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Check back here often for the latest news on our new product releases, awards, recognitions, and other exciting achievements.

Home Automation Unplugged Episode #227: An Industry Q&A with Tina Peters

In this weeks home automation show of Automation Unplugged, Tina Peters, Executive Vice-President of SVT shares her passion as an NSCA Ignite ambassador to help educate rising talent in our industry.

This week's home automation podcast features our host Ron Callis interviewing Tina Peters. Recorded live on Thursday, October 20th, 2022, at 3:30 pm. EST.

About Tina Peters

Tina has over 15 years of experience in the industry and a passion for building and developing teams for businesses to scale. Her hands-on leadership approach and experience in project management and service operations has been critical to her success. Tina’s determination to provide a premium customer experience both internally and externally really helps SVT’s culture stand out in everything they do. Tina is a graduate of Eastern Michigan University and an NSCA Ignite ambassador. She is also a passionate advocate for helping women leaders grow and rise in the industry.

Interview Recap

  • NSCA’s Pivot to profit 2022 event that took place in Chicago
  • SVT’s history and current service offering
  • The importance of a strong company culture to attract talent. 
  • Tina’s passion as an NSCA Ignite ambassador to help educate rising talent in our industry
  • Growing leaders within SVT organization

SEE ALSO: Home Automation Podcast Episode #226 An Industry Q&A with Chad Russell


Ron:  Tina, how are you?

Tina: Doing well, how are you?

Ron:  I am good. So what do you think about all those shenanigans as we were trying to get technology to behave?

Tina: I think that's the nature of our business. We should be used to that, right? And like you said, you made it happen, you found a way.

Ron:  I was talking to, there's an editor of a magazine on the residential integration side. I'll probably butcher it now, but the gentleman's name is Jeremy Globalki with, I want to say, Residential Tech Today. And he and I were talking last week. He runs a podcast, but all of his shows are recorded in advance and then edited and put out on the Internet, and they're always perfect. I said, Jeremy, I'm a bit jealous because your shows, you always look calm and you always everything it always hits the Internet on the same day, at the same time. He's like, Ron, you have it all wrong. I like watching your show because I never know what's going to happen. And I was like, I don't know if that's a good thing, but there are some challenges with being live, and that is, you know, sometimes Internet doesn't behave, amongst other things. But I appreciate your patience and willingness to join me here. If you could, Tina, maybe just enlighten us in terms of your role and responsibilities at SVT, maybe tell us a little bit about SVT. And then additionally, I know you also have an executive role at another company called Protech Management. And so if you could fill us in.

Tina: Yes, absolutely. So I am Tina Peters, executive vice president of SVT, and SVT got its start over 60 years ago in the horse and dog track arena. So he interesting sport view television, that's where it came from, came from where our start is from. And the interesting thing is, today we still have people on site at mostly horse tracks at this point running the races, and we have people on site at our casinos down there in Florida. And it's a business that we've really enjoyed, and that's where we got our start. And it's been great from the managed service side. Many of the companies now are trying to get into managed services, and that's actually where we got our start. So SVT is a company now that takes different forms of technology and integrates them together to help people communicate effectively. So that can be school communications, that can be nurse call, that can be what most integrators are used to in our industry, audio, video conferencing. And that's kind of the gamut of what we do Protech Management, as you had mentioned, is a separate company. But I am the executive vice president of Protech Management as well. So Protech Management is a newer company. It's just been out a little over a year right now. Protech Management has a very interesting proactive service offering. So Protech Management takes a software called Utility that is the back end of Protech Management. We use that to monitor customers, devices that are on their network. And we use that to keep a customer 100% aware 100% of the time. So we are going to tell a customer when one of their pieces of equipment falls offline before they go to use their room. And we couple that software with our services. So we have a service attached to that software that allows us to provide either remote support and or onsite support, along with that proactive monitoring.

Ron:  Also, I know just recently, I'm trying to think of where we were, everything blends together. Where were we? For Pivot to profit. What city was that?

Tina: We were in Chicago.

Ron:  We were in Chicago. Okay. So we were just there recently, in recent weeks, maybe last month. And I know Protech Management, you guys had a table there and you guys were having meetings. How was that? Just out of curiosity, how was that event for Protech management?

Tina: I love PTP. So Pivot to Profit is a very intimate event. So you're able to have those tech talks where you're one on one with multiple integrators. And it was very, very valuable to Protech Management. A lot of integrators right now are having a hard time finding out how do I get into that managed services business? How do I create an offering that sets me apart, that keeps me competitive? And what Protech Management offers is they're the easy button for those integrators. They have everything, the marketing material. They have the services that go along with it. And that's an offering that goes out to those integrators so they don't have to spend the time and money to try to retrieve that themselves. So Protech Management has taken the time to go over got it. Start talking just about the core customer, who's the core customer, what are their needs, understanding that, understanding what the current offerings are out there and what would set Protech Management apart. And that's really where we got into that proactive part of it. But P to P has been is just a really, really great event due to the intimacy of it. The Business Leadership Conference that the NSCA puts on is pretty awesome as well. But I really, really do like how small Pivot to Profit is.

Ron:  I agree. In 2022 when Firefly joined as a partner in the NSCA and we attended both conferences, so it was all new to us. And they were just great events. So professionally run, polished, well run events. So they were a lot of fun. Pivoting back to SVT and I'm going to ask a silly question, and I know I probably should know the answer to this, but just explain it to me like I'm a fifth grader. So what are you guys doing at dog tracks and horse tracks? Is this like all the displays and technologies? When you say you have people at all of these facilities here in Florida, I'm in Fort Lauderdale, what are they doing?

Tina: I know in our industry, people would think of the displays and the audio, but we actually have people running the cameras for the races. And if you look at our website, we actually had a special photo finish years ago. And that's kind of where we kind of got the start 60 years ago. That's how we got her in. And we still to this day, like I said, have people working at those tracks. When a race goes right, we have the operators that are in the rooms that are changing into the different camera views, and then we have camera operators that are out in filming the races. So it's exactly what you would think at a track.

Ron:  Holy cow. Now is that like, I know if you go to and I'm not a gambler, so I'm going to be very rudimentary in my terms here. I say I'm not anybody that knows me. They'll know I'll play some craps in Vegas, but I don't know how to bet the horses. I would look pretty silly trying to do that. But at the casinos in Vegas, like, I know you go to the sports book area and you see all the screens with all the horse races going on. Is that you guys would be behind some of those cameras for some of those tracks?

Tina: For those races, absolutely, yes. And then we do have facilities when they're not live racing where simulcasts we're broadcasting races from other facilities in those facilities as well.

Ron:  Okay. And so at SVT, if you were to say that for that business, how much of your business is that stuff versus maybe what we'd call more classic integration?

Tina: I would say we probably have about 20% left of that managed service where we got our start at those horse and dog tracks. So we also actually have people that are IT support on some of those tracks as well.

Ron:  Okay. And so for SVT, talk to us a little bit about what's the type of projects, what are the type of customers you're serving outside of the dog track and horse tracks, what customers are you serving, and what are typical types of solutions you guys are providing?

Tina: So the great thing is, SVT is in all markets. So we are in education, we're in higher ed, we're in K-12, we're in corporate, we're in hospitality, we're in all markets. So the great thing is, no matter what happens in the economy or things like that, we're in markets that somebody is always buying. So the systems we install. So we actually are an Ascom nurse call, so we install Ascom nurse call locally in the hospitals. And then as far as school communication, we install school communication systems, audio, video conferencing. Any manufacturer that you can think of, it could be a simple one room Huddle room with just a camera and a display. Then we get into large divisible rooms. So SVT really runs the gamut of industries that we work in, as well as technologies that we provide, as well as size of project. We could do a small $2500 project to a multi million dollar project. You can install some of those sports book video walls in some casinos as well.

Ron:  That's awesome. I'm looking. We have some people live watching the show. Tina this is pretty cool. David, I see a number up here. Is this number from YouTube or is this from LinkedIn? Hey out there. If you're out there, drop into the comments and say hello to Tina.

Tina: Hello.

Ron:  This is her first podcast. Now she's a professional public speaker and she's been on a million webinars, but we are her first podcast, which is pretty cool. So make sure you drop into the comments and say hi to Tina and let her know that you appreciate her coming on here and sharing, which is pretty cool. In terms of the SVT business, I'm curious because you guys are in so many different industries and you serve so many different customers with so many different solutions. Not that I want to belabor the point, but I am just curious kind of. There was the March 2020 COVID thing, and I'll say on the residential side of the industry, everyone got really scared and then technology in the home blew up and got really big. It's still really big. It's kind of crazy. For you guys, what did you see in terms of the demand for your products and solutions and what does it look like now in comparison?

Tina: So I would say the demand really has come to having to be manufacturer agnostic and being able to provide solutions where equipment is readily available. I would say that's the biggest thing, obviously, March of 2020, we're in Michigan, and Michigan was one of the states where all construction and everything was shut down for a while. So unfortunately we were too for about a month. But the great thing is, because we are in all those markets, obviously our health care market slowed down, right? They didn't want anybody in the hospitals unless it was some critical service or something like that. But we were still seeing the need for corporate AV, right? Because all the employees are at home, they still need to be able to connect. Executives were still coming into the office if they could. So there was still a need for that video conferencing. And I would say that's kind of the biggest thing that we saw was that need to still stay connected while everybody was remote. So we had a lot of that during that time. Now that we're kind of coming out of that now, the healthcare is really booming because it sat for so long, they didn't want anybody working in there with the COVID patients. So we're definitely seeing the healthcare come back. As well as we've seen a lot of success recently in higher Ed, some of the smaller technical community colleges. We've seen a lot of needs there and actually needs for that Protech Management as well.

Ron:  Tina, you've got some fans out there. All right, I'm putting on the screen. Ryan Dickerson says, "Hey, Tina. She's a rock star.".

Tina: Thanks, Ryan.

Ron:  That's awesome. And we have Kendra. She goes, "We love you, Tina." This is from YouTube.

Tina: Love you guys too.

Ron:  This is so cool. And we got a Jessica. She's here at Team One Firefly. She says, hi, Tina.

Tina: Hi, Jessica.

Ron:  All right, I'll put more shout outs, but if you're out there, don't be shy. Make sure you comment. And if you have questions for Tina, let us know what those are. So I want to jump Tina, if you will allow. I'd love to know your background. I commonly get that feedback from our listeners. They love to know, how do the people land in this business? So take us back and help us understand kind of where you come from.

Tina: I probably have to take you all the way back to college for that. So when I went away to college, I really thought, yeah, I'm going to be a teacher. Had all that in there. I'm going to be a teacher. And kind of started in college and wasn't sure and kind of changed my major. And unfortunately, my mother had passed while I was in college, and that was kind of, I'll say a reset in my life for me. At that point, I took a year off of college to kind of, like I said, reset myself. And when I came back, I wanted to get out of college to kind of start my life. I was ready to be done with college and start my life. And I met with my counselor, and I went into my counselor, and I said, Listen, I'm ready to be done. How can I get out of here with my degree? Because I wanted my degree. And my counselor said communications. I said, All right, not really sure.

Ron:  Did you ask what that was or what you would do with that?

Tina: I don't think I was as worried about that as much as I was worried about just being done with college and having my degree. And so I got my degree in communications. And when I was just about ready to graduate college, my aunt was working for a woman-owned business, and she said, hey, I'm working for this women-owned business. I think that you would probably really enjoy it here. Why don't you just come interview and just see? So I went and interviewed, and that was actually PTG, where I got my start in the industry. And that's how I landed in the industry. And I haven't left since. It's a great industry to be in. I had no idea what it was prior to getting into it.

Ron:  Probably didn't know it existed, I imagine.

Tina: I had no idea it existed. And I think people still today, when they ask me what I do or what the industry is, they still don't understand or have never heard of it. So, yeah, it's just a great industry to be in. I love it. Technology always changes, so if you always have to think on your feet, kind of like we did earlier today to get on this podcast, and it's just always very exciting.

Ron:  I agree. All right, so take us. How did you land at SVT? How did that transition happen?

Tina: When I started off at PTG, I kind of started off as a sales coordinator and got my start there a little bit, and I actually moved into an operations role, and that's kind of where I started the most of my career. Most of my career has been in operations. So I started as a project coordinator, kind of project management, and moved up from there. I was at SVT for a short time as a project manager and was looking for a leadership role and SVT did not have a leadership role open. So I had went back to PTG, actually, and worked for a little while, and SVT had a leadership role open, and I really loved the culture at SVT, and I really loved the team that I worked with at SVT. So when the opportunity came to come back to SVT in a leadership role, that's what I did. So when I came back to SVT, I was the senior project manager just for a short time to kind of get some projects over the finish line and then moved into the director of operations role and really enjoyed operations, went to the vice president of operations role from there. And then just as of January, I'm executive vice president, responsible for everything from quote to cash, basically. So now I get the sales side and get to work with the sales side, which is really, really exciting.

Ron:  Not to get overly financially nerdy, but that's full PNL responsibility for the business?

Tina: Absolutely.

Ron:  Well, what's that like, working with the salespeople? Aren't salespeople all bad and rotten people? I'm one of those people.

Tina: I know, coming from operations, you would think I would say that. But no, it's exciting. I love it because I love being in front of people. I love being in front of the customer and working with the salespeople to see the exciting opportunities they bring in. I mean, the hunt and the kill is just as fun as the implementation. Right?

Ron:  I appreciate you saying that. Not everyone will fully appreciate that there is fun and joy on both sides. It's just how do you look at it. I didn't know that I love this when I didn't fully do all my due diligence in advance. So I have a lot of questions. What has been your biggest surprise, kind of coming into that level of responsibility from marketing and sales all the way to closing the business and running a tight operation, what have been may be surprising to you in that transition?

Tina: I don't know what would be surprising to me. I think really starting to dig into that P and L and the financials, I would say, is definitely the biggest learning curve that I've had because I've never been in a role where I have full P&L responsibility in looking at the finances each month and ensuring we perform. So I would say that would be the place that I've had to learn the most moving into this role. I think the surprise, I guess I would say, is the enjoyment and the fulfillment I see when the team works together and the team gets excited and seeing everybody happy. I mean, I would say I didn't realize I would get as much fulfillment out of that that I do. I would say that's probably the biggest surprise.

Ron:  You mentioned that when you joined SVT, you joined because of the culture and now in your role today clearly, culture is an important part of the equation to grow a company, to attract customers, but more importantly, to attract talent and retain talent. How do you think about culture of your company and building a strong culture?

Tina: So I kind of describe our culture in two different ways. The first one is work hard, play hard. So we do operate as a startup, having a start up as a sister company with Protech management as far as SVT, so we do operate as a startup. We continuously, heavily invest in the business to get the business to scale and grow. And so that's that work hard. When you're working in an environment where you're looking to scale and grow and you're consistently investing in the business, that's where the work hard comes in. But we also have the play hard. We hop on to video meetings. Everything is video. We are a nationwide company. Video is required on all of our communication so that we can stay connected. We ask people to dial in five minutes early to kind of get the water cooler talk and getting to know each other and spending time together. So we really, really encourage the video communication and the connection within our culture. It's just making sure that you're injecting different items of fun into your everyday work life. The second way that I describe our culture is really family first, internally and externally. So family first externally we want to make sure that people have the time and they're able to be there with their families. So, you know, we've always kind of had a hybrid working environment. Even prior to COVID, we were kind of in the office for the people that report to the office Monday, Wednesday, Friday and home Tuesdays Thursdays. And so we have a little bit of a flexible schedule there's. Obviously huddles we have daily touch bases so that the team can stay connected. But if they have an appointment here or there, they're able to go to that if they have to take their family member somewhere. So that's kind of the family first externally and then internally we see each other as family. We are a 68 person company right now. We can be over 100 people with our full time and with our part time employees, but 68 full time employees. And we are a family of 68 people and we truly value each other. And that's why when we interview, we interview so heavily for culture. Culture is more important than the skills as far as I'm concerned, because you can bring one person that doesn't fit into your culture and that can heavily hurt your culture as far as I'm concerned, when you have one person that they contain a culture. The great thing I would say about our culture, though, is we are so strong that occasionally if one of those people come in, they sometimes self-select out because they realize that they don't fit in because that culture is so strong and they realize that they just don't belong. So when we interview, we focus heavily on those culture questions just to make sure that those people are going to fit into our family because it truly is a family.

Ron: So do you have a book or a mentor or a philosophy that you follow around your hiring process? And I'm asking the question that way because when you and I got on, you're like Ron, you don't have your "Who?" book next to you and "Who?" is a book by Jeff Smart. And it was very astute observation of you to notice that it was not next to me because my wife had reorganized my office. And so that's for example, a book we follow pretty closely here at One Firefly and a lot of our hiring methods. I'm curious, do you follow that or the other kind of books you might even recommend for the folks that are tuning in?

Tina: We do actually try to follow the "Who?" book as well, making sure that we're doing those interviews, making sure that we're checking those references. We had a couple of people that have come in recently and they actually said, you know, you're one of the first people, I'm surprised you check my references. Many people don't even check references. And I thought that was an interesting comment because that's so important.

Ron:  That's funny. In our interviews we go back to high school, and we'll get the feedback. People go, I've never been asked about high school, ever. I'm like, well, you have here at One Firefly. We go way back. W go to the beginning, and the idea is that people, when you go through detailed audits of their background and experience, there are trends that surface. There are repeating patterns that surface, and the only way to know that is to go back. That's pretty awesome. I'm curious, did you institute that, or how long have you guys been following kind of it's called the a-method of hiring. How long have you guys been practicing that?

Tina: I think we've been doing that. I think we all read the book. I think it's about and, you know, timelines right now, these last three months or three years, I'm not sure, but I think it's been about a year and a half now that we've been instituting the who book and making sure that we're following those procedures.

Ron:  Anyone out there will drop the who book into the chat, into the comments. And it's a great book. It's probably the number one book that I refer and or recommend to people. So that leads into people, which leads into talent. And I know I heard this, I heard many sessions at P to P, and I've heard it at ongoing conferences for really the entirety of this year. Is that is the challenges around people. What are you seeing right now? Are you finding the people that you need as you're growing your team and you guys are on this growth path?

Tina: I would say recently we've actually added some amazing team members to the team. But I would say it's a lot longer process than it used to be. And not only just because we're making sure we're taking our time to run through the who book and making sure that we're doing those interviews and that we're checking the references. But I would say just the time for the candidates just to come in. We're not getting as many candidates as we used to be, as we used to, and being able to sift through and get the candidates that you actually are ready to interview that you feel will fit into that position and into your culture. It's been hard. I would say it's a lot smaller sampling than we used to have, but because we take the time and we do the who book and we make sure we do everything we should, we're getting some really great talent recently.

Ron:  Do you bring, out of curiosity, do you bring all your candidates in, like, physically to your office? We do everything virtually. We're a virtual company. Although I'm here in Fort Lauderdale and my office is in Coral Springs, about five minutes away, I pride my self on actually never going to the office. So our whole company operates virtually, generally from home offices. So we do it all through Zoom or through Google Meet or whatever we use. Now how do you guys do it? Do you do any of that virtually or is it all in person stuff?

Tina: So everything is virtual for us as well because we're in Michigan, we could be hiring somebody in California, Florida, where you are. And it's just not practical. Like you said, it's just not practical to bring somebody in person. Now what we will do is once we hire them, we bring them into our headquarters in Brighton, Michigan, just to onboard them, let them feel the culture. Because the culture is really great through video, but being in the office and being around everybody and really physically feeling that culture is that much better. So we do bring our remote employees in for a week. Once they are on either the first week they're on board, it just kind of depends on the schedule. But we bring them in for a week just so they can feel that physical culture in the headquarters office as well.

Ron:  Now on that theme of talent and people are industry, certainly what I've been hearing and I'm sure you've been hearing, I know you do volunteering on your own, different boards and committees is generally the challenge around the availability of talent. Just as you said you had never heard of this space. I had never heard of this space. I got recruited out of college into the space 22 years ago. And I know that you've had some involvement with Ignite. I'm going to put that on the screen and maybe if you don't mind, zero pressure, actually don't take me. I see the screen went away. So I'm going to click on my thing here. There we go. I'd love for you to kind of share with our listeners through NSCA's, Ignite generally what that is and kind of maybe just your pulse check on where we are with bringing new people into the industry.

Tina: So the goal of Ignite is really to ignite awareness of our industry and it has been really, really great. So I am an Ignite ambassador and I was able to go to a local high school here and speak to a class and it was pretty cool to be able to tell that class that, you know, this day and age, everybody says you have to go to college and you need a degree. Well, we have people that are working for us that don't have degrees, that are able to travel and see the world and still make really, really great money. So it was really good to be able to share the industry because most of them haven't heard of the industry at all in high school. They have coding and things like that. You see the coding classes and things like that, but that they turn into computer programming and they don't realize that they can actually use that in our industry. And so being able to get in front of the next generation and explain what the industry is and how exciting the industry is and what they can do in the industry has been really, really great. NSCA also offers Ignite scholarships to bring on interns into your company. And NSCA will actually give you scholarship money to bring that intern on. And so they've had a really heavy focus on just awareness of the industry. Like I said, igniting awareness of the industry. It's going to conferences and things like that. I would say each conference I go to, it gets better. But being in this industry 17 years now, going to conferences before, there was not much diversity as we had talked about, not much diversity as far as just age, females, any type of diversity. There just wasn't a lot out there. And it is, like I said, getting better, but slowly. And I think that's one thing.

Ron:  It's mostly an industry of old white guys, isn't it?

Tina: Right. You went there, Ron. Thank you for going there. That's what they joke at the conferences. It's a bunch of old white guys and a lot of them are ready to leave the industry. They've been in the industry a long time, they're ready to retire and a lot of them don't have succession plans. And that's a big, big hole in our industry because what happens to all of these companies, as these people retire, what happens to our industry? And so I think that focusing on diversity and getting younger people excited about our industry and actually just knowing about our industry and how exciting it could be, I think is something that we all need to focus on.

Ron:  I agree, it is interesting. And I've been hearing this theme, what you just mentioned, this idea that there's this maybe first or second generation business owner that's running a technology contracting business. There's a whole group of them that are approaching retirement. It's just the numbers are the numbers. And yet you think about it, and you said this actually when you started, what got you excited about this industry is there's going to be more technology tomorrow than there is today. So the demand for technology is not going to go away, yet clearly there's going to be some sort of transfer transition that happens in the next five to ten years. And where is that going to come? Clearly you're a demonstration of what's going to happen is the old guard is going to change and there's going to be a new guard that comes in. But I think that that's an interesting observation and I can tell you from my point of view, I talk to lots of businesses that do not know how to go and find people that are not aware of this industry and they don't know how to bring them into this industry. So I just I don't know if that's a hard question or not, but is there any ideas or any thoughts? You mentioned what Ignite is doing, but for all the folks in varying our listeners are around the world, and they are trying to bring they're trying to grow their business. And for many of those businesses, people and talent is the bottleneck. It's one of the bottlenecks. We won't talk about this dirty supply chain issue, not this hour. There is enough of that out there. I've done it enough times on this show. So we won't go there today. But any thoughts or ideas in terms of how the folks can expand their thinking of the A method, expanding their reach in terms of drawing people in?

Tina: Absolutely. I think developing some sort of an internal intern program, finding people at either later years in high school or at some of these technical colleges and getting them into a summer internship program or something that allows them to get their hands on the technology. We have, for example, in the SVT office, we have an integration lab where we build all of our racks, build our systems, test our systems, update our firmware. So that's a great place to be able to bring people in. You know, what do people get excited the most about? Getting their hands on the technology. So building your own internal internship program where you're bringing in some of the younger generation to just get them in, to make them aware, to start training them. A lot of times in our industry, the summer work ticks up because schools are closed and all of that education work. So those few months of the summer, a lot of integration companies need additional help just for the summer. So it's getting that internship program to get those kids out there and get them working in the summer and starting to learn the business so that when they graduate high school or they do go to a technical college, they graduate technical college, they already have an awareness of the industry, and they maybe know where they want to go in the industry. And I think it's a good first step. I don't know that I have a silver bullet for it, but I think that's a good first step.

Ron:  Have you guys done are you familiar with any strategies of, like, going to local, whether it be high schools or community colleges or apprenticeship schools, or have you done any outreach or heard of success stories in terms of trying to reach locally into the community to find folks to join the industry or join the business?

Tina: We personally have not. But I know of a partner local to Michigan. He actually works with a college in Ohio, and it's actually something I talked to him about, looking to see if we can get involved, where it's basically an internship program through this college, and you house them, you bring them up for the summer, and you house them from the college in Ohio, and they work with you for the summer. And they have a program, basically, where they'll work with you to get students out of that technical college in Ohio and they'll come and work with you for the summer. So I know that there are programs out there that do that. We just personally have not worked on with those programs yet.

Ron:  Got it. I'm going to ask you a totally abstract question. I did not talk to you in advance about this, but I just love kind of your raw gut feeling around this. You and me and everyone listening around the world is particularly hit with really crazy high levels of inflation. The economy may or may not be in a recession. I actually think we are, but I don't know. I know GDP is you have to look at unemployment numbers in GDP and all these indicators and I'm by no means any sort of economist, but times are certainly weird if nothing else. When you guys look into the future, I'll just say the next twelve months, what are you seeing? Are you seeing any sort of... now you're very diversified in lots of different industries and in lots of different markets. Is that the protection from strangeness in the economy? What could you shed on that?

Tina: The diversification is definitely purposeful. We as an executive team make sure that we are consistently monitoring those macroeconomic effects that could affect our business. And our eyes are open to those and we're consistently watching that. But that's why we are in all of those markets and that's why we are nationwide. So that there's always something, always somebody buying, as I think I said at the beginning of the call. And that's what we see. That's how we keep ourselves competitive and that's how we keep ourselves relevant.

Ron:  Got it. That's brilliant. And I think that's really smart, a smart business strategy for sure. Now you mentioned before we went live, you mentioned the author's name, Patrick Lencioni. And Patrick, you even pulled up one of his books, the Five Dysfunctions Book. And so that author is often recommended author in the EOS Traction Land. And we here at One Firefly follow EOS traction. So I was curious, you have a 68 person team and you talk about leadership teams and you even talk about growing that next level of management and future leaders of your company. Are there methodologies or again, I could give names, strategic coach, EOS. Is there some sort of structure that you guys follow in terms of how you run the business?

Tina: Absolutely. So we have an executive coach that we work with and we do quarterly planning sessions with our executive coach and so he focuses on Metronomics, which is kind of another we do kind of our strategic planning with Metronomics. There is a book on that as well. And so we focus basically quarter by quarter. That's how we plan. And lately we've been talking a lot about the Lincioni books. We just recently read The Motive by Lincioni and it focuses on responsibility centered leaders or reward center leaders. Responsibility center leaders want to serve others. They want to do what's necessary to make sure that the team is successful. Where reward center leaders, they're looking for the money. They're looking for the clout. They're looking to I don't know how I want to hear the power, the status. And so it's obviously a heavy focus. We have responsibility centered leaders, which is perfect because we look for servant leaders in our company. And so we've heavily focused on now, how do we develop that next level of leadership? SVTs goal is to grow, and we are going to continue to grow. And in order to do that, you have to have a great next level of leadership. So we have a heavy focus on ensuring that we're providing the proper support and coaching to that next level of leadership.

Ron:  I love it. What are one or two ideas or practices that you and your leadership have in terms of probably are likely giving you guys the ability to stay on course for that growth? And I'll give you an example. At One Firefly back in 2019, we instituted the concept of the L10 meeting. Having a meeting structure and a format to our meetings, having the quarterly planning meetings that you mentioned you have. Do you mind going into depth one or two just ideas that, you know, clearly are making a difference in your business?

Tina: Absolutely. So I could say ditto because we do both of those, but I'm not going to. Okay, so we do have those level Ten meetings, the L 10 meetings every week. And we have a software, actually Metronome. And so we're putting all of our action items in there. We're putting all of our issues going over good news. So we make sure to keep our self disciplined. And it's an expectation that all that software is filled out prior to the L10 meeting. So that when we get into the L10 meeting, it's just, let's talk about the business and get that business done. We also use that same software, I do for one on one's with the VP and the directors. I use that same software too. It helps hold each other accountable. Action items are in their expectations with dates. That's kind of the Metronome, right? That's how we keep on pace. We do strategic planning once a quarter. Stuff changes so much that once a year, I'm sure you feel the same way once a year. It just wasn't enough for us, especially right now. So we plan once a quarter. We just actually had our strategic planning session a couple of weeks ago, and I'm going to present it to the company on Wednesday of what are the priorities. We make sure that we communicate those priorities to the team every single time because that's the most important thing, because they have to know where we're going to and how we're going to get there and why and explaining the why. So I would say open communication is one of our core values. So we try to be very transparent as a leadership team, so our entire team understands where we're going, how we're going to get there and why. I think that helps with the level of accountability. So everybody is marching to the same drum.

Ron:  Can you expand on, you said core values, what are they? Not necessarily what are yours, because you can go there or not, but just what are they and why do they matter from your point of view?

Tina: So our core values are accountability, dedication, value, compassion, open communication and teamwork. And to me, a few of those speak to that family first that I was saying, right? The teamwork, the compassion. Open communication to me is so important, having those hard conversations, I think I've said the last few weeks, rip the band Aid off, have the hard conversation. If you can't have the hard conversation, you're not going to be able to fix whatever is going on. So that's why open communication is so important to us. Dedication, we want to make sure that everybody, the team is dedicated again, fits into that family first. So that's kind of a little bit about our core values.

Ron:  No, I love it. I don't know if this is a joke or not, but I'm going to put it on the screen anyway. Kendra says wash hands, so I don't know.

Tina: Sure!

Ron:  I think washing hands, Kendra, is a good idea. I don't know if that's a core value, though. And the reason I was posing that question, Tina, is that for years, I remember when I started this business in 2007, I was like, told one of the things I needed to have was core values. So I went and looked on some websites and I said, well, that's a good one and that's a good one. And I put them on my website and it was up until 2019 that a set of core values were on my website. But actually, if I asked anyone in my company, no one could have said what they were. We didn't hire based on them, we didn't manage or interact with our team around them, we didn't reward based on them. And today we are a fundamentally different company because it's in fact an integral part of this business. Because we developed our core values looking at the best of our people. Not even aspirationally not like what we hoped they would do or hoped they would practice. But look at our best people and say this is who they are and that's what. If we bring on more people, we want them to practice that and to be that and to know that and to be rewarded for that. Do you guys use Slack or Teams? How do you guys chat with each other?

Tina: We chat over Teams.

Ron:  You have chat over Teams. We even have a piece of software that we plug into our Slack and call each other out on that. So I was curious, do you incorporate the concept of core values into hiring? And if so, how do you do that?

Tina: So we absolutely do. It's funny you say that, because we kind of revamped our core values in 19 as well. We had eleven prior to.

Ron:  Oh, that's a lot. I think I had 16. Now we have five.

Tina: So we kind of went to the team, too. Okay, what are the core values that kind of matter to you? And that's kind of how we got to those core values. But definitely I've had people tell me when they interview with me, so what are the core values? Is open communication. And I've had people tell me when they interview with me, wow, you're really open and you're just talking to me like it's a conversation. I said, that's our culture. We want you to feel that at the very first interview, the very first word that comes out of any of our hiring managers mouth, we want them to feel that culture. We want them to hear it. So we try to live those core values every day. So even in our interactions with those people that we're interviewing, we want them to feel those core values and see them so that they can see really, we do live what we say. It's not just words. They can see that and feel that during the interview process so that they know when they come in and they start living it. It's real, it's actual.

Ron:  You had referenced a bit ago, Keena, the idea of building that next generation of leaders in your company. How do you go about doing that?

Tina: So we've recently started the Little Fly on the Wall, I would say, right? How are your coaches coaching? So we do one on one weekly one on ones are a requirement in our company. So all of our leaders meet with their direct reports once a week. So their leaders have been sitting in on those one on one just to see how is your coach coaching? That's one thing that our executive coach recommended that we do. And I think a lot of people don't look at that. They just communicate to whoever reports to them and just assume that that message makes it properly to the rest of the team. But that's not a good assumption to make. We've all played the game as telephone when we were kids, right? You know what happens there. So it's just ensuring that the leadership team understands the business, understands the vision, understands where you're going, and they can properly communicate to that, to their team because they're hearing it from the leadership team once a week on our Wednesday all corporate huddles. But it needs to be continuous conversation and continuous communication. So it's making sure that that next level of leadership understands that.

Ron:  Any big trends you see coming up, Tina, what's coming up in the next year, two years, three years? You look into your crystal ball, folks are listening and they're leaning in right now. They're going, oh, goodness, what does Tina know? What's around the corner that has you and your team excited?

Tina: I don't have my magic eight ball with me, but I think that the managed services really is where everything is going. AV as a service.

Ron:  That's the future, isn't it? That's certainly how it feels.

Tina: Because everything's going that way. You buy a cell phone now. You buy a cellphone as a service. You don't pay upfront for your cell phone. I mean, a lot of things are going to as a service, and that's what a lot of people are used to and they're comfortable with. And I think integrators, we have to be ready for that. We have to know how we can transact that way, what support looks like, what ongoing support looks like. And I really do think it's a focus on that managed service.

Ron:  What's normal out there? All of these anywhere from very large to very small AV firms signing these projects, again, full spectrum, whether they're localized projects or multi location in the domestic US. Or they can be multinational projects, how is the service side typical at a high level? What does that landscape look like? Are they all doing their own individual service contracts with the big Fortune 500 company? Is that what is normal? And do those large organizations, do they accept that or do they expect some higher level of service?

Tina: So I would say, you know what our industry is used to, the history of our industry, it's break-fix. It's break-fix service, right? You go to user room, it doesn't work. So then you call whoever it is that provides a service. My room is not working. Can you come fix it for me? Well, you have an executive go into a room. A CEO going to use a conference room with the entire leadership team and can't use the room. Nobody wants that telephone call. And how much money did that company just lose by having all of those people in there and the room is not working? And so that's why we've really shifted to that proactive mode. We want to tell them that that room is not working before they go in to use that room. We want to tell them, schedule your room, move it somewhere else. Nobody wants to get that call from the CEO that a room is not working when they go to have a meeting.

Ron:  If I could dig deeper, what prevents those companies from using utility on their own? That's the back end to Protech Management, correct?

Tina: Yes.

Ron:  If you could differentiate for me, why have Protech management operate that versus that individual company operate that software environment on their own?

Tina: So, first of all, if they have never worked with utility or used utility before. I mean, it requires programming. It requires an understanding of the technology. It requires an upfront financial investment. It was in the time and money that we have invested as Protech management to just develop the offering, ensuring that we have the proper documentation, ensuring that we have the proper support. I mean, I think I told you it's been over a year or two years pretty much that we've been working on this. So if an Integrator wants to start to try to do that now, they're already behind. And in order for them to be able to jump on that train and get there faster, they are able to use a partner like Protech because Protech has already figured all of that out. Then the good thing about Protech working with the Integrator is that they're able to be that boots on the ground should they choose. So Protech has three levels. The first level is good, and that's just monitoring and that's just alerts. Better is monitoring alerts and remote support. And the best is the boots on the ground. So an Integrator could buy good from Protech but sell their customer basically best, and then they provide all the boots on the ground and all the service that they need. Protech is just going to help them implement that because we have the programming and the talent to be able to do that, to help the Integrator out.

Ron:  And in that Protrch model, there's also an RMR recurring revenue stream for the dealer when they make that sale?

Tina: Absolutely, absolutely. So it's all, you know, your yearly, monthly, however the client wants to be billed. But yes, it's all usually we go for about a three year contract when we sell it as a protect deal. And so that's three years of recurring revenue.

Ron:  Again, I'm uninformed. So not a leading question. What is the normal landscape out there for? And I'll go back to SVT. Companies like SVT out in the space, call it the 1000 NSCA members or so, how many of them normally are relying or growing a recurring revenue stream within their business? Is that common or is this a newer category that's being worked on?

Tina: I would say that I've heard about it in the shows a lot, probably the last four years or so. I would say it's been, you know, it's been a push that way just because everything else is going that way. That's really what companies are looking for. They want to know, I'm only going to pay this much for a month and I'm going to have all my AV and it's going to work and maybe I have a refresh in there depending on what it is. So I would say that companies are definitely looking for that recurring revenue. I think that a lot of companies in the industry just and the reason I'm saying this is what I'm hearing the questions when we go to those shows and we go to Pivot to Profit and things like that are having a hard time. How do I price it? How do I know what my cost is going to be three years down the road? And I know a lot of them are having trouble. So I would say that people are starting down that way. But it's a difficult path to travel if you're just starting now.

Ron:  When Integrators partner with Protech Management. You guys help them with the pricing strategy and you coach them on how to ultimately sell that or at what price to sell that to their customers?

Tina: Absolutely. So MSRP for Protech Management is posted on the Protech website and so that MSRP is out there for all customers to see. And so what Protech does when they work with Integrators is that they provide a percentage back to the Integrators for that. So that's how the Integrator gets their percentage from each of those deals and that's the Integrator's recurring revenue that they get.

Ron:  All right. And I just put the Protech management website. For those that are watching this on LinkedIn or YouTube or on replay on Facebook, you're able to see the Protech management website. We'll also drop it down in the comments or on the show notes. But that URL is And I also go ahead and put up the SVT website up here. I should have put this on the screen when you were telling us about SVT, but I'm doing it now. Better late than never. I'll give that URL as well. That's That's a very nice five letter URL Those are not easy to come by. So that's pretty amazing. Tina, it has been a blast having you here on show 227, by the way. I mentioned when we were starting like, that was a television show.

Tina: I know. Are we sitting on the stairs? You got to sit on the stairs with the porch of 227 come on.

Ron:  We'll have to make some show art for that.

Tina: Yes.

Ron:  But thank you for coming on to the show and it's been a lot of fun. And if you can tell our audience how they could get in touch with you or learn more about SVT or Protech, that would be great.

Tina: Absolutely. So I think you gave the websites and you said you were going to put those in, and then my email is tpeters going to be an easy one at

Ron:  Awesome. Tina, it was awesome having you on show 227.

Tina: Thank you very much.


Tina has over 15 years of experience in the industry and a passion for building and developing teams for businesses to scale. Her hands-on leadership approach and experience in project management and service operations has been critical to her success. Tina’s determination to provide a premium customer experience both internally and externally really helps SVT’s culture stand out in everything they do. Tina is a graduate of Eastern Michigan University and an NSCA Ignite ambassador. She is also a passionate advocate for helping women leaders grow and rise in the industry.

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 became 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.

Resources and links from the interview:

Tina can be reached directly by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.