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An AV and integration-focused podcast broadcast live weekly
Join Ron Callis, Owner & CEO of One Firefly and industry veteran, as he talks business development, technology trends, and more with leading personalities in the tech industry. Automation Unplugged (AU) is produced and broadcast live every week.
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Home Automation Unplugged Episode #228: An Industry Q&A with Susan Grossweiler

In this weeks home automation show of Automation Unplugged, Susan Grossweiler, Vice-President of Products and Operations at HAVRION shares the importance and role of technology in schools to improve safety.

This week's home automation podcast features our host Ron Callis interviewing Susan Grossweiler. Recorded live on Wednesday, November 2nd, 2022, at 12:30 pm. EST.

About Susan Grossweiler

As Vice President of Products and Operations for HAVRION, Susan is focused on data-driven action & activations approach to deliver outcomes that provide protection and performance solutions in schools and facilities. 

Susan has an impressive background with experience in design concept, product forecasting, on site management, budgeting, event planning, project management, and sales & marketing. She has worked for big-name companies like Samsung, ESPN Radio-Brevard FL, MassAV, and Kennedy Space Center to support and execute exceptional service, guidance, and solution insights to the end customers. 

Susan attended Roger Williams University in Bristol, Rhode Island where she graduated with degrees in business management and marketing communications.

Interview Recap

  • Current state of school shootings in the USA
  • The importance and role of technology in schools to improve safety
  • HAVRION´s ¨Protect and Perform” technology strategy for school systems

SEE ALSO: Home Automation Podcast Episode #227 An Industry Q&A with Tina Peters

Transcript

Ron: Hey, Susan. How are you?

Susan: Good. How are you, Ron?

Ron: I am good. I was maybe scaring you or warning you in advance. When I press live, it doesn't always work, but it worked. Here we are. I see some people are tuned in, which is pretty fun, by the way if you're out there and you're tuned in, drop into the comments, tell us who you are, where you're coming to us from. That's always fun. And if you have any questions for Susan as we go along here, don't be shy. Drop those questions or comments in and I'll share those out. But Susan, how are you doing?

Susan: I'm doing great. Thank you so much.

Ron: Where are you coming to us from?

Susan: So I am coming from chilly, Atlanta, Georgia. It's not really that chilly.

Ron: What's the weather like right now?

Susan: Beautiful fall weather. So a girl from New England is loving the weather down in Georgia right now. Reminds me of home.

Ron: I've been traveling so much that I did get home end of last week, it was a Friday night, and I remember on Saturday I went out to have a nice cup of coffee on my patio. I don't know, it was steamy and unpleasant. I was like, well, I wanted to do that, but I'm going to go back in the house. So the fall weather has not quite set in here in South Florida. Not yet.

Susan: You don't have the fun of the samors in the driveway yet, like we do and bundled up.

Ron: There's like one week in January when it gets really cold down here and there'll be a cold front that hits Orlando and heads south. And it's legitimately, like you want to start a campfire. It's like really nice fall weather. And then boom, it disappears as quickly as it comes. What are you going to do? So HAVRION, if you could fill us all in, what is HAVRION and your role clearly as a lead executive there. What does that look like?

Susan: Let me take you on a little story. So HAVRION, we were created in 2019. We are actually the wholly owned subsidiary of the company based out of Florida called United Data Technologies. They have been in the education world probably going on 27, 28 years. So when the unfortunate events of Marjory Stoneman Douglas occurred right down the street from their headquarters and our headquarters in Miramar, Florida.

Ron: Yeah, I'm in Tamara. That's like less than 10 miles from where I'm sitting right now.

Susan: Yeah. So, I mean, the rippling effect of that across the community, of course, not just the facts, the parents and the kids that are going there, but those surrounding companies and UVT, of course, supporting those schools. They found that, hey, we need to do something with the technology we're putting in these schools and help support safety for these customers that they very much care about. They put our founder and CTO of HAVRION now, Danny Rodriguez, into a room and said, hey, I want you to dig in on all these types of events, the technology we're putting in there and come out with something that we feel is going to impact safety in these schools. And through a great partnership we have with Samsung, we came out with our first solution that was called Connect and it's driving that digital display content right onto safety content right onto displays. What better way in the digital age to communicate quickly and effectively to anybody looking at it from small child to guests to teachers to be able to take action. So with that technology they rolled out Havrion to go nationwide to really support and this continued journey that we're seeing in supporting safety. We all know and recognize we need to do more. And that's exactly what HAVRION is here doing with again with other great partners that we have around the country like daily and ECC and bytel, you know, we're just spreading the warmth, really truthfully around this and what we can do to help those students in school.

Ron: I feel you and what a noble cause. As I said, I live down the street from that. I have a member of my team here at One Firefly, literally lives in a house where they can see Stoneman Douglas out the window. And so this is right here in our backyard. And now that said, that's only one of many, many, many events that are happening all over the country. High level ran, I want to say random, it's on topic. Is this a new occurrence in America or is this always been happening? These school violence, school shootings, do you have a perspective on that?

Susan: Yeah.

Ron: It's in the news more and that's why we're hearing about it. What's happening there?

Susan: I don't have exact numbers in front of me, so I won't go into that type of detail. But listen, violence in schools has been something that has been prevalent, right? I think it was lesser in other decades. But there were still some types of violence that occurred. It has definitely started to create an arch and a peak. Just my own perspective looking out at just safety in schools now. I mean, I remember being able to go to school, no one worried about locking doors or we never even had locked down drills. So I do think, yeah, things are changing, especially after COVID, right, where there was a need even prior to COVID with things sort of being unrest in these public spaces and not even just schools, but public spaces in general. There's definitely been a need, even more so after COVID that there's just an interaction and relationship that isn't there like it was before. So I hate to have to think like this, right? But I think that's where I mean, of course, I'm also a mother. But safety is a high concern of mine on wherever my child is now going into where I am not going to be present with my child all day. So it's just something that I think that we're all accepting. We're trying to put our hands around how we want to approach it. But there's some hopes out there, especially for myself and my colleagues, that just like you have a fire detection system in a school, that you're going to have other mandates coming out over the next five to ten years that are going to mandate gun detection sensors, environmental sensors and communications outside the standard ones that are out there today.

Ron: Susan, we have some people that are saying hello, so I'm going to acknowledge them. We have Chris has worked with Susan as a reseller. She's a great leader. And Chris also added the comment. He said, the University of Texas Tower sniper in the 60's. I remember hearing about that, it was pretty terrifying. So Chris, to your point, this has been going on a while, and we have another comment here from Jay. He says, Great meeting One Firefly team a few months ago. Thanks for the invite. You're welcome, Jay. Thanks for tuning in and watching. Thinking of my son. I have a son, he's 13. And, you know, right after Stoneman Douglas happened, I remember they all transitioned to clear backpacks. And then just recently, this school year, it started a couple of months ago, they transitioned to clear lunch what do you call it? Lunchboxes. And so that was a protocol. But my son goes to a school. I won't mention the name of the school for safety reasons, but my son goes to a school here in South Florida, and it's a private school. He's very fortunate. They have a very substantial police presence and security detail presence on the school campus. So I feel fortunate in that regard, and I also feel sad that that's necessary. And my son, since Stoneman Douglas, they now have regular drills on campus. The big bell goes off on schools, a particular siren, and it's their school shooter bell. So there's security protocols across the campus where the kids do certain things, and the whole staff, the whole campus is mobilized to prepare for that event. And it's terrifying that that's the world we live in, but nonetheless, it is the world we live in. So do you mind just sharing with us, Susan, what's a world where your technology is helping make it safer? What is the solution? What does it look like?

Susan: So, listen, we're very fortunate with our solution, that we play well with everyone, right? We're not going to be the ones who are only focusing on a sensor. We want everyone to go out and do what they do best. And then for us at HAVRION, we bring all of these amazing things that are being invented into our system. First and foremost, activation point. For us, I think it's so important as we start to look at this world that I don't think just one thing is going to help. I think it's going to be a multi layered approach. So being able to have physical panic buttons, as well alongside with mobile applications and then of course, those amazing sensors, they all have sort of those good, better, best scenarios. So making awareness out there right now around the country, around the nation, on what are your schools doing? Ask the questions, right? Don't be afraid to go in. I know my munchkin just started pre K. I'm a pretty proud mommy over here. But I mean, the very first new parent meeting I had, my hand was right up. I'm like, what are you doing to protect my child? And I'd like to be more involved. So if this is something that you're passionate about, get out there and get into it, whether you're a parent or whether you're one of these companies supporting. The other part of this, though, for us is these outcomes. So for us, looking forward on what I would hope for that ideal situation would be looking forward when people are thinking about the safety of these environments is, yes, you need to cover your basics, right? 911 connectivity, I mean, I think that's a must for everybody. Like if you, if you're not looking at that, then what are we doing? 911 connectivity, the ability to communicate in multiple layers here. This isn't just a one thing now, I think we've seen text messages, voicemail, emails, that sort of, for me, the dated stuff that we still need. But we need to go beyond that now. And that's really where I'm hoping people will start to look at these other solutions and let's get your bases covered and let's move forward with these solutions like digital displays. Think about just now, everyone has a phone, you have a watch, you're looking in retail. I was lucky to be part of a McDonald's menu board roll out once with Samsung. And just again, the transformation our country has done on digital displays, it is one of, I think, the key things that everyone can look at for safety messaging. What are your digital display doing for you? And if they can bring in safety, then look at that, because that's going to be something that, again, it can hit any audience, kindergarteners, parents, guests, you can communicate. There's not this funnel of one person needing to communicate what to do. So for me, it's really important that people are asking the questions about what else can my technology be doing for me. And for us, again, big message about digital displays and immersing those environments with those safety messages.

Ron: Got a comment here from YouTube coming from Libby. She says, Six school shootings nationally for the month of October. Those six range from elementary to high school and all six had injuries or fatalities. It's crazy. It's sad and crazy and we need to solve it. So HAVRION, is this a software solution? Is it a panel? You mentioned Samsung. Is it embedded in Samsung panels only to just help us understand your particular approach to helping you're not the entirety of the answer, but you're part of a solution.

Susan: We are. So listen, we have a very nice sort of latter approach to this. Because all schools and districts, I think, are at a different point in their journey on how they want to create protecting solutions and policies across there. So to start, HAVRION comes right out the gate with just a mobile application which allows for communications again to 911, a real time event hub. That's very important for first responders when it comes to mapping. You want to be able to double click on that building and see those blueprints as a first responder to figure out what you're doing, as well as just attendance check ins. That mobile device, I don't know how many times I've heard from shows we've gone to, teachers going, we still use a red and green folder to let people know during an evacuation if we have all of our kids or not. And it takes several minutes, if not 30 minutes to go through who has the extra child, where's the child, right in those evacuation points. So just by simply adding in this mobile device to allow for someone to send out, hey, someone got their knee during this, can we get band aids? I don't want to go to the extent of someone hurts themselves, but it can be, hey, someone's hurt themselves in this scenario. Here's the info. This is who I have, this is who I'm missing. Quick head counts. Our base solution just with a mobile app and this hub is really where we're trying to get schools to just first, let's get you covered.

Ron: That's the baseline solution.

Susan: Baseline solution, it is cloud based, right? I mean, we could get a school or a district set up literally overnight. That's how quick we can deploy our solution to allow for these schools to have some type of coverage. And price point wise, I'll shoot my own horn. We are extremely affordable. I won't drop the price here. You'll have to contact me for that.

Ron: Contact Susan Folks.

Susan: Yep. Get over here. We'll let you know. But you would be shocked because for us, this baseline solution is really something that we feel morally obligated to be getting out there. So when people go, oh my gosh, is that really how much it costs? It is. So give me a call and I'll let you know. But from there, right, those cost savings that we're giving you and that sort of peace of mind that we're giving you, that you have something to communicate in place that allows us to start helping you with our partners included, let's start building out these larger scale safety plans. Let's look at digital displays. Have you already gone through a digital transformation in classrooms and have digital displays at the front? We can tie into those if you don't, there's options of putting small screens in classrooms that are for safety messaging. What's great about our solution, it is built on a CMS platform provided by Samsung called MagicInfo. And you can scale this out across multiple displays. It does have, of course, deepest and sort of best functionality when using Samsung, but they also recognize to us as one of our strategic partners that these are mixed environment schools. They might have bought a thousand Samsung last year in one model and a different model now with SoCs. And we need to be able to work across all models. So again, that sort of connecting fiber for us is Samsung's MagicInfo platform that then we run through to these digital displays to communicate ours. And again, like I said, what's great is you're not only going to have these screens for safety. That's something that, again, we're hoping people just are asking those questions when they're talking about digital displays, but you're going to have them too for teaching and education purposes and sending out announcements and all the things you have for a digital display that you would want it to do. Our solution also provides out because of this great partnership with Samsung.

Ron: How does a school, let's say a school principal that's at the school level or I'm speaking above my pay grade here, but I'm going to say maybe at the school district, it's the school superintendent or the school board, how do they know what messaging they should have on those displays? Like, where's the rulebook of saying, here's what you should happen, here's what you should do when an event does happen, whether it's a fire drill or God forbid, a shooting, how do they know what should actually be up on those displays?

Susan: So there's a transition going on across the nation. I will tell you, sort of simply put, a few decades ago, even some of the stuff we see now, people have just been using a color coding system, like code silver, code red, or it's a fire. And then you have to sort of deduct from their, hey, I need to go take the steps to evacuate. What's great now is there are these organizations and I will call out one that we do love who's done a great job with ERP, which is Event Response Protocol, and that's iloveyouguys.org. And they really dove it into how do we reduce the time of recognition to be able to respond. So such organizations like that or even Pass is a fantastic one. Not only are they talking about what you need to do in an event, they have a book, it's about this thick that they tell you. I think it's like six or seven different layers of protecting public spaces, specifically schools. I know some states implement as this is what you need to do, so look for these organizations. But really, if you're out there and you're not familiar with event response protocol, get familiar with it. It's so important because again, every second that you can shave off someone having to recognize and take action, you're reducing something that we like to call it in HAVRION, the vulnerability gap. You are a vulnerable person until you have received, recognized and responded to the event that's placed in front of you. So the ability to hold, shelter, evacuate, lockdown. When someone tells you that, it's almost like, you know, at the beginning of a race when a gun goes off, you react. So are these new words that we're looking at in the safety rail mountain. So yeah, get involved with those and learn more about event response and how that plays a role in your school and public spaces.

Ron: We here at One Firefly, we have a client in Texas and that business does a lot of work at state and local government level, at the state and local government level. So his business is very much in the thick of school security solutions. And what I've been exposed to is likely some of the processes that communities go through to not only get solutions designed, but then actually get them funded and implemented. Can you take our audience through a little bit of that? Unfortunately, we don't just get to snap our fingers and the solutions are in those schools next week, even if they're desperately needed. How, from your perspective, do you see that works?

Susan: So listen, in education is very different than I think anything else. There are the need to be on contract. And what that does really, I mean, it's not a blocker. Some people might think of it, but what it really does is help qualify things. But it also helps narrowly define the things that are across the district. So for solutions, we have to work with partners and different government agencies to get on contract to be able to go and supply these schools. Luckily, again, we have such great partners who are always responding to these RFPs in conjunction with our solution. I can't thank them enough. And you get out in that way. There's other ways though, as well, from top down levels, working with different lobbyists like we do, to go talk to different lieutenant governors and governors in the Senate and House in different states, they can also help really sort of push the needle forward on these things. So we do actively go out and talk to directly from HAVRION on to these government agencies as much as we possibly can about, again, the importance of not just a panic button, but everything that there comes after it again, to influence these schools and these again, public spaces. I keep saying, just because our solution does work so well, stadiums, arenas, I had some churches reach out to us last week. I even had a prison. Who again, the only having an auditory sort of directional system doesn't always work for everyone. We've been able to identify for many years now that people learn and understand differently. You want to take that into account when you're looking for safety systems. Am I going to be able to reach everyone? And again, back to that layering, layer, layer, layer, your activation devices, your outcomes, so that you can support as many people as possible.

Ron: If someone listening to this or watching this has tied in around security opportunities, sadly, some of them being driven because of these school shootings, what's the process of someone engaging your company to investigate viability of whether there's a fit?

Susan: Yeah, so there's a couple of different ways, right? So if you already are, I will say, partner of Samsung, you can actually reach out to Samsung and they can get in touch with us. There's also, of course, like I said, we work with these AV Integrators all over the country and those people have an amazing relationship with these schools. So we also trying to help build and sustain those relationships. So partners like Bailey and ECC, United Data Technologies, of course, parent company, reach out to them, say, hey, do you know, HAVRION? And if they don't, the last step is, hey, you can easily reach out to us directly. You can go to HAVRION.com, reach out to us directly. There you can request a demo, we're on LinkedIn, we're on Facebook, or of course, you can reach out directly to me as well. I'm happy to answer questions, even if it's not about our solutions. If you have questions about sort of the environment of public safety and communications, we're open to talk. I'm also on LinkedIn under Susan Grossweiler and my email at HAVRION, if you wanted to reach out, is Sgrossweiler, which is G-R-O-S-S-W-E-I-L-E-R. It's a mouthful, thanks to my husband. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., and I'm happy to give my phone to 321-626-8540. You can give us a shout out and either if I have time, we'll sit down or I'll put you in touch with people on our team who will happily help educate, answer questions.

Ron: Me team David, will drop all those email and phone number details that you just gave out. He'll will drop that in the show notes and the notes and comments on social media. I'd like for just a moment to pivot over to you. What's your background, how did you get into this? What brought you here to HAVRION.

Susan: It's been a long road. We don't have time. We'd have to start the show over to go through it all. But so listen, grew up in a family owned business. So for me business has always been just a part of me. Sales, marketing, all of that. I've enjoyed it. I've been able to move through such great companies like Kennedy Space Center with Delaware north and ESPN radio for a while. And then of course, I spent several years at Samsung working alongside their home appliance division and their display division. And for me that display division gave me the opportunity to meet the amazing folks over at UDT with this idea they had at the time right about, hey, we want to save it. And at that time I was pregnant and I think that mom jean just kicked in and I just had this calling that I really wanted to get behind this company and support them however I could. So I jumped ship and went from big corporate to HAVRION and I haven't looked back. I'm so happy that I still get to work with the Samsung and people I did for a long time but HAVRION has just given me this great opportunity that I just I feel so rewarded at the end of the day with what I'm doing, what our company is doing, what our team is doing. I work with a bunch of fantastic people from internally to externally to our partners and I couldn't be happier. It's just again, so rewarding to be in this role at this company.

Ron: Susan, Jessica and I met you at the NSCA Pivot to Profit event in Chicago and so you were there. So I'm assuming HAVRION is a vendor or would you call it a manufacturer partner? Software partner?

Susan: Software partner. I would say we're a software partner. Yeah.

Ron: That's exciting. What events do you have coming up? I know there's the NSCA Business Leadership Conference in February. Is there anywhere between now and then that people can meet you and your team out at industry events?

Susan: Yes. HAVRION, of course will be participating in FETC this year, one of the biggest education technical shows as well as TCEA in Texas. Those are the next few coming up and then we usually sprinkle in several different safety shows throughout the year. All of that stuff can be found on our social media. We always drop what's coming up in the next month out there for people to know. But yeah, the biggest one coming up next is going to be the end of January at FETC, I always get them confused. There's so many acronyms out there.

Ron: How far are all of us, all of us that have children in school, how many years is it going to take before these schools across the country are more safe because better processes and solutions are in place?

Susan: Listen, I think that there are schools. That can be more safe today. You know what I mean? There are solutions like ours and others out there that you can immediately get that are not cost prohibited, that you can go and do. But when it comes to those bigger steps I talked about, about sort of nationalizing standardizing. We standardized fire alarms in schools, standardized some other things. I think we're unfortunately five to ten years away. I know that we're doing our part, and other companies like ours are doing our part to try to push that forward. Just on the political landscape is, I think, sometimes like quicksand. It takes a little longer to get through all of that, to get something like this. But that's not going to stop us. We're going to keep on shoving and doing our part in protecting these schools and different public spaces.

Ron: For the integrators. This is just kind of a high level question, and obviously me as a parent, I'm curious. You had mentioned this just a bit ago, and I'm wondering if you have any further clarity around it. What can any of us do to help that process go more quickly, more efficiently? Do you have a little one that just showed up?

Susan: She did. I'm so sorry.

Ron: There she is.

Susan: The Thing. And you want to say hi to the world. You can say hi.

Ron: There you go. She looks like she just woke up.

Susan: She did. I'm so sorry.

Ron: Don't be sorry.

Susan: Hey, this is the thing of COVID right? You work from home, you're a parent, you're a school, you're an office, all in one.

Ron: Susan children come first. Our family come first. So I think what's her name?

Susan: Her name is Amelia.

Ron: Amelia. Amelia. That is a beautiful name.

Susan: You say, thank you. Take my phone and go call Daddy.

Ron: You're going to call daddy Amelia?

Susan: Yeah. Here I thought I was good. I had set up a movie. I give her snacks. I had done everything.

Ron: That's awesome. HAVRION and your team work from home offices across the country?

Susan: We do. We do have a headquarters in Miramar, but we are scattered across the country. To be able to even some international as well. I mean, COVID did on a good point of that, right. They were able to we were able to look at resources that we typically wouldn't have when we were thinking we were going to be an in office company. And we're very happy that sort of COVID pushes in that direction. We have a fantastic team as well overseas.

Ron: No, that's cool. One Firefly, we went virtual back in 2015, and then COVID happened, and then suddenly it was the hip thing to do. But I agree, if you have the option not to downplay anyone that goes to the office, good for you. And many of my customers have to go to the office because they're doing installations. But working virtually certainly is nice. You have a little one, Susan, to care for. And I think we've had not I think I know we've had a fun time chatting and learning about HAVRION and about you, and you've given us some of those appropriate sign offs, so maybe I'll give you the last word. What direction would you have anyone that's watching or listening again, that wants to learn more, what action would you have them take? .

Susan: Reach out to HAVRION or those associated partners, get involved in your schools, ask questions, and again, just reach out and we can tell you sort of, again, what our solutions can help, what other solutions are out there that tie into ours, and let's get these schools protected and start communicating at a better level. So that's my biggest thing. And then what I will tease as well is that we have just launched another solution just because of how digital displays play into these environments. But if you're also interested in some sort of ROI, sort of fan base experiences with digital displays, or even a new modernized approach to IPTV, we're really trying to sort of build out this whole environment around digital displays. So get in touch with us. Reach out to myself, reach out to again, Havrion.com, and we'll get you covered and protected.

Ron: And for our listeners, I have the HAVRION website up on the screen right now, and it's got some great graphics and information there as well. So, Susan, it was a pleasure having you on episode 228 of Automation Unplugged.

Susan: Yeah, this was fantastic. I can't thank you all for having us and hopefully we'll see you again in 2023.

Ron: Awesome. Sounds good. Susan, I didn't give you this instruction before, but I'm going to bring you off screen and I'm going to say goodbye to everybody, but don't leave.

Susan: Okay

Ron: You and I will connect here in just a minute.

Susan: All good.

SHOW NOTES:

As Vice President of Products and Operations for HAVRION, Susan is focused on data-driven action & activations approach to deliver outcomes that provide protection and performance solutions in schools and facilities.

Susan has an impressive background with experience in design concept, product forecasting, on site management, budgeting, event planning, project management, and sales & marketing. She has worked for big-name companies like Samsung, ESPN Radio-Brevard FL, MassAV, and Kennedy Space Center to support and execute exceptional service, guidance, and solution insights to the end customers.

Susan attended Roger Williams University in Bristol, Rhode Island where she graduated with degrees in business management and marketing communications.

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:

Susan can be reached directly by email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.