NHL Star Kris Letang Replicates Showroom in Home 2,500 Miles Away
Eagle Sentry replicated its showroom for Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Kris Letang 2,500 miles away in Canada. The project cost $250,000 and involved using local vendors in Montreal.
Jason Knott · December 5, 2014
As a lifelong Pittsburgh Penguins hockey fan, Eagle Sentry president Ray Ladesic was giddy with excitement when he discovered that several of his high profile clients were friends with the team’s superstar defenseman Kris Letang. So Ladesic thought it would be great to have Letang and his fiancé visit Eagle Sentry’s 7,000-square-foot showroom while they were in Las Vegas last year.
Little did he or his partner Greg Simmons know that after a demo, Letang would decide he wanted to literally replicate the technology he experienced in Eagle Sentry’s showroom in his soon-to-be-built 5,900-square-foot custom home … outside Montreal, Canada.
That’s when the work really began for the perennial CE Pro 100 integration firm. Over the next year, Eagle Sentry’s management of the project 2,500 miles away necessitated creating a series of designs, finding a quality installation partner in Canada, building a rapport with the builder, communicating constantly via phone and FaceTime, leveraging membership in the ProSource buying group to organize product deliveries through customs, and ultimately making three trips to Montreal. It was a learning experience that proved fruitful in the end for Eagle Sentry on how to manage a project remotely in a foreign country.
The result is a $250,000 project worthy of a celebrity client that melds home automation, security, motorized shades, audio, video and home theater. It’s an achievement that not many custom integrators would even dream of attempting to execute.
Here’s how Eagle Sentry did it.
Getting the Job with Separate Contracts
Eagle Sentry has managed remote projects before. The company has quite a few Vegas-based clients with second homes in the ski resort town of Park City, Utah, so Ladesic and Simmons are used to handling projects in other areas. But this would be their first experience leading a project so far away, not to mention their first outside the United States.
While Letang was touring Eagle Sentry’s showroom, he got a chance to play with the Control4 home control interfaces, move the Lutron motorized shades up and down, and watch a few Blu-rays in the home theater.
“It was a massive eye opening for him,” recalls Simmons. “He never had experienced anything like it before. He immediately wanted the entirety of the system.”
Because playing hockey in the NHL involves lots of travel, Letang had one main priority: The technology had to be simple and intuitive to use so his fiancé could manipulate it easily, and so when he returned back home during the off-season he didn’t have to re-learn all of the systems and controls.
Simmons’ first step was to create a very detailed proposal for the system. After several iterations back and forth with Letang, the design was approved. But before the contract could be signed, Simmons hopped on a plane in May 2014 and flew to Montreal to meet with the home builder. He brought with him the mutual friend who had referred Letang to Eagle Sentry.
“He is French speaking so I knew I would need a translator,” says Simmons. “I also wanted to get his personal feedback on the builder, the home and the neighborhood.”
But that initial fact-finding trip was more than just a site visit. “I wanted them to be comfortable with me,” says Simmons. “I was the intruder. I wanted the builder to trust me and feel good about my knowledge and design. I knew I already had two strikes against me. I didn’t want to be the ‘big shot from Vegas’ walking all over everyone.”
The next step was finding a local integrator in Montreal to act as the labor. That’s where having tight relationships with your vendors helps an integrator. Simmons was able to turn to Control4, which recommended Domo Prestige. The company, which was formed two years ago, is run by three veteran integrators with more than a decade of experience: Jean-Francois Pelchat, Patrice Robidoux and Jonathan Robillard. Today, Domo has a total of 10 employees with two retail locations, and it’s a Control4 platinum dealer.
“I have been doing Control4 since 2009,” says Robillard. “We touch pretty much every type of residential and commercial market. We just opened our second store four months ago. It’s a 6,000-squarefoot completed automated showroom where we are now able to display everything that home automation has to offer.”
He continues, “Greg and I met at Kris’s house during construction. We got along from the beginning. We looked at the plan, discussed what he had already quoted for the project. It was fairly easy to replicate the concepts since we both have a high level of workmanship.”
Robillard says the only changes he made in the design were swapping out some equipment that is better suited to withstand the cold Canadian winters.
“It’s a little different here versus Vegas,” he jokes about the climate.
With Domo onboard and a comfort level established, Letang signed a contract with Eagle for the design and project management, and a separate contract directly with Domo Prestige for the labor. Domo will also be servicing the system post-installation.
But there was one more wrinkle to take care of — Domo Prestige does not do motorized shades, and the design calls for 22 window treatments. To date, motorized shades/drapes/blinds are not quite as popular in Canada as they are in the U.S.
So, Simmons turned to Lutron. In similar fashion to what Control4 did, Lutron identified Store Spec Inc., a local Montreal-area shading contractor, for the job and subsequently Letang signed a direct contract with owners Ronald and Jonathan Riley.
“Building the team is critical,” says Simmons in regards to doing a remote project. “It all boils down to how critical the manufacturer’s knowledge is in local markets so they can recommend a great partner.”
Managing the Project
The installation itself was similar to any other high-end project in the United States. But when you are half a continent away and on a different time zone, it complicates things. Simmons flew back up in June for his second visit during the beginning of the rough-in phase and met with the entire team.
“From that moment on, we were in touch daily, then at least once a week after rough-in,” says Simmons. “Using FaceTime was critical. Jonathan and I communicated regularly. It was like I was there with him and critical to our success. He could show me exactly what was happening on the job site and send me photos.”
In addition, Letang himself was off site because the Penguins made the NHL playoffs last season. So communication with the client was also difficult. Simmons’ third and final trip in August coincided with the pre-trim phase. He did an entire walkthrough with Robillard, Riley, Letang and his representatives. He also laid out the IC Realtime security camera system at that point, which was a key component Letang requested.
IC Realtime president Matt Sailor notes about his equipment on the job, “It is our commitment to offer a fully integrated security solution into all of the smart home solutions. Our goal is to be totally hardware agnostic in the way that we can seamlessly interface with all types of devices, not just in the smart home world but in the entire M-M (machine to machine) connected universe.”
There were challenges to be overcome for sure. For example, getting the equipment shipped to the jobsite meant dealing with customs. To accomplish that, Simmons turned to the ProSource buying group. With help from ProSource’s Jim Ristow and Andy Orozco, Simmons was able to organize the delivery timing for each piece of equipment, noting that every vendor “was super help-ful” getting their products through international customs. He cited Epson, Control4, IC Realtime, Integra, Lutron, Bowers & Wilkins and Vutec in particular.
Speaking of Vutec, Simmons says the Coral Springs, Fla.-based company built and delivered the custom 124-inch perfo-rated fixed screen for the home theater in record time. Features of the basement the-ater include a ceiling surface-mount Epson projector, Integra components and B&W speakers. Throughout the home there are 32 B&W speakers in a multiroom audio system powered and controlled with Control4, a full perimeter Paradox security system with eight IC Realtime IP cameras, lighting control by Control4, Leon soundbars for flat panels, and 22 automated Lutron shades.
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 [email protected]
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