Home Automation Podcast Episode #5: An Industry Q&A With David Weinstein
An Interview with Lutron Electronics' VP of Residential Sales
This week's home automation podcast features our host Ron Callis interviewing David Weinstein. Recorded live on Thursday, June 1st, 2017 at 12:30 p.m. EST.
About David Weinstein
In his role at Lutron, David is responsible for leading sales across consumer facing channels including Residential Integrated Systems, Retail Integrator, and Lighting Showroom Sales Channels. David also focuses on the top 50 accounts across multiple channels while supporting, managing and closing many large residential projects and identifying and developing major business opportunities.
He has developed successful business and personal relationships with many of the company’s top and emerging customers around the globe and takes pride in his ability to build solid customer/specifier/rep relationships that foster mutual growth and success.
After joining Lutron, David led the launch and execution for the Earn and Learn Program and traveled to two cities per week for two years, hosting events with an average of 100 contractors. He trained more than 7,000 contractors in two years in multiple Lutron solutions.
He also led efforts to position Lutron as the world’s leading manufacturer of ultra-quiet precision-controlled automated window treatments while helping to close on many large residential and mixed-use projects.
His work with Lutron includes roles as Senior Sales Manager, Sales Director and Sales Vice President. As Northeast Area Leader, he received the Quota Buster Award and the Largest Single Specification award (for the Getty Museum) and was the first post-VIMCO global sales leader for the company’s commercial and residential shade business. He led efforts to successfully launch shades into the Residential Integrated Systems channel. His product line launch responsibility included Sivoia QED, RadioRA 2, and Sivoia QS Wireless Shades.
Prior to Lutron, he was employed at Yusen Associates, where he set up the first National Electrical Manufacturers Representatives Association (NEMRA) computer system, worked inside sales with product line responsibility (including Lutron), developed Yusen’s end-user sales program, greatly expanded Yusen’s presence across Connecticut and rose from sales person to president.
He also worked at a boat rental/marina company for many summers, starting at age 9, which he calls a summer dream job. While in high school, he was hired by the Town of Framingham to work in the computer department, where he learned Digital's Business Oriented Language (DIBOL).
He received the GEM Rising Star Award in front of the entire NEMRA audience at the national convention. He is a Certified Professional Manufacturers Representative graduate and has his Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) Lighting Education Certification. He is also a recipient of the CE Pro Unsung Hero Award.
David has served as President of the IES Connecticut Section, the Connecticut Electric Association and the Electric Institute, Boston. He currently serves on the Nominating and Technology committees of the American Lighting Association (ALA). He currently serves on CEDIA’s Board of Directors.
He has contributed articles to many publications and continues to support Electrical Wholesaling magazine, CE Pro magazine, Residential Systems magazine, Electronic House magazine, TecHome Builder publications and Commercial Contractor. His major speaking engagements/panel discussions include events at the Electric Institute, IES, NEMRA, the National Association of Electrical Distributors (NAED), CEDIA, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), TecHome Builder and webinars with CE Pro and other trade organizations.
David earned his B.S. in business administration at Northeastern University with a focus on marketing and management.
He spends most weekends and vacation weeks in the warm months on the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. He and his wife often cruise to Annapolis, Md., St. Michaels, Md., Cape May, N.J., and Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. He also enjoys skiing in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming.
He and his wife are residents of Allentown, PA.
In the interview, David spoke about his background in the industry and the role he plays at Lutron and CEDIA. He shared his insight with the audience on a variety of topics, such as:
- What integrators can expect from Lutron at CEDIA this year
- Resources available to Lutron customers and dealers
- Lutron's market strategy and focus on innovation
- Lutron's approach to building relationships on the construction/building side of home automation
- Underutilized market opportunities and how dealers can best take advantage of them
- DIY vs. Do It For Me business opportunities
- How millenial homebuyers are impacting the connected home market
- And more.
Ron: Hello ladies and gentlemen. Thank you for joining us. It is 12:30. It is what is today? Thursday, June 1st. I am Ron Callis. I'm excited to be with you guys again today and I'm excited to have my guest David Weinstein V.P. of residential sales at Lutron Electronics. And for those of you that aren't aware, aren't familiar with my background I actually got started in this industry 18 years ago when Lutron hired me out of college. And it feels like a long long time ago but I really credit my success professionally and in the integration industry with Lutron giving me that that great head start. So we are here for another episode of Automation Unplugged. This is episode number five and we're going to jump right to it. So let me bring up David so everyone can see him. David how are you , sir?
David: Good afternoon, Ron, I'm great. Happy June 1st. Great to be here with you.
Ron: Excellent. Now , David, as you know we're streaming live to our One Firefly Facebook page. So let me just do a quick tech check and make sure that that stream appears coming in. Ok bear with me here as I just update our page to make sure this. Yep there we are. We are live now. Folks that are out there watching. We want to make sure that it's not just me asking David questions but if you guys have any questions for David about Lutron, about his role you know managing residential sales for Lutron Electronics as well as his role on the board of directors or anything else please chat. David, Shawn Sturmer already says hello how are you sir. I'm going to do my best to live take any questions or comments that come in from the Facebook livestream. But let's go ahead and get started. David do you mind telling our audience a little bit about yourself specifically what's your current role with Lutron and what does that mean? And then I'd also like to understand you know kind of your background if you don't mind?
David: Sure. Well I am Vice President of residential sales at Lutron. I've been at Lutron now approaching 19 years and my responsibility is somewhat diversified. But one of my primary responsibilities is really ownership of the CEDIA or the residential systems-oriented channels for Lutron. I also have responsibility for a smaller but strategic channel called our lighting showroom channel and another niche channel which we call retail integrators which are really distribution oriented houses like Magnolia and BNO that drives some of our custom solutions through parts of their businesses and then some of my other focuses are development of our builder business from luxury down to the emerging mid-market with some of our newer products and I often get involved in some of our longer-term new business opportunities. Like many many years ago that was actually starting out in the shade side of our business.
David, how did you get started in this business? I mean you 've had a lot of varied roles at Lutron and I'm reading your resumé and everything that you've done it's an amazing set of accomplishments but how did you end up landing here in this space? Well , I'm called a gray here now with some of my colleagues which is not a bad thing at Lutron because we definitely don't age discriminate. But you know back in the 70s I went to Northeastern University and I coopt with a rep firm that I eventually became a part-owner of and actually we sold it called Yuesen Associates in New England. So it was the rep for Lutron as a matter of fact. So my background really has been in the lighting and electric construction side of the business. Literally from 1976 through 1999 at Yuesen, everything from working in their warehouse to setting up their computer system in the early early days to when I graduated I went down to Connecticut and I got involved in managing a territory for that agency. I always had a strong place in my heart for Lutron and lighting control however because I learned early that it opened a lot of doors it was a consultative sell it was innovation based. So all that time learning about engineers and architects and lighting designers and corporate clients and then of course I saw the early days of selling home systems into high-end residences. Which in the very early days, were not things like Homeworks , we had products like Orion which was our first digital microprocessor-based system but in any event , 23 years of experience as a rep, we sold our business in '99. That agency is now the longest standing agency for Lutron, still very very successful and I got the opportunity to come to neutron in 1999. So lots of years focused on the industry and certainly a lot of years with Lutron centric focus as well.
Ron: Now in addition to your role as V.P. of Residential Sales with Lutron, you are also on the CEDIA Board of Directors. Now is that a recent assignment or a recent position or is that something you've been doing for a while?
David: You know I was asked to join the board in January or shortly before January and I'm very excited to be on the CEDIA board and you know one of the things I'm learning is that we can all make a difference in terms of defining the future CEDIA. So right off the bat , they got me involved in certain committees. I'm on the strategy committee which is really developing a long term vision for where we are and where we need to go in terms of bringing value. But what I can say, CEDIA is extremely committed to the membership. They're very committed to helping members define greater value in their own businesses to really help professionalize the industry and you know to really deliver this premier level of quality and service based on being a senior member and a lot of the investment is going to go toward education and business development. Now there are a lot of articles early on when I joined the board based on the announcement of CEDIA selling the trade show to Emerald and I think you know while there may have even some initial concern of what's going on. I think what I learned is CEDIA spent so much of their resources disproportionately just managing the trade. They felt that if they offloaded that to a company that could do a better job that specializes in tradeshow management we would obviously still provide guidance and direction we would be able to focus on more of the day to day opportunities to bring greater value to the members which obviously includes the show. And in fact Lutron's a big investor in that show because it's a great place for us to see our dealers and introduce new products.
Ron: Yeah , I was gonna ask, Lutron, I always know it makes a very big presence at the CEDIA show every year. In fact , my very first CEDIA, I was there on behalf of Lutron back in I think 2000 or 2001. And so for all of my years attending the show electrons made a major presence and that continues how what's the Lutron position on the transition of the show over to Emerald?
David: Well it's transparent it should be transparent to any vendor and frankly , it should be transparent to any guest or attendee because again it's really just utilizing an industry specialized service to provide that value to CEDIA. But you know, for us CEDIA is a hugely important show because a significant number of our dealers and installers that buy through AV distribution come to CEDIA, the AV distribution community comes to CEDIA. And for us , CEDIA is always about the innovations that we're going to introduce to our dealers and of course our reps through our reps sales meeting prior to the show itself. And that becomes really the plan for the following year. So you know ..
Ron: Is CEDIA normally where you're launching your new products or exposing those to your reps? I guess maybe prior to the actual trade show floor where all of you know everyone else attends?
David: Absolutely. So we absolutely use CEDIA in our residential side of our business to launch our new products whether they be hardware, software lighting, shading and you know this year.
Ron: Are there any special insights you can share with our audience? You know give us a tip your hat perhaps a bit in terms of what's coming? It's only a couple of months away. I won't tell, don't worry it'll just stay between us.
David: Exactly. And you know you know we're fairly tight-lipped on our innovation and intellectual property until the right time. Here's what I can say, we spend well over 10 percent of our sales revenue every year as a company in research and development. You know there are many many engineers at work in buildings that surround the building I'm in, to really envision create and introduce those innovations. This year CEDIA, we plan to disproportionately focus on our residential solutions. So what I can say for folks that are thinking of coming or are coming. You'll definitely see some very exciting innovations across our lighting control our shading solutions and our lighting fixture business in 2017. Lots of new market expanding products, everything from the high-performance luxury to the emerging midmarket , and of course we're continuing to invest in our shading business which is growing by double-digit and has been growing by double digits since we launched Savoya QED in 2003.
Ron: Now one thing I remember vividly from my you know I was at Lutron as an employee for three years, so from 2000 to 2003. That's actually when you and I met. You were one of the many senior leadership members of senior leadership training us newbies coming out of college and I remember that it was ingrained in me that Lutron always took pride in spending a considerable amount of revenue or top-line sales or profit I'm not sure quite how it's divvied up. I'd love you to clarify it for my audience but you specifically dedicate those funds year in and year out into the development of new products. Do you mind just shedding a little bit of light on that?
David: Yeah and I briefly stated it earlier so so as you heard me I'll just repeat it again. But we spend about 10 percent of our sales revenue each year in research and development and frankly the money spent in anticipation that the sales organization is going to deliver the growth. So the pressure across your organization and the sales department is definitely on , to deliver the growth that's necessary to fund the continued investment in the innovation. You know we've always tried to focus Ron, on being an innovator and a market leader. You know everything from creating the first 2ARF lighting control system in 1997 to prior to that, introducing the first centralized lighting control system with the original Homeworks or quiet and precise shading. We're very much focused on lighting control, shading control, intelligent integration to temperature and most importantly which is also a large investment. I like to say we're like Switzerland in our industry we have to make sure that we can work with integrators and installers so no matter what other products they choose to integrate our products into that we work with all the major front end automation companies, all the voice recognition alternatives, all the thermostats. All that third party stuff is very important to us because we think lighting control and now shading is really at the center of that home environment.
Ron: Well , I agree 100 percent. In fact , I still use my Lutron dimmers. I think I have Radio RAS 2 Dimmers. Radio RAS dimmers, I have old school stuff. It's moved with me for the last 18 years or so and every new light switch in my home. So once you live with it I can't imagine living without it.
David: Well real quickly I still too, have radio RAS classic. We built our home in 1999 and we put that system in, I have a reasonably sized home so I added in all these interfaces at that time which were required to work with graphic eyes and Radio RAS which close your interfaces. My home is really well automated using what I'll define as first-generation interfaces and things. I often contemplate upgrading it because I obviously could. But the truth is the statement, it still works or it just works is the reason why I haven't touched it. It's still working fine.
"I think you're the leader at least in North America in terms of selling lighting control."
Ron: It's compelling to say that you're using stuff that in my case I acquired you know 15-18 years ago and it's still running. It's quite impressive. Now, I asked you about you know the secrets going on at CEDIA and what you might be revealing, and you kind of shed a little bit of light. You hinted around about that. Another thing that may not be obvious to everyone and I'd love you to shed a little bit of light on is and I think of Luton very highly in this respect because I know I think you do this better than most other manufacturers in the integration space and that is you provide support materials to dealers and you have different levels of dealers you have direct dealers and distribution dealers and that whole in all the way down the I guess you sell products at Home Depot and Lowe's. Right? You have those dimmers and switches. But in terms of your integrated systems, you have companies dedicated to selling your products. In my opinion my observation I think you're the leader at least in North America in terms of selling lighting control which makes me think you probably have a lot of companies small businesses and or large businesses selling those products. You have a lot of resources dedicated to helping them, help them with their sales, their marketing, their operations. Do you mind shedding a little bit of light on that just for all of our viewers so they understand what you do for your dealers?
David: No. And just to kind of reinforce what you started with. You know we're now a 56-year-old company and we're definitely a multi-market multi-channel company and the truth to be told is we work really hard to sell products through the channels that are appropriate for taking care of that specific customer. You know as an example you know you can't buy Homeworks or Radio RAS 2 on the Internet you're not allowed to sell any of that product that way. On the other hand, you know our exposure whether it be retail or even online really gets that brand awareness and even some of our entry-level systems. While some may choose to buy do it yourself components, the vast majority of those customers choose professional installation. So before I get into resources I need to reinforce that we have always been and will continue to be very committed to the professional or do it for me channels that have helped to expand our business. Most notably, you know AV distribution residential dealers and even electrical wholesalers and lighting showrooms that support installers. But to your question you know I think I'll talk about some resources I think are very important. First, our website lutron.com is a real, very comprehensive resource for a lot of information, documentation, new products, videos to get it down even more granular. There's something called my Lutron, that fundamentally any customer of Lutron, whether direct or indirect can register for. So if you go to Luton.com on the top right-hand side you'll see my Lutron and you can become a my Lutron site member and that'll be a site that's more catered to the channel or business you're in. And it's a little more granular so you can find information more accurately. The other thing I want to say is the emerging opportunity for all of our residential systems providers either through distribution or direct to participate in the LED lighting fixture business or what I'll call digital lighting and make that a part of their business. We're seeing that growth over the last few years to be very significant and we have a dedicated group, Lutron engineers here that run a link called the LED Center of Excellence which you can find our website or you can just google LED Center of Excellence and that group manages how you properly match lighting controls, lighting fixtures, drivers, screw-in lamps, and find the appropriate lighting control solution whether it be a wired in-wall all solution or a system to ensure continuous dimming, color consistency, you know minimum flicker striation, all those kind of things. So the LED Center of Excellence I think is an emerging resource that more and more of Lutron's customers should utilize to help to deliver quality lighting solutions to clients that have frankly been burned by incompatibility with LED lighting. The other thing I want to say is I think our Lutron representatives are a maybe sometimes underutilized resource for our dealers. You know I sometimes hear our dealers say they don't hear a lot from our reps. I would say that many of our reps do a really good job with most customers and obviously could do a better job with all customers just like Luton employees. But I would challenge people out there listening to contact our local reps either have the local salesperson or even the principal come in and talk about how you and that rep can help work together to expand the market through training education market development initiatives you know internal customer service and support. Our reps are an incredible resource for our customers.
Ron: Now David are most markets covered by a rep or how does that work. I know that you also, Lutron also has dedicated to my memory market developers, people that call on the specification community. You also have dedicated Lutron persons in markets and then also have, I don't know if this is the right way to reference it, but third party reps, independent companies that have the, that are contractually tied to Lutron to represent you in the market. Can you just clarify that landscape?
David: Sure, so in general Lutron, especially in North America goes to market pretty much exclusively with really best in class independent representatives you know and that includes our commercial business , our specification business , our lighting showroom business, and of course our residential systems business. I think I've always been fortunate being here having the luxury knowing to your point in every market we have independent reps. The only exception in the residential systems market right now. Arizona's a factory-direct market and it's led by a lady named Katherine Burt Maring. But in addition to those reps, you know there are territory leaders that serve strategic geographies. There are residential salespeople that work in many of our strategic markets. In addition to our representatives that are doing a lot of business development with specifiers, with builders, with architects with designers. And then in certain strategic markets like New York and L.A. as an example, we have a very large contingent of specification salespeople that work out of our corporate specification offices in those two markets. So I think one of the rare manufacturers in terms of a huge investment independent rep organizations and it's a significant investment in Lutron sales resources in the market that work in addition and complementary to the local rep.
Ron: Now you also have showrooms nationwide as well. And can you describe those and who's allowed to use those spaces?
David: Sure. Thanks Ron. Yes. So in Plantation Florida, New York, Coopersburg Pennsylvania, Irvine California, Toronto Canada. We have beautiful residential experience centers where our dealers can take their clients in and they can get a great tour and understand the experience that we deliver in terms of what we like to call pleasance which is a feeling that you can't describe but it's hard to experience in terms of an environment that's properly lit, that has nice contrasting scenes, that integrates shading and lighting control, and now voice recognition and music. And we learn that by properly positioning the value proposition of you know precision control of electric light and daylight and all the integration that goes with it, the client whether it be the builder the specifier or the homeowner quickly understand why the category is important and why it's important to invest in it.
Ron: OK now what does a Lutron reseller or dealer need to do in order to be allowed to use that space? Do they call ahead, do they show up or what are the logistics around that?
David: Sure. So A, they can show up because those places are staffed and they're open you know five days a week and we've even opened them on weekends if the clients need is to you know or our dealer or specifiers needed to bring a client. You know picking up the phone is a great idea if you want to set up an appointment and have our staff give a tour and have a meeting with a dealer and a prospective client or specifier. So either way, I think if you have a strategic project in mind calling the experience center, maybe sharing with them that you'd like to bring a client in. What the type of home opportunity is and what they'd like to accomplish. Probably a good idea.
Ron: OK I want to switch directions here a little bit. If you don't mind. I believe David, in recent years you have also been working or managing a builder program at Lutron and now I may not have the mechanics of that exactly right. Do you mind describing what Lutron is doing in terms of innovating partnerships with builders around the country?
"Today our major focus in terms of new business, is that production home and then getting them to look at installing Lutron lighting controls, Lutron shading products especially our battery-powered shading which are very affordable."
David: Absolutely. So for many years Ron, you know we've been focused on connecting with builders, building relationships with builders, active investment, and participation in the International Builders Show. For many years we respond to what was called the Builder 20 Club, which just got us to 20 groups of 20 builders across the country that were in the luxury side of the business and you know very successful long term getting our higher-end systems well positioned in those markets. In the last many years, we've been participating in other venues to try to get to what I'll call the mid-market builder the entry-level first move-up home builder whether they be small local, medium-size, regional, or the corporate guys like the Leonards and the K.B. Homes, things like that. So you know everything from myself, Michael Smith, Rhett Thomas, Eric Anderson who works very hard on top corporate relationships with these builders. It's really about introducing them to what I'll call simple affordable and reliable solutions for whatever market segment they're selling into. Today our major focus in terms of new business, is that production home and then getting them to look at installing Lutron lighting controls, Lutron shading products especially our battery-powered shading which are very affordable. And then presenting the whole opportunity to sell smart home and connected home at least for critical areas of those homes whether they be pathways or entry or you know a kitchen area and what we're learning is number one. Builders are more and more receptive to adopting technology in these spaces. They're looking for reliable vendors with a good brand reputation. They're looking for the best integration capability with the consumer brands at that level. Things like Apple and Google and Nest and Sonos and others of course. And then they're making sure that there's a reliable pathway to procurement, installation setup, and service. But it's a growing element of our business. It has what I like to call long tail so it takes time. But you know there are 114 million existing homes in our country that need to be renovated and there's also you know well over a million new homes a year being built. So this is a new and expanding market opportunities for those listening in connecting with builders.
Ron: How do you tie those dealers to the builders? That's what I was curious about. I know you're approaching and talking to the builders and really changing the way they think about lighting and lighting control and upgrading that technology and the projects they build. How do you or what are your strategies around then partnering them with people in the local marketplace that can then ultimately deploy or execute installation or programming of those systems?
David: Sure. And it is kind of conditional logic here. So at the very high end of that world luxury homes , the pathway is always to try to connect those builders and the architects that do that work with the local integrators that do full-blown high-end home systems integration because those kinds of projects demand those kinds of products. Not too long ago actually, I introduced one of our dealers through an architect to a client that was building three homes, one in Florida and two in New England. As you move down the chain, into the semi-custom world a lot of those installer types and segments will come through the AV distribution side or the electrical wholesaling side. So we work really hard to try to through the distribution that will provide a procurement for those products, align the installers that the builders feels comfortable working with. When you get down to the Caseta level or entry-level systems and our battery-powered shades it usually involves a segment of the custom installation community that is less focus on complex integration and more toward more of the simple low voltage or electrical work which typically would be your low voltage installer or electrical contractor doing work in those homes. But in every case as we develop the relationship starts to look at the local communities which then may become regional and national. We work to define a procurement and installation model that that builder will feel good about.
Ron: Okay understood. Thank you for clarifying that. Again change directions a little bit. David, you travel the country. You've been traveling the country for years. You talk to a lot of people every day. I know you attend a lot of trade shows and so I'm going to make maybe a pretty good assumption that you have a pretty good pulse on what's going on in the marketplace. What is your perception around some of the opportunities that you think maybe are currently being undervalued or underutilized by AV integrators, electrical contractors, you know the installing base of lighting and shading technology systems. What are your thoughts?
David: So the first thing I will say to everybody is I think we're in a period of disruptive technology. I think the evolution and infusion of LED lighting into the industry, has really challenged the industry to respond and support traditional lighting control. I think the emergence of consumer-level plug and play audio-video devices has challenged traditional integrators need to innovate their value proposition and how do they continue to grow their business in light of solutions that are much more simple to set up that in fact, even many luxury clients are saying you know what? That's what I want. I think the emergence of more and more players and categories that even Lutron is leading in and you know we're best in class in is also maybe being a disruptor. I think my observation there's never been a better time. So let me tell you what I mean. If I look at our business, you know our competition has never been another brand in lighting. In lighting our competition is the on-off switch. It's been around for over 100 years. There's still a lot of them out there. So our opportunities to replace a simple mechanical device with something smarter in shading you know there are twenty-five windows in the average home and I told you 140 million homes just in the US, our competition is a manual shade. I think the advent of all the integration and smart and connected home, whether it be the entry-level house or the luxury home is driving increased consumer adoption. And even if those products are simpler and easier to setup the fact that there are so many of them and consumers are going to need reliable value-added service providers those who can afford do it for me, those who understand the expertise required for networks and integration and things. So I think as awareness for the adoption of home control in automation technology grows even though the products our dealers are selling today are different than five years ago. Will be different five years from now. Their services to make all those things get installed properly and work well together. I think that's incredibly under-recognized right now and the good news is that as the market grows the need for professional services to take care of that homeowner's needs is going to grow. So the message is, all things interconnected, all things Internet, all things network , which is everything, the Internet of Things, is going to solidify the value of professional services to support the growing need for these products.
Ron: What are your opinions around let's say the top five ways or schools of thought that an integrator or dealer that wants to sell lighting control or improve their success and their take rate of lighting and I say lighting that's natural or artificial. So that's dimmers or shading systems. What are your recommendations on the top five obstacles or challenges that they would receive and how to overcome them with their in their dialogue with their prospect?
"Pick the best in class brands that have a reputation for quality, that have a reputation for service, that have the resources to support you. Not just today but in the future."
David: Sure. First thing is none of it's about the price because we have. You know we and other companies have products and scalable solutions that start at very affordable price points and go up to the more expensive custom solutions based on aesthetics or functionality. To me, the critical elements are understand the emerging importance of these categories to your customers, make the right commitments to education and training, you know it's a long term game here. And also you're going to have to identify folks within your organization that are focused on control of electric light, control of daylight. You know that's the install side that's the design side and that's the service side. And then my message is pick the best in class brands that have a reputation for quality, that have a reputation for service, that have the resources to support you. Not just today but in the future. And you know, look for those innovations take yourself out of maybe some of the areas your business that have become commodities because custom solutions will always earn a decent gross margin because they require the professional services of an integrator to present the opportunity to design a solution to install the solution and to make it work. There's value there.
Ron: That makes sense. And David we have on Facebook. Paul Matthews. He's following us and he just made the comment that new young home buyers want technology. I'm curious on what your take. You know that's the millennial generation. And what's your observation of what they mean to the marketplace in terms of demand for technology?
David: Yeah. So one hundred percent I agree. You know these kids sleep with their iPhones or iPads. Their entertainment and their communication is on there so certainly millennials and young homebuyers are tech-savvy. Expect to have technology work and are intuitive enough to take the systems that our integrators turn over to them and you know ensure they're working to their desire and need. But I'm also going to tell you that we're doing a lot of these connected home and you know standards in 55 plus buyers active adult communities. So while I agree with you there are tech-savvy young people that demand it and want it. I'm also saying that older generational folks also want it need it. And you know whether it's aging in place or convenience or mobility whatever. I think it's just as significant for the tech-savvy young person as the aging in place adult.
"The demographics of that millennial generation at least based on the science I've read it looks like it's going to be the largest generation America's ever had run through the economy."
Ron: No I agree. I would just add the comment that the demographics of that millennial generation at least based on the science I've read it looks like it's going to be the largest generation America's ever had run through the economy. So if they're in favor of tech and in their homes that's good for you and me and everyone else in this industry that's a positive thing.
David: It's a great point.
Ron: Now David we're already six minutes over where I normally like to keep these wrapped up nice and tidy at 30 minutes but I'm having fun. I hope you are OK. I'm just going to close with one last question it'll be a fun one when you're not out saving the world from harsh light. What are you doing to have fun? What do you do when you're not when you take your suit off and you're out relaxing? What are you doing?
David: Yeah that's a great question. And those who know you all in the industry wonder if I actually have fun even though the most fun I am is actually in this industry. I'm very passionate. And the exciting thing is about the opportunity that we all have to get.
Ron: I don't know that I've ever met anybody that works harder than you. So my hat's off. But you are always out there you're everywhere.
David: So when I am on downtime in the wintertime I am passionate about skiing. I buy my epic pass every year. My son lives in Denver. I travel a lot so I can always end up in the mountains on weekends so I ski quite a bit in Colorado and Utah during the winter when the spring comes and my boat is in Georgetown Maryland. I've been in boating for many many years. Even back to my New England days so we spend a lot of our weekends on the boat our July 4th vacations. We were just down in St. Michael's Maryland for the long weekend so I disconnect and challenge myself in other ways mainly through boating and skiing with my family.
Ron: Got understood. Well, David thank you for coming on to Automation Unplugged. It was a scheduling and logistics challenge to find a moment where you were available in your office and not out working with your customers around the world. So genuine appreciation from me and from the entire team here at One Firefly. Thanks for taking the time.
David: No and I really appreciate the opportunity, Ron, to support you in the industry and certainly, we're here. I'm here at any time
Ron: Awesome so everyone so that's a wrap on episode number five. Thank you for joining us. It was fun having you here. Thank you for those that were commenting and interacting with us on Facebook. And again we're going to keep doing this every week. I've got all sorts of fun guests scheduled. We've actually got our whole summer already booked up. And if you're out there if you're watching and you want to be on Automation Unplugged, just send us an e-mail. You can send an e-mail to me directly,
David's work with Lutron includes roles as Senior Sales Manager, Sales Director and Sales Vice President. As Northeast Area Leader, he received the Quota Buster Award and the Largest Single Specification award (for the Getty Museum) and was the first post-VIMCO global sales leader for the company’s commercial and residential shade business. He led efforts to successfully launch shades into the Residential Integrated Systems channel. His product line launch responsibility included Sivoia QED, RadioRA 2, and Sivoia QS Wireless Shades.
Ron Callis is the CEO of One Firefly, LLC, a digital marketing agency based out of South Florida and creator of Automation Unplugged. Founded in 2007, One Firefly has quickly become the leading marketing firm specializing in the integrated technology and security space. The One Firefly team work hard to create innovative solutions to help Integrators boost their online presence, such as the elite website solution, Mercury Pro.
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