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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 #76: An Industry Q&A With Tom Curnin

Transforming outdoor spaces

This week's home automation podcast features our host Ron Callis interviewing Tom Curnin. Recorded live on Wednesday, May 22nd, 2019 at 12:30 p.m. EST.

About Tom Curnin

In 2006, Tom turned his lifelong audiophile passion into a new career and started BravoAV Consulting.

Bravo AV is an installer of integrated electronic systems for both large and small projects, including home theater, dedicated listening room, media rooms, whole-house audio, lighting systems, computer networks and phone systems.

Driven by his passion for spectacular audio and video, Tom is committed to providing well-designed and easy to operate automation systems in conjunction with the highest level of customer service.

Interview Recap

Here are some of the topics Ron had the opportunity to discuss with Tom Curnin

  • How outdoor sound is fundamentally different from indoor sound
  • What to consider when designing an outdoor living space
  • The importance of networking for outdoor entertainment
  • Outdoor shade solutions that are able to withstand various weather conditions

SEE ALSO: Home Automation Podcast Episode #75: A Custom Integration Industry Q&A With Kelly Giles


Ron:  Hello everybody, Ron Callis with another episode of Automation Unplugged. Happy Wednesday. It is a Wednesday, May 22nd at 12:30 PM. Happy to be coming to you on time today. And let me go ahead and jump over to Facebook just to see if we are in fact live streaming into the page. As you all know, especially if you're regular viewers or listeners we don't always look out and have technology cooperates, so it's always best to check it out. Yeah, it looks like we're working. All right. This is good. All right, well these are exciting times. Here at one Firefly. Well personally my son is actually only in school I think for another week and then then he gets off for the summer. So I'm imagining that many of you have summer breaks coming up and hopefully some my summer vacations planned here at one Firefly. Uh we're actually gearing up for some big product launch announcements this summer. So we've been gearing up and I was just telling Tom prior to going getting queued up here that, you know, been living two lives for awhile and that is a running Firefly and business as usual by day. And then by night and weekends, at least in terms of my time, a lot of product dev work with the stuff we have cooking up. So all sorts of good stuff coming. Stay tuned for that. But in the meantime we have an awesome guest and we have the one and only Tom Curnin from Bravo AV. So let me go ahead and bring Tom on and let you guys meet him. And Tom is always full of ideas and opinions and I'm pretty confident that you guys are gonna love meeting Tom and learning about him. Tom, how are you sir?

Tom: Fantastic. Thank you for that wonderful intro.

Ron:  Oh no, it's my pleasure. I know you're a busy man and I know that we were trying to get you scheduled for some time and we finally made it happen. So thanks for taking some time for us.

Tom: Well, I'm super excited to talk about outdoor audio video today because there's so much good stuff to talk.

Ron:  Well, let's tell the audience, where are you coming to us from? What part of our great country are you in?

Tom: Bernardsville, New Jersey. The garden state.

Ron:  The garden state. And so, has winter officially broken in New Jersey?

Tom: Yeah, yeah. It's 65 degrees and sunny and I'm gonna go out for a nice 30 mile bike ride after work. So I'm excited.

Ron:  You are fit. I remember over many CEDIA's you would stop by my booth or our booth and you'd say, Ron, have you have you eaten? You need an energy bar. Do you need some healthy snacks? And how long have you lived that healthy lifestyle by the way?

Tom: Since 2000, 2000 I got bit by a tick, I got Lyme disease and I had to really change my whole lifestyle. So yeah.

Ron:  Got it. And since then you've been running and biking.

Tom: Yeah. Lifting and you know, trying to stay healthy,, eat right, exercise, sleep well.

Ron:  We are already Tom, getting some folks saying hello here. We got Chris, he says, Hey Ron Callis Jr. Hey Chris Gamble. And then let's see here. Somebody that you know, Tom, Mr. Jordan Littmann.

Tom: Goodness gracious.

Ron:  Mr. Jordan, he says, looking forward to this interview. Hope you guys are doing well this afternoon Jordan. I'm doing great. And the Tom, are you doing great?

Tom: No, I'm fabulous.

Ron:  You want to one up me?

Tom: Absolutely.

Ron:  There's no other way. Well, tell them what I like to do. I know I've, we've got a lot of fun topics and it is warm in your neck of the woods and you want to talk about outdoor audio video before we go there if you will. I always love my audience to get to know my guests and kind of where you came from and how did you land in this crazy business called custom integration. So if you don't mind going the way, way back machine and, and you know, tell us where you come from and kind of what your careers look like leading up to now.

Tom: I definitely have a different career path than most. I have a BS in Finance and Information Systems, MBA in Finance. And I worked on Wall Street. I was a bond trader. I was on Wall Street for a dozen years. And you know, I realized that I didn't like my job. I didn't like my job and my, my in-laws were developers. And there was a project that we all invested in. We bought a hotel and renovated it. And one summer I went to him and said, I want to run the hotel. You know, when the bonus season ends at the end of the year, I'm going to leave Wall Street and I want to run the hotel. And they said, yeah. So I did. I completely retooled from being a sharpshooter bond trader to a generalist, running a hotel with 160 people. And that was a great experience. I loved every minute of it, but it's a family business. And so it depends on who your family members are. So I decided I had enough of the in laws and you know, I started an automation business.

Ron:  What was your exposure to automation? Like how did you go from bonds to hotel management to custom integration?

Tom: Well, I always, you know, been a little on the geeky side, a little on the computer side and always loved music. I mean, since seventh grade when my dad gave me a clock radio. When I heard, Golden Erin's radar love, I said, Oh my God, this is music. I love music. I got to have more of it in my life. And in college I heard my first good stereo and I was like, Oh, that's what it can sound like. And so, I mean, I, the emotional hook of music is so powerful. It's unbelievable. You, you, you watch a movie and you kill the picture and you just let the soundtrack go. You know what's happening, you know, if it dinosaurs about to eat you or they're back to camp, you know, and music is just awesome. Yeah. And so an electrician lured me into the custom business. We spent a couple of years working together and then I decided that I wanted to be a solo, you know, event. And so we went our separate ways and 13 years ago we started probably and I haven't looked back. I've got a great team that supports me. We have a nice part of the country to work in and we have great clients. So I couldn't ask for more. How,

Ron:  How has, I know this is maybe a very broad question, but how has your business evolved over those 13 years? Like what did it look like in the beginning and what does it look like today?

Tom: Well, in the beginning it was Tom Curnin and a tool belt the fan, the very beginning. And you know, I can't find my tool belt now. So we've got seven of us. And you're my main focus is run the business and you know, sales and marketing you know, we've got a project manager, we've got a salesman, we've got, for tax. We've got an ops manager. Actually we got an ops manager with the help of One Firefly to help us with our recruiting. So that was very.

Ron:  That's a secret service. Only certain people in the marketplace know we help in that way. I'll, I'll delve that out of the recording.

Tom: There you go. Perfect.

Ron:  What do typical projects look like for you Tom, at Bravo AV? What are you, all resi are you all commercial or do you do?

Tom: We're all resi.

Ron:  One hundred percent residential?

Tom: 99. I'd say that new construction has not recovered from 2008. We have very little new construction. I saw as a, as a mortgage back bond trader. So I saw the whole subprime meltdown coming and I shifted my business away from new construction to retrofit or major renovation. So that's really, you know, what we do, you know, they're just.

Ron:  Are you really one of the people in the United States that did not get burned to a crisp in 2008?

Tom: '08 '09 '10 '11. We're all very linears, but I did not get burned to a crisp.

Ron:  Wow. I wish I knew you better then it would have saved me a couple of dollars. I'm sure. Yeah, that is when I started this business. So I'm saying personally I got torched, but professionally I only knew to run a business lean and mean cause that was the only economy I had known as an entrepreneur. So in hindsight it was positive.

Tom: Absolutely.

Ron:  Tom, we have all sorts of people saying hello. So let me give them some shout outs here. We got Bobby Dodge, Bobby, he says, Hey Ron and Tom, great talk. Thank you Bobby. And then we got mr J J coming to us from Houston of digital delight fame. All right, we got let's see here. We got, I bet you know this guy Rob scuba. Oh yes. Tom has the most amazing portfolio of branded marketing material I have seen on the dealer side in the industry, man. That is, that is a pretty big statement.

Tom: Well, you know, I have my One Firefly website and then we have two 11 by 17 tabletop books that show all our work. And you know, we take a lot of pride in great photography. So the photographer I work with trained me so I can do the simple shots by myself and I've got a complicated shot. I just bring them out to the, to the site and making sure we get the lighting rate. There's no, there's no you know, Iphones having, you know, photos on our website, you know, where these are all taken with really high quality cameras.

Ron:  If you are out there listening or watching live or listening or if you're listening after the fact, listen to what Mr. Tom just said, he photographed professionally photographs well I'll call his own photography. Maybe that's amateur photography, but he uses a real camera, not his iPhone X or iPhone seven or whatever you got right. And he hires a photographer. There is so much room for improvement for our industry to simply do what you're describing to enhance their marketing. You know, a hundred percent enhanced their marketing. Just photograph here.

Tom: Everybody can tell a crappy picture from a good picture. And most of our rooms, especially our theaters, there's no ambient light. So we set the camera up on a tripod and then we do HDR. We take, you know, start three under 201 are perfectly exposed, one over two over three over exposed. And then I send that off in raw format to my photographer and he blends together an HDR photo that lets me see all the nooks and crannies. But it's also critical if you're taking a picture of a room that has a window, if you do an average exposure, that window is always going to be blown out to white. So you know, we've got literally hundreds of photos of our work and we only take pictures of rooms that are really good. I mean we do lots of work in houses that, let's just say they won't photograph that well and we skipped hers.

Ron:  You skip those. But the beautiful ones that yeah, we built your website, Tom, but I haven't looked at your website in awhile. So I'm actually seeing these photos for the first time. Yeah. So that's an HDR photo. You can see clearly through the window to the trees behind, you know, it's not right. You don't go grab your iPhone and look at the and have it look like that.

Tom: You've got the detail inside the cabinetry. You know, you can see everything in there. It's not dark and shadowy. No, it's the way to go. Yeah.

Ron:  That's very cool. How long have you done that? How long have you known? It's a fairly this might sound silly, but it's a fairly advanced concept that you photograph all your projects.

Tom: Yeah. This is probably eight years. Eight years. And then we also, we also have the construction of a theater from beginning, from studs on. And that photo process took us, I dunno, 10 months during the building phase. That was a long project.

Ron:  So, what I'm going to do for folks that want to know how to get here, how to get to this website up on the screen. So there we go. Do you want to see the website? Go to

Tom: Yup. Go to the gallery. It's done by topic. So you'll see the, the home theaters will all be together. The outdoor, we'll all be together.

Ron:  Now this is very advanced. So you knew to pull the purples out of the fabrics with a purple, piece of content on the screen. This was post rendered in, write this on the TV screen. Your photographer did that.

Tom: Absolutely. Yeah. The TV is actually off when we take the shot and then he cuts an image in. Yeah. Cause you never know where you're going to get. Yeah. That's gorgeous work. Yeah. No, with Rick Smith, I'm a photographer. He's a genius.

Ron:  No, that's great. Alright. I'm going to throw out, there's been a few more comments here that I'm going to dive into some of these other errands. JJ says. Nice gallery. Thanks JJ.

Tom: Thank you JJ.

Ron:  And then we have a question here. How many hits a month? Is your website getting?

Tom: You gotta ask Ron. He built the site. His guys track it. I don't know. You know what? The answer is not enough. Since since I got Ron, I don't have enough hits. Make it happen.

Ron:  Alrght, I'm going to do this live.

Tom: I wouldn't do that. That's too dangerous.

"A typical integrator gets between 200 and a thousand visits a month on their website."

Ron:  Yeah, no, I don't know. It's might be good. It might be bad. We'll figure it out together here. Why not, you know, live dangerous. We're live anyway. Tom. It's already been cast out to society. So give me a second. Let me just, I know that through organic shorts, you know the terms that I care about you have done very well. I'm usually, you know, one, two or three. Alright, so let's look at organic traffic. So organically, Tom, you're getting about a 150 visits a month. It is going up and then I'll just quickly look over here. Let's look in the last 30 days. Say, what's all of your traffic? Ah, there it is. 565 sessions, JJ. So that's a 500 not that, this is not that we're going to dive into this data in this interview. That's not the type of show this is. But a typical integrator gets between 200 and a thousand visits a month on their website. So I'd say this as a traffic volume of 550, 65 sessions. I'd say that's, that's above average probably or maybe right around average to above average. So hopefully that.

Tom: I know it's a key component to our overall marketing plan. And you know, I work closely with Josh and your team and I just tell him I want more. I call him at that. I want more at bats.

Ron:  Amen. Got more people coming in from your mouth to God's ears. Alright, let me figure out, I've got something up on the screen. Let me try to figure out how to get that off the screen. Let me go. I don't know where is he at? There's a comment up there. Let's see. Who is it from? It's from Chris. Let me see if I can find that. There we go. Alright, perfect. Alright, more people. We've got Angel saying hello. We got JJ saying, I look daily at our stats. It's a challenge. JJ, you got to talk to One Firefly man. Alright. And then he says Tom, you're looking good. So there you go.

Tom: Thank you. Thank you.

Ron:  Clearly the workouts are working. Alright. So tell, talk to me about outdoor audio and video. What's got you excited?

Tom: Let's just talk about the state of the industry and let's do that one word.

Ron:  I'm just going to have you run the interview. You interview you. How's that? It's awesome.

Tom: Data industry is awesome. And the reason I say that is the products, the quality of the products and the breadth of the product offering in both the audio side and the video side is on mast even, you know, three or four years ago, you know, we, you know, we were, we, we love on that. You know, on the audio side, we love near Architettura Sonora or Jane JBL. You know, they all have different, you know, fits for what our customers want to do. And then on the TV side, I mean, the TVs are gorgeous. They're not nearly as fat and as ugly as they used to be. And the picture quality is fantastic. There's never been a better time to be trying to meet your client's outdoor AV needs. I mean we've got great tools.

Ron:  You had mentioned this name to me just before we went live, Architettura Sonora. And I'm not gonna lie, I was like who? Why? So I'm going to throw that on the screen here in a minute just to show the people, the audience here what that is. But Rob Skuba says Bravo to you both for letting it all hang out. One Firefly. Transparency. Rob, I appreciate that. Or stupidity because that could have gone in the wrong direction because I really did not know what I was walking into with that. So, but thank you. I'll take the compliment. I'm going to throw back on the screen. Architettura Sonora, what?

Tom: Okay, so, I'm sure I have the same conversation that many of us have, right? When we're talking to the client, we gotta balance, you know, video quality, audio quality, aesthetics, budget and timeframe. And when you have a situation outdoors typically it's around a pool with a lot of hardscape and you cannot hide the speaker. Architettura Sonora makes these unbelievable works of art. There are, that's my fav. So this week we're installing four of these Earth 360s in white marble, Ron around this pool.

Ron:  Yeah, that would be pretty cool looking. What do you do? You run the, I'm going to ask a stupid like I'm not an installer. So you're like run pipe in the wire. So the wire comes up right underneath.

Tom: Yeah. It's conduit drilled right through the stone or the patio. Where do you for us to drop the speaker on top of it and wire into it, but it's, it is an unbelievable Lee good looking product. They look heavy. Yeah, they're heavy. They're heavy. You can get them, you can get them in a poured concrete of various various colors or you can get them in natural stones and yeah. So the marble spheres are heavy. I've told my guys, please drop them.

Ron:  Yeah, no, yeah, that, that would not be there. They've empty port these suckers from Italy.

Tom: Yeah. It's a relatively long lead time, like theater chairs, you know, eight to twelve weeks, but completely gorgeous.

Ron:  I did you, I didn't know the name but I'm thinking that I ran into this here in Florida. I went to the Florida Tech Summit a few months ago and I know the rep and he had these big honkin slabs of stone out on display and I do remember seeing these up close and I was impressed there. And I think I even brought the piece of literature home and showed my wife. I was like, babe, this is pretty interesting.

Tom: Yes, indeed.

Ron:  That is cool. Alright, so what else? So state of the industry is business good? Is business bad? Is the stock market weirdness or economy or uncertainty?

Tom: I think there is some uncertainty out there and I think that is affecting our business. Our business is up slightly this year, you know, 10%. I, I don't think people are at as feeling as good about themselves. As you say, the employment rate would let you think. The employment rates at a historical low. But yet I see people, you know, holding back on doing certain things. So, but you know, let's go talk about, you know, design elements and you know what our goal is for outdoor sound. Cause I think we got to start with a goal and then how we get there. So tell me, we need clean, articulate sound with a uniform sound field. And I think that last part, that uniform sound field is where most guys go wrong. So how is outdoor sound fundamentally different than indoor sound? You know, the energy outside has no walls to hold it in and it dissipates very quickly. It's like, so Gar smoke. So you need a lot of speakers playing at a moderate volume to have a uniform sound field. And then you got to talk to your client, figure out what kind of music are you listening to? What's the volume of that music now? How many subwoofers or am I going to need to put into this? You know? So I think that that is critical that we have that goal in mind so that we designed correctly so that when we look at the general topography or we look at the areas that people are going to congregate or we say, Hey, where's our relatively high ambient noise level? Oh Hey, we've got a waterfall feature. Beautiful. But you know, that's, that's a lot of ambient noise. We need a pair of speakers right by that. So we can have, you know, uniform soundfield around that water feature.

Ron:  Do you want to mention any brands or particular products? I mean, we just obviously gave outdoor Sonora some attention here. Are there any other people in your portfolio that you want to mention or do you want to keep it broad?

Tom: I'm going to forget someone and their rep is going to call me up when this is over.

Ron:  But because thousands, maybe tens of thousands are going to watch and listen to this millions.

Tom: But we love, we love, we love NEAR. Okay. They make a very robust speaker. They've got several form factors. We love your, if you have high volume needs, JBL has some unbelievable products. And we, we've used them how we've used them on in baseball fields, you know, at the high school. And then an Origin just this season came out with this. They're beautiful. Bollards either square or round and a number of finishes, you know, with those would probably be, the three that I would think about. You know, I'm sure I forgot someone, but yeah, those, those are great.

Ron:  I'm curious, you also, when we started you, you had mentioned some of the technologies with outdoor TVs and you said that's advanced in the last several years. And I haven't observed that advancement. I'm not close enough to it. Can you educate me and maybe some of our listeners, what's your observation of the technology advances that have happened in the?

Tom: So, you know, there are two guys in the marketplace, Seura and SunBrite, and I think Seura is number one. I think SunBrite is a close number two. You know, Seura has come out with, you know, they're their direct sunlight TV, you're with a very high knit output, you know, and, and they do a fabulous job and then they got, their kind of shady and then full shade, you know, options where you can save money. You know, I'm always a big fan if I can of locating that TV in a shady area, right? Every TV on the planet, regardless of make, will look better if I can reduce the ambient light around it, you know, so if I can get it under a pergola or you know, something like that and get the direct sunlight off it that's when I go for it. But there are times when I can't. There are times when a mounting it on a pole out there at the edge of a patio, totally exposed. Then we use the UltraBrite series. But you've got 4K beautiful TVs, completely weatherproof, right? I mean, you are making a mistake if you try to use an indoor TV outdoors. Even if you say, Oh, well I don't, you know, if it gets destroyed in one season, I'm fine. I spent eight hundred bucks on it. Yeah. But if it starts an electrical fire, you won't be as fine. Right.

"Everyone in our industry gets called to job sites that have gone bad."

Ron:  Do you see that? I mean, we all, I'd say are, everyone in our industry gets called to job sites that have gone bad. Do you see people trying to install indoor TVs outdoors?

Tom: Oh yeah. Yeah I see now they're not fully exposed. There's a little bit of an overhang, but you know, wind blows my friend or gets in the back. But, it can't handle the temperatures. It can't handle the humidity and it's too, it's not bright enough. Right. It doesn't have the net level output that you expect from outdoor TV.

Ron:  Talk to me about sources specifically outdoors. So what sort of sources and if you're willing to talk about what sort of control systems do you generally destroy or empower your customers with?

Tom: You know, Sonos as a backbone is wonderful. If, if you tell me your first chair violin and you got 10,000 CDs and X, Y, Z is really important to me. I'm like, okay, we got some other solutions, but most people aren't telling me that. So typically we're going to use some connects and order control, multichannel EEQ amps, right? I'm going to segue for just a second and talk about common mistakes. Okay, so people don't, they undersize the amps, right? They're asking the amp to do too much. Get the right amp, get a multichannel, you know, they're running small wire, right? The difference between, you know, a 16 gauge and a 12 gauge is like a hundred percent increase in resistance. And then we typically have long runs, a hundred feet, 150 feet. So that's just compounding the error of using a small gauge wire. They don't put in enough speakers, they don't have a uniform soundfield, you know, when sometimes they make poor equipment selections and then, and then they don't have enough zones, right? So we love, you know, a 16 channel auto control amp with, so we can tweak each zone and then we just put a bunch of connects there. We give the guy an iPad and that's great. Now if he's got other things, he got the outdoor TV, he's got lighting control. You know, we've got security cameras there. He wants to see all that boom rolling right into Savant or Savant dealers. And we think that they make a great control system. But I don't think we should talk about the other control systems. That'll just be a fight between who thinks who's better. We like Savant.

Ron:  No, I am a big advocate. I just think it's smart. Pick a horse, ride the horse. Yeah. You know, as, as a marketing agency and people talk about, you know, we always get the question of, well, what software are you programming my website in? Right. We do Joomla. Is it better or worse? There's debates to be had all the way around, but that's what we're really good at. That's what we focus on. And we can make almost anything happen in that environment. The next company might say software a, B, C, or D. They're right to, if they're really good at that, then you know, it's about the customer experience.

Tom: Yeah. But we've had very good luck with auto control amp. I know we in some of our near jobs near has an amp that works very well. Cause it's set up, it can drive their speakers and our sub all at once and not starve the sub. So we like their amplifier. Yeah. But you know, right size amplifier, enough zones, the correct speaker wire.

Ron:  Alright. Two more questions for you, Tom, if you'll allow me and then we'll believe it or not, we've, we've already been live here for over 30 minutes and I know you blink and time flies. Two quick questions. Yeah. You are in a buying group and some people listening and watching may not be in buying groups. And I've, I appreciate integrators trying to learn from each other and being in peer sharing groups, whether that's in a buying group or through CEDIA through some other organization. What's your take on why someone should be in a buying group regardless of what that group is?

"I'm a lifelong learner. If you're not into learning, you need to exit this business immediately because you've got to keep up."

Tom: I'm a Pro Source member. I'm very happy. Bobby Dodge is my coverage. We have you know, annual event that I go to where they bring in speakers and they bring in your resources to talk to us about what's going on in the industry. I find that immensely helpful to talk to the speakers. But you know, just like CEDIA, I find it immensely helpful to talk to the guy in a classroom chair right next to me, you know, cause he's got ideas too. So, you know, I'm a lifelong learner. If you're not into learning, you need to exit this business immediately, you know, because there's just, you've got to keep up, you got to read, read, read. So I just, I just love, you know, cause you know, through Pro Source, like CEDIA. I'll meet a guy in Arizona, you know, like West Palmer and I'll say, Hey, here's what I'm doing. I need help with this. And he'll say, Oh yeah. Or I'll talk to my friend Caleb in Texas and I'll say, Hey, what are you doing to track, you know, time. And I'll go, Oh, I'm using X. Those are immense, immensely helpful almost. But what's also helpful is, yeah, by the way, I tried this software and don't go near it because it's a disaster, right? That's just as valuable information. Don't use that. But you know, before we wrap up, I know we got, I know I gave you a lot of things, but there's two things we have to talk about.

Ron:  Tell me.

Tom: We have to talk about outdoor networks and we have to talk about outdoor shades. You don't build a robust high bandwidth outdoor network, close up your tent and go home because none of the technology you're going to deploy is going to work effectively. Right. So we don't do jobs anymore in anybody's home where we don't own the network because we know that if we don't own the network and build out a really robust network that our stuff will malfunction. But it's really that it wasn't getting the gear. Are you using to do that?And what sort of training are you and your staff attending are taking or certifications to make sure that you're able to design those robust networks? We're using Pakedge. They have a training course that my guys do, but Ricky, my project manager and the most technical guy on my staff is a CEDIA certified network specialist. Like I'm a CEDIA certified designer. I don't want, I don't need to know everything that he knows about networks. Like I say, Ricky, you don't make it work. So yeah, we're big. We're big fans of CEDIA education. Absolutely.

Ron:  And you will not deploy a project that you're not owning the network?

Tom: I can't cause it just the pain and agony. And if there are, they're like, yeah, I'm going to stick with this network. And I clearly know it's not going to work.

Ron:  You know when you know to walk away?

Tom: Walk away? Yes. Okay.

Ron:  Alright. Outdoor shades.

Tom: So we're super excited. We just went to Texas recently. We stopped by the Screen Innovations, went down for their training. They have some incredible outdoor shade solutions. I mean they've got one, it's 21 feet wide, 16 feet high. It is the max size. They've got, you know, a number of fabrics.

Ron:  Educate me on the application there, right. When do you use that? What, where? Okay. Florida.

Tom: Okay. Florida boy.

Ron:  We have hurricanes down here, so we're very mindful of what we put out there in the winds.

Tom: Totally. But all this stuff retracts, so they record, they recommend, you know, over a 10 mile an hour winds, roll it up. But they do have track systems, two different track options. But if you drop a shade when the sun is blasting you on your patio, you have drastically reduced the solar load, not only on the patio where you're sitting, but also on the room that's adjacent to the patio. You don't, when it's great Euro cost savings, you know, Arizona, Texas, Florida, you guys have outdoor living, you know, 11 months a year. Amy, that's incredible. And so yeah, we're, we're, we're totally excited. We just put up our latest you know, knowledge center piece on outdoor shades for our clients. You know, we did a bunch of research and looked at a bunch of things. We're excited because you've got that, you know, open on three sides, patio when it's got this roof structure, you drop the shades down. It's like you created your own little mini room. So let's just say you have that TV in there and you have that son that's about to hit it. Just drop the shade, boom. You've knocked the direct light off the TV, your TV image looks better no matter what TV it is, your TV image looks better. So you were just excited about being able to extend outdoor living times, you know, even here in New Jersey, you know, we love our summers, right? You know, and, and so, yeah, yes, yes. But, but also spring and fall. I mean fall honestly fall is is the best. Yeah, fall beautiful. And I can and I can, when I do a fully enclosed space, you got no bugs in there. Right? You got no leaves blown in. You know it's, it's, it really extends what you can do outdoor living in and let's face it, outdoor living, everything's happening. Kitchens and bars and bocce courts and horseshoe pits.

Ron:  Last question for you Tom.

Tom: Yes sir.

Ron:  We have some folks listening that might be newer in their entrepreneurial adventure. Okay. They might be newer, newer at running their integration firm. And what would be a, just let's like straight from the gut top of mind for you, you know, two or three things that you know, pieces of advice that you would offer them?

Tom: Happy. Become a CEDIA member. Attend CEDIA the whole time. Every minute that's open the day before the trade show is open. There's classes, take as many classes as you can learn from the instructor, learn from your classmates, go to these little regional shows that maybe are just put on by a handful of vendors. But usually you can get some really good one on one time with the vendors. So down at Pro Source, the last go round I was talking with Jimmy at Surge X and he mentioned something that I wasn't aware of and totally changed the way we want to do power conditioning. And then when a rep calls you up and says, I'd like to come by and talk to you about a product, try to say yes because he, you know, he might bring in something a little different that you hadn't thought about. Say yeah sure I got 30 minutes, come on in, let's talk. I mean it's hard to fit that in your day cause you know you got 27 proposals that are supposed to get out the door.

Ron:  I'll say there's every reason to say no, but your advice is to say yes cause you never know when that new piece of information might send you a different direction.

"I'm a big fan of loading up your knowledge toolbox so that when you get to a job site or you get to a certain customer and you go, Oh, there's a situation, I use that product, I remember enough about it."

Tom: Say yes, I got 30 minutes. Right. Let them know we don't have an hour, we don't have two hours. I got 30 minutes. By the way, what do you want to talk about? You know, cause if it's clearly something you're not involved in great, then you can say no. But if it's something maybe you could be involved in. I'm a big fan of loading up your knowledge toolbox so that when you get to a job site or you get to a certain customer and you go, Oh, there's a situation, I use that product, I remember enough about it. I'll call the rep, I'll get back up to speed and use the product and make my customer happy. Yeah.

Ron:  Love it. Tom, thank you for joining me on episode 76 of Automation unplugged.

Tom: I hope to be back soon. Thanks Ron.

Ron:  Absolutely. You're going to be a repeat guest for sure.

Tom: I like it. Awesome. Thanks buddy. Appreciate it. Thank you.

Ron:  Alright folks. There you have it. Episode number 76 of Automation Unplugged. I'm going to throw up a couple of pieces of art here. Do not forget to join us on Instagram. Go over to and we have a pretty active channel there. That's a newer social network for us. We just joined for my regular listeners, you'll know we just joined Instagram back in September at around CEDIA timeframe. So definitely be sure to check us out there. And then one more thing I want to show you that our very own Kelly Giles is going to be on the show. I believe this is next week and Kelly is our Leader of Content. So if you want to learn more about Kelly and her take on marketing and specifically marketing for integrators and kind of her background we're going to get to know Kelly and that should be a lot of fun. Oh, I already know Kelly, but now you guys are gonna get to meet Kelly and I think you're going to enjoy that. And on that note gang, enjoy the rest of your week. Remember you get to make a decision every day on how your day's going to go. That is your decision. And so make it a great day. Make it a great week and until next time, I will see you later. Ciao.

Show Notes

Tom Curnin comes from a background on Wall Street but turned his lifelong audiophile passion into his full-time business in 2006 when he started BravoAV Consulting. BravoAV focuses on installation of integrated electronic systems for both large and small projects, including home theater, dedicated listening room, media rooms, whole-house audio, lighting systems, computer networks and phone systems.

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:

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