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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 Podcast Episode #87: An Industry Q&A With Justin Johnson

An Expert´s View on How To Grow and Survive in the Automation Industry

This week's home automation podcast features our host Ron Callis interviewing Justin Johnson. Recorded live on Wednesday, September 4th, 2019 at 12:30 p.m. EST.

About Justin Johnston

Justin Johnston started Twilight Solutions in 2000 at the age of 19 while working towards his degree. He became the youngest contractor in the state of California at 22 and has been constantly working to make Twilight Solutions a leader in the custom integration market. Twilight Solutions is based in Walnut Creek, CA, just outside of San Francisco, CA

Interview Recap

In this episode of Automation Unplugged, Ron Calls spoke with Justin Johnston about topics such as:

  • How Justin got his start in the A/V industry
  • The recent $75 million Bravas merger
  • The latest technology trends like tunable lighting and digital art
  • The importance of a strong company culture 


SEE ALSO: Home Automation Podcast Episode #86: A Custom Integration Industry Q&A With Matt Sailor



Ron: Hello everybody! Ron Callis here with another episode of Automation Unplugged. We are here for episode number 87! Let me go ahead and jump over real quick to Facebook just to see if we are streaming live. Bear with me here. Let me refresh my Facebook feed. Okay.

All right, come on baby. Let's see how this is going. And we are live. Okay. It looks good. All right, so we're here for episode number 87. I'm going to be interviewing Justin Johnston from Twilight Solutions. You probably noticed my environment is a little bit different than normal. I'm actually coming to you from a fine residence here in Weston, Florida.

I moved out of my house, purchased a new house, and I'm waiting to move into that. Our lovely builder has changed the closing date on us so I'm homeless here for a few weeks and I'm going to be coming to you from this residence in Weston, Florida until I move into my new place. But, that does not stop us from filming and recording our Automation Unplugged shows.

Let's go ahead and jump right into that. So stand by here while I bring in Justin. There he is. What's up Mr Justin?

Justin: Hello Sir. How are ya?

Ron: I am, I'm good. You know what, we made it out pretty well. I don't know if you recall, there was a hurricane here off the coast of Florida in the last week or so. It has finally just decided to move on and head up the coast and bother some other people and leave us alone here in South Florida.

Justin: Yeah, I'm well aware. I was in Montreal over the weekend and on my way home, my flight was canceled. I had to, or was offered to stay at good old Marc Fisher's house in Philadelphia for the night. That's where I was last night, just back to the Bay Area this morning.

Ron: Oh my God. Were you up there for the wedding?

Justin: Yes, Greg Simmons finally called it done with the single life and married Laurel. That was an awesome evening and there were 80 people on a Montreal rooftop having a great time. Marc Fisher was DJ-ing. He managed to get the cops called on us. How that happens on a rooftop bar on a holiday weekend, and a Sunday night while there's a festival down in the city, Is beyond me. But I'd say it was a good time.

Ron: I did see Greg on Facebook with handcuffs. Was that as a result of getting the phone call? Or was that just prior?

Justin: That was prior. They thought they'd be funny with some pictures, but they probably drew more attention to themselves because they ended up showing up seven hours later to shut us down. I don't know how that worked out.
Ron: Got it. We have Justin, a bunch of people jumping in to say hi. Let's put some of this up on the screen here. We have Jerry Efron, he jumped in to say hi.

Justin: Hey Jerry!

Ron: How are you? Let's see here. Who do we have? We have Tomas. Saludos, Tomas. Remind me, where are you coming to us from? If I recall, you're coming to us from somewhere down south. I want to say maybe Panama, Colombia. If I got that wrong, I apologize. Just jump in, tell me where you're coming to us from.

We have Chris Gamble! I know Chris is coming to us from the UK. He says, he's glad the hurricane missed us. Hey, you and me both. Although my heart and feelings go out for the people of Bahamas. My goodness, that country is going to be in need of some help for sure. I can't even fathom having a category four or five storm hit you briefly, but they had it sit over top of them for the better part of a couple of days blowing at, you know, 150 miles an hour plus, gusts at one point were up to 185. And then just total devastation. Sad stuff for sure.

Man, all sorts of people. Justin, you are Ron's hero apparently.

Justin: There you go. Hey, Ron!

Ron: Tomas jumped in to say he's coming to us from Panama. Rich Fregoso says he was grabbing a cup of coffee and happened to see us broadcasting. "Ron, always good to see quality integrators from the San Francisco Bay area getting exposure." Hey, look at that. Man, you got a lot of fans out there, Justin. You've got all sorts of people jumping in and saying hello.

Justin: Nice little flex.

Ron: Yeah, a little flex. Alright, so Justin, you and I have known each other a long time, but some of our guests, or those listening may not know where you come from and how you landed in this industry. Do you mind giving us a little bit of the backstory and then we'll jump in? I have a whole list of fun topics to go over with you.

Justin: Absolutely. I became interested in electronics and had a knack for stuff from a young age doing remote control cars and boats like a lot of us did. As I grew older, I've gotten interested in car audio, which I know a lot of us did as well.

So when I first turned 18, I went to the local Circuit City road shop and got a job there, worked there for about a year and a half. During that time, I really saw a lacking for service, like any big box retailer. They did it probably the best they could at that time. So I started doing things outside on the weekends as a full time college student.

I worked pretty much full-time at the Circuit City road shop, full-time college student and went to a private school that I was putting myself through for the most part with some scholarships and realized that whatever hourly wage was, it wasn't going to fit the bill. I started Twilight Solutions, the name comes from the fact that the only hours left to work were in the twilight.

I worked 40 hours at this road shop and went to school full-time and was commuting about 3,000 miles a month back then. That was not a fun time. I started Twilight and after about two years of doing all that, at the same time, I was able to let go of the hourly job, build Twilight and became the youngest contractor in the state at about 22 and just kept building it. That's when things started getting added to the category, like automation and things like that. So it just evolved since then and it's been definitely a road and a windy one. But it's fun and I love the industry and the people, the friends I've made have been pretty awesome. I don't regret it at all.

Ron: When you and I were getting ready to go live, you had mentioned to me that you're maybe one of the few, you're certainly one of the few, maybe the only one that I know, that are 20-year veteran of the industry and you're under the age of 40.

Justin: That's true. I mean, I remember when I was first going to the CEDIA shows and the CES shows as a teenager in my early twenties, either you would be looked at as this like a technician, installer, whatever. But then when I'd tell them I'm the owner, they still wouldn't believe it. Even my clients, I remember putting on my business cards until I was about my late twenties, that I was a product manager. It didn't say owner, founder, principal. None of that because people just didn't take it seriously.

Now it's cool because I'm getting into a time period where people assume that I'm the owner and it's great, but I've also got a lot of experience behind me and it's a nice little thing to have up my sleeve. But yeah, it's kind of cool.

Ron: Before you know it, you'll start getting some of this gray hair.

Justin: Yeah. Right.

Ron: As long as you get hair club for men and just keep dying at dark.

Justin: Yeah. Right. Not yet but I'm sure it's on its way at some point.

Ron: That's, that's funny. We have Chris, he just posted, "Who's Justin? I don't know him." And then he goes, "Clearly a hustler, great early day grind."

Justin: Oh yeah, that's me.

Ron: That's funny. And then we have Vanessa, she just jumped in and says, "Hey, Justin! Greetings from Davie, Florida."

Justin: Hello, hello!

Ron: Maybe you know this person, Matthew Rodriguez says "Word."

Justin: Yeah. He's out on a job site. Just hanging out, watching TV, I guess today. Just kidding, Matt. I know you're hustling.

Ron: Clearly, he's got nothing better to do than to watch good ol' Justin.

Justin: We've been together, Matt and I, for over 20 years now. So he's an OG for our team.

Ron: Wow. Is he a project manager or installer? What does Matt do?

Justin: He's our get-everything-done, whatever-you-need kind of guy. I've known Matt since I was 18. We started at Circuit City together back in the day and he's definitely a superstar. We're blessed to have him and nobody watching this try and take him from us cause he's awesome.

Ron: I'm gonna throw out one more comment here. Chris says, "Now we have a huge wave of under 25-year-old smart home business owners in the UK." So that's interesting actually. I just interviewed Chris a few weeks ago and we were talking about all the crazy action happening over there in the UK.

Justin, I want to jump into a few topics with you here. I know time is limited, both for you and for our audience. The first one, and you are particularly close to home to this topic, and that is what just broke in the news. Of course was that Bravas finally did the deal after four or five years of people talking about it and it being out there. Steve, Paul, and of course all the owners, their reverse merger was completed and there was an investment stake from an outside entity that came in. $75 million was the published number.

Ron: I know that you in particular were actually working with Steve First for many years before Bravas became a thing. I'm curious just on your read of the whole situation.

Justin: I think it's absolutely awesome and congrats. Hats off to the guys and the ladies that were part of that. It's a pretty amazing feat. I've known Steve for at least 10, 12 years and really have believed in a lot of things that he has done and has set up. I'm very grateful because I don't have a business background and he was a mentor and he still is to this day, him and Paul - great guys.

It's awesome what they've done in the process and the systems since day one. I'm really happy and excited to see where they're going to go with it going forward. And you know, I really hope that the twilight team is and is going to become part of the Bravas team, uh, over the next however long that takes to get done. I think it's really cool. It's very exciting for our industry. They've set a standard now that otherwise has not been set or even explored.

It's really cool to see that and the fact that that they've received some pretty substantial funding from a reputable company out of the Bay Area actually, that's pretty awesome. I think that the future is bright for innovators and that they've created that light that otherwise was not in existence prior to this announcement. So it's pretty awesome.

Ron: Now, the million dollar question for you, in particular, is, you were involved with Bravas very early. I don't want to put words in your mouth, but maybe around 2015, 2016 and maybe beyond that. Then you exited that partnership or that relationship in some way and now you're particularly interested in re-engaging with them. Can you fill the audience in on how that transition happened? And I know you had a lot of other things going on in your life personally and professionally and that was the reason.

Justin: Absolutely. You know, I've been working with Steve for many years and in fact, when before was called Vital Management, and before that it was Fast Forward Business Coaching. That's when we started working together, was Fast Forward Business Coaching, which I met Steve when I did a presentation for Jeremy Burkhardt at a Speakercraft event, probably circa '05 or so and just thought he was a great guy and had the tools on the back-end to keep some of these companies functioning. So we got involved and he told about Bravas, I loved it and we were a part of it for probably a year and a half, two years. But that same time, I have another company with my brother called Wallet Buckle where we created a product that's a patent product. We were featured on Shark Tank. And so at that time, it was hard to head up the Bravas. 'Cause you figure, having your integration company is one thing, but then doing it in the Bravos method is almost like starting a new company for a lot of people.

That's why it works and why it took so long. There's a lot of things you have to do and do right. So for me, I had just hit the road on basically a national tour promoting my other company and that required a lot of time away from physically being in the Bay Area. So for about two and a half years, I was literally in an RV all over the country in 30 plus states, 70,000 miles coast to coast, back and forth. Every weekend was a new show. It really took my eye off the ball for the Bravas opportunity, which I'm glad this has happened and it's great that it did because now there's a structure in which it needs to work for it to become something that an outsider investor can believe in.

And now that that's there, I'm fully committed and 100% want to be back as a part of that team. I know a lot of those people very well and I've been talking to them as much as I can and we've got CEDIA coming up next week, so I'm sure I'll see a lot of them and we'll go from there and see if we can't be a good fit because I know that the San Francisco market is definitely a very big one. And we'll do a lot of justice I believe, to the group as a whole.

Ron: And what do you say to any of the skeptics out there? You know, when anything big and ambitious happens, there's always the haters that want to hate and maybe there's no stopping the haters, but are your thoughts for those folks?

"I'm a big believer in positive energy. Spreading just good thoughts and being helpful and just being kind."

Justin: Yeah, I'm a big believer in positive energy. Spreading just good thoughts and being helpful and just being kind. And that's it. I don't know anybody that's a hater that's got a $75 million anything. It's like, let them do their thing and if you're not going to be spreading love and being positive than maybe you keep your mouth shut.

Ron: Amen to that. We do have CEDIA around the corner. It's next week, in fact. I look forward to seeing you there, of course. Let's talk technology if you don't mind. I want to kind of rapid fire through some different topics and kind of get your 2 cents on those topics. What trends are you seeing there in the bay area and, or for the industry at large? Does that sound like a plan?

Justin: Absolutely. Okay.

Ron: I want to start with tuneable lighting. I know you're in particular big Lutron shop, and of course, Lutron acquired Ketra. What is it about a year ago now? It was either one or two years ago. I think I've lost track. What are you seeing as the trend and really the adoption rate of the residential consumer in your market? Are they buying what you're selling?

Justin: I believe that the -- not necessarily a trend, I think it's here to stay, it's more of the educational process around tuneable lighting. Just human centric circadian rhythm style lighting systems in a residential space. They've been around a long time in hospitality and commercial environments, keeping people in wellness applications at their top game.

I think having it in a home now, because the technology is there, the price points are becoming more affordable. It's not just Lutron, but there's low voltage options like Colorbeam, that's what we're most familiar with. It's really neat to have that as a category for a lot of reasons. It can really help add to the things you can offer, but at the end of the day, even if we're not the ones offering or providing the tuneable lighting, we at least want to make sure it's part of the conversation.

"It's going to become more and more [prevalent] in new construction homes, and we just want to make sure we're there to at least educate. If they want us to be the partner in the provider, then we can do that as well."

If the design team, architect, builder, electrician, they're already doing it, that's fantastic, but they didn't know about it, we're here to educate. If they want to be the ones who take it on, that's great. If they don't want to take it on, we can help them with it. We just want to make sure that we're advocates for the technology because it's not going anywhere. It's going to become more and more in new construction homes, and we just want to make sure we're there to at least educate. If they want us to be the partner in the provider, then we can do that as well.

Ron: When you educate the consumer, the homeowner, is it a hard conversation and or how do they receive the education that different color temperature light can affect their circadian rhythm, their sleeping habits, their energy levels? Are they skeptical or do they go, "Yeah, that makes sense."

Justin: It's a mixed reaction. I think the biggest reason why, is because this is a conversation that they're probably assuming to have with their lighting designer or their interior designer or even their architects when the supposed A/V guy, which is a silly term now for anybody in the integration space, is talking to them about tuneable lighting and circadian rhythm and wellness, there's a disconnect.

We have to create a way where we partner up with the specifiers who should be specifying this or at least have the knowledge to have the conversation and then be able to support them and not come at the homeowner or whoever the decision maker from an angle in which they're not thinking that we should be in, as if we're overstepping our boundaries. That's been the biggest hurdle. I try not to present in reference to the homeowner.

If I can have the designer or architect or an interior lighting person have the conversation, that's great. If they already have it in their ability to do it, that's great. Then they know it's coming in. Anybody who is at the forefront of their industries and all of those different trades should at least know what the conversation is. When you say tuneable lighting or circadian rhythm, it's becoming a household term. I think it's just becoming a bigger and bigger thing. And the biggest challenge we have is to be the person that can have a conversation and not be looked at as, "Who is this person trying to sell me fixtures? They should be putting my TV up," you know.

Ron: Agreed. Next topic. Digital Art. The Samsung frame TV, I know, has caught the attention of my wife. She's saying now she wants her Frame TV in our living room. I appreciate, I think it's pretty cool tech. But the concept of digital art is a growing category in the luxury home. What are you seeing there in San Francisco?

Justin: Well, digital art for us is a great tool because you think about a TV on a wall when it's off like the one your head, it's just as big a black rectangle that's always there.

Ron: This is a particularly nice model. I don't know.

Justin: Good. I like that. It's one of those things where you can really resonate with somebody on the job site. You might have somebody who is technology adverse, they don't care about anything technology in their mind, but then you say something like art and then they perk up or he says, "You know, we've been hiding TV's behind mirrors and artwork and canvases that roll up and down." Those were solutions that were available to us at the time. Now digital art is a medium in which people purchase and enjoy art.

Just so much as a canvas or a water painting or an oil painting, those were the arts. Those were the technologies of art at that time. Well, now we're at a space where we have a digital canvas. You can display images of traditional style art, but you can also display new digital art. If you have a canvas, you can't do it in reverse which is really cool because now you've got an advantage of selling digital art because you can do both. And the screens now are so good that oftentimes people can't tell what is actually a digital piece of art or actual canvas on a wall, which is really nice.

Ron: I'm a novice on this subject, walk me through it and to some of our audience, what are the other components, hardware and software, that would enable you as Twilight Solutions to bring a solution to a consumer that sees arts as an important topic for them? What are you selling them?

Justin: Hardware varies. You have your entry level things like the Samsung, pieces that are framed. Then you've got more higher-end pieces like a plain art digital wall that can be panelized together to create any size. The digital art in the larger sizes is a high cost at this time. If you wanted to do a very large digital art piece on a wall, it's 20 feet by 12 feet and you're looking at $1 million or more to make it look real life where you don't see pixelation and all that.

Ron: A million bucks in the hardware?
Justin: Correct. As it becomes more adapted, you'll see that more. I think that the panels, the 4K and 8K panels that are bigger and they're being mindful of the screen material so there's no glare. You can shine a light directly on them and not see any reflective glare so that people wouldn't know it's a canvas or a TV. I think that we're at the cusp of that and it's just going to become more popular and everybody likes to hide their TV's when they're not in use and also be able to display art in where you otherwise wouldn't have a TV. And this gives you the best of both worlds in that way.

Ron: Chris just posted a question. Chris said, "Can you be a reseller of the art or are you just selling the display?"

Justin: There are third-party software companies, I'm trying to think of the ones.. What you would want to do is, I went to a Barco presentation and they had a software provider that sold you a box, almost like an Apple TV that you could display the digital art. It's a subscription, however many pieces you want to have.

You can just put up whatever you want. There you can sell those. And they do have commissions on art. I don't know exactly what it is, I'm not a representative of any of those companies, but there are a few. I would say that next week is the best time if ever to walk around the CEDIA show inquiring about third-party digital art providers that are streaming the content as if you would anything from, you know, Apple or Amazon.

Ron: You made a comment to me, Justin, when we were recently speaking, That you were at a Barco event and they put up a chart of where the luxury consumer spends their money.

Justin: Yup.

Ron: Do you mind, maybe for our audience, explaining what you saw in that presentation.

Justin: Yeah. They had put up a chart showing what the ultra high net-worth individuals in the world spend money on, and it ranged from private jets to super yachts, wine - different things of that nature. The art category was, I believe, the biggest category on the chart, more so than private planes and super yachts. So that's something to think about. We probably oftentimes don't really understand that some of these people, the art work on their walls is sometimes worth more than their home.

Being able to create an area where they can display digital art, not so that they can maybe replace their canvas, but so that they have the ability and the medium to display the new digital artists renderings and work. Because you figure the more and more technology we have, these younger artists may not be picking up a brush, right? They may be creating these things out of images on their computer and so you wouldn't be able to otherwise have that art displayed in your home if you don't have a digital art display.

Ron: That makes sense. Ray Allen just mentioned, "Black dove," as a vendor.

Justin: There you go.

Ron: Rich said the same thing. "Black Dove is a company that provides content." So Chris, you wanted a name? There's a name. Research. Black Dove.
I've got two more. Man, I have so many topics for you, Justin. You have some such good insight. We have such limited time.

Justin: Well, we're happy to be back anytime you want run.

"You carry a certain aura and energy about you. That's a compliment. It's a good thing. And you mentioned that you use that to your benefit as it relates to hiring, managing your team, and ultimately focusing on growing your company."

Ron: Awesome. I appreciate that. All right. I want to jump to culture and particularly for you and your business and you as an individual. I mean, people know Justin, they know Twilight Solutions. You carry a certain aura and energy about you. That's a compliment. It's a good thing. And you mentioned that you use that to your benefit as it relates to hiring, managing your team, and ultimately focusing on growing your company.
Can you talk a little bit about how you think about the culture within your company and how you manage that and use that to help you grow and or keep your people?

Justin: Absolutely. I mean, it's one of those things where, like you said, you, I use it to my advantage, which I suppose that's what's happening, but at the same time it's like, I don't know any different, right. I don't know that I'm using it. It's just comes natural, being a kind person, inviting, and helpful. Employees aren't employees, they're team members

Ron: Houston just said, "People know Justin."

Justin: Yup. Thanks, Houston. Are you flying right now? Put the phone down. Just creating a situation where it's like, when you're at work, do you want to be with those people when you're not getting paid? And if the answer is no, you're probably doing something wrong. You've got another chap that'd want to be friends and want to hang out with all your coworkers all the time. But if it's somebody that you're next to and they're in the trenches doing something with you and as soon as that clock hits, you're off. You're like, this is the last person I want to spend a free minute with if I'm not getting paid to do it. The culture is probably suffering.

I don't think that there's anyone in our team, our company that when the clock is done, we wouldn't go and grab a beer or have a conversation and just chat and, "Hi, how was your weekend? What are you doing this weekend?" That kind of thing. It's a fine line obviously with employees and friends, but I think that just being a naturally inviting and caring person will go a long way.

Ron: That makes sense. I'm going to jump into one other quick tech topic just because I think it's timely, particularly for you and where you live. I'll give you the heads up, I wanna close it with, you've been at this for 20 years and there are some folks listening and watching that are newer, i.e. Less than 20 years in business and I'd love for you to give some advice but before we go there, there's a new category for our industry. Similar to some of the categories we've talked that I think is interesting. I wanted to get your 2 cents on it.

"That is this growing conversation around power storage. There's a concept of energy automation, tying energy storage into your control system, but just generally putting batteries in the house and this industry potentially being a significant player in that."
That is this growing conversation around power storage. You know, there's a concept of energy automation, tying energy storage into your control system, but just generally putting batteries in the house and this industry potentially being a significant player in that. How do you see this playing out and is this a topic of interest there in northern California?

Justin: It 100% is, and it hasn't been up until recently. All the power storage things I've seen in the past for the most part were in areas where they experienced very tremendous weather issues, whether it be tornadoes, hurricanes, that kind of thing where the power could go out for days or weeks or whatever at a time. When California, other than an earthquake, we really don't need power storage. Up until the last few years, we've realized with a lot of what's going on in the world, we've got a lot of big, huge fires, right? We've had fires come through in the last two, three years that have wiped out entire cities, literally thousands, tens of thousands of homes in one fire. For us, it's become a reality. And it's starting to become something that we need to focus on.

PG&E, which is our local provider of electricity, is currently in bankruptcy. They're being sued for billions of dollars and their response to the wildfires is well, when it's hot, which it gets here in California, and when it's windy, which it can be windy here at times, we're just going to turn the power off. I experienced this for the first time last month. I was going to one of our job sites in a city that you would never think would need the power to go off. And the general contractor said, the power's off for 72 hours because it's hot and windy this week and we can't work cause there's no power for anything.
It's becoming a reality very fast. That's something I'll be looking for at CEDIA next week because you think about a grid to just, every time it's hot and windy, which can be several times a month in the summer, those are going to turn your power off because they can't service all of the power lines that could potentially create a fire near a brush or a tree. That's their solution to it because otherwise they could become more and more liable. They're just going to turn it off, so we have to have power backups.

Ron: That's interesting. In terms of the number of vendors that are entering this space or in the space, there's Rosewater, sonnen, of course there's Tesla, we've all heard about Tesla Powerwall. Savant's getting into the energy game. Then of course you have all your UPS companies like SurgeX and whatnot. Is this an area of investigation for you at CEDIA this year? Is looking at these different players to determine who to do business with? Or how are you approaching it?

Justin: Oh, absolutely. I think for us, of all the names you have mentioned, we have an advantage because Tesla is an hour from our office. I mean, there's more Tesla's per person in the Bay Area than anywhere in the world, right?

Almost every single one of our homes that we are in have a Tesla power charger in the garage. Just by saying, let's add a battery backup, it might be an easy thing. I will definitely be exploring that category because as of the last few months, it's a huge thing that people now can easily relate to. Before you try and sell them power, they'd go, "Well, power doesn't go out here. We don't have bad weather and stuff." Well now we have fires. And the power is going to be turned off when there's a potential risk for a fire, which is basically four months of the year, every summer and in the fall

Ron: When you take someone's electricity away from them, that'll change their action real quick.

Justin: That would make you call someone real quick.

Ron: All right. By the way, I just have to put this up on the screen, Joel says, "Love that beard!"

Justin: Thank you, Joel!

Ron: Chris says, "I'd love to be self sufficient at home. Solar, energy, storage, rainwater harvesting, borehole." I don't know what borehole means. What does borehole mean?

Justin: I don't know if we want to know what that means.

Ron: Chris, you might have to give us a little bit explanation more about what you mean by borehole. That's funny.
Then Melinda who works for you actually, said "Amen!" to company culture. I want to close out the interview here, Justin, with some 2 cents or words of advice for that integrator out there that has maybe been at it for less than 20 years, what are a few things that you've learned along the way that maybe you wish you could have told your younger entrepreneurial self? If you'd be so kind, anything that comes to mind, it could be any topic that seems right, but as it relates to running a business.

Justin: Absolutely. There's two things in the technology side and the business side as a younger integrator. If you're just getting started, make sure you've got the business coaches and advisors on your side because that stuff is very important. The technology side, you couldn't be coming at a better time because a lot of what we do now actually works pretty well. 10, 20 years ago, every single project was a science experiment. And that's no longer the case. Things actually work now.

There's a lot of great companies out there building great products and the awareness is out for the end users. The mass market knows what we do and that we're in a time in the economy when everything's hot and all things are coming together. Good for you to become an integrator and just plan your exit strategy well in advance, whether it's 10, 20 years out, maybe you'll be a part of Bravas, who knows.

Ron: Awesome. Justin, thank you for joining me on episode 87 here on Automation Unplugged. How was it for you to be live? I remember a couple of years ago, you were in an audience when I was teaching the audience about going live on Facebook and I think you were the first person to go live right away.

Justin: It's fun. It adds an extra layer of the conversation and just a keeps things interesting and high energy. It's always better when you got video attached to whatever the topic is for sure.

Ron: Agree. Justin, if folks want to learn more about you or learn more about your business, how do you recommend they get in touch with you?

Justin: Anyway that they want. You can look me up. My email is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. My cell phone number is (925) 876-5406. Shoot me a text of any kind. I'm happy to check them out.

Ron: Awesome. There you go. Everyone noticed the wink wink, so send him some scary stuff. It'll be fun. I'd like to hear those stories at CEDIA. Justin, thank you for joining me and I'll see you next week at the show.

Justin: All right, thank you, Ron. Have a good one.

Ron: All right buddy.

All right folks. There you have it. That was episode 87. A couple of pieces of news for you guys, as it relates to the hurricane. We were just talking here at team One Firefly and we are gonna put out some information regarding a fundraiser that we're going to do to help those in desperate need in The Bahamas that are suffering from hurricane Dorian. In case you haven't watched it on the news, maybe in the southeast US has been stuck to the weather channel for the last week and maybe in other parts of the country you guys have been onto bigger and better things, but The Bahamas was totally destroyed, the northern Bahamas. Stay tuned for that. We'll post it out social media. The other news is that we're eminently going to be launching our podcasts.

So it's Wednesday, September 4th, one o'clock right now. Our goal is to now get these shows converted out to podcasts so you'll be able to consume them in an audible format here by the end of the month. I know I've given you guys some false teasers about this happening earlier in the year, and we ran into some scheduling issues. Now we're making really good progress there. I'm excited about getting this out there in a podcast format. On that note, I will see many of you, hopefully at CEDIA. Stop by our booth, we're in booth 719. Stop by and say hello and otherwise, I'll see you on the next show. Thanks everyone!



As the youngest contractor in the state of California, Justin Johnston has been constantly working towards making Twilight Solutions a leader in the custom integration market.

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 within 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:

If you’d like to contact Justin, he provided his email and cell phone number to reach out to him.

  • This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
  • (925) 876-5406

You can also learn more about Twilight Solutions at Make sure to follow them on Facebook at Twilight Solutions.



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