Neat-O: Closing the Case on Another Takeover Job

Tom Marino from Advanced Technologies tackled a wiring job so messy the panel enclosure wouldn’t shut.


If you’re a custom integrator in Louisiana, Tom Marino might be chomping at the bit for you to earn more projects … because there’s a good chance he’ll be turning some into his own projects down the road.

It’s nothing personal, it’s just that based on what he sees in the field and gets called upon to clean up, there’s plenty to keep Marino’s Advanced Technologies busy in addition to its own jobs — at least based on the Baton Rouge, La.-based installer’s numerous submissions to our Neat-o! department over the years.

The latest case in point was this takeover job called in by a homeowner who couldn’t hide the wiring mess of a panel enclosure left behind by the original integrator.

“It’s amazing when I open the covers of these messy panels how the guts fall out … in this case, the cover couldn’t be installed,” says Marino. “Folks are always trying to cram too much into a small space.”

Not helping matters was the fact that this equipment closet used for the security job wasn’t exactly the most ideal setting for wires and gear. It was in an upstairs clothes closet, and in the sticky bayou to begin with it also did not help that leaking air from the attic made the room extremely hot, Marino says.

For this cleanup job, Marino says after connecting with the homeowner he went to the site to diagnose and replace numerous bad components. Advanced Technologies’ typical course of action involves the discovery process “to find out what works, what used to work and what never worked,” he says; next, developing an action plan; checking on parts and system availability, especially since cleanups often contain systems with discontinued or unavailable pieces; and then presenting whatever new options the client might want to consider.

Related: Neat-O: Wireless System Rebuilt for ‘This Old House’ in Wake of Superstorm Sandy

Marino says Advanced Technologies replaced the intercom main control board and two door stations, as well as the main security controller circuit board for this project, which he estimates took roughly eight man-hours spread over several days due to various parts orders.

“We relieved the stress and kinking on the cables on the backside and sealed all the holes on the back of the panel. We replaced the tie wraps with Velcro, and we moved the modem and router out of the panel to a shelf above — doing this increases the Wi-Fi range,” he says. “So there were some re-terminations, adding some surge protection, part swaps, some new cables, moving components to the shelf, re-programming and they were good to go.”

All in all the work proved to be pretty straightforward, Marino says. He did not manage to do any significant systems upselling, he says, but he did secure a new monitoring contract as well as foster referral potential.

“To the client it was like finally, after eight years, having his job finished because the cover was installed and closed for the first time.”