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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 #51: An Industry Q&A With Jimmy Paschke

Helping businesses worldwide to lower service costs

This week's home automation podcast features our host Ron Callis interviewing Jimmy Paschke. Recorded live on Wednesday, August 29th, 2018 at 12:30 p.m. EST.

About Jimmy Paschke

Jimmy’s love affair with the Custom Integration business burgeoned out of college when taking a role with Sony Electronics. Since then, he has had the pleasure to of helping dealers in this channel sell dedicated theater interiors and seating, high end hard disk drive movie servers, nice audio gear and other solutions providing enhanced living experiences throughout the inside and outside of the home. For the last several years Jimmy has focused his efforts on growing the SurgeX brand within the residential channel. In his spare time Jimmy enjoys time with his family and friends back home gig-in’, grillin’, and gigglin’.

Interview Recap

Here are some of the topics Ron had the opportunity to discuss with Jimmy:

  • Proactive monitoring, system design and service to promote healthy relationships with customers.
  • Take Control of the Power your sensitive AV gear relies upon.
  • Ensure each job has a foundation consisting of Clean and Stable Power.
  • Mitigate against reacting to product lock up, mis-communication and synch issues caused by power fluctuations, ground contamination and other anomalies.
  • Diagnose power anomalies fast to cut down on wasted time hunting power related ghosts.

SEE ALSO: Home Automation Podcast Episode #50: A Custom Integration Industry Q&A With Tres Huber


Ron:  Hello everybody. Ron Callis, CEO here at One Firefly. Happy to bring you another episode of Automation Unplugged. This is episode 51. Today is Wednesday, August 29th. It is 12:33, a couple of minutes after 12:30. I try my darnedest to get live or go live at 12:30. And there's always some little hiccups, something that happens. But anyway, I'm happy to be here with you. We are a couple, we're less than a week under seven days from CEDIA, CEDIA is our big trade show out in San Diego. Our industry's largest event. It'll be my I think it'll be number 19 for me and I'm pretty excited to go out there and I'll be able to see a lot of my team, you know, a lot of our team is spread out all over the country, so I don't get to always see them in person. We do a lot of video conferencing here at One Firefly, but I'll get to see at least a good chunk of my team. I think we have 10 people out there, and also get to see all of you and all my listeners and our regular watchers and of course we'll get to see our customers and our friends and our CEDIA people. So a lot of fun times ahead here with CEDIA around the corner. But we are here to talk Automation Unplugged. So we have a a long time industry veteran and rock star, Mr Jimmy Paschke with SurgeX. Jimmy, how are you?

Jimmy: Hey, doing great man. Thanks for having me.

Ron:  Hey, I'm happy to have you. Where, where are you coming to us from? I know you are a road warrior and you are always out traveling this great country where, where are you at right now?

Jimmy: Today in the beautiful heart of Pennsylvania, I'm in King of Prussia, one of the largest malls in America. Exclusion of Mall of America in Minnesota.

Ron:  Yeah. So what does it officially number two in America maybe?

Jimmy: Yeah, I think it was biggest until mall of America went in. I think that's how it went down.

Ron:  Got it. Understood. Who are you out there to see some of your customers, I assume?

Jimmy: Yeah, I'm actually trying to scout out an opportunity for possibly bringing in some new solutions for next year and and just in the knick of time if I can get these solutions together enough we can bring the idea to CEDIA, gather some great feedback from all the wonderful dealers that'll be there and then see if it's a viable solution to bring to the market next year.

Ron:  Got it. All right, so you're out there doing some R and D. R and D research it sounds like.

Jimmy: Yeah, totally.

Ron:  Awesome. Well, let me go over to our Facebook page to make sure that we actually have an audience and that folks are tuning in here. So bear with me while I take a peek over there. Let me refresh my Facebook page or our Facebook page.. Oh, there we are there, you and I are. Cool we got some people tuning in. If you're out there tuning in, thank you. Please like this post, please comment and please share. That's how this stuff gets out to more people. Last week the bar has been set high Jimmy. Last week for show number 50 I interviewed Tray from HDMI staffing and I happened to touch on, I think a chord in terms of staffing and the bottleneck I think that has on our industry right now. And the view, the impressions and the watches on that video and I think it's broken all records actually, which is pretty interesting.

Jimmy: Well how apropos for your 50th session, I think that's pretty cool. And I don't know if it was last night or the night before. It might've been on a post, that Tray put up on LinkedIn. Somebody had put it up and I shared it and I said, you know, this must be one of the most talked about topics in any dealer meeting that I've had for at least the past year. You know, when I ask dealers, what do you need in order to do more? Cause we all know they only have a certain number of jobs they can do each year. It's labor. And as I mentioned prior to us starting I've been trying my best to connect mostly Brent at HDMI and Joe Boston over at Maverick Technical Institute. And I'd love to be able to do that with CEDIA as well. Maybe is it Giles? Giles can help me.

Ron:  As we were recently. Mr GLA.

Jimmy: GLA. That's right. Yeah. Well with his new position at CEDIA I'm sure I just need a introduction with someone and we have these outlets available for dealers to you know, kind of get these new talents at techs into their operations. I think the challenge our dealers have faced, they bring somebody new in and it takes X number of months, many months to get them up to speed. So these folks, you know, HDMI and MTI and CEDIA can possibly help us, you know, get that ramped up. You know, Maverick's got a technical institute. They have a four month program now. I just found out it used to be more than eight months.

Ron:  No, I didn't know they had reduced the.. Did they consolidate it or just jammed all the content into a?

Jimmy: They consolidated it for sure. And they put that on the students to try to get that you know, education through at a quicker pace, still great education though. And they're most concerned with making sure that somebody that comes out of the program is well suited to handle whatever our dealers are gonna throw their way across the country.

Ron:  Sure. Well, Jimmy, I have a number of what I hope will be very fun and relevant topics for our audience and we just had a big pop in signups or in terms of people signing in. So if you're out there watching and listening like us comment, share and let's jump into it. But Jimmy, I always like to start with your background and my guests. I like to know kind of where you came from and how did you land in this industry of custom electronics and what does that path look like for you to bring you to today?

Jimmy: It's you know, I don't want to make a long story out of it, but I do have to just basically start from, I was in college working my way through with my lovely wife in Tallahassee, Florida. Go Knowles! Was going to go into law..

Ron:  Big Virginia Tech game this weekend.

Jimmy: Yeah, totally man. Absolutely. Labor Day. Which is why I took a very early morning flight out on Tuesday instead of going what I would normally do a Monday evening for CEDIA. So working my way through at Florida State, I was going to go to law school. I was going to look to go in into the legislative field, possibly with public admin and law. And somebody from Sony electronics approached me at a Sears store of all things where I was working in electronics and they said, dude, you do such a good job. His name was Henry Khaitan. Awesome fellow. He says, you interested at all in this job we have opened in North Carolina was Sony? And I was having so much fun and AV, I was like, hell yeah, I would much rather continue having fun as I grow up into adulthood then to be bored out of my mind with politics and illegal ease. Sony opened my world up. You know, I used to think, no offense to Bose folks out there used to think Bose was all the rage in audio and Sony used to do these amazing demos with Wilson watt puppy system sevens and transparent cable. I think we had something like 260,000 and cables and speakers with like six grand in Sony electronics and doing these crazy audio demos. That and projector demos just blew my world. Like quality. SXRD was kind of up and coming as I was going out and these massive displays, it just looked so sexy. I fell in love with the CEDIA channel in my last couple of years at CEDIA and I'm very thankful that you know, dealers across the country have these exceptional experience, demos that they're able to provide to anybody who's interested, whether it's a theater that just totally kicks ass or you know, 20 grand to 200 grand, $1 million on audio, that just blew my mind, you know, and gave me something I've never had a taste of. So there's always that, you know, I got to quench the thirst of, give me a taste of something I've never seen or heard of. Two years ago at InfoComm new box solutions content that was created for what was Andy Wilcox involved in? Meyer Sound. Incredible theater demo, incredible from a content visually and from obviously the audio portion. I walked out of there, I was going to be going to a Metallica concert later that fall. I shook the hand of the president of Meyer Sound and said, dude, I cannot wait to hear Metallica and Viking stadium. Later on this year. So I just love, I have a passion for this channel. I have a passion for what our dealers do. There's no way I could do it. I'm just thankful that they're able to because it keeps us in business. So, yeah, that's it.

Ron:  With Surge X, what's your role there at SurgeX?

Jimmy: I'm really driving the residential business. They hired me on in 2014 to get that residential business going. And really, we kicked into high gear in 2015 and it hasn't stopped since. You know, you mentioned kinda right at the start of this that there were a couple of people, whatever. Maybe small number, I don't know how many people joined initially, and I can only imagine, you know what it must be like out in the field, people saying, Oh, Jimmy Paschke and he works for what? Surge X Power? Boring. And it is, it's not sexy. It's not the audio demos, not the video, you know, experience that we're driving. It's not the lighting, which is all the rage right now lighting and shades really. But we can help make sure that those experiences go without fault, you know, with very little interruption. And I think that's the part that I'm most excited about now. I have seen in the past probably two years, this sort of transformation in the CEDIA channel where we used to talk about power as an attachment sale so it could help us make money. Okay. A monster did great at driving that into the space. Hannah Max Ferman did great picking up for where left off from, but no longer is it at about some accessory that you're trying to attach so you can make money. It's about trying to take control of the power situation in any job site, commercial or residential. Because network and power are the two things that are critical as far as setting up a solid foundation to be sure that awesome experience is nothing but awesome when the homeowner goes to partake.

Ron:  Do you, and I'm making an assumption here, so correct me if I'm wrong, but maybe I'm right. Do you think a lot of the problems on projects that are hard to track down or are the ghost in the machine sort of issues are power related issues?

Jimmy: Yeah, wholeheartedly. And what's funny is I get about one or two diagnostic logs about every day or every other day and the first time and maybe a hundred, I called a dealer and I said, I don't think power is your problem. And I think he was really hoping power was the problem so we could once and for all figure out what the solution would be. But I do think that when I hear a dealer say, well, we don't have power problems in this neck of the woods, I have now only 44 folders worth. That's 44 dealers worth that I've collected for the maybe the past year. I wish I would've collected all of them for the past few years. But it's all over the country from the East to the West, from the North to the South. You can't tell me there's a spot in the country that does not appear to have any power problems. I think the challenge though Ron, is network. Just to drive this point home, network when you're having network issues, guess what? Doesn't work. This webcast doesn't work. We wouldn't see each other. Maybe we didn't hear each other.

Ron:  You watch my last few shows, you'd see that Oh, people disappear and then have to re log in. Yeah.

Jimmy: Yeah. So network's huge and it's tangible. It's in front of us. But power, I hear so many times, well we check the voltage. It said one 20 on the volt meter just at that moment. And the homeowner's looking at the lights and they're on. So when we tell a homeowner we have power problems. So like, I don't think so the lights had been working. Some electrician came out and showed me he had one 20 on the volt meter. But it is a ghost. It's a sporadic, it's chaotic. It's whatever it wants to do, when it wants to do it, you know, it, we share power with so many different entities, whether it's our neighborhood or our neighborhood on the same substation as some industrial park or, you know, it's whatever our neighbors doing affects us.

Ron:  Educate me. What are some examples of things that can happen? Let's make it, you know, residential. A lot of our audience are integrators. By the way, Chris Trojaner he was a guest on the show not too long ago. He is saying, good point. He's talking to you, Jimmy. He said all systems need good power and network management.

Jimmy: So yeah, for sure.

Ron:  Thanks Chris for listening. So what are some examples of types of anomalies or occurrences that, and you said logging. I think, and I apologize, I don't know, but I think you have like a device that you plug in and it'll record, you know, the history of power in a home.

Jimmy: Yeah. And I guess taking a step back and making it more generalized, you know, companies like APC who kind of started the whole IP addressable power product category, Panamax who came out with BlueBOLT in 2010 and SNAP with their box in 2012. Middle Atlantic's, SurgeX's access elite. All of our power brands, IP addressable boxes have a tendency to be able to show at least in real time what is the voltage we're looking at. Now some of these devices have the ability to graph what is our voltage done over the past 30 days, you know, each day, what was our voltage coming in. There aren't too many devices other than going to all out electrical tools, say from fluke that can take precise logs and then generate the logs at the touch of a finger so that we have them easily accessible. Cause looking at, it's one thing, being able to take the information and give it to an electrician, give it to a local utility so that we can say scientifically, not from our gut. We think we have a power problem. Although I've heard so many dealers who tell me that when they show me their logs from our envision diagnostic tool from SurgeX, I know we're going to get a kick ass log because our dealers over these years, they're getting pretty good with their gut feeling and you always trust your gut. If you think it's power, it probably is power. It doesn't mean it always is, but fluctuation in the voltage coming into a home. I had a log I got last night from Carmel, Indiana and I told the dealer I'd get back to him today with it. I was able to look at it really quick right before the session. I haven't gotten it to him. He had 133 as a high and 113 as his low. Now products can operate well.

Ron:  Over what span of time?

Jimmy: That's just, I think within a matter of a few months that was his highest reading and it was his lowest reading, but several instances, more than 10 times we solve voltages drop a 13 volts, 90 something volts and all out power outages. So I'll get back to him and I'll summarize and I'll say, you had somewhere between 10 and 20 events that were significant. A 10 volt drop or more, if it's quick enough, can cause various products, sensitive AB products and the system to lock up or miscommunicate with other devices that are connected to in a system or get out of sync with other devices are connected to on a system. Voltage fluctuations can cause that. Neutral to ground voltage as it increases can cause that and actually cause failures of product. And then just in general, ground contamination is another. I think there's really three culprits to power aside from surges and power outages and you know, events. But those neutral to ground voltage issues, common mode noise ground contamination and then fluctuating voltages. Lockups, missing communication errors within systems, especially most sensitive AV think of think, think of the things that we don't get paid on. Apple TV dealers don't make money on that, but it drives a lot of the experience. Cable set top boxes. We don't make money on that. It could be satellite or cable for anybody that hasn't cut the cord yet. But they do drive the experience a ton. Network products, you know, these are sensitive hard disk drive based products. HDMI matrix switches Baylands, automation processors, in the case would be in that HD streaming drive category. Autonomics would be in that category. All of those things I just named and then the list is huge. Smart TVs are on that damn list now.

Ron:  Well, most things that most integrators are installing and working with every day and installing it in the home.

Jimmy: Yeah, totally. It's just a matter of relativity, you know, at some dealers I say, what's a high end job for you? And they may say a hundred, 200,000, and another guy may tell me a low end job is 300,000. And whereas another dealer..

Ron:  It's all relative. Yeah.

"As you go up in budgets, typically the sensitivity level, the complexity level of the system is also going up probably proportionately."

Jimmy: All relative. Yeah. But what does change as you go up in budgets typically. The sensitivity level, the complexity level of the system is also going up probably proportionately, really. I mean, so the more complex of a system you're putting in, I would say the most sensitive it is. But I tell ya, dealers then say, well we'll make sure we use something really good then on a really good system. And I'm like, yeah, you know, that's cool. One way to look at it. You made decent profit. So if you happen to have a service call you can afford to go out there once or twice maybe. And then I'm like, well what about that $10,000 job where you really didn't make that much profit? If you have to roll out there, you know, one, two or more times you are not making money on that. And what's the chances then that a customer that you just got engaged with, that $10,000 system that might be their entree into this whole thing that you miss an opportunity to create the passion for them because they've got issues with this $10,000 system. Then they're like, screw this. I'll just go back to, you know, streaming something from my phone or you know, Sonos or..

Ron:  When an integrator chooses to not put in appropriate power protection across all the end points. You know, the, the consolidated pieces of hardware in a project. Do you think that they're doing that? And I'm making a broad, broad question. So maybe there's a broad answer. Do you think they're doing that because they are choosing to not do it, they think the customer won't purchase it or do you think they are simply unaware of the importance of that piece of the equation?

Jimmy: Hm. Awareness. There's some of that. I think as I mentioned the past two years and really it's, it's elevated a lot. Just this last year I do hear more and more, not just from dealers and it's usually the guys that are probably the best at processes. You know, they are very methodical about putting together a system. So they've got system engineer.

Ron:  More consistent type of system and they have a standard protocol.

Jimmy: Yep. And I think those guys have witnessed, when we do a job here, here and here, everything's fine. But we did it over here and something is different. There's some ghosts that we've been chasing and you know, temperature network power. Did we do our install right? I had a dealer tell me once, that could be one of the factors. Did we do our programming right? Yeah.

Ron:  Maybe there's different technicians on certain types of jobs maybe.

Jimmy: So what are the variables? And then if we can isolate it to power. Okay. We have noticed, and this is from dealers, man, we have noticed that things work in our shop cause we stage here at our shop, they don't work at this job. We take it back to the shop. It works fine. Power's different. We took a look, we dug in and we realized power is the difference. Right. Okay, cool. So we're helping dealers get to that point faster. We're helping them by, you know, taking benchmark readings before they finished the job, light it up and then leave the home. We're saying, dude, take a look at your power coming in to that home. At least on a circuit that's closest or at the rack location. Take a week or two and just see what that looks like because you don't want a surprise, you know, six months from now, all of a sudden stuff's wacky. And that's what I hear a lot. Ron, I hear a lot of dealers who kind of after the fact they didn't sell a proper foundation because they didn't know or because the homeowner said no or because the budget said no. But they realized after the fact they're having all these issues with products.

Ron:  I don't see if a business owner or salesperson positions power correctly, and that's in air quotes. So I don't know exactly what correctly is, but if they position it correctly, how would a homeowner say no to that? I'm just curious. No, I don't want my system to be stable. No, I don't want it to work all the time. Why would they do that?

Jimmy: What are the odds you could pull up that diagram that shows the big ups and the racks.

Ron:  Oh yeah. Let me, you sent me that. So what I'm going to try to do folks, yeah, I'm going to attempt, I don't know if I can do this. I'm trying to think. Here I am going to art. By the way, Sean Starmer says hello. He says, I agree a hundred percent network and power. And then Josh over at Portal says my boy Jimmy. He's saying hello. You know, let me see here. Paste. Jimmy, I thought I could bring in a picture into a comment, but it's actually not allowing me.

Jimmy: Can we could post it. We can do it after the fact maybe. But my point is this, I'm a dealer recently did a drawing and after talking to me a few times Matt Wetzel at Oram in Colorado did a amazing drawing because again, he's one of these guys that wants to take a serious approach to system design and make sure that they've accounted for it, mitigated against any potential for a system not doing what it does in their showroom. So Matt sends me this drawing and I'm like, dude, this is incredible. Do you mind if I share it? I sent it to marketing, I said, can we incorporate the generator and then a large GPS and then our protection for the racks and then our IP addressable products at the rack level? Can we do all of that? Okay. So we did it. And if you look at and you add up all the things that we're putting into the system design, and it was a big system, it was around $36,000 retail. Okay. So why wouldn't we do that? Because it's $36,000 retail, right? I don't have that kind of money. Could you imagine a homeowner? I don't have that kind of money. I don't have the space for that big ass ups. You want to put somewhere in my closet or somewhere in a mechanical room that doesn't exist right now. Okay. So then we come down from the clouds and we say, no problem. This is where the awareness part has to, you know, really spread out. We can take control of our power on a smaller scale and everything's relative. So the amount of clean power, amount of stable power might vary just a little, but I can still bring a story that says we will have non ground contaminated power. We will have stable power for as little as $1,600 retail add on add on our IP addressable product or whoever's IP oversee is hugely popular right now. A blue bolt of people were still on that platform. Add whatever IP addressable product of choice that you want onto our foundation and that experience stays constant. More than not, it's there to allow the homeowner or the not. Not, Hey can you do that thing where you rebooted that box again so I can enjoy whatever the heck it was I wanted to enjoy during my party tonight. For the channel to continue to react to this phone call from the homeowner to reboot something. I think that if we continue down that path, we are not doing the service to our clients that we could, which is to be more proactive in our approach, which is to service customers before they even know they have a problem. That's where Domo, oats and Oversee Pro and Hegi through Control4 Pakedge. Come into play.

Ron:  Jimmy, I am able, the audience is gonna see your diagram. So if you know that diagram and I'm just going to confirm I did a little bit a wizardry here. I think it's working. If you're out there you can confirm. Yeah, there you go. Yeah, so it's streaming. So if you want to explain that diagram now, everyone on Facebook can see that.

Jimmy: I had an amazing thing happened just last month. A dealer in the LA Metro market sent me a text, sent me an email and said, Hey, we're having some really big power issues. And it was neat that he at least identified that already. Okay. And he said, you know, what do you recommend? We got on a phone call with you, recommend he say, can you meet with our estate manager and the electrical firm and the ECE on site with our system design guy via phone later on today? I'm like, cause he was frustrated. They were all frustrated. I said, yeah, sure. You know, let's have a discussion. Well the homeowner was getting a little frustrated. They couldn't use the stuff that they paid so much money for it to this dealer, you know, and, and ultimately we think so far and we'll have a better understanding of this after the envision diagnostic tool is in for a little while and we get a chance to look at the logs we think cause we've already witnessed in front of the EC on the job. He's seen the voltage go down below 90. You've seen the voltage, you know, go from one 20 down to one Oh three down to 93 down, down, down. So he's watched it fluctuate and then draw without a line. Then we see product fail and it's operation. Not necessarily fail. Like we need a new box. So I got the idea after the whole experience, I said, you know what we need to do? We need to take control of our power. We can't be held captive by whatever the local utility happens to bring us today or tomorrow or next month or next year. The infrastructure is so taxed that the utilities are having a hard time keeping up with all this demand as home construction goes through the roof or forget about even just new homes popping up everywhere. How about the size of the homes and the amount of stuff going into each home electronic wise? Right. So this drawing is in these larger homes that our dealers are doing business in, typically we've got a whole house generator. Well, I learned fairly recently as I'm traveling around that there seems to be a notion, a misconception that not only homeowners believed that the generator provides power when there is no power, the dealers are saying back to me, generator provides power when there is no power. And Ron, you're in Florida, I don't know if you have a generator, but you guys have been hit by so many hurricanes. It's pretty common for you guys to have some sort of generator for the fridge.

Ron:  Yeah, no, I'd say most of my neighbors have a generator. I leave town when a storm comes these days, so we go to Virginia. But yeah, I certainly appreciate most, many Floridians have a generator if they're fortunate.

Jimmy: Yeah. And in these larger homes we know we can't possibly have things go down a lot of times. That's the wine cellar that now all the wine goes spoiled. I've had guys um..

Ron:  That's usually not a problem at my house. That usually gets cleared out pretty, pretty quick.

Jimmy: Same issue at my house by the way.

Ron:  Mine doesn't ever keep around when a hurricane happens, right?

Jimmy: Fish aquariums I've had where I've heard that if we kill power to the fish aquariums, we have thousands of dollars in fish. Okay. You know, those are just kind of out there, but you know, forget about the food and the fridges or the freezers or, or what have you. Temperature obviously is going to go way down. So these large homes have large whole house generators and I've heard so many times, well when there is no power, there's power. You're still going to present a power outage to the very sensitive audio video equipment in that job because we have to wait for that generator to actually kick on.

Ron:  It goes dark before it gets lit back up, even if it's totally seconds or microseconds

Jimmy: And it is seconds typically. And if that's a good generator, if it's not as good, then it's going to be a long period of time, minutes. So the idea is then that we have a larger ups in between the power source and that generator and the connected equipment.

Ron:  And this is a SurgeX product? I see ups 20 to 100.

Jimmy: Yeah. Through our acquisition in 2016, we were given access to a 10 and 15 KVA single phase ups and then 20, 30 and 40 KVA three phase ups and potentially more. Larger units that can handle even larger systems. But this was just a great example of a smaller 10 KVA, being able to provide up to 65 amps worth of service to the two racks of gear and a projector providing very clean power. There's isolation transformers inside these ups that drop common mode noise down to almost nothing. And we'll show that at CEDIA next week. We'll have a demo, we've shown it at Infocom as of late. So we'll drop the noise floor way down. We provide stable power to the connected sub panels or sub panel. And that's anywhere from down 15 or down 30% to up 15% of whatever our input voltages. We'll have a voltage output, whatever you select. And that could be one 20, or it could be two 40. A Barco projector takes 240. So what I've heard, the AV gear we put in typically is 120, we can send simultaneous outputs like that to the projector, at 240 and to the AV gear at 120. And amplifiers. We don't ever put amplifiers on ups, but these large ups can handle up to 300% of their nominal input. So 60 amps is the input we can handle up and serve up to 180 amps for a period of time to handle inrush current up to 500 milliseconds. I'm getting in the weeds there, but..

Ron:  Sorry, I see the white box feeding to the breaker panel and the breaker panel is then feeding to these things called PF 420s. What are those things?

"At SurgeX, we pride ourselves on not just handling surges by diverting the surge energy to ground. We don't have a ground approach."

Jimmy: Right? So those actually provide the surge elimination. So at SurgeX we pride ourselves on not just you know, handling surges by diverting the surge energy to ground. We don't have a ground approach. We eliminate the surge by taking the high frequency and putting it out of phase and we pass 60 Hertz while we do all of that. So your connected equipment won't see ground contamination and it won't see common mode noise because we already took care of that with the ups. It'll see stable power because ups is giving us regulated, very stable power and we won't see surges because the PF420 if anything were to get past that ups, which the ups could take care of most of surge energy, but not all of the surge energy like our products and the surge elimination advanced series mode category. The PF420 would never present a surge to the connected racks or that projector that was connected as well.

Ron:  So this is clearly a best practice documented here. Okay.

Jimmy: It is. Yeah, and that's up in the clouds. That's not going to be every job. You know, that's maybe one to five a month. Although we did just have one home put two in so who knows if that number changes, but this is called taking control of your power. And we can do it up in the clouds there. We're at $30,000+ thousand in retail or $100,000 at retail or down at $1,600 retail.

Ron:  Now you gave me another drawing here another document and I'm game to throw that up here. It says envision and I see a bunch of green and yellow charts here. I'm going to share that. Tell us what that is.

Jimmy: Okay. So how would you know that you have to take control of your power? What if, what if your client needed something of science and math to say, you know what, your home actually has very poor power quality and here's the proof. So this diagnostic tool simply plugs into a circuit and yes it is only a circuit, but I'll tell ya if that's the circuit in or near where your rack of AV gear, your sensitive AV is going to go, you probably want to know that you've got good power quality to work with. So that you can minimize, mitigate against any kind of phone call to say, Hey, can you reboot this thing again? Or Hey, something broke. Can you come fix it? I've had dealers say they've been out to homes two to four times before they realized what the issue was before they realized. because I guess by happenstance they happen to be at the site at the same moment some power thing happened and they want something die. But two to four times, if you're swapping something out, you probably want to dig in and you want to assess whether or not it is power that's causing that particular box to die. Cause it's probably not the box. Right. Most of us manufacturers have way less than a 1% failure rate. You know, we all test that stuff before it ships out. And for the most part, any job I've ever been on, to have 1% is a high number. So it's probably not the box. So could it be voltage? So that diagnostic tool, that software we're looking at is looking at incoming voltage. What is it? Every half hour without you setting anything up, it will tell you what was your minimum, what was your maximum, what was your average,

Ron:  What is this? Read this one for me. What am I seeing here? I see 118 volts there on the top and this is there in your hotel?

Jimmy: Yeah. So that was just a snapshot of a live look at what is going on in my hotel currently. And so that was a moment in time, but I've had it plugged in since, and we've been at this now for almost an hour. So after my first half hour, I get a log in Excel that starts to show me what was my incoming minimum maximum and average voltage and over 180 days, which is my maximum memory until I start rotating. I can take a look back and say, just like this dealer with his log last night we were at 130s and we were in the 90s, you know, so that's a high fluctuation to be that low and that high.

Ron:  I would imagine that gives the dealer the evidence to take to their customer and justify the technology solution, which would be good. You know, power production.

Jimmy: That's right. And yes, sometimes it allows us to sell something. I will tell you though, a dealer in Dallas, contacted me two nights ago, actually, Friday night, and on Monday he called me and he said, so, Jimmy, what's the deal? This is a very important customer. We really need to know what's going on. Well, I wrote him last November and I wrote him again because he had even more data. And I said, it seems to me that this is so prolonged, these power fluctuations we're looking at and so pronounced because they're so variant in their lows and highs. We really need to do what we mentioned doing last November, which is get an electrician, licensed a high voltage carrier into the home and verify the connections at the outlets and the connections that the circuit breakers. Make sure we're tight, make sure we don't have an improperly bonded neutral, make sure we have a ground wire. These are all things that come up, by the way, if all that looks good, check with the utility because maybe it's the incoming service. And we have had, I don't know the count to heart, but it's between 10 and 15 over this past one year where we've had loose neutrals at the transformer and we've had corroded transformers, which guess what? Our AV dealers can't fix that. The utility needs to fix that. And if they don't fix it, we will be fixing our systems over and over again. We'll be swapping gear out.

Ron:  Meanwhile the frustration from the customer is growing.

Jimmy: Because guess why Ron, the lights worked, but your remote doesn't work. Your TV that you installed doesn't work. Your whatever you fill in the blank doesn't work.

Ron:  So big picture here, cause we're, we're coming on actually almost 40 minutes, believe it or not. Yup. How to integrators, what's your advice? Where do you point them in terms of how to become better or smarter or more educated around the subject of power? Are there resources? Do you guys have resources does CEDIA have resources? What's the answer?

Jimmy: We're doing a training and it will not be SurgeX oriented Lauren at SurgeX, our marketing director will be conducting a training on behalf of the NSCA through CEDIA. It'll be generic and it'll teach dealers how to and what to look for as it relates to power. And then go from there into what do we do once we see issues. I tell dealers all the time, you know, thanks for the time cause I know power is not high up on your list of you know, things you really want to dig into. But it is important and if you do no business with me, you should at least get our diagnostic tool so that you can see what's going on with the power. Because once you see what's going on with the power at the home site, then you can know how to better address that particular customer's needs. If you did not sell an online dual conversion battery backup, but there's a generator on site or you see fluctuation..

"The concept of integrators developing service and maintenance plans for their customers is very top of mind."

Ron:  Here's an idea. Like a dealer could buy that, that thing and they could you know, the concept of integrators developing service and maintenance plans for their customers is very top of mind. It's out there in the ether, in the media and whatnot. What if the dealer would go to the customer's home once every six months or once every 12 months and plug in and delivered to the customer a report of their power and instabilities that might be causing other problems and thus causing an issue with their large investment in the technology in their home?

Jimmy: That's a great idea. And we advocate leaving envision onsite anywhere that's hard to get to, high profile customers. There's a lot of those jobs that are hard to get through a lot of those as well. Neighborhoods that we know have bad problems with power and I talked to dealers all the time and they'll throw out at me, Oh yeah, this neighborhood, that neighborhood. Okay. If you know that, then why not collect the data so that you can always revert back to it and then show it. What's cool about that diagnostic tool, by the way? I say it all the time. I'm not an engineer. I've seen so many logs. I can take guesses as to what I think the issue is. Then run it past engineering and they'll bless it or not. But I don't have to be an engineer. I don't have to know all the ins and outs to electrical. I let the envision stay plugged in. I have a log that has data on it. I can show it to SurgeX, they can agree with me or steer me in the right direction, whatever. Then I have proof in black and white that scientific based on math that says here are the issues. Hey Mr electrician, what do you think would cause that? Or Hey, a local utility, what do you think would cause that? And then they can dig in a little more and and verify. Not what it does is it gets the dealer out of my gut, said it was a power problem, so I'm gonna then get emotional and I'm going to say that it's electrician. The electrician comes in on the defensive sometimes. I'm not saying this is how it works all the time, right? He puts his volt meter and he shows a homeowner the lights are on for outta here. What doesn't work is your AV gear. That's your AV guy's fault. No, this is the scientific approach that just says, Hey, let's review the data together. Let's dig in together and see how we solve the problem. Sometimes it's product. Most of the time I've witnessed it's not product. We can fix something with a bandaid and sell some product, but it doesn't take care of the global issue that might be affecting the job site.

"If you look at the balance of the money investment from the consumer on all the tech in their home, there's a lot more sitting after that battery or that ups or that surge then as compared to the cost of that device."

Ron:  It just strikes me that there's a lot, if you look at the balance of the money investment from the consumer on all the tech in their home, there's a lot more sitting after that battery or that ups or that surge then as compared to the cost of that device. I can't imagine a customer saying they wouldn't want that. I mean, it doesn't make, I'm not PR, I'm not pushing subjects, you know, brand X, Y or Z. Of course, you know, Jimmy, you and your team have great products and you're well-respected. But I just can't imagine an integrator if they presented that to the consumer that the consumer wouldn't agree, you know? Thank you for protecting my investment.

Jimmy: Yeah, it seems rather wide angle, but I did have a a client where I wrote an email back I summarized and this guy had a ton of line items showing just crazy power issues and I said, back, check your wiring step one. If everything seems to be fine with wiring, take this log to the utility. Something has to explain these just crazy fluctuations up and down, right? We're third. If you want to try to fix just the audio video, then here's the approach. There's a couple of products to buy, right. The answer back from the homeowner was, seems a bit salesman like to me, meaning like we were trying to sell a product, whether it was the dealer or myself and it was a shame because we weren't that enabled to actually go through steps one and two with the homeowner.

Ron:  Yeah. I've learned. And you've learned you can bring a horse to water. You can't make them drink. More of them will drink then than not. You know, that's just the nature of the consultative sale. Right?

Jimmy: If I were a dealer. True. Absolutely. If I were a dealer, I would just like to have the information just to say it is or is not power. And I would want to do the same thing with network. You know, these devices Domo makes and live monitoring Maxus networks and Pakedge and Oversee Pro that they can scan the entire network and they can get the heart and the health and heart rate of that network. That's valuable information. And the same with power. So we can put those together and we can say, you know what, it doesn't appear to be the two culprits that,

Ron:  That makes me want to go down a whole nother line of questioning. We're running, we're at 45 minutes. I think this is officially longest show of the year. But I could easily spend a few more hours here with you picking your brain and talking about this.

Jimmy: Yeah. Well, I don't think we want to bore the audience to death.

Ron:  Well keep them wanting more. We'll have you back. How's that? Will catch you in your next city.

Jimmy: Cool, man. Yeah, it's been great.

Ron:  No, I wanted to thank you. You, I actually, I think I approached you maybe as much as a year ago saying, Jimmy, I'd love to have you on my show and it took a bit of logistics to make this happen. And so I want to thank you for carving out time for my audience and I to chat here.

Jimmy: Yeah, absolutely. Ron, thank you for having us. And if any information we can provide to whoever's interested, we'd be glad to do that.

Ron:  What do you recommend? What is the best way for those watching or listening that want to learn? How do they want to contact you directly or they want to learn more about SurgeX and all the solutions?

Jimmy: I think the easiest thing is just to go to our website, and all of us have our phone numbers and emails up there. I get inquiries all the time from our website. Feel free to, you know, ask us on Facebook. We had somebody ask a power question yesterday. So it doesn't happen a lot, but you know, I'm sure with this kind of impetus, maybe..

Ron:  AMETEK, is that the right website? ESP?

Jimmy: Yeah. AMETEK is the, yep, that's right. The parent company. They're the ones that actually instantly gave acess to this incredible battery backup product.

Ron:  Okay. I just dropped that for everyone watching. I dropped that into the comments. So if you want to click on that and then Jimmy, what is are you comfortable? Do you want me to put your email here?

Jimmy: Yeah, sure. Yeah. Just This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. That'd be great.

Ron:  Email Jimmy Paschke. There we go. So ladies, gentlemen, we got some contact information there for you, Jimmy. Look forward to seeing you next week, bud.

Jimmy: Thank you very much.

Ron:  Awesome. So ladies and gentlemen, there you have it. That was episode 51 of Automation Unplugged went a little longer than normal today. But hope you had fun even figured out how to get some pretty pictures up on the screen there. And now that I learned that trick, I think I'm gonna do that more often. Kind of learned that on the fly. But anyway, I hope you have a great rest of your week. If you're going out to San Diego next week please stop by and say hello to my team. And of course I'll be teaching some classes. I'm going to put some teasers out about those classes here at the end of the week and stop by say hello and we're going to be off of Automation Unplugged next week, although we are going to do some Facebook lives from the event and and then we'll be back on our routine the week after. So on that note I'm going to put up the show art here so you can see our lineup from this past month. All of these are currently posted up on our website. Remember we always have all in the show recordings along with bio's of our guest up on our website and you go to forward slash learn and then we are going to post the new artwork for the September lineup. We'll have that, I'll have that ready for you here on the next show. So on that note, signing off, be well and have a good week.

Show Notes

Jimmy’s strated out in the custom electronics space right after college when taking a role with Sony Electronics. Since then, he has had the pleasure of helping dealers in this channel sell dedicated theater interiors and seating, high-end hard disk drive movie servers, nice audio gear and other solutions providing enhanced living experiences throughout the inside and outside of the home. For the last several years Jimmy has focused his efforts on growing the SurgeX brand within the residential channel.

Ron Callis is the CEO of One Firefly, LLC, a digital marketing agency based out of South Florida and creator of Automation Unplugged. Founded in 2007, One Firefly has quickly became the leading marketing firm specializing in the integrated technology and security space. The One Firefly team work hard to create innovative solutions to help Integrators boost their online presence, such as the elite website solution, Mercury Pro.

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