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Press & Awards

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

Home Automation Unplugged Episode #239: An Industry Q&A with Matt Grant

In this weeks home automation show of Automation Unplugged, Matt Grant, CEO at Eyehear Technology Group shares more about the role of company culture and assuming positive intent.

This week's home automation podcast features our host Ron Callis interviewing Matt Grant. Recorded live on Wednesday, March 15th, 2023, at 12:30 pm EST.

About Matt Grant

Matt is the CEO of Eyehear Technology Group located in Whitefish Montana and has been in the luxury residential technology space for over 25 years. He worked up from a retail sales position at the Bose store in Park City, Utah to outside sales positions at several of the top Integration firms in the country before stepping into leadership roles. 

His experience in luxury sales and VIP client relationship management has resulted in many 7 figure projects with celebrity clients and business executives from around the country. Although sales and business development are still a part of his day to day, Matt’s passion is in creating an exceptional experience for his internal and external clients.

Interview Recap

  • Matt’s experience remotely managing his business from an RV over a period of two years
  • The role of company culture and assuming positive intent
  • Lessons learned from Apple employees and processes

SEE ALSO: Home Automation Podcast Episode #238 An Industry Q&A with Alesia Hendley


Ron:  Matt.

Matt: Ron, how are you, sir?

Ron:  We got the answer. There's no countdown. How you doing, man?

Matt: I'm excellent, man. Good to see you. I have to be honest, I'm trying to find you back. I was sorting through my links.

Ron:  It should be a browser tab and the browser tab should have a duck for StreamYard.

Matt: Yeah, it's like gone. This is how it goes, right? We had perfect start and now.

Ron:  That's okay. It's the way the cookie crumbles, right? Well, I'm going to check out while you're trying to find us back. I see a comment just came in. Stephen Edwards says, Matt is the man, the myth and the legend. And that's Stephen from the team here at One Firefly. Thanks Stephen for tuning in and dropping a comment. Greatly appreciated. There you go, Katie says LOL at Matt and technology, Matt, it's because I'm here. That's Katie Garner. That's also team One Firefly. And Koa, in Hawaii, says Matt, nicely staged desk man. That's a great.

Matt: Thanks, guys.

Ron:  Great environment. Are you struggling? Can you not? It should be a browser tab. Did it disappear?

Matt: It's disappeared, yeah. But I can, you know, we can still, we can still go. I just don't.

Ron:  I have an option for you, Matt. See what you do is you go on the Internet and Google Ron Callis and find a picture of my face and just put it right there in the middle of your screen and then pretend you're having a conversation with the face.

Matt: Yeah.

Ron:  And then you can quickly delete it and put it in the trash right afterwards.

Matt: I found it, I found it. We're good. We're back. We're back.

Ron:  You did. Awesome. See how we do that folks? Technology, you know, gives us a wrinkle, and we just, we keep cruising. We have Eric Joy just dropped a comment. He says, oh, look at this. I actually can show it. There you go. Eric dropped a comment on LinkedIn. He says, Matt, my fellow HTSA member is definitely the man.

Matt: I got so many buddies out there. And Koa, one of my favorites. Man, you know, I'm feeling the love. So this helps me. My nerves, my nerves are down a little bit because I've watched, I've watched and listened to your show and you've got like heavy hitters coming on here. And so I'm episode 239 down the list of ways, which is totally fine, does not bother me a bit. You needed all that so that I could work out my own wrinkles to get here. But Katie's right, your sweet Katie, who's my rep for One Firefly is she deals with my technology challenges quite frequently. I'm a communicator and I'm a salesperson. I have lots of smarter people than I work in with me, thank God, to help with my technology.

Ron:  You and I absolutely have that in common. And actually, here's Andrew from team One Firefly. He says Flathead Valley represent.

Matt: Looking forward to a drink here Andrew.

Ron:  That's awesome. Look at this. Wouldn't miss it, Ron and Matt, he woke Matt. So out in Hawaii, it's probably 6 a.m. out there right now.

Matt: Yeah, he's four hours from me. So yeah.

Ron:  Yeah. It's early.

Matt: Thanks, Koa.

Ron:  Appreciate you doing that. All right, so we've already informed everyone that you're out in Montana, but maybe give us an idea where where are you physically at? And many of us, myself included, have never been to your part of the world. So actually, what's it like there?

Matt: Oh man, it's gorgeous. I mean, it certainly wooed me here. I've been here, this is what I say, our fourth winter. So we moved here in October of 19, right before the pandemic, so we were blessed to find this beautiful place. I can tell that story, but yeah, so where we're located, we're at the northwestern part of Montana. So if we're maybe one hour from the border of Canada, my house is about 30 minutes from the entrance of West Glacier National Park. So those of you that know Glacier National Parks, unbelievable, you should come here. And then there's a little town of Whitefish, which is a ski resort town. It's right on the great northern railroad. It was discovered, gosh, well, discovered long ago, I won't get into history because I don't know it all, but a beautiful spot where you've got kind of that Breckenridge kind of vibe, pretty chill, great to have drinks and have a great, beautiful downtown, but just real charming. Nothing can be over four stories on the buildings. And then you've got the view of the White Fish Mountain Resort right behind it. So it's pretty killer. We fell in love with it because it's just small and charming, but you still have the amenities in Kalispell, which is a kind of what we would consider our major city of, gosh, I don't know, 30 to 50,000 people at this point with growth, where we have the Glacier International Airport, we have the Costco's and all that. So it's our little town, man. It's definitely worth visiting. We've got a cool little airport coming in and out, so.

Ron:  It sounds like Paradise. Andrew on our team here at One Firefly is a strong advocate for that part of the world. And I haven't visited, but I'm sold on it. But now I have even more reason you know. You're both there. So now I have no excuse. So if you don't mind Matt, you've been there in Montana for four years. And I always love hearing the story. Like, how did you end up there? But let's actually go back in time. How did you end up in this industry? What is that story look like?

Matt: Yeah, man. I love this industry. I kind of joke I was raised in it. I didn't have any family members in it or anything. So the short story I started in the business when... I was in love with music, I was a vocalist, I was a singer. I was in choir and you know the choir nerd back in high school and then started to sing country music and do different things. And I fell in love with music in general. I stumbled into the Bose store when I lived in Park City, Utah, all those years ago. And I kept going back to the Bose store even though all of our, I know now in all of our friends and listeners here all know that Bose is not Hi-Fi. But what it did is it made me realize that there was more than just the cheap crafty car stereo that I was pumping around, right? That there was home audio that elevated. So it led me to explore that. So I went into the Bose factory store, so many times, finally, they asked me if I wanted a job, and after four interviews, and still to this day, Ron, I interviewed more times with more stringent questions than any interview I've ever had. So at 17 years old, I started at the Bose factory store as a sales rep. And I'll tell you, I learned a ton. I mean, it was really cool. They do a lot of things, especially back in the 90s. They did a lot of things right in terms of client presentation and client experience that I've taken with me. So anyway, so I started at the Bose factory store, worked there for years, and then the age of 21, I packed up my buddies F250 and moved to Nashville, Tennessee to chase a song and a dream.

Ron:  I want to get into the song and the dream, I'm curious on the Bose store, why do you think they asked so many questions? What was the reason that interview process was so stringent?

Matt: Yeah, well it was multiple managers? It was and obviously that was you know 27 years ago or something like that. But quite a few years ago, but they were, they were very thorough in their process. Their company as a whole, I think, and I can really appreciate the culture that they were trying to create. They were big into that. And you could tell. As a 17 year old, you don't know better, right? It's just a job and excited to hear some cool speakers and get to present surround sound. I actually had to memorize the Bose script and if you've ever been to the Bose store, they have those little cubes, right? And years ago, that was like a big deal. They would do this presentation in their own little private theater where they play you all this big sound and in the middle of it, you had to pull the big speaker off the wall and reveal that they were listening to the cubes. They were beautiful master marketers. They did a great job. Back then, way before Sonos, I mean, they were, they were the big player that people asked for by name. When I moved and started selling real Hi Fi, I never sold Bose again. But I really always took with me and appreciated what I learned from them in terms of presentation and just client experience. So they were great at it. But if you memorize the script Ron, you get to take home a Bose Lifestyle System. So at 17, when all my buddies were doing their little cheap boom boxes, I had a full Bose Surround System. So I thought it was a pretty big stuff.

Ron:  I can imagine that made you pretty popular, for sure. So tell us about Nashville. What was the play in Nashville?

Matt: Yeah, so I mean, I was, you know, fell in love with country music, love songwriting and moved there at 21. Thinking that, you know, I was the next Garth Brooks, right? Everybody, everybody wanted to do that. And so when I got there, I realized there was 30,000 or more songwriters that were as good or better, most of them better and it was really hard, so it taught me some grit. I sat in my apartment and wrote songs. My first year there, I didn't have TV. I just had basic Internet and wrote songs and listened to music. It was a cool experience. I learned a lot. But in that, when I moved, I think the big difference is that I had a really good plan B so when people ask me like, well you know, what do you think? Why didn't you make it or whatever? Aside from there was just a lot of talent and a lot of competition. I think God's plan for me was different. But at the same time, I was able to, I skipped part of the story. I started working in the Park City and the Salt Lake area. After Bose, I was recruited by a, what used to be S3 before the Via days was called Audition Systems. So those of you who know that area, they were the number one Wilson Audio Dealer in the country for a time, Bowers and Wilkins, Transparent Audio. So I got to cut my teeth on just some incredible Hi-Fi and understanding what real music systems were like. They had a gorgeous story. I mean, it was world class. And two guys, John Gillis and Mike Pyle, who were infamous in the industry in their own ways. But brilliant in each in their salesmanship and their presentation, they taught me a lot. So that was a big part of my beginning of my career. So from that store, I was able to actually call and found out who the top AV company was in the Nashville area at the time. And flew out for an interview and they paid me to move out there. And it was at 21 years old. Again, that was kind of a big deal. So I was able to come out with a song and a dream, but they paid for me to get there and I had a job when I got there. Whereas a lot of my buddies that were in Nashville that I met later, they were all waiting tables and bars and doing whatever they could. So I had a really good plan B and I loved what I did. So that's kind of how I never left that industry as I explored Nashville.

Ron:  I'm curious when you are out there with a hope and a dream and you go to Nashville, do you like what do you do to get gigs? Just what was that experience like? Were you able to successfully get any gigs and how did you have to negotiate to make that happen?

Matt: Yeah. So I mean, I could have done a lot of that. Honestly Ron and the honest truth is I was such a perfectionist, always wanting to perfect my songs. And I started to decide I was maybe less going to perform and more songwriting. So I joined the songwriter association and was working through that. I had too good of a plan B I just loved going to work and I loved selling Hi-Fi systems and building automation. And so it ended up becoming something I did on the side just that got me to Nashville, quite honestly.

Ron:  Got it.

Matt: I let go of it as a dream of being in business as a singer-songwriter. And I, you know, it's just a part of my story now. But I can tell you, the guys with the grit and that really wanted it, I was real quick, anecdotal that's kind of fun. I mean, I was buddies, you know, chasing girls and going to bars and hanging out with Eric Church and Jason Aldean and Luke Bryan when they were not famous. And those guys wanted it bad. And they were, of course, incredibly talented. I remember singing karaoke with Jason and was like, oh, man, this is this is not fair. And we had a good time together, but they all made it big. And then I was doing their systems instead of touring with them. So you know here we are.

Ron:  That's amazing. So how long did you stay in Nashville? What did that career look like?

Matt: Yeah, so I met my wife, gosh, mid 20s, and we got married. She's born and raised there. We had our beautiful children and we stayed there until we were, I was right at 40. So, you know, 2018. So lived there from 21 until 40, and we left it in 2018 to jump in an RV.

Ron:  Jump in an RV. So that story is so similar to Andrew on our team who also jumped in an RV. But what was the plan with the RV? What'd you do?

Matt: It's popular. Well, so I was running a technology company there in Nashville, and we did, I was running the technology division for a large security and access control integrator that was doing big stuff. I just meant it was it was such perfect timing. I had this narrow window where the kids were right at the right age to travel. I had a team with project managers and designer and the right projects Ron. It's so amazing and I'm so grateful because I couldn't have done it before and I probably couldn't have done it with COVID and everything else. It was challenging. Everything lined up beautifully. So we were certainly guided to be to be on the road. So my wife came to me one day and she said, hey, born and raised here. I've been here 40 years, I'm ready for something different. I'm watching all these people jump in their RVs and travel and kind of van life. So it took me two or three days to wrap my head around it. And I said, you know, I got no other reason other than just pure fear not to. So I should probably try to make my wife happy and say, let's do it. She was right, man. It was amazing. And we gutted a brand new 42 foot 5th wheel, made it a farmhouse on wheels, which was her dream. We jumped in, and I never even had towed the damn thing, Ron until I left the day we were pulling out, I was pulling out my new F350 and was watching this thing going, dear God, I'm not I'm not a farm boy, I've never towed anything. Watched a lot of YouTube and said a lot of prayers, but we made it amazingly. I think Florida was one of the worst spots that we got in a few ways, but Miami, driving through Miami with that beast was not my favorite thing, but.

Ron:  A couple questions there. What were some of your favorite destinations or and I'll say it another way, memories from that year on the road?

Matt: Oh, man. I could do outtakes. If I would have recorded all the outtakes, you guys would have had that at a whole another show. If you've ever seen the show RV, where you have black tank issues, any of you RV viewers know what I'm talking about. There's plenty of stories there we can talk about over a beer, but favorite locations, I think I mentioned to you previously, like Key West was amazing. We went everywhere from hanging out at like its own little RV island called Blue Water Key in Key West, and we routed through, I absolutely loved, the Texas boys would know this, Big Bend National Park. We swam in the Rio Grande, and there was a Hot Springs on the water where you can see Mexico right across the river, swim over, touch it, come back like you're not supposed to do that. But that's very fun.

Ron:  We'll cut that part out of the recording.

Matt: That's right. Don't tell anybody. No, we had a great time, man. So we did that. We went all through Big Bend. We went up and did all of Utah. Went to the HTSA conference in Scottsdale that was so fun back in, what was that 2019? Spring of 2019. Park camped in the RV and you know got to see Ben Linz and the boys at Cyber in their showroom and then traveled all the way up through Utah, spent time in Park City, loved that. We were really, we started to look at ski towns. I quietly in the back of my mind was thinking about which ski town I would love to live in. Because while going, I went to Park City High School and while living in that area, being able to mountain bike and ski and do those things in the summer and winter months and have that kind of active lifestyle was such a blessing for me when I was a kid. I just really wanted that for my kids. As much as I absolutely adore Nashville and the people and the culture and food and everything else and music, I was just missing that, missing the mountains, really. So as we navigated through, we went to Jackson Hole and Sun Valley and we were coming up through Montana, which is a state I had never been in. And I had met a known Corey Reistad from SAV and he was nice enough. I had mentioned it to him and said, hey, I'm going to be coming up to your neck of the Woods. Can I can I come hang with you and see your operation? And not only did he allow me to do that, he let me stay. He's a real estate guy. And he's very good at it, and he had a cool little lot that was right by the train tracks, little did I know it was about the train tracks in Bozeman. Which is still gorgeous. Most train tracks in a big city, you don't want to park your RV at. You might not have some of your possessions when you get done in the next morning. The only complaint I have is that every 2 a.m., the train would come by and blow its horn as loud as it can and rattle my RV. So it was like Chinese water torture every 2 a.m. just knowing it's coming. But we stayed there for like a week and probably longer than Corey wanted me to, but there was just nowhere to stay. You get to Montana during the summer months and the RV parks and everywhere are booked. Everybody was visiting. This was pre COVID. So we got to spend time with them and we went up to we went up to see Glacier, fell in love with the area as we were headed up to go to Banff and Lake Louise and Canada. And we stayed a month in Canada. It was incredible. One of the most or the most beautiful fall I've ever seen. Saw wild Elk walking through the campground, just an incredible, incredible place. And I wanted to teach the kids to ski. I taught skiing in Park City for quite a few years and said, you know what? I want to teach my kids to ski, where can we go? So we stumbled across this little town of Whitefish, and so we parked the camper, stored it because I was not doing a Montana winter in that bad boy. And we rented a place in downtown Whitefish and within one month we were looking at houses. The rest is history. We bought in December, bought a little farmhouse, just north of the airport, near Whitefish, and restored it for three months. And moved into it in March when COVID hit. Then we were hanging out in camping chairs until we got furniture. It was quite a deal.

Ron:  I got a few comments. Andrew says, RV life is super special. And Scott, on LinkedIn, says the traveling Grant family is legendary.

Matt: I love Scotty.

Ron:  I love that. I'm curious, that long, that proximity to your family, you know, I think many of our listeners could say they appreciate maybe their home and their ability to, on occasion, separate from their, you know, you're in this part of the house or your spouse is in that part and your kids are outside or over there. If you're in an RV, you can't do that as much.

Matt: Man, that's a great point. That was probably one of the hardest things. My wife and I had a lot of conversations about just trying to be in the moment. And I think that's a lesson for all of us so many times in our careers, right? You know, just being in the moment. And I look back and how often do you get an entire year with your family and very concentrated and Ron, I know you've got to you've got a young one at home and you just, it goes so fast. So I look back at that time was so precious. So I'm grateful for it. But there was plenty of challenge. I'm not going to say it's oh, it's all roses and perfect. It's challenging, but it's growth. And I would I wouldn't trade it for the world. So the way I kind of navigated it more back to kind of the business that some of these guys would be interested in. I would get up at about 6 a.m. and I would go to a coffee shop wherever we were. So anybody that knows me well knows I love coffee and I got to go to some of the coolest coffee shops from, you know, I'd ride a bike in Key West to go to some cool little coffee shop and meet the locals and I'd just became a coffee shop local in every damn city I traveled in. And I would work hard and I was the only, so pre COVID, we had a hundred employees, I was the only remote employee in the whole company. So this was not a thing that was common, right? And I didn't tell that story, but I was blessed by owners. I was not, I was not an owner. I did not own the company. I was purely an employee. I was director of technologies. I ran the AV division and had to sell and you know a lot of things. I came to them after I'd already bought my RV and already bought my truck, and we were remodeling and said, guys, I got something to tell you. And they were amazing. They said, Matt, I wrote a business plan, I was prepared. I wrote a full kind of an executive summary business plan to help them understand what I was going to do, how I was going to do it and present it to them. And Ron, it was incredible. So this was ACT Security in Nashville at the time. They've since sold, and they've retired. But Terry and Joel hill and Randy Mann, amazing people, and they, you know what they did. Instead of challenging me, they said Matt, we believe in you. And they took me to lunch. They prayed over me and my family and said, we want to bless you, and we absolutely know you can do this. Let's check in. Let's revisit this in 6 months while you're gone and let's see if it's still working. And if it is, keep going. So they took care of me for, you know, that whole time I was there and it was a huge blessing. But back to your question, it was a lot of hustle. I get up in the morning, I would work until kind of one or two o'clock, check in with the wife, and at that time, they were homeschooling, of course, we were homeschooling our kids. So at that time, they would get up and they would homeschool, do all their thing, and we were ready to go on a hike or explore the city by about two. And about 4 o'clock, 5 o'clock when all the technicians were calling me to ask questions or whatever it was, I would just, you know, walk around, pace on my AirPods and talk to them and then go back to whatever we were doing. So it was pretty awesome, man. Definitely, once in a lifetime.

Ron:  So you've been planted in Montana since 19?

Matt: Yeah, 2019, yes, sir.

Ron:  2019. All right, so I'm gonna share on the screen right now for our listeners, what you're not seeing is the website for Eyehear. So I'll just I'll do that as a visual aid here. Tell us about Eyehear. What is this company? What type of work do you guys do? Where do you do that work?

Matt: Yeah. So Eyehear is a 23 year old company here in the Flathead Valley we call it. So that's just north of the Flathead Lake and is in between we've got offices in Kalispell and Whitefish. So all in kind of a similar proximity to each other within 10, 20 miles of each other. So 23 year old company really started as a quintessential audio video home theater provider and has blossomed into we're working hard to create an incredible integration company really what so many of the listeners and so many of our friends and HTSA and other parts of the city industry are doing. So now we do everything from full lighting and home automation, automated window treatments. We've got a dedicated security department, we offer dedicated project management and design. We're about 25 people right now Ron. So it's an average size for your listeners, I think.

Ron:  I'm going to stream across the bottom of your screen right now, the URL for Eyehear. It's Eyehear that's E-Y-E-H-E-A-R, That's a unique name. Where did the name come from? Do you know the history of the name?

Matt: Yeah. So I know I know the basic history and some of the founders could tell you better, but you know remember, Listen Up? I mean, they're still there in Denver. Listen up, so a big company. I think one of the owners that's no longer an owner had sold the company. That play on words in Listen Up and the eye and the hear is that quintessential AV kind of provider. I think that's where he came up with that. Unfortunately, most people, when they hear it, think we're some sort of a vision or hearing clinic. But we've got so many people, you know, that's why I've kind of rebranded with your help and shout out to Ron's teams absolutely phenomenal that built our website beyond what I could ever have dreamed. They did a gorgeous job. So we're grateful for that for sure. But rebranding to just Eyehear is just what people say and what they remember. So we just have our little tagline technology for life and it's you know when you ask the builders or people around town, oh, you need to call Eyehear. So I just can't, I can't imagine rebranding that for a long time. So we'll see. We definitely have that market here.

Ron:  So when you and I were, and frankly, over the last couple of years, we've gotten to know each other. One of the techniques that I know that you've practiced on occasion throughout your career is, a, a focus on the customer experience, the really a high attention to detail around the way that every member of your team, interacts with your customers and your local marketplace. And one of your tricks, tips, recommendations, was that you have been particularly influenced by an experience you had at one point in your life at an Apple store. Do you mind kind of sharing that story or kind of what you gained from that?

Matt: Yeah. So man, that was game changing for me. The overall client experience was so critical. And I think that so many of the guys watching and listening and folks watching that have done this a long time you know, you think back to the 2000s and 90s before that where we were doing super custom Crestron automation systems that were all specifically programmed and we would bust our butts through a project and we would get to that last 10%. So we all know that last 10%, some people it's 5%, some it's 2%. The ever elusive, what I call walk away done, right? You get the technician say, oh, I'm done. And then I do a punch list for freaking page long and say, you're not done. There's a page of punch list. You have to look at it from the client's perspective. So we, as an industry, I think we were delivering that we were really close. We were getting to the one yard line. And yet the client was not really seeing the full experience. I jokingly say, we hand them the iPad or the Crestron touch panel back in the day and say, call us when it breaks. And the training process just wasn't there. And I didn't really have that epitome or realization until we decided to transfer all of our PCs over to Macs and I got my iPhone and was like, this is an incredible experience. And then I got a Mac. And I was like, this is incredible. Just the user interface and the seamlessness of as Katie can tell you on your team, technology is not my gift. And so I wanted it to just work, right? I just want to press the button and work. Well, that's what our clients want. So when I walked into the Apple store in Nashville, Tennessee and said, hey, I really want to convert my 4 or 5 man operation at the time back in the early 2000s. I want to change this over to all Apple. I get this young guy. He, as I told you, Ron, he's an ex Belmont graduate. Belmont school of music. I mean, these guys in Nashville, it's ridiculous talent. They're all wanting to be either a producer, an engineer, a musician, whatever. And they go to Belmont and they're brilliant. Excellent communicators and Apple hires world class folks. So I get this incredible client experience where at the end of it, they've got all of my, it's not just they didn't hand me the Mac and say good luck. They set it all up for me. This is the Apple business team. And they set it all up and they had everything logged in and all of my passwords and all the things they helped me just sync up. The iPad and the Mac and everything kind of before it was so seamless, it was still all syncing because of the work they did. And I was like, this is an incredible experience. Not only did they give me that experience, they walked me through it and talked me through it in a very simple way. So I said, how do I deliver this experience that I just got to my customers? Because they're spending quarter of a million, half a million, a million on these AV systems, and we're not most of us, and I know there's a lot of guys that are now delivering that experience. And back then, it was harder. So I essentially asked one of them, told them what we did. And I asked him if there was anybody in the store that would be interested in that. He's like, well, yeah, I'm interested in that. What you guys do is awesome. I said, great. We had coffee. I think two days later and I hired him on the spot and he worked for me and we said, all right, how do we get I need three more just like you? How do we do that? So over the period of two years, I hired up total of four Apple team members and who knows they could watch at this point. But they were life-changing. And they not only taught me how to deliver the client experience. They also, there were so many nuggets and takeaways from Apple. And the way they, the way they train their employees the way the internal clients, the way they really treat people and the culture that they try to provide was pretty phenomenal. But one of them became our director of IT for that hundred person company I told you about, the other became the director of HR and is now a traction EOS implementer. Another one runs his own technology firm and the other guy is a producer for a YouTube channel. So I mean, it was incredible, man. I was just blessed to have them work with me. They were all in their early 20s and now they're just superstars. So it's pretty cool.

Ron:  When you look at the business today, Eyehear business. What principles or ideas have you tried to implement or are you implementing from those lessons from your observations at the Apple store and even making some of those hires?

Matt: Yeah. I mean, just that like we talked about earlier, the overall client experience and that focus. I mean, it's interwoven in everything I do, quite honestly. That was game changing. I talk about the power of assuming positive intent and the cultural impact that that has in both our company and in our relationships personally.

Ron:  Let's go deeper there. What is that? What is the power of positive intent?

Matt: Well, the power of assuming positive intent, I should say. That's something that I learned. I learned the hard way from one of these Apple guys. So I'll tell you the quick story because I think it's relevant. It's been game changing for the way that the culture that we create in our company and the culture I've tried to foster in multiple companies now. So I had this young man that was one of the Apple team members and I've got this job site. This is a ultimately what ended up being a I don't know, $750,000 AV project throughout the course of a couple of years. Driving down to Alabama for this project, very high profile client, and I'm driving down from Nashville and I get this call and the builder calls me. All pissed off said you know, we told you to do this, hang this TV here. And I can't believe this, and he just lights me up, Ron. We've all been on the receiving end of that call. So I get down there and I'm locked and loaded. I'm already pissed off. I'm so because the client was mad in my perception, right? The builder was all upset and was ripping me a new one. So I walked into the job site and I get on site and there's my young man, my Apple guy who's kind of the project lead on the project and then another one of the helpers. And gosh, it just hurts me to say this now because I've learned so much and I don't do this anymore, but I didn't ask questions. I just assumed and went right to town on just telling them, why in the world would you hang the TV there? We knew better. We, you know, we shouldn't have done that and we talked about this and all this stuff. And he just, he just smiled and nodded at me, Ron, and I got done, smoke coming out of my ears, and I got done, and I said, well, and he said, maybe you might want to ask me a few questions next time. And I got like this big, man. So it turns out, the interior designer and misses homeowner had just walked through, changed the design, had them move the TV and I just happened to not get his call because I was driving in a dead zone, and I only got the builders call. So if I would have instead of assuming what he did wrong, if I would have just stopped and as my good friend Keith Esterly says from HTSA, he's their lead trainer. He talks about this all the time about just asking questions you know. I want to know everything. He teaches that in his first training. And it's so accurate. So it goes in line with the assuming positive intent. When you automatically assume the worst in anything in life, it's often not, right? We're often wrong. It's usually out of fear or frustration. It's that little devil on our shoulder that's telling us, oh, you're wrong, or they're out to screw you. There are to get you, or they're just trying to take your job, or whatever, and we see that in our own employees and our team members. But if we stop and help change the internal dialog and say, hey, they're not out to get us. They're not intentionally trying to screw up that TV mount. That changes. It's changed my the way I communicate to my wife and my kids. And it's so funny. I've preached it for so long. My kids sometimes I'll say something and my 13 year old will be like, dad, are you really assuming positive intent right now? Like, oh, and you know they're listening. So it's a proud moment, but it also gets me. And so you know we talk about that in our team and it's been great. I heard our warehouse guy one time. I walked around the corner and I heard him talking. He's like, I know I'm not assuming positive intent, but I'm really frustrated right now. You preach it enough and they start to get it. So that's something that's been game changing. And I really learned a lot of that. From that experience with that guy from Apple and also that's something that they really preach in their culture. So within their employees, at least they used to back in the early 2000s.

Ron:  I'm itching to know how did that story play out after he, I guess, helped you understand that the wife of your contact and the designer changed everything. What happened next?

Matt: Yeah. So I mean, just humbled thyself, right? I just had to go, wow, you're right. And I am so, I'm so sorry. Thankfully, I don't mind apologizing. I can be an idiot and I was. I didn't ask questions. And so I don't remember. I was quite a long time ago, but I do remember apologizing and eating some humble pie for sure. And he, you know, now we joke about it because he had a similar moment one time. He lit me up over email and I just replied, I said, why don't you just think about how you're feeling over the weekend, and we'll talk Monday. And that was the only reply I gave him on a Friday afternoon. And he comes back and he's like, man, I'm so sorry. I was eating up all weekend. I never should have said that. And I never should have. So given each other, grace, grace is just so powerful, man. Because we all need it all the time. We all mess up.

Ron:  Amen. You have, you are, Eyehear is a member of HTSA.

Matt: Yes.

Ron:  And there are potentially people listening that are not in HTSA or they're not in any group. What would be your advice or maybe at least considerations that business owners or leadership within businesses should have around participation in groups?

Matt: Man, I am I am such a huge fan of HTSA of their whole their whole team, but the concept of what they've created and just buying groups as a whole, but HTSA is very special. I'm super biased. I've been in a couple. I won't say what? And I won't comment on that, but I can say that HTSA is very, very special. And the atmosphere that they create from the training with, I mentioned Keith Esterly, and the opportunities that they invest in so heavily in just bettering us as dealers. Because as dealers as we are successful, then the whole group is successful. So that's huge. Gosh, those of us who went to the Lightapalooza event that Tom Doherty kind of fostered and created and birthed. I mean, I felt like, Ron, you were there. I felt like I was at the birth of like 2.0 CEDIA. It's like year two at CEDIA, it was incredible. The event was phenomenal. We can see such growth in the lighting fixture category, and it's a huge part thanks to Tom Doherty. And that vision came from the visionaries at HTSA that had the long-term vision to hire somebody like Tom Doherty to foster new technology into new growth initiatives. So between training and between the vision and the groundbreaking ideas that are happening through HTSA and then far and away, I mean, I wouldn't be here. If it wasn't for Corey Reistad letting me stay in his lot and us talking and connecting at an HTSA conference, I don't know that all this would have played out. It's so wild to watch in our lives how little you know how little things and interactions and people can really steer our trajectory and I'm so thankful for that because that one conference and that small opportunistic meeting that Corey and I connected and he's got a sprinter van and we started talking about that and I said I'd be in Montana and we're in an RV and he's like, man, come see me yeah. I took him up on it but that you know that really changed for me the trajectory of where we are. So grateful for that and thankful for Corey.

Ron:  I talked to a surprising number of business owners and operators that are not in and by the way, you are also in the guild. Is that correct?

Matt: No. I jokingly say I'm like a guild stepchild. I'm not really in the guild.

Ron:  You're an associate guild member.

Matt: If they had a farm team, I'd like to be one of those. But no.

Ron:  All right. You need to build a farm team. But I talked to a surprising number of business owners that are often in their isolated bubble, meaning they're not reaching out or participating in other groups. Those groups don't have to be in even within the industry. There's lots of networking groups, there's EO, there's YPO, there's help me out with some of the others. I know there's various local type of networking groups with entrepreneurs or owners. And then there's a handful of there's our trade organizations, commercially and residentially, and there's buying groups. But I talked to so many people that are in none of the above and they're fighting their battles almost in isolation and they're trying to figure things out on their own. So when they meet someone like me, and there you go, Koa just mentioned Cinergy, thanks Koa.

Matt: Cinergy is a great one, yeah.

Ron:  Cinergy is a great one. And here, I'll put that on the screen, so folks can see how that is spelled. That's CINERGY. And it's not necessary to figure things out on your own. So, you know, often the resource will be people like me, I'm talking to people all over the country every day and Stephen on my team and Andrew and my Katie's, what would you posit to the folks listening and what is required for those groups to be valuable? Because it's not just joining the group. It's you have to believe a that others can help. Or you have to also be open and willing to talk about what's working and what's not working. It can make, I believe, make a significant impact in your quality of life, both in business and at home. If you feel that there's people around you supporting you, what are your thoughts around that?

Matt: Absolutely, man. No, you said it well. I can not tell you how dramatically better my business life is from HTSA and the Friends that so many of the supporters I have on from Koa and Scott and so many others that are on, Eric Joy, all these guys that are so good at what they do. I've learned so much from those guys in such a short amount of time and it's been so cool. I mean, Koa and I have become really good friends and have shared some incredibly beneficial mutually beneficial information in our own kind of little friendship with Tom at cCoud9, who's a good friend of ours as well. And we'll jump on calls here and there. They're both HTSA members, but we're sharing just from meeting at one conference, multiple conferences ago, but I met Koa back in the spring of gosh the spring last year at the Fort Lauderdale conference. It was game changing. I mean, we're both using different software elements now that we learn from each other, and it's just so big. Not only that, but just the friendship and the camaraderie of him and so many others, when I go to Lightapalooza, I would be a face in the crowd by myself, right? If I was just there, so it's fresh on my mind. And then I had so many friends and industry industry associates that, you know, you just give them hugs and you talk through what's going on and you're just there and I think in so much in life, you get what you give, right? If you're going to join a group like an HTSA or others, you got to be prepared to give back. When you give, I promise you'll receive tenfold. And that's it. I mean, it's really what I give to HTSA, I get back tenfold. Of course, there's the monetary side. Yes, it absolutely pays for itself. Anybody that's worried about that. If you're doing any sort of business with the right vendors that are aligned with HTSA, you will pay for it'll pay for itself in spades. Where it really pays for itself is the relationships, the camaraderie, the learning, all of the, all of the knowledge that you're going to gain from people that are better at different elements of things than you are. And if you go out and seek that out and seek to grow in relationships and give back, you will get back a hundred times, so I'm a huge believer.

Ron:  Koa just dropped in. Thank you for, Matt. So maybe that's one of those pieces of software that you shared?

Matt: Absolutely. It's been game changing. Yeah, for an element of our business, yeah.

Ron:  That's neat. And then Andrew, here at One Firefly, he says, it's not a zero sum game. We can grow together if we're humble enough to reach out and connect.

Matt: Absolutely. Amen.

Ron:  I completely agree. So maybe we'll close around Lightapalooza and lighting and you know maybe as a category of business, I'm just curious. There's a lot of buzz about lighting. Let's run through it. There's lighting design. There's lighting fixture sales, there's lighting control. An aspect of lighting is motorized shading. That's controlling the natural light. I like how Lutron taught us all to say that shading is controlling the natural light.

Matt: Absolutely.

Ron:  But it's so true. And I have motorized, I have Lutron motorized shades in my house, and I can't imagine life without it.

Matt: Absolutely, yeah.

Ron:  I'm a believer. But talk to us about lighting as a category for your business. Where is it at today? And where is it going? What's the trajectory here?

Matt: Yeah. No, great question. Yeah, I mean, that's a huge topic for all of us now. There's so many people I know you've had on the show that are far ahead. And we are we are in our infancy for lighting fixture business, right? So we're a pretty experienced lighting control company. So we're a Lutron diamond dealer. We do a lot of Lutron. We do a lot of Lutron shades. So we do their automated window treatments as well as their lighting control. We do not have in-house electrical. So in Montana, high voltage license is kind of interesting. You do definitely have to have one to do much electrical work. So we're kind of watching looking at a few different business models. Again, this is another plug for all the learning and the knowledge that is collected at HTSA and in our industry. There's guys that are far down the road. They've been doing this for 5 plus years and they're already well into full electrical divisions with Andrew at Gramophone. Those guys have got a very sophisticated business. And I've learned a lot, so I'm asking a lot of questions. But right now, Ron, we are we've got a beautiful showroom that we just opened in Whitefish about a year ago that's a full catcher of certified showroom with Lutron palladium, which vary. It's like the Lutron tiny home that they had in at the show.

Ron:  Yeah, I walked through that demo. It was fun.

Matt: Yeah, exactly. I was like, wow, this is like our showroom. So it works out great. So we've got all of that. What we don't do is we don't have any next level of fixtures. And what Lightapalooza opened my mind to is, I thought that everything, the sun, you know, rose and set with Ketra. And it's phenomenal, I think it's one of the pinnacles of technology within lighting. And I think it's a big part of the future, but there's so much more with the different styles of fixtures that Ketra is limited. They just don't have the bulbs. They don't have the styles of fixtures and trims that there's just such a breadth of product needed to do these custom homes. But I absolutely believe wholeheartedly that when I was at the Lightapalooza show, when I was looking around and sitting in the conference, I believe that we very likely will be a lighting and shading company that also does audio video in the next couple of years. That's just, to me, it's the future. And it's the, I think it's so it's so differentiating from the electrical contractors and the traditional low voltage guys, which is one of my least favorite terms in the industry and the builders say, my low voltage guy will happily do it.

Ron:  I have so much more than that.

Matt: That's right. I joke, I say that's like the digital plumber, like no, it's a different deal. But the guys, the people that get in, so early, the lighting designers, like when you're talking about lighting fixtures and lighting design, you're in far earlier and the electrical contractors, therein before we are because you got to have electricity, you got to have lights. So I think that's one of the biggest differentiators as well and I think that's a big part of where we're headed. I'm thankful for some of the guys that were there like can help you. David and Mark, those guys, they're making the pathway so much more achievable for us. So we plan on working with them to help us grow in our offerings and provide design services and just get better at it until we can do it in-house.

Ron:  I led a panel at Lightapalooza, Eric Joy was actually on my panel. And I'll ask a similar question that I asked the panel, and I'm just, I know that this is on many people's minds, many integrators minds. And that is if you're bringing the lighting fixture to the table as something you'll provide, how are you handling any friction, if any, from the electrician that might see that as a threat or a conflict? Is there any lessons you've learned or is that something you're still grappling with, how to best negotiate that? Anything that you could share?

Matt: Yeah. So I mean, definitely, that's on the hearts and minds of all of us, I think. And again, some of these guys are really much further down the road. I think every market is a little bit different, Ron. I mean, we're in a market that you know I've talked to a lot of people and we're in a market where the electricians are, they're gunning for our business, right? They're already coming after the Lutron business, which good for them. I don't know, no hard feelings about that. I love our reps, but we've got some really, really good electricians and some sophisticated electricians that are gunning for that. Now, they're going to learn the hard way that you've also got to know networking, and you've also got to deal with that client that's pissed off because their Netflix is not working.

Ron:  The football game on Friday or Sunday Night or Monday night isn't playing and they're going to get that phone call.

Matt: There's many lessons to be learned. It's not as easy as just slapping Sonos and some speakers in and Lutron and calling it a day. But they're doing that. And so there are some electricians that I think are really agreeable. And I'm very much a collaborative guy. I love competition that's quality, people that do good work. And if you call me, I will help you in any capacity I can as long as we're friendly competition. As long as there's not disparaging going on or something, which we would never do. So yes, I like to collaborate. I've reached out to multiple electricians. We've got some collaborative relationships. And then there's some that are very admittedly coming right after us. So I finally had to just realize Ron that we've got to go upscale with these lighting fixtures and I can't I just can't make everybody happy. There's going to be electricians that are going to be frustrated and we'll do everything we can to share in the love and share in some of the some of the gains. If they're installing things for us and we're not able to, I want to make sure they make every bit as much money as they would if they were installing the traditional fixture. But if we've got the beautiful showroom and we've got the education and we've got the design that is helping to sell those fixtures into those jobs, then it's a win win. So my goal is to create that win win. If that electrician is willing to listen, if they're not, then we're going to sell it anyway. That's just kind of whatever arrived on. You just can't make them all happy. And so you try to be collaborative. You try to go out and extend the branch. And if not, then you just you got to take care of your client at the end of the day and if we're not showing them high quality solutions, just like we're already doing on lighting control, right? We're already doing it with at least keypads or palladium keypads with wire free palladium shades or that category. We're showing them premium product, so we can't apologize for that. We need to do the same on the lighting fixtures. And as long as we're doing it and representing it well, then I think we just keep on going.

Ron:  Love it. I'm mindful of time. And both for you and our audience. But I have just a couple of really rapid fire questions for you.

Matt: Sure.

Ron:  One is the economy's little wonky, depending on maybe all over the world, depending on which pocket or market you're in in the United States or Canada. What are you seeing? What's the outlook in general? Not that you have a crystal ball, maybe you have a magic 8 ball. What are you seeing for the year ahead?

Matt: We are seeing still, aside from this whole bank situation that's got, you know, I think we all have to watch because that's out of our control, but that's a black swan deal that could happen. But other than that, we've got what I'm hearing from my architects, builders, and partners, it's all about the absolute upper tier, right? It's the luxury projects. We have seen permits come to a screeching halt below a $1 million, but we've got more $10, $20 million projects than we did last year. And that's where, you know, over time over the last three years of me being here with Eyehear, that's really what I've been trying to get us to is the focus on that client, because that's what we're good at. That's what we're, that's, I think, as an industry, that's what the luxury products are built around. They are there for the premier quality projects. They're premier materials and equipment. And that's like it or hate it that's who can afford it and I think that's our market. So we're really focused on kind of the $5 to $8 million and up homes and projects and our custom builders that we've got great relationships and partners, that's really what we're doing and we're seeing and we're seeing that just continue to just chug along like nothing has slowed down.

Ron:  Yeah.

Matt: So far so good.

Ron:  I'm seeing the same. If we were to part ways today with a recommendation for the audience, I'd love if you could maybe give an idea or something to consider regarding building a better company culture. What's something maybe that you do today or you've done over your career that you know can make a positive impact towards building culture within a company? What would you what would you recommend?

Matt: Oh, so real easy. I mean, I definitely am a big believer in the EOS traction. A lot of people are implementing that. I think that's a great just finding a business operating system. So that's one. I talked about just the power of assuming positive intent. It starts with the top, so if you as the leader of your company or the leaders out there, if you're not giving grace and showing and assuming positive intent with your employees, then it's going to be real hard to expect that they will. So that's number two. Number three is just ask questions. In every scenario, ask questions. Find out more. Find out everything you can before you comment on things. And that has been so game changing for me in every interaction. And I tell you, every time I, every time I go into a situation where I'm assuming, and I'm still in my mind, I might not say it out loud, but I think I know what happens. And I ask enough questions and go, damn, I'm sure glad I didn't assume and spout off at the mouth and tell them what I was really thinking, because I was wrong, so that's huge. Then the other is just we talked about it, Ron, I think, jump into an organization and be collaborative with, whether it's one dealer or a lot of dealers, we can't be on an island. We're better together. So connect and give back and you will receive.

Ron:  Awesome. Those that are listening or watching and they want to get in touch with you directly, Matt.

Matt: Yeah, I'd love to help.

Ron:  Or learn more about Eyehear, where would you send them?

Matt: Yeah, so you've got our website, our website is great. Again, One Firefly designed, it's just My personal email is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and you can certainly hit me up on my mobile, which is area code 615-305-2096.

Ron:  Awesome. Matt, I know it's March, next month, we have the HTSA conference. Am I going to see you out there?

Matt: Heck yeah, man. I've already got we're staying for a couple extra days in Vegas looking forward to it.

Ron:  Awesome. All right, well, I look forward to hanging out with you there. Appreciate you joining the audience and myself here on the show 239 of Automation Unplugged Matt.

Matt: Thank you for having me. Appreciate it, Ron.


Matt is the CEO of Eyehear Technology Group located in Whitefish Montana and has been in the luxury residential technology space for over 25 years. He worked up from a retail sales position at the Bose store in Park City, Utah to outside sales positions at several of the top Integration firms in the country before stepping into leadership roles. 

His experience in luxury sales and VIP client relationship management has resulted in many 7 figure projects with celebrity clients and business executives from around the country. Although sales and business development are still a part of his day to day, Matt’s passion is in creating an exceptional experience for his internal and external clients.

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.

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