Integrator Fueled by Energy Efficiency

"LED retrofit lighting over the next five years will grow to a $50 billion-a-year business,” says HomeTronics Lifestyles owner Jim Sweeney, so we can see why he thinks going green will bring more green to his own company.

CE Pro Editors · July 18, 2011

Jim Sweeney is driving to yet another appointment in Connecticut. This meeting is with the owner of 20 buildings, including 11 Dunkin’ Donuts shops and five restaurants.

The guy has a million-dollar energy bill on his Dunkin’ Donuts shops alone. Sweeney plans to talk with him about reducing that bill - and he has several energy-saving services in his tool kit.

Sweeney’s company, HomeTronics Lifestyles, in Durham, Conn., has expanded to provide a host of green tech services in the last couple of years - and he isn’t satisfied with popping a few energy monitors into the high-end residences HomeTronics services on Connecticut’s Gold Coast. HomeTronics also does commercial work and performs solar thermal installations, has the New England distributorship for Solais LED lighting, and is an energy broker in Connecticut with licenses pending in New York and Pennsylvania.

Quick Stats
Name: HomeTronics Lifestyles and Eco-Tronics
Location: Durham, Conn.
Principals: James Sweeney, partner; Michael Purcell, partner
Years in Business: 33
Number of Employees 6
Revenues (2010): $1 million +
Residential/Commercial Split: 90% residential, soon to be 70% commercial
Top Brands: Schneider, Elan, HAI, Vantage,Sonance, Solais LED, LED Dynamics, LED Saving Solutions
FYI: Look at the green market and get certified.

At one point, Sweeney had four business cards: HomeTronics Lifestyles, HomeTronics Solar, HomeTronics Power (the energy brokerage) and Solais. Though now the commercial and green tech parts of the business will come under the name Eco-Tronics, an LLC with the same owners as HomeTronics Lifestyles.

Sweeney reports later that the meeting with the Dunkin’ Donuts franchise owner went well, though HomeTronics won’t be doing the Dunkins’ jobs, as they’re in another state. “We put together a proposal for solar thermal and for all his A/V and camera work [for one of the restaurants]. It looks like a $50,000-plus job for A/V, and this would never have happened without green,” he says.

The green part of the job also includes LED lighting in the kitchen, dining and bar areas and parking lot. “It looks like we can save the restaurant $31,000 per location, plus the savings from solar thermal,” Sweeney says.

Photos: Integrator Fueled by Energy Efficiency

Sweeney is also pursuing country clubs and going after their lighting business. “And now that we can talk about being an energy management company, the first thing they have to do is give me their electric bill,” he says. “Then I can tell them I can save them thousands” via the energy brokerage part of the business.

Like many custom electronics firms, HomeTronics Lifestyles has been hit hard by the economy and dwindling A/V margins. In the last couple of years the company has laid off 12 people and closed a showroom. But it cleared $1 million in revenues last year, and Sweeney is looking at 18-month sales projects of $10 million for Eco-Tronics and $3 million for HomeTronics Lifestyles.

Yes, he’s banking heavily on the “Eco” side of the business.

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