from time to time after the install is completed.

It’s providing them an experience that they cannot find anywhere else.

Once they experience this level of service you have a client for life and probably most of their friends and family. We strive to deal with the more affluent and they expect—but rarely find—this type of service. 

What trade tip can you offer your fellow CE pros?

It’s not unique; it’s just not done as much as it should be.

When you develop a system for your clients, develop a very detailed scope of work document that is included in the proposal. This will protect you from the never-ending “I thought I was getting this” and show value for project.

When this level of attention to detail is observed by your clients they usually don’t worry about you; they worry about the other trades. They won’t read it, but most will look at it and get a better understanding on what it takes to complete the project.

What’s the wildest request you’ve ever had for an installation?

We were asked to design a system of night/day cameras on remote sections of beach front for a Homeland Security matter. We had to design a method of solar power for the cameras as well as a mesh network to stream the video and allow IP control of the cameras at the central station. Very cool project!

What is your 3D strategy and do you think the technology will live up to the hype? 

I have seen several versions of 3D during the past few years but it seems to have hit a hot button with a lot of clients. Even though I tell my clients that it might still be too early to dive in, I will work with them to design a system that will work past the hype.
I still don’t think that most of my client understand that they will have to wear the glasses, and that they will have to have enough for all viewers. When we finally get a really good-looking 3D picture that does not require the donning of plastic uncomfortable glasses … well, we can always dream.

What is your absolute favorite piece of audio demo material?

Eagles’ Hell Freezes Over, “Hotel California.” I really love the bass track on this song—strong and tight.

What is your absolute favorite piece of video demo material?

The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension … no wait, that’s just a guilty pleasure.

Favorite video demo for me is Planet Earth on Blu-ray. It’s just amazing and the cinematography is in a class of its own.

What is something most people don’t know about you?

I used to be licensed by the U.S. government to control a nuclear power plant (insert Homer Simpson joke here) and volunteered my time in running a Little League program that served about 1,200 children. Both activities are something I will never forget.

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Based on the evidence at hand, this is what Steven K. Sumners did before Sound Insights.

Want to be a CE Pro of the Week? .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) with “CE Pro of the Week” in the subject line and I’ll ask you some questions.



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  About the Author

Tom has been covering consumer electronics for six years. Before that, he wrote for the sports department of the Boston Herald. Migrating to magazines, he was a staff editor for a golf publication and an outdoor sports publication. Now, as senior writer/technology editor of CE Pro magazine since 2003, he dabbles in all departments and offers expertise in marketing. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Tom at tom.leblanc@emeraldexpo.com

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