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CE Pro of the Week: Wallace Hattenhauer, HomeTroniX

This week’s honoree makes the “Geek Squad look like the Extremely Weak Squad.”


Tom LeBlanc · July 16, 2010

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Wallace Hattenhauer, owner, HomeTroniX

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)?

HomeTroniX is Arkansas’ premier A/V integrator, specializing in the design, sales, and installation of electronics and automated devices.

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

“You have no idea the things this company is capable of.  I mean, I can control my pool fountain, security system, lights, cameras, door locks, garage door, even the kids’ TV from my iPhone and iPad!

“These guys are geek on an entirely different level!  They make the Geek Squad look like the Extremely Weak Squad!”

HomeTroniX
  • Principal: Wallace Hattenhauer, owner
  • Location: Little Rock, Ark.
  • Web site: http://www.myhometronix.com
  • Years in Business: 6
  • Number of employees: 6
  • Residential/Commercial Split: 70%/30%
  • Number of 2009 Installations: 95
  • Top 3 Brands: Control4, Crestron, Klipsh

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

Integrators need to think more like the consumer they used to be before running their business. Sure, we all want to make money, but who wants a client that feels like they got ripped off? That is never good for long-term business relationships. 

We strive to provide competitive pricing because customers do have a choice. Our product is desirable, but not a necessity. In a down economy many customers will downsize/downgrade a system if they can get “close” to what they want from a big-box store at a cheap price. 

You have to learn to sell at a reasonable margin, high volume and keep your overhead low.  Then nourish your relationships with clients and they will keep coming back to you for everything. Make up for margin by selling more services.

What trade tip can you offer your fellow CE pros?

There’s nothing unique about it, but just make your customers feel like they always win.

The key here is feel like they win. That feeling makes them talk to friends who want to feel like they won too.  Then their friends call you because they think they will win and they usually buy stuff too. 

Everybody likes the feeling you get when you think you’ve won!

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

Motorized speakers out of the floor, recessed motorized projector in a 11-inch ceiling space (think about it!), motorized shading that moves as the sun rises and falls.

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

We implement 3D systems where the customer really wants it.

I think the industry will not let it die, much like HDMI. Even if the technology is not the best it is a hot-selling item that makes people say, “Maybe I should get 3D instead.” 

The industry will make it commonplace in such a way that it will be considered the norm even if the content looks worse in 3D.

What is your absolute favorite piece of audio demo material?

Me personally, I like Cake, pretty much anything by them. 

I guess the main reason would be the creative use of real instruments and their arrangements. There are lots of small nuances available in many tracks that make one appreciate a great system. 

However, it never hurts to throw in something like Sting, TobyMac, Norah Jones, Jack Johnson and even Ludacris, based on the audience preference.

What is your absolute favorite piece of video demo material?

Anything from Pixar, especially The Incredibles and Cars, lots of dynamic range in those movies as well as carefully arranged surround effects. 

I also really like to play Super Speedway (the IMAX version).  I could watch that over and over; you have no idea how real that video feels until you have been in a car that low and that fast! 

Another good one is Open Range. The landscape shots are breathtaking! 

And let’s not forget … oh, I better stop, you did say “absolute favorite.” I have a lot of favorites.

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

I am a root beer bottle collector and have well over 50 different brands so far. I never come home with just one, though, because my best friend from college (Drew) and I have been collecting since 1995.  Anywhere in the world either of us travel we always look for one that we don’t have, find a way to get two bottles, then have a “commissioning” ceremony to drink them and add to our collection. My wife thinks we are nuts, but it has been a great hobby! 

I also race cars and have abnormally large hands.

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It’s not what you’d call a conventional choice for audio demo material, but Hattenhauer likes to use “pretty much anything” from Cake because of their creative arrangements and small nuances.

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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