News

What’s in a Company Name?

Raymond Earl was forced to spend $15,000 to completely rebrand his company after letting his website URL lapse.


Companies that bear the owner’s name in their titles convey the message to the customer that the highest levels of management are devoted to getting the job done right, says Raymond Earl, founder of Raymond Earl Design (RED).
Jason Knott · October 15, 2013

Results and Costs

In the end, the biggest challenge in renaming RED was the time and the hassle. Earl estimates the direct costs for the rebranding were about $15,000. “The unaccounted for time, aggravation and efforts were much, much more [valuable]. Yes, I would do it again; however, I doubt I’ll have to since I used my name and I don’t have any plans to change that,” he jokes.

Coming out of the recession, the rebranding project couldn’t have been better timed to revitalize the spirits of the entire company.

“Honestly we were all a little disheartened after the 2007-2011 economic downturn. I came up with the rebranding just before the recovery and people saw me as a leader and investor in the future and in business in general and that was good. Some of the people who had gone out of business and dropped their customers are back now that the economy is picking up and thankfully most see them for who they are: opportunists who didn’t run their business well then and probably won’t now that they are back. My business conservatism helps my customers to be con dent in my company’s future ability to serve them,” he says.

How Naming the Company After Yourself Helps

Doctors and dentists name their practices after themselves, so why shouldn’t integrators? It’s a question as old as the industry. Many integrators who have plans to use their company as an exit strategy balk at using their own name in the company title, because once they are gone, so is the company, in essence.

imageThe rebranded brochures for RED.

But for Earl, renaming his company Raymond Earl Design helps emphasize the company’s customer service roots. Earl’s transition into the custom electronics space was much less sudden as the speed at which he had to rename his company. As a youth, he was always fascinated by electronics, primarily because of his love of music and technology. He was one of those kids that built tube and transistor-based components and speakers in his spare time. In college he focused on business, and in 1981 he joined a commercial integration company in San Diego to work on systems for indoor and outdoor performance theaters. That led to later working for a high-performance audio company.

“I made far less money but enjoyed it immensely. One thing led to another and I was doing custom audio in large homes along the coast,” he recalls. “I’d like to apologize to any integrators who come across the jobs I did while I was learning. I still think about some crazy tech I did in the early days. I was one of the early adopters of taking commercial equipment [including AMX products] and using it in high-end homes to simplify the controls. We were one of the first dealers for Audioaccess and AudioEase, which I really liked,” he says.

Today, RED uses Crestron and Savant as its primary controls with a primary focus on residential multiroom A/V, home theater and lighting control and shades. RED also offers DirecTV and home networking services, along with some remote management. The company also does some light commercial work in restaurants, boardrooms, and conference meeting rooms.

But no matter the niche, RED’s emphasis is on customer service. “Really we are looking for the customer who appreciates quality rather than a specific install type,” notes Earl. “We are very good at retrofits and new construction so it doesn’t matter as long as they want a quality job.”

He recalls one recent customer who came to appreciate the attention RED gives to each job.

“We had a customer recently who agreed to the cost of a simple system and then griped every time I saw him about the installation time it was taking to retrofit a system in his custom home,” says Earl. “When we were done he again griped about the cost. So as he wrote a check I told him that since he was so unhappy with the care we took with his beautiful home to ensure a quality installation that he would probably be happier with someone less careful next time. We enjoy doing careful quality work and installing quality components. Trying to make us feel bad or like we are taking advantage of him for doing a good job isn’t the kind of way we like to work. It was interesting then how he changed his ‘tune’ to how much he liked it,” remarks Earl.

That attention to detail works as a guiding principle for RED. “The toughest thing in business is learning to say ‘no’ to projects that are not going to be good for your business. Many years ago a wealthy client told me that ‘10 percent of your customers will cause 90 percent of your problems. Identify them and run the other direction.’ It was wise advice,” says Earl.

Since the California Central Coast wine country region where Earl is based is a magnet for second homes, the RED crew spends quite a bit of time prepping vacation homes for clients and working on weekends responding to service issues with DirecTV or Apple TV units.

“But we enjoy helping. I don’t worry about competition,” he says.



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  About the Author

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 jknott@ehpub.com

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