How Security, Pro Audio Companies Can Migrate into Integration Successfully
Two integrators from security and pro audio backgrounds explain how they relied on key vendors, including Lutron, to help make the move to residential integration.
It’s not easy for an integrator to make the leap into a new product category, specialty or target market. Often, the insecurity of taking that first step can prevent a CE pro from moving into a lucrative area of the business or addressing a different demographic segment. That’s where strong partnerships and guidance from a supplier can come in handy to help dealers overcome these challenges.
That was the situation with two integration companies - TYM Security in Fort Worth, Texas and Acoustic Visual Innovations in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. - which both relied heavily on Lutron Electronics to move their respective companies successfully into the residential automation/integration, motorized shade and lighting control business, and help them target new clients in different income brackets.
Adopting an Automation Portfolio
For TYM Security’s Matt Montgomery, president, and Greg Montgomery, vice president technical operations, it all began back in 2009. The company also builds homes under the name TYM Homes and has locations in Fort Worth, Texas, Boise, Idaho, Salt Lake City, Utah, and Dallas.
Four years ago, the duo believed it was time to offer customers more features. “Features that they would actually interact with and use,” says Matt. While stand-alone security systems serve a useful purpose, clients don’t tend to interact with these systems consistently, which led eventually to a perceived devaluation of owning an alarm system. On the one hand, control systems interact with lights, shades and thermostats, so homeowners are bound to use the system more often and feel they offer a greater sense of value.
According to Greg, the company has been integrating lighting for years but his sales team had “lost their enthusiasm” with the products. “We wanted to offer products customers would be excited about, and want to talk about and tell their friends about,” he notes.
Back then, security-based TYM was reliant on partnering with other trades, such as electricians or custom installation companies, to help get their integration projects completed. Also, Greg says the service component was larger than expected, citing that it was a lot of trial and error experience with Z-Wave devices.
“It was a lot of fun, but it felt more bleeding edge than cutting edge,” he says. With the help of local distributor Automated Outlet, TYM Security evolved.
“We actually went from being a security company that was offering some automation, to being a company that now offers more, control, automation, integration, lighting, blinds etc., than we do security,” says Greg.
The story is similar for Raman Bahlawan, president of Acoustic Visual Innovations. The company started back in 1988 focused on professional audio, doing A/V for night clubs, concerts and live music shows. By 1995, the company started dabbling in the residential space, and by 2005 it was doing whole-house control and automation, including lighting and shades.
Finding Scalable Products is Key
The key for both companies was embracing the right product lines, including Lutron and others. According to Montgomery, he wanted vendors that offered strong service and training, and products that can integrate with other product lines.
“Lutron is the first product I’ve seen that does all of that, so we can offer it as a correct and best solution to more people,” he says. Montgomery says the flexibility of Lutron systems has been instrumental in helping TYM solidify business with a homebuilder in Salt Lake City that has two demographic types of clients: Older generation customers who are non-technical, and clients with high-end custom homes hungry to have the latest tech gadgets.
“Lutron lights and shades fit both customers’ needs perfectly,” says Greg. “That homebuilder is thrilled because they can use one product for their very diverse range of clients, and their staff and Realtors can learn it easily.” He cited popular features such as the stand-alone capability of the system, along with the ability to tie it into security or home control, as the key selling points.
Jason has covered low-voltage electronics as an editor since 1990. He joined EH Publishing in 2000, and before that served as publisher and editor of Security Sales, a leading magazine for the security industry. He served as chairman of the Security Industry Association’s Education Committee from 2000-2004 and sat on the board of that association from 1998-2002. He is also a former board member of the Alarm Industry Research and Educational Foundation. He is currently a member of the CEDIA Education Action Team for Electronic Systems Business. Jason graduated from the University of Southern California. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Jason at firstname.lastname@example.org
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