Control & Automation

Q&A: Brian van der Hagen, RTI Commercial Market GM

Talks commercial vs. residential control interfaces, building automation and iPads.

Brian van der Hagen, RTI commercial market general manager
Tom LeBlanc · October 1, 2010

Count Remote Technologies Inc. (RTI) among the automation companies looking to broaden its image. Once thought of as a pure residential control manufacturer—perhaps with a twist of commercial application—it has really embraced commercial during 2010 and is going to market as a residential and commercial company.

It even hired a commercial market general manager in June, Brian van der Hagen, to head up the pro division. Van der Hagen, who came from AMX where he also focused on the commercial market, talked to CE Pro about RTI’s plan for going commercial. 

Why has the commercial market become more important to RTI?
In the commercial space, there is a need for intuitive, easy-to-use solutions that offer simple programming. RTI understood that there was an opportunity for many of its dealers to migrate over to light commercial projects and we wanted to support this initiative.
Additionally, there is a growing demand in the commercial market for the type of solutions that RTI has become famous for—a broad assortment of affordable control options and a very efficient programming process.

Any words of warning for traditionally residential dealers approaching the commercial market?
They need to understand that there are different expectations, and actually a different way of doing business on the commercial side.

Commercial installations move much faster. While a dealer may work for years on a residential installation, commercial projects are very streamlined and straightforward. You get in and get out quickly.

There are also different motivations for why the product is there in the first place. In a residential space, an in-wall touchscreen controller is a luxury item, but in a commercial installation it is simply a tool. This difference will be reflected in the interface.

Can you elaborate on how residential and commercial interfaces should differ?
Control in a residence is a much more personal experience, because it’s in the home. As mentioned above, it’s a luxury item. In a commercial setting, an interface is designed to perform a specific task. There is no personal attachment to it. Therefore, the page layout and interface will have a different feel. Pages will be more utilitarian and very straightforward in a commercial space. The interface won’t be as intimate, and will feature fewer icons, graphics and animations.

  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

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  Article Topics

Control & Automation · Automation · News · Automation · Commercial · Control · Control Systems · iPad · RTI · All Topics
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