On a visit to RTI in the Minneapolis area recently, I learned that the most exciting thing happening at the home-automation company these days is … actually kind of boring.
And that’s a good thing.
Instead of focusing on bells and whistles and the next big thing, RTI is hunkering down, finishing what they started, and “stepping up to support dealers,” says CEO Ed McConaghay, who joined the company earlier this year.
Like many manufacturers in the home-tech business, RTI in the past has been – shall we say – a little overzealous about future technology, promising the next blockbuster and then struggling to deliver sometimes years after the hype began. Meanwhile, often the here-and-now stuff suffered.
That’s all coming to a “screeching halt,” McConaghay says.
In fact, at ISE 2017 in Amsterdam just days after McConaghay came on board, RTI was fairly subdued about now technologies, focusing instead on existing gems.
To keep it lively, though, the company did show a few really cool (existing) remotes with some pretty awesome finishes including Ferrari red. The company made clear, however, that the products were just for grins, like “concept cars,” McConaghay said back then. The units sat on a pedestal covered by a acrylic box so it was clear they were just showpieces celebrating RTI's 25th anniversary, rather than “real” products.
Just a 'Concept Car'
At ISE 2017, RTI focused on the here-and-now instead of future products. Even so, the company showed some bling encased in acrylic, making it was clear the remotes were just showpieces in celebration of RTI's 25-year anniversary, not “real” products.
While RTI has a product-management team exploring future technology opportunities, the company mostly is hyper-focused on today, McConaghay explains.
That means wrapping up the new Apex programming platform that RTI announced five years ago with much fanfare at CEDIA 2012 … and then again at CEDIA 2013 … and 2014 and so on.
This year at CEDIA 2017, RTI should be ready with the platform, or at least very very close.
During my visit, RTI’s global sales team was at the office all week, training on Apex. They would be heading back home to work with distributors there.
Meanwhile, RTI is hitting the road in the U.S. – there will be “a lot more visits on the road,” according to McConaghay – to train distributors, who will in turn train dealers in their respective regions.
“We really believe in distribution,” he says. “We’re doubling down to support them.”
That support includes allowing them to order any quantity of product and drop ship directly to dealers.
What Dealers Need … What They Really Need
Back at ISE 2017, McConaghay says he spent his time just listening to dealers. When he would ask, “What do you need from us?” the dealers inevitably talked tech, describing new features they wanted in RTI products.
He continues: “So I would say, 'No, what else do you need? What else besides features?”
For their part, dealers will enjoy new programs that RTI doesn’t want to divulge right now … because that’s how they roll these days, waiting until their plans are at least mostly baked before making a big splash.
What is certain is that dealers will enjoy enhanced tech support from RTI, as well as a steady stream of new home-automation drivers, thanks to the recent hire of new integration engineers.
Internationally, RTI just scored a major coup in Asia, the Middle East and Africa, signing on with the big distributor there, Mindstec. RTI and sister company Pro Control replace Crestron as Mindstec’s new go-to brand for remote controls and home automation.
So what will we see at CEDIA 2017? Surprise … they’re not saying just yet.