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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 #241: An Industry Q&A with Carmine Colangelo

In this week's episode of Automation Unplugged, Carmine Colangelo, Director of Systems Engineering at C&T Electric Corporation shares his family roots and celebrates 50 years as a family owned and operated business.

This week's episode of Automation Unplugged features our host Ron Callis interviewing Carmine Colangelo. Recorded live on Wednesday, April 12th, 2023, at 12:30 pm EST.

About Carmine Colangelo

Carmine is the fourth generation of Colangelo's to work at C&T Electric Corporation. Founded by his grandfather in 1973, C&T celebrates 50 years as a family owned and operated business. While C&T's roots are in electrical contracting, they've evolved over the years to keep up with the times. They have worked in the integration field since 1989 with the inception of Elan. Since then they've become a three-pronged business, specializing in Custom Integration, Electrical Contracting and Stand By Generators, giving them a firm understanding of what goes into the modern smart home.

Graduating from the University of Connecticut in 2013, Carmine spent time as a sportswriter, web developer and marketer before returning to the family business in 2015. For the past 8 years he has worked as the Director of Systems Engineering at C&T Systems, in their Integration department. He specializes in lighting control, networking and automation in high-end residences and commercial spaces.

Interview Recap

  • Why three business units
  • The focus on “making customers for life”
  • Changes in client expectations over the last 20 years in home automation

SEE ALSO: Home Automation Podcast Episode #240 An Industry Q&A with Eric Pyle


Ron::: Carmine, how are you, sir?

Carmine: : Hey, Ron, I'm doing well. How about yourself?

Ron::: I'm doing well, man. Thanks for joining us. Why don't you fill the audience in? Where are you coming to us from?

Carmine: : You're welcome. And I appreciate the wonderful introduction. I am broadcasting live from West Hartford, Connecticut. I am currently at my house at the command center, my second office. So the old home away from home.

Ron:: The headquarters, the home headquarters?

Carmine: : Exactly. Yeah. So it's nice. I got a little flexibility with my position where, you know, sometimes I get to spend time in the office, sometimes I get those, you know, go on the road a little bit, come home and, you know, still be connected to the office and take care of everything I need to do from the comfort of my house. So it's a nice privilege to have for sure.

Ron:: Well, awesome. Well, carmine, tell us a little bit about C and T systems. Just understand how the, I guess, the bigger business works and where this business that you run slots into that bigger picture.

Carmine: : Sure. So I am, like you were saying before, the director of systems engineering for C and T systems. And C&T Systems is one company kind of under the umbrella of our larger unit C&T Electric Corporation. And so C&T Electric Corporation has been in business for 50 years. Originally started by my grandfather way back when and we have a some early beginnings and roots as an electrical contracting company. So over time you know, as my grandfather expanded the business, my father had been working with him forever, even my great grandfather worked with him. I've had uncles and cousins and all sorts of people join over time. I've worked there since in this capacity about 8 years, but you know when you're when you're in a family business, you're running wire at 12 years old, you're washing trucks, you're doing deliveries, you're, you know, you're kind of taking care of everything. So, you know, I say I've been in this position for 8 or 9 years, but it's really been my whole life. So, you know, like what you're saying, we're at three pronged business, C&T Systems is our automation and custom integration business. Under C&T electric, we have electrical contracting, and we also have a standby generator business, where we install and service generate generators for residences and commercial spaces as well.

Ron:: And for our listeners, what I'm sharing on my screen right now are the websites. So the electric the electrical and the generator business is at, and so I'm showing that website here. And then your systems integration business is at

Carmine: : Correct. I appreciate the plugs.

Ron:: Yeah, no, you decided to run the actually, let's just kind of let's pull that thread. So you decided to run a different website for the systems integration business from the electrical business. Maybe walk us through that train of thought.

Carmine: : Yeah. So it's interesting. A long time ago, my father, who's the president of the company now, he was working with a rep from another AV company. And he kind of gave him a piece of advice a long, long time ago that as you start to work in these high end residences and you start working in these integration and automation fields, there may have at one time been kind of a negative connotation with being called just an electrician. And so at that time, we kind of ran with that thought and kind of split the two entities up, but really kind of what we found over time is, for as much as you have a systems and an electric website, really the two couldn't be more intermingled. Everything that we do in this business is directly connected in one sense. And we kind of take that approach into everything else we do. So for example, I've got electrical contractors and I've got a generator technician who are trained in doing Lutron radio ra2. They have basic understanding of home networking and all these low voltage systems, whether it's audio, security, lighting control, anything like that, and what we found over time is that it was very important to kind of cross train everyone and make sure that everyone kind of understands what everyone else is doing. Not only a to kind of lend a helping hand, when one is needed, but also because in today's home, and today's business oftentimes, that all these things are really intermingled. You may be under you know, you may be programming a lighting control system, but if you don't have a strong understanding of or at least just a general understanding of whether it's the electrical foundation of the house or it is something like the LEDs work. And how to kind of combat issues where maybe I've got a retrofit solution and I'm trying to plug in LEDs everywhere and all of a sudden they got blinking lights. Every part of these homes are interconnected and it's just important that everyone kind of understands this. And as we kind of take that approach into everything we do. And just making sure that our guys are well trained and making sure that our guys really have a full comprehension of the home because, you know, over the last 50 years, we've seen a lot of things change.

Ron:: Yeah, amen. I'm super curious on the generator business. How does that business model work? Is it a business where you're only selling the gear or is there any other components to that business model?

Carmine: : Well, really, the big portion of that business is preventative maintenance. So oftentimes what we'll do is we may get a call, someone's looking for a generator. So what we'll do is we'll go out. We'll do a site survey. We'll talk about locations. Maybe talk about the size of the house, the size of your service. And kind of the things you want to make sure that if the power goes out, this is still going to run. And so we started that. We figure everything out, figure out what size it generator you need. Do you need things like load shedding? Do you need what gauges of wire do you need? How are we going to run this? How are we going to set this up? And then now the new component of this is a lot of these generators will connect to either cellular or Wi-Fi service. So now the customer can get a notification every time they're generators running, maybe it goes into fall, maybe it needs maintenance. You have more understanding of what's happening in a little more insight. But really, the big part of that business is preventative maintenance. So what we do with our customers is we will, after we do the installation, we'll sign them up with a plan. And with that plan, it could be an annual visit, a biannual, or sometimes we'll go out three times a year. That'll be everything from checking on the life of the battery, simulating a power outage and running the generator, changing out spark plugs, changing out, oil filters, changing out air filters, you know, really making sure that this unit is still going to operate when you need it to. You know, it's much like taking care of your car. As long as you go and get your oil changed, you know, you take care of it, regular maintenance, rotate your tires, maybe change them out every once in a while you know. It's a very similar idea. And honestly, not only with the generator side of things, it's also kind of the same principle in your home, whether you have an automation system. Having someone come by and do firmware upgrades, maybe checking the equipment, making sure everything's okay, making sure that things are still operable, you know, do you need to upgrade or are we having any issues? Things of that nature. So it's like I said before, how we're kind of cross training everyone. A lot of those same philosophies kind of bleed into all those different parts of all those different businesses.

Ron:: What percentage of your generator clients sign a service or maintenance agreement? Is it a 100% or close to it?

Carmine: : I would say close to. And it's funny because the ones who don't are always the ones who typically have the issue and typically will give you the emergency call in that situation. And then after that, we'll typically sign that contract and become a regular part of our maintenance package.

Ron:: I'm curious from those less because it's a small intimate team there at C&T. I'm wondering if the success, extraordinary success you've had in getting your generator clients to sign service and maintenance agreements has that translated over to the automation side of the business, is that is that a thing yet in your business model?

Carmine: : I would say so because sometimes it's interesting having all these different parts and businesses where I may get brought in for a lighting control system. And then next thing you know, you get brought in and you're talking about the lights and then you know as you kind of have these casual conversations about the house, things you want to do, things you want to add on to, you know, maybe it's speakers. Maybe it's cameras. Maybe it's things like that. Oh, we're also electrical contractors. And have you thought about a standby generator? You know, have you thought about surge protection? Have you thought about battery backups? These conversations actually happened very naturally in that situation, whether it's an early meeting, whether it's an onsite walkthrough, and sometimes whether it's you start with a generator and then someone asks you a question you know, what do you know about security cameras or like I said in the original introduction, all these things kind of come together? And kind of gets you more involved in the home. And I think too, like I was saying before about the cross training, as the homes evolve, it's important to kind of have this knowledge about every aspect of the home because they're also interconnected.

Ron:: No, that makes perfect sense. So if you and I'm putting you on the spot here for a hard number ish. What percentage of your AV projects would you say you're able to get into some sort of signed ongoing maintenance agreement? Like 10%, 50%.

Carmine: : I would say we're probably in that ten to 20% range. You know, sometimes some things are a little unofficial. Where it's almost just kind of in this aspect of you're customer for life, you know, we'll check in every once in a while, see how things are doing to take care of it. A handful of people will sign that more concrete like, hey, I want you to come out once a year, do all my firmware upgrades. And kind of take care of everything. But what we've found and what we're kind of trying to push in our next venture is, you know, making sure we get into a space where we can get a concrete preventative maintenance contract because it's not only beneficial for the customer in the sense that you're always paying attention to them, you know, you're always looking at their system, you know, you're kind of in tune with it and you're taking care of it, but it's also important for us as a business because we're a constant presence. You'll see that black C&T van roll up the driveway. You see the logo, and you see the same technician come out 6 months, 12 months. Whatever it may be. And the familiarity and the comfort that we build with our customers over time is I think how we can create such strong relationships. I think people like familiarity. I think people like to see the same person come in again and again because you build a level of comfort in such an intimate space.

Ron:: I've got a comment here from Jason Sayen he says the business model is a great RMR model. I think he's talking about the generator model. I agree, Jason. When I heard that, they had I mean, it's in the hundreds. Is that a fair statement, Carmine? You have in the hundreds of clients that are doing recurring for the generator.

Carmine: : Yeah, probably close to 500 I want to say.

Ron:: Yeah, that sounds like an awesome business model. It's actually, you're not the first person I've heard. You're the second person I've met in this generator business. The other was out of a Quebec, Canada. And I heard his, I mean, he's actually in integration and generators and electrical and he's actually steered a lot of his business focused towards the generator business because it's so profitable and lucrative and recurring. It's surprising to me that more integrators aren't in this business. So maybe I'll just pose that question to you. Why do you think more integrators haven't figured this generator business out yet?

Carmine: : Well, first of all, Jason, thanks for chiming in and I think as much as you don't want to do that, I think it's time to drag that generator out and just give it a little test run you know. You want to make sure you hope you never have to use it, but you want to make sure it works when you do have to use it. And I think at least as far as integrators and automation guys, you know, trying to get into this field, I think part of the difficulty is not only do you have to have a generator technician that truly understands how this works much in the way your mechanic knows how your car works because there's a lot of similarities between the two things, but also you need to have the electrical knowledge and an electrician on staff you know. I think sometimes it's not always easy to maybe hire an outside contractor or potentially build a relationship. It's definitely possible and you see it all over the place. But our advantage is that we have that in-house. And we have that knowledge. What I do think might end up happening over time is at least with integration guys getting into this is I could see battery backups becoming increasingly viable in that space you know, as we get more and better access to battery backup systems, and there are a lot of great systems out there you know, I see that more immediate tie in with an integrator going to that. Possibly versus the more mechanical aspects in electrical aspect of installing a standby generator.

Ron:: Yeah, Sean just Shawn Stermer, thanks for posting Sean. Thanks for tuning in. He says, maybe the integrators are weary of the AC/DC leap. I think that's understandably so.

Carmine: : That's why it's always important to make sure you got a good license guy on staff you know. There's a lot of knowledge and a lot of know-how that goes into all of that.

Ron:: I am going to drop, Jason dropped one other comment. I'm going to address this and I want to kind of carve mine going to your backstory kind of figure out where you came from. But Jason also was commenting on your website. He said it looks great. He's asking if you've linked or any thought of linking the two. So linking your integrator site and your electrical site and maybe getting them to point to each other. Is that already in place or is that part of the game plan?

Carmine: : Yeah. So on the electrical side, there is a link to the C&T system side right on the homepage. And we actually recently just upgraded our C&T systems website through One Firefly. And we're totally impressed with how it looks. It's beautiful. It is a complete and amazing upgrade from what we had in some of the original versions. And as we're kind of going through this, we actually just launched it maybe a week or two ago, so it's still pretty fresh.

Ron:: I did not know that, I know Josh helped you and I get connected to get you here on the show. Josh is your account executive at One Firefly. So maybe Josh knew that. I did not know that. I probably should have known that. But I did not know that your website just went live.

Carmine: : Yeah, so it just went live. We're very happy with it you know. We're starting to get some hits and then get the SEO going again. And so kind of as part of it going live you know, we're still kind of working some of those kinks out and making sure we can link back to the electrical website as well.

Ron:: Yeah, great, great comment, Jason. Thanks for tuning in and providing that question. So what's your backstory, man? I know this is a family business. You've made that clear. This goes back to your uncle 50 years ago. I think that's what you said, correct?

Carmine: : Grandfather actually.

Ron:: Grandfather, your grandfather, 50 years ago. Lots of questions there. I imagine, well, I'll just ask this first before we go into your backstory. I mean, do you still have customers from 50 years ago?

Carmine: : We do.

Ron:: You do.

Carmine: : We do. I actually, one of our longest standing customers, I think it's been about 50 years. My grandfather originally wired their home, and we were in there not too long ago, upgrading their, you know, we did a little bit of Wi-Fi and put some cameras and a little alarm system. And I go to open up the breaker panel to kill power to a couple of circuits and I see my grandfather's handwriting. You know, labeling out all the circuits. And it's, you know, it's incredible, you know, it's a little piece of history. It's a little piece of family history and it's a big, it's a big point of pride for us you know. He was a wonderful person. I am his namesake, so he was also Carmichael Angelo. And I still, very frequently, will run into people, whether it's customers or whether it's people just knowing him around town, that still talk about them and just tell me what a great man he was and helpless they were to know him.

Ron:: How lucky would any of us be to have anyone talking or thinking about us 50 years into the future? That's pretty amazing. I know there's a lot of family pride there. I could hear that in your words and see that on your face. So that's pretty awesome. I see some more comments coming in here. But before I bring those on screen, by the way, all of you tuning in, watching across all the platforms, please drop the comments and I'll do my best to bring them on screen and put them in front of carmine here as we go. But Carmine, what did you how early were you exposed to this business and kind of what was your where'd you come from that brought you to this point where you're running the systems business?

Carmine: : Sure. So I mean, anyone who's worked in a family business or been a part of a family business knows it's been your whole life you know. Growing up our home, you know, very early on was kind of like the test laboratory. We had when my dad set things up, there's a Lutron system, you know, there's an Elon system. We've got audio throughout the house. We've got cameras. We've got security. So growing up with that you know, you're always involved. You're always around, you're always surrounded by it, so it becomes part of your life, part of your lifestyle. You know, I remember actually it's kind of funny. So in summers growing up, you know, out of school, this is probably middle school time, maybe early high school, and so my parents house was on maybe like two acres of land. And so me and my brother, all summer long, would just do a bunch of yard work. You know, anything from mowing the lawn, to splitting logs, to dragon brush around, to, you know, you name it. If there's a project we did it, and so dad from the office could take a peek on the camera and go, oh, Carmine and Nick are outside right now. I wonder where they are. Look all the lights are off, everything's off, still sleeping in? You know, if it was too late, dad would crank AC/DC in the bedroom, flash the lights, make sure we got our butts out of bed and got to work, you know?

Ron:: So your dad was using your Elon system for good, not evil. He was getting you guys out of bed to get into the yard and get the work done.

Carmine: : It was for good, you know? He was helping us build that strong work ethic at a young age. So, you know, I've always been, I've always been around it, you know, whether it was working on the house, you know, pull the wires to a new room, getting the speaker set up here, doing a little bit of programming, you know, things of that nature. Helping dad out, helping my grandpa out, you know, whether it was doing delivery runs as soon as I got my license, you know, washing trucks at a young age, getting brought in and summers in high school, you know, roughing houses, pulling wires, doing all this stuff, no one else wanted to do, you know, put me up in an attic in a hot July day, you know, tugging wire crawling on insulation, you know, doing those kind of things. So I've always been surrounded by it. I've been surrounded by every aspect of it, you know, whether it's the installation, whether it's the programming, whether it's working with customers, you know, understanding all these different facets and pieces that go into a business to kind of complete that puzzle, you know, and just getting the awareness and understanding of what it takes to really run a business.

Ron:: What did you end up studying in school? Was it related to this? Or did you go down the electrical path or what path did you take?

Carmine: : I proudly couldn't be much further from this path. I went to UConn, shout out 5 time national champions for the men's side, 11 for the women I want to say.

Ron:: They're kind of good. I'm a Virginia Tech graduate. So our women made it to the final four. That was a big deal this year.

Carmine: : That's a huge deal yeah. But you know we know a thing or two about basketball up in the northeast. But I studied journalism and history. So I got a double major in journalism and history.

Ron:: We have a lot of journalism graduates here at One Firefly. A lot of writers on our team and content creators.

Carmine: : And if you've read any of those blog pieces or gone through any of those websites, you know, you can see it, you know, you got a great creative and writing staff there.

Ron:: AI for all those listening. AI does not replace the human. It makes the human better if you use those tools, but it does not replace the human.

Carmine: : Exactly. Read I robot, you know, and get a little reminder of why we're not going to replace. Why we shouldn't replace the human, I should say. So once upon a time, I was a sports writer. I used to cover UConn basketball men's and woman's, covered football, hockey, field hockey, soccer.

Ron:: Was this controversial in the family. They're like Carmine, is he coming into the business? Maybe?

Carmine: : It was a conversation, but you know at the same time, even when I was doing that in college, I remember my senior year, I think I had two internships and three jobs, and one of those jobs was working for my parents, you know, at that time, I was starting to do a lot of the, I was, I've done a bunch of the electrical work, you know, and as I've kind of progressed and got through things, I'm totally capable, but I found them a little less dangerous with the computer than I am with a set of pliers and a screwdriver. So, as I got older and kind of got through college, I started getting involved administratively in the business. You know, helping kind of run the cloud, you know, we use Google G Suite for pretty much everything. So organizing the Google Drive, taking care of files. Setting up storage and creating processes for digital backups of everything from billing to contract proposals to program files for customers, information. Anything like that. So I started kind of getting involved in that side of the business early on. And so I did the sports writing thing for a little while. After college I started working for Fox Sports and the unfortunate timing of my graduation was also at a time where they made massive cuts. And so as I was supposed to move on, take my editor's position and my editor was supposed to kind of move up the ranks, his position in front of him disappeared. He wasn't able to leave. So I kind of had to pivot and find something new. And so at that time, I started an online magazine with a friend based out of New York, covering everything from entertainment and sports. I kind of ran the music side of things. So I was doing everything from album reviews, going to concerts, hosting parties, you know, kind of doing that stuff with artists. And then I was also working in marketing, and I was also working in web development. So kind of after that time, I started kind of exploring all these different fields, had a few marketing jobs, did some web development, did some QC work, did a bunch of things, and at that time, the person who previously held my position was actually leaving our company. And he was going on to work for someone else. And I'd been having discussions with my dad. And it was something I was very interested in you know. I've been around it. I'm pretty good with it. I have a lot of knowledge of homes and these processes and what it's like to live with this. And so that kind of took a leap.

Ron:: You knew what you were getting into?

Carmine: : I knew what I was getting into. Every part of it, whether it was the actual installation of programming or what it was like working with your parents.

Ron:: Anything about it that or maybe I won't ask the negative, I'll ask the positive version. What have you most enjoyed about coming back into the business? Or joining the business? You didn't come back to it, but really joining the family business.

Carmine: : Yeah, really joining. One of the probably the most rewarding thing is when you're working for your family's business you know, the successes that you have over time become that much more meaningful. You know, it's one thing to kind of work for another company and sometimes you do your work and you leave. You know, you go home, you do whatever, you go back to your original, you know, you go back to your life. And sometimes with the family business, when you see how hard everyone's working around you, and you get those successes, you land that big contract. You know, you make a leap in your business and you create a new stream of revenue, or you have some sort of major success, some sort of milestone that you become really proud of. It means that much more. And it means a lot to when your dad's your boss. And you see the pride he has in your work and how it affects him. We are in charge of our own destiny here. You know, it's everything we're doing is for our and our employees betterment you know. Our successes and our failures are not alone in those. You're together and all of those. And so it adds an extra level of importance to kind of everything you do. And I think it also adds a little extra value in all of those rewards. So I would kind of say that has been a pretty huge benefit, you know, and kind of being your own boss and having the freedom and the trust to take chances and try new things at work.

Ron:: In the systems integration business today, what's a typical project? Where is it? Is it geographically close to your office or do you guys travel and what are the typical types of solutions or even systems if you want to go there, not that you need to name brands? But if you want to, what's the type of stuff you guys are doing these days?

Carmine: : Yeah, so for us, so we're located our office is in Vernon, Connecticut. So if anyone's familiar with Connecticut we're maybe ten minutes east of Hartford. But what we kind of have is a two hour, I'll call it a two hour, two plus hour radius around us. So yesterday I was in Jamestown, Newport, and Portsmouth, Rhode Island. Today I'm in Connecticut. Tomorrow, or at the end of the week, I'm down in the Greenwich area of Connecticut. Next week I'll be up in Massachusetts. I've got a projects in Long Island, New York. And we're maybe two months ago, I was in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, working with a customer. So we kind of have a two-ish hour radius for us, but.

Ron:: Jackson Hole is a little further than two hours though.

Carmine: : Yeah, it's pretty far. And actually, it was kind of interesting with that project is that was, we won a bunch of awards for this project. .

Ron:: Is this the one that pictures are on your website?

Carmine: : Correct, yeah.

Ron:: I'm going to put that on screen for our people that are watching because I did see that gallery on your site.

Carmine: : Yeah, it is an absolutely gorgeous home. And so how that one kind of came about was we first got linked up with this house because one of the homeowners was an architect that we worked with in Connecticut for years and years. And I want to say back in 1999, he his wife and another couple bought this piece of property in the Amun Gandhi resort. So this is, you know, we're talking ten, 15 years before Jackson Hole is the Jackson Hole that we know of today.

Ron:: So they bought this piece of land and sat on it as this place grew up around.

Carmine: : Yeah. So an incredible investment, you know? And they waited on this piece of property for probably another decade or so before they started to build the home. And so we were very much involved in kind of every part of the design of the home. You know, everything with the lighting control system, the shading, they have an Elon system. So distributed audio, TVs, pretty much anything you can think of. So we have a lot of intimate knowledge of this house. And every couple of years or so, we fly back to do some upgrades. And because we have such a wonderful relationship with the homeowners, we actually get to stay in the house with them. So it's kind of this interesting work cation dynamic is what I'll call it. So you know we're here and waking up to that every morning. But also spending 8, 10, 12 hours upgrading modules and the lighting control panels and reprogramming keypads and maybe swapping out the Apple TVs or things like that. So it's part of, like we said, with our business and the importance on customers for life and really kind of taking care of people and bringing these family values in, you know, this is kind of just a prime example of what we stand for and you know how we go the extra mile for our customers.

Ron:: You said you guys picked up some wins for this project.

Carmine: : Yeah. So Lutron Excellence Award, best implementation of lighting. And so we've won, I think we have 5 Lutron awards, I want to say now, and this house has had all sorts of write ups and all sorts of different tech and design magazines and you know it's really incredible.

Ron:: I'm splashing your company page. You've got, I thought this might be here. My team did not let me down.

Carmine: : Yeah.

Ron:: Looks like you guys are platinum dealers in 21.

Carmine: : You got to upgrade it. We were platinum dealers in 2022 as well. So...

Ron:: Uh oh, all right.

Carmine: : We got some work to do,


Ron:: If you're tuned in team, make note, we got to update this.

Carmine: : Actually, that's on me. I got to contact a couple of people. So we'll get in touch for sure.

Ron:: This is impressive, best excellence award, excellence award, Lutron, man, you guys are racking these up. Best specialty project. Well, let's talk about actually, I'm gonna go super, you know, call it maybe not super meta, but I'll go meta. You actually submit your projects for awards and recognition. So whether it's with Lutron, it could be with CEPro, it could be with CEDIA, it could be it could be with Elon, you're submitting projects for recognition. At a high level, it's a marketing question. Why do you do that? Because many listening have amazing projects and do not do that.

Carmine: : Yeah, I think I think that's a big mistake you know. I think it's an important thing to help get yourself out there. All these projects are points of pride for us. We put blood, sweat, and tears to kind of get to this point. It's long hours working with customers. It's long hours working in the field. It's long hours kind of thinking of these new creative ways to kind of push boundaries. And especially in a lot of these projects where we're kind of on the cutting edge of these lighting control systems, Lutron has been great for us. They've really made us what we are today. I have to say, and in terms of the integration side and a majority of our products or projects rather kind of lead with lighting control and shades. And so as we get through these projects and we really, really commit to our customers and helping kind of create this vision you know, you're at the early stages, you're looking at the drawings of your home, and you're kind of thinking how am I going to what's this going to be you know? You start as the blank slate, essentially, things start to form up over time, ideas start to happen, and really what we like to do is we want to make sure that everything we're doing is truly reflecting the lifestyle you want to live you know. It's more than just a house, it's your home. You're here all the time you know. We want to make sure that your home is a reflection of you and a reflection of how you want to live. So as we kind of build that and design that and cater this to you, we create these really, really special projects. And I think it's important not only for us as a marketing side of things for us to get our names out there for people to see these galleries for people to kind of read the blurbs that I've written about, what we did, why this was special, you know, why was this different from the last one we did or why this is different from any other project? And I also think it's great as far as the industry goes because as you submit these awards and maybe you go to these dinners and you sit down and you, you know, you meet integrator small over the all over the country and you rub shoulders with big wigs to some of these large companies, you get a level of insight that you might not normally get you know. You kind of get to understand how different perspectives across the industry work and you kind of pick things up and you learn maybe it's a new business practice or maybe it's a new way to program or maybe it's a new way to approach something and I think all these perspectives are important in kind of helping build and expand the industry as a whole. So not only is it critical for us you know for marketing for us to get our names out there to get on websites to make sure when you win that award for Lutron that your name is in their design center in New York. So every time somebody goes and they go, oh, I've got a project coming up in this area. They say, oh, C&T electric. That's someone I got a call. But it's also important for pushing the industry forward to kind of pushing the boundaries of what this technology can do and what it can do for our customers and our clients.

Ron:: What frequency would you say or is there any sort of mandate that you or your entire team have around capturing your projects with photography, photography, or video? I don't know if you've ever done video, but at least shooting your projects. Do you try to do at least one a year, a couple of year, or is there anything more random?

Carmine: : Oftentimes, I'd say it's a little more random you know. We try to do at least a couple of year. Particularly when it gets close to award season for a company like Lutron. But a lot of times too, you know, after winning a handful of these awards and kind of thinking about this, whether it's marketing or trying to win another piece of hardware because nothing better than taking a trophy home with your name on it.

Ron:: It feels good.

Carmine: : I've got one back here for which project was that? This was best specialty project in 2017.

Ron:: Awesome.

Carmine: : It's pretty great to well.

Ron:: You have enough now. You can put one in everyone's home and everyone can have a little bit of Lutron love, you know.

Carmine: : Sometimes we even know going into it like, this is going to be award winner, or this project's going to be special. You know, this is you know from the early stages where you're looking at blueprints, you're talking with the customer, you talk with the engineer, talking with the architect, and all these different things that we can do and how special we can make this project. You kind of, it's almost instinctual. So we try to stand up of that and obviously in doing so, you know, you have to get the customers permission. You know, when you work in a very high end residential space, we have these situations sometimes where you may not ever meet the customer. You may deal with their people, their managers, their property managers, whoever it is, and you know sometimes when you get to that level, you have very private people who may not want this information out, who may not want a picture taken of their home. So sometimes you have to really gain that trust or you have to do so in a way where obviously you're not giving up any personal information, which we don't do. Unless they explicitly want their name on it, we don't do that you know. We make sure that we maintain the privacy because it's a very important part of maintaining trust in that relationship.

Ron:: At what stage in that relationship, where do you make it known that you would like the rights to photograph the project? Do you do it? Where in the project phasing do you do that?

Carmine: : Typically, kind of towards the end. You know, as you know, working in integration, it's, you know, you're one of the early guys on the project. You're also the last guy off the project you know. You're there for everything. You know, and typically it's in that last 5, 10% as you see the home truly coming together and you're seeing the finished work. And you're starting to get down to these more custom details. It's that's kind of when that starts to come about. And that's typically later in the project and you've built up a lot of trust and respect with the customer and you've really shown how much pride you've taken in this and how much care and consideration you've done in this work and typically at that final kind of stages is when we kind of get to that point.

Ron:: Staying on Lutron for a moment here, are you guys only doing lighting control or are you also in the motorized shading business and are you also in the tunable or circadian rhythm lighting business with the Ketra stuff?

Carmine: : All the above. So we do a lot of lighting control and a lot of shading control. You know, it's such a great business model by Lutron because those two things go hand in hand you know, whether it's your programming, the light in your house or you're controlling the natural light coming in and out of your house. And as we've gone on, we started to do a few of these Ketra projects. We recently redid our showroom, so now we have a capture certified showroom, which will also be adding onto our website. And you know we started to get into these tunable lighting projects and the circadian rhythm and kind of starting to put a focus on health and wellness and how light affects you in all these different ways, you know, not just the natural light you're either letting in or preventing from coming into your house, but also the circadian rhythm and how your lights can be used to energize you and how they can also help you relax and unwind. The importance it has on your health, both physically, mentally, and emotionally as well you know. So it's kind of become this new field for us that we're dipping our toes into and we're really getting excited to see where else is going to take us.

Ron:: Tell us about the showroom. What did you end up doing or how did the idea come together and where is it at? Is it completed at this point?

Carmine: : It is. So we're putting, you know, kind of some final touches and doing a little upgrading. So we've had a showroom for probably 10, 15 years. You know, ever since we've been in our most recent office, we've kind of built out these offices around our showroom. So where the showroom is, it's kind of in the middle of the office, you know, kind of away from some of the warehouses, but we have windows kind of looking into it from my father's office and then my mother's office who's up front who's kind of managing the office and the finances, can also look into that. So we have everything from Lutron shades, motorized drapes for the projector screen. So you hit a button, projector comes on, drapes open up, projector fires. So we have Lutron, you know, we've got Ketra, we've got a line system, we've got a Savant system. We've got automated door locks, we have cameras, we have security. We have touch screens. We have iPads in the wall. What we've kind of done is kind of create this space that, you know, part playground. So you can come in, you can kind of experiment with it. You know, it's also part laboratory because we're changing product all the time. We're trying to stay on top of things, you know, and we're trying to bring in all these elements that you may use in your home. So what we've kind of done is kind of create this pseudo living space where, you know, we have a table where we like to have all our meetings, and we have some beautiful furniture up front, and we have a television, a projector, and all these different ways that you can control it, whether it's with a phone, an iPad, a touch screen, a remote control, voice activation, whatever it may be. So we've just tried to bring all these different facets in. So when we have somebody in the showroom, they can kind of start to experience and see whether it's, you know, maybe someone who's newer to this, maybe it's someone who is building their first home and they're interested in some of these things. It's, you know, it's one thing to be able to look at a website, to watch a few YouTube videos, to kind of experience it that way, but it's really a different thing when you're immersed in it. And I think the beauty in having the showroom and being able to show it off to a customer is we let them experience it you know. It's like a try before you buy a kind of thing you know. Your test driving the car.

Ron:: What percentage of your customers would you say are taken through that space?

Carmine: : Probably not as many as you think. It was probably about a quarter. So it's kind of interesting, I'll do a lot of meetings with people and you know, obviously, you know, the pandemic kind of changed that because we'd have a lot more people prior to 2020 than we've had since you know. So that's kind of changed things. But we also kind of have an interesting niche where a lot of our work is kind of done through word of mouth. So whether it's from an architect, whether it's from a builder, whether it's from one customer to another customer, a lot of times people kind of know who we are and what we do, and as they discuss it with either their friends or prospective client or something else, a lot of this kind of comes up organically and sometimes at when you're at a certain level of residential building, you have a lot of people that already are familiar with these different kind of automation or integration packages. So they have a little bit more knowledge of what they want, and now it's just a matter of us coming in and giving them what they need.

Ron:: The turnable lighting conversation, it sounds like you're tying that into health and wellness and kind of the way the customer or their family would feel when they're in the home. Are you finding that and I've been asking this question maybe for about a year and a half or so of my guests. So for regular listeners, they're hearing the evolution of this answer.

Ron:: I'm curious, are you finding that your customers or architect or designer do they know about this and thus they're asking for it? Or are you bringing this up and teaching them an educating them around the subject? And then because of that education, you're seeing the sale happen. How do you see it ultimately transact? It's definitely a little bit of a combination of the two.

Carmine: : I would say more so it's us teaching them and bringing that knowledge to them you know. I've found that there are groups of people and it's usually customer driven where they've heard of these things or they're very much in tune with health and wellness and things of that nature and they may promote it, but oftentimes it's partly on us to educate whether it's the designer, whether it's the engineer, the architect, or the homeowner, and kind of springboarding off of that, that's really a critical part of what we need to do as an industry where it's one thing for us to have that knowledge, but it's another thing to make sure that all these other parties that we're involved with have a similar level of knowledge, or at least have an awareness of what's out there.

Carmine: : Because I don't know how many times I've been on a site or brought someone into a showroom and showed somebody something and they're like, I had no idea this existed. And I think as the years have gone on, there's been a lot more knowledge because our customers, clients, consumers have all become much more tech savvy, that I've seen that kind of elevate a little bit, but I think it's really on us to be able to educate everyone else that's either in or peripherally around this field as well.

Carmine: : And I think it's a critical part of what we need to do.

Ron:: Are there any other demands you're seeing around this health and wellness conversation for as it relates to technology in the home?

Carmine: : I would say air purification is another one. Water purification you know. And another aspect is also kind of energy usage. I think now more than ever, people are more conscious of what they're using for energy.

Carmine: : Do we have the most energy efficient products in the home? You know, not just in a sense of, hey, how can I lower my electrical Bill, but also in a sense of, hey, how can I lower my imprint? I've seen, I've been to some of the solar trade shows, and I don't recollect seeing this recently at CDF, but they could have been there.

Ron:: Are you doing any sort of technology solutions around running the energy monitoring and giving the customer the feedback on their energy usage, your footprints, which obviously then could be translated to carbon footprint? And if so, I'm curious, what are you using to accomplish that?

Carmine: : So right now, we're kind of still dipping our toes in the water with that you know.

Carmine: : We've kind of had a few discussions with some other companies in battery storage and kind of what we see going forward at least is like we were talking about the generators before is finding that hybrid of being able to maybe take a generator customer with some solar and then offering them battery backup as a solution.

Ron:: Savant's driving this agenda hard with their energy solutions right now.

Carmine: : Absolutely. And I think it's an incredible thing you know. I think that it's important for us to kind of understand that. And I think also as a homeowner, it's an incredible feat and it's kind of like this new amazing access to your house. You never knew you had, where you're now more in control of the energy you're using, or on the flip side, the energy you're saving with these backup systems.

Carmine: : And I think the technologies exciting, and I think the future of all of this is incredibly exciting and excited to see where it goes and how we can be a part of it.

Ron:: So if you God help you, if you turn on the news right now, it's April 2023. And so I personally try not to turn on the news. But there's all sorts of chaos happening out there in the world right now. All sorts of weird, funky things happening.

Ron:: And one could argue there are always weird and funky things happening, but I would challenge maybe they're a little funky right at the moment. What's business like for you? What are you seeing out there for the landscape for the 2020, you know, the balance of 2023. And even if you're crystal ball goes further than that, what are you seeing beyond that?

Carmine: : Well, my psychic powers are rather limited, unfortunately.

Carmine: : But I would say that kind of what's been great for us is through the pandemic, we were able to kind of keep running and a big part of that was the upgrades of the home. You know, not only a, being in this field for so long and having customers for ten, 15, 20 plus years with, you know, lighting control systems, almost as old as I am.

Carmine: : That plus the fact that people are kind of shifting their lifestyles a little bit, you know, you've seen the rise of the home office. You've seen how people may have sold or foregone that apartment in the city to making a full-time residence of the Lake house and being able to adapt to that and kind of change the way. Maybe they go on vacations or how they treat these additional properties.

Carmine: : And so at least for us, moving forward, we kind of have a nice bit of history and our area to where we can kind of handle these customers, but also I think as you get these more tech savvy customers, people of my generation and around there who have kind of grown up with this technology, I think that they see an importance in this being a part of their lifestyle.

Carmine: : And I think too, a lot of people are seeing beyond kind of that DIY electronics market where you know it was a big deal to have an echo in your house or be able to pull a couple of those things and do it yourself where people are now kind of getting in tune to how important how critical it is to have strong automation, but also things that are going to play nice together. And how critical that is in managing their home and their lifestyle moving forward.

Carmine: : So I really think that for us, particularly in a high end residential market, I haven't seen any signs of stopping. We've been incredibly busy and also incredibly blessed to stay busy through this process. So for us, we're just chugging ahead and going forward and trying to take it one day at a time. And you know hopefully all these crazy news stories and you know the fate of the earth and the climate and everything going forward, stop us from doing what we're doing.

Ron:: That's awesome. Congratulations on your success and your team's success. Do you see you see the business? Your business, your system's business. Being the same as it was last year, you think it'll be up or do you think it'll be down compared to last year?

Carmine: : I think it'll be up. I'm pretty optimistic, you know, where you're kind of looking through some of our, you know, early numbers were about a third to the way through the fiscal year right now and as far as what we're grossing and the amount of work we're doing and the amount of things we have kind of in the pipeline, I'm optimistic that you know we had a strong year last year and I really think that we'll be able to repeat and build on that potentially as well.

Ron:: Awesome. Carmine, it's been hard to believe an hour has flown by.

Ron:: You're a fun person to interview and you have a lot to share. So thank you for that and I know the audience thanks you for that. Folks that want to get in touch with you directly, what would you advise? How could they do that?

Carmine: : So you can find us on our website, seeing T systems dot com you know, feel free to reach out you know. We've got pages to make sure that you can get in touch with us. We've got our phone number all over the place. 860-875-2876. Give the office a call.

Carmine: : You know, you can talk to my mom. She's a very nice lady. She'll help put you in the right direction. You can find us on Facebook for CNC electric and you can also find us on Instagram as well and kind of get some you know some pictures of some of the cool stuff we do.


Carmine: , thank you for joining me here on show 241 man. It was awesome to have you on.

Carmine: : You're welcome, Ron. Thank you. The pleasure is all mine.

Ron:: Awesome folks. There you have it. Show 241 with Carmine Colangelo. His family has been at it for 50 years. It's really, really special, really awesome, in fact. Just think about your own journey, either as an employee or as a business owner and operator. And just think forward like, oh my goodness, what would it be like for my business to be around 50 years from now?

Ron:: And it's also really special to see a family sticking together and the mom and dad and carmine and all the rest of their team, you know, sticking together and making such a cool business work, you know, combining electrical and generation and systems integration. Pretty fantastic.

Ron:: If you're listening to the show and you did not watch it live, jump on to Facebook or LinkedIn or YouTube and find the stream. If you just look for one firefly, you'll see this stream for show 241 and drop a comment and tell Carmine that you appreciated listening. And I know he'll love to hear from you. He'll probably even reply. And I know I will.

Ron:: And my team and I will. So don't be shy. Stop in and do that. If you have not already done so, please go and subscribe to the podcast. So whatever your preferred consumption method is. I know I use Apple podcasts, the purple icon purple and white icon on your iPhone. But if you listen on any of the other, many methods, I know carmine was telling me he listens on Spotify.

Ron:: That's how he listens to all his podcast content. Definitely go out there, subscribe. If you'd be so kind, leave us a comment. Tell us what you like, tell us what you don't like, but that's always appreciated. And I will also personally, here I'll pull this off screen. I will be at HTSA, I'll be out there actually with Steven for my team. We'll be out there in where are we going to be? We're going to be in Las Vegas next week.

Ron:: So if you're going to be at HTSA, definitely look forward to seeing you there. And if not, they're in person. We'll see it one of the upcoming industry events. And popping on the screen now, our website, one firefly dot com, visit us, say hello. Chat with our team on the live chat agent there or give us a call at 877-334-1144. Sign off for now. Next week, I will be at HTSA.

Ron:: So not going to have a live show, but I'll be coming back to you the week after. Thanks, everyone. And I will see you soon.


Carmine is the fourth generation of Colangelo's to work at C&T Electric Corporation. Founded by his grandfather in 1973, C&T celebrates 50 years as a family owned and operated business. While C&T's roots are in electrical contracting, they've evolved over the years to keep up with the times. They have worked in the integration field since 1989 with the inception of Elan. Since then they've become a three-pronged business, specializing in Custom Integration, Electrical Contracting and Stand By Generators, giving them a firm understanding of what goes into the modern smart home.

Graduating from the University of Connecticut in 2013, Carmine spent time as a sportswriter, web developer and marketer before returning to the family business in 2015. For the past 8 years he has worked as the Director of Systems Engineering at C&T Systems, in their Integration department. He specializes in lighting control, networking and automation in high-end residences and commercial spaces.

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: