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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.
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 Podcast Episode #16: An Industry Q&A With Ryan Heine

Exploring the Impact of Hurricane Harvey

This week's home automation podcast features our host Ron Callis interviewing Ryan Heine. Recorded live on Thursday, September 21st, 2017 at 12:30 p.m. EST. 

About Ryan Heine

Refined Systems, LLC is a premium provider of residential and commercial audio/video and automation systems including audio and video distribution, home theater, lighting fixtures and control, motorized shade and drapery treatments and control, video conferencing solutions, acoustics, and sound masking, among many others.

Refined Systems prides themselves on working closely with the customer, architect, builder and designer to integrate technology that is functional, sophisticated and effortless.

Interview Recap

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

  • How Hurricane Harvey affected clients and AV businesses throughout the Houston area
  • How AV businesses could better prepare for natural disasters
  • Refined Systems' take on CEDIA 2017
  • Ryan's favorite hobby: improv!

SEE ALSO: Home Automation Podcast Episode #13: A Custom Integration Industry Q&A With Richard Glikes


Ron:  Hello everyone. Ron Callis here with One Firefly. Hope you guys are having an excellent day. We are live it is 11:04 a.m. here in sunny Florida. No hurricanes in sight thank goodness. And it's been a few weeks since I did the last Automation Unplugged episode. If you've been watching the world news there's been a lot going on. Been hurricanes. We'll talk about hurricanes today but hurricanes hitting Texas hurricanes hitting Florida hurricanes hitting the Caribbean unfortunately very scary earthquakes down in Mexico. I visited three trade shows just since our trade show events just since I last recorded. But let's go ahead and jump right into it. Thanks for joining me today. All right. So let me just jump over to the Facebook page here and let's verify that our stream is coming through. You know sometimes technology cooperates. Let's see if it's playing nice today there we are. All right. So thanks for joining me. If you're out there. Appreciate it. I'm very excited today to bring you good friend of mine and a good friend of One Firefly. We have Ryan Heine here with Refined Systems. How you doing Ryan?

Ryan: I'm doing good. How are you?

Ron:  Oh just another beautiful day in paradise. How are you hanging in there? I know for our audience if you aren't aware, Ryan is Director of Business Development at Refined Systems right there in Houston Texas and Houston was pummeled recently by Hurricane Harvey. So how are you hanging in there?

Ron:  I'm good. My house was actually flooded during the storm and so I'm experiencing what it's like to go through that although I'm pretty blessed to have friends and family that helped out in fact the entire Refined Systems team mobilized and helped me move stuff out of my house pretty quickly. But I was displaced and at 40 years old I am living with my parents for the foreseeable future while the house gets restored. And it's a blessing but it's it can be trying at times but honestly though you know there's a lot of people that are without any of that support structure in place. And so we're holding up fine. There is driving down certain areas of Houston whether it's a nice neighborhood or not it doesn't really discriminate. There's still you know mounds of people's guts of their home on their front lawn. That's pretty incredible.

Ron:  Wow. So your home was flooded?

Ryan: Correct. And I woke up on a Sunday morning about seven o'clock and by about 8:30 or 9:00 water started coming into the house and I have two dogs I had three dogs at the time. She's fine. She's a foster that has since been adopted. But long story short, I mobilized because the dogs are going to have to start swimming at some point and although they can swim it was concerning and so I actually got on the roof of my home with the help of a guy from across the street kayak over and I was on the roof for like three and a half hours and then a guy with a fishing boat across the street came over and took us to another house which was higher ground and then from there took another boat to eventually meet my dad. That was you could only come in so far because the entire area was chest-deep in the street. And anyway so it's a somewhat traumatic I mean no loss of life or anything it's just things it's just stuff. But to be displaced in a matter of hours you know and then you wish you'd prepared more but you don't really think it's going to happen or at least nothing is going to come in the house and it did.

Ron:  It's probably a silly question. Are you in a flood zone?

Ryan: Yes.

Ron:  So your home was in a flood zone?

Ryan: Correct it's in a flood plain and as as part of our mortgage or it's part of your ownership of the home you're required to have insurance. I was in particular in the Heights Timber Grove area of Houston next to White Oak Bayou so you have to have it. And I'm lucky there's people that did not have it. And a friend of mine just built a home and you know it was five feet of water inside the house and they're having to rebuild basically from scratch.

Ron:  What do you do? Just as a homeowner when the water recedes? What are the immediate next steps that you took or that that someone that has to deal with that should take?

Ryan: I through the advice of my dad, actually I immediately got a contractor on board and going in and you have to clear everything out of your house maybe salvage some stuff rip up the floor assuming it's wood it's probably it is done and then baseboards drywall. I mean there's only a foot a half of water actually inside the home about outlet level lower outlet level. But you still cut the drywall up to four feet to get it all out. And then from there you have to dry it out run tests for mold humidity and then that could take a week or two and then after that you start the rebuilding process and actually this week we're doing mechanicals and it's an opportunity to upgrade your home in a sense. .

Ron:  I call that a silver lining if there was one.

Ryan: Yes. Well I'm actually excited about it but I empathize with homeowners and all the decisions they have to make but I'm putting in better plumbing my home was about 50 years old actually originally. And although it had been upgraded before I bought it six years ago it still needed better plumbing, better air ducts AC stuff.

Ron:  Well first, was the Refined Systems was your office OK?

Ryan: Yes yes. Nothing happened here. I think stuff came up close to the warehouse in the back. But we were very lucky and everyone of the, we've got 16 employees. And although people may have been, not trapped but relegated to their homes or apartments for a few days or maybe even a week. No one's home got water in the house except for mine.

Ron:  OK. Understood. And we do have some folks watching Ryan over here on Facebook so I'm just going to address them. Thanks everyone for watching. Please share this. We're going to talk about Hurricane Harvey recovery efforts going on in Houston how you can help. We're also going to jump into some you know some automation-related business and Ryan and his team just recently went out to CEDIA and we're going to talk about what they found interesting and perhaps pass on some of that insight to you guys. So please if you're out there like and or share this feed so that your friends and industry peers can benefit from the conversation. And if you have any questions for Ryan, either about their business or about how he's doing in terms of the hurricane recovery please post your comment and I'll do my best to follow Facebook and make sure I read any of those questions to Ryan. Now Ryan what about your customer base? You know I imagine your customers are probably often wealthier individuals and do they own homes in areas that were generally more safe than say the average folks like you and me? How did they fare?

Ryan: I consider myself above average Ron, but like I said but honestly like I said earlier like it did not discriminate. And the way Houston is laid out pretty flat there's some low areas higher. We had some customers in a very affluent neighborhood called River Oaks that had you know they may have had a theater in a basement or something a little bit below ground that was compromised or their equipment room. There were some customers up north in the Woodlands who had wiring or water in the house and had stuff compromised as well. But again it was not as, I was surprised. I was surprised and I guess happy that not as many as I thought might be calling in and wanting help and we certainly reached out to all of our customers and called and e-mailed it and asked if they needed anything. But again it did not discriminate in terms of effect. It didn't matter where you live. It's just a matter of the elevation and a lot of the affluent neighbors in the west side. And I can't get into the specifics because I'm not a pro at this. But you know levees or reservoirs had to be released on purpose to I guess not affect. It was like mitigating the damage. And so some people got a day's heads up maybe a few hours. OK now we're gonna flood even though Harvey's gone. Does that make sense?

Ron:  Wow. So neighborhoods were flooded despite the fact the hurricane was gone. There were some purposeful flooding just to alleviate something that would have been worse which would maybe be catastrophic failure of the levee or something to that effect.

Ryan: Correct. Correct. And they knew it was coming there was obviously a lot of debate about it. And you know mayor had to make a decision and you know I've heard stories about losses you know post. But anyway I mean it's literally sunny outside or somewhat sunny and they know water's coming.

Ron:  Yeah it's scary. You were just in chatting before we went live here you had shared with me that your perspective as a customer that's working with contractors to repair your home. Has it shed some light maybe on more empathetic response to being a customer and hearing contractors give commitments both about timeframes and pricing and there's been some frustrating moments you've been dealing with. How has that changed you or what's been your perspective on that?

Ryan: It was just I'm only dealing with a somewhat small house in comparison to some of the customers that we do work for. But I'm lucky to have a contractor that's on it. And just the all the decisions that you have to make whether it's rough in plumbing electrical HVAC, low voltage like we do , the selections on flooring cabinets, doors, how many panels do you want on your door and I'm like I've never even thought about that .Fixtures you know all kinds of things that they have to make decisions on to keep the timeline. And I empathize with the homeowners and the sense of I forgot stuff that I talked about with the contractor. And so it's like when I talk with a customer or send some long overly verbose email about the system and what it's going to be or even if we sat here for hours and talked about it and they don't remember it or they thought we talked about something else. It's just a matter of I empathize with the amount of information coming in their brain and having to process it and understand it and recall what we talked about of course it's all going to be flushed out in writing but. And then the stress of it all. Now I'm under a little bit more of personally, a timeline to get out of my parents home and get back in line. So I'm willing to make decisions quickly and just say just make it like this kitchen in this picture just do that. But still you have to even if it's a new construction and someone's comfortable living in another home it's a stressful process. And it's very, residential more so than commercial I've learned in my work, is very personal for them. This is their home. This is what it's going to be like. And those big decisions and I get it when they sit on decisions for a long time. I totally get it and budgets and all those things.

"Houston is a mega-market for the audio-video and automation industry. I mean Houston's easily one of the top 10 cities in the US for new projects and revenue moving through those categories."

Ron:  How is the macroeconomy of Houston doing? I mean how long is this going to take to for Houston to recover? How's the audio-video business? I mean Houston is a mega-market for the audio-video and automation industry. I mean Houston's easily one of the top 10 cities in the US for new projects and revenue moving through those categories. So how's it going to recover?

Ryan: I don't know I haven't. I'm not an economist but I have not seen any immediate impact in terms of our business. Of course there is going to be. We've gotten calls and I've reached out to customers to basically re do certain things at their homes. One example would be like I'm sitting in right now like theater chairs that were you know damaged I don't know I maybe haven't seen it yet. I imagine the uptick in business might occur. Or housing , you know houses that were under construction would obviously stall for a bit like we're having to rewire a couple of homes that were just framed up and just had rough put in. So I can't speak currently about the immediate effect of, Houston is a very large city with a lot of oil and gas and medical and big industries here. They usually keep it thriving even in economic downturns but I don't know about the immediate impact. Right now it's honestly for like two weeks and I actually went to CEDIA right after it happened. You forget what day it is. And I know that's you're just trying to like make it to the next day I'm not being dramatic I'm like it was such unlike anything I've ever seen. You're just kind of trying to get to the next day and then eventually in a..

Ron:  Survival mode right?

Ryan: Yes. And so right now everything's kind of coming down. In fact if you asked me how long ago was it. I don't know. I think it was three or four weeks but I haven't looked at the calendar. I mean I've looked at the calendar but I think it was about the 27th or 28th if I'm correct and things are kind of starting to be back to normal. But I mean as an example, a vendor of ours had nothing. She brought some chairs down. I don't if I could name particular manufacturers. Absolutely it's Cinematech. And we have a couple of theaters through Cinematech and Anna brought down some chairs in the Cinematech van from Dallas. And this is just coincidence or bad luck. Her van broke down in our parking lot. And so I took her over to Enterprise to get a rental car to drive back to Dallas. But my point in all this is that even now, there's been such an influx of people needing to rent cars because their cars were flooded that like even running a car is somewhat difficult or at least there's just of course high demand not enough supply of cars. Same thing with gas. I mean for one or two weeks, you might go to four or five gas stations and they had the yellow bags over them or a sign that says no gas. It's weird when civilization kind of breaks down for a second not civilization but you're so used to the luxuries of having things around. And sometimes when the infrastructure takes a hit like that and you're in survival mode it's a little unnerving. Nerve racking.

Ron:  So I just posted on the Facebook page a comment with the Go Fund Me and you Ryan were personally particularly hit hard by this hurricane and yet you were one of the primary drivers you and Shawn Booker in getting a Go Fund Me campaign for fundraising for the Houston community together. And so I posted the link. Anyone watching can can click on that and certainly can donate. Can you tell me about why you set that up and what your hopes are for what you want that money to do to help the community? Yeah, you know we wanted to do something to help. And you know it doesn't. Anything can help. And even there's so many people that are displaced without assistance via flood insurance or you know FEMA has disaster relief. But there's always hope that you can do. And you know local celebrity. I think he's the mayor of Houston. JJ Watt. Houston Texans defensive end set up this campaign and with his celebrity status and kind of power in the media I was able to raise it was initially a goal of ..

Ron:  Two hundred thousand.

Ryan: Really? Yeah right. I was gonna say it was less than a million and then I think it's now over 20. And I think he's actually..

Ron: Thirty-seven million..

Ryan: And I think he's either is or is going to be closed. But the point is even when that happened we still wanted to funnel stuff to you know Houston Food Bank which is something I feel strongly about a lot of my friends work there but whether it's food whether it's clothing you know getting the money to the right people to make a difference.

Ron:  What advice do you have Ryan for other integrators that might live or run their business in a disaster-prone area so whether it's the Caribbean and now with you know hurricanes clearly becoming more dangerous and more prominent. But I mean there's other parts of the country there's earthquake prone areas there's tornado-prone areas there's you know all sorts of natural disasters pick your poison. Yeah hitting on where you live. Any ideas on how integrators can better prepare their business or their clients for those situations? We know what you guys are dealing with right now.

Ryan: I think you know one thing that we always do on every home is you know protect the equipment rack because that's where the bulk of the expense is and whether it's through and we do this in the in disaster prone areas or not. But protecting the surge from lightning that may come into the house. I was talking about it this morning with Sean. You know is there something that we could do and one idea was and this typically happens anyway but maybe the equipment rack is on the second floor rather than the first. So flooding would not effect it per say but as far as earthquakes or hurricanes I don't know how much that can help. From a just a friend and consulting perspective I mean insurance and I'm not here to advocate insurance but people wish they had it and it's actually fairly inexpensive for flood insurance. But anyway I mean but no one thinks that's going to happen again. I mean Allison in Houston was in 2001 and that was pretty bad. And Harvey made that thing look like a shower. You know I don't know if I answered your question Ron I'm sorry.

Ron:  No don't be sorry. You know this is a live interview and whatever is top of mind for you is what you get.

Ryan: I guess I'm somewhat new to the industry. I guess I'm a year and a half to two years there.

Ron:  Well I wanted to ask that question so your background as I understand it was actually in law and guess and you somehow landed in the CEDIA space or the CI the custom integration business. How did that happen?

Ryan: I was, I'll give the short story. I love law. I love law school. I did like parts of practicing law. I was a litigator which meant that I fought every day for a living which I am competitive I do enjoy it. I had the skill set to do so but after a while it weighs on you. There are certain people that are wired for that and certain people that are maybe have some reservations about it but at the end of the day I knew that in litigation you're always retroactively addressing someone else's problem and your whole job each day is to fight and make someone else's life miserable. That being said lawyers are definitely necessary. But I reached a point where I wanted to do something else. I always said that life's too short to be a lawyer and I took a job with a friend's company who did basically wireless construction monitoring cameras and then to finally answer your question. My friend James Copnall with Bell McCoy he reps Lutron and a bunch and a lot of lighting fixture lines. I was in his wedding. I know his wife from growing up. Our parents still live one street down or one house down from each other. And he started telling me about the industry told me that he thinks I would like it and certainly that I would maybe have some sort of acumen for sales and or business development and he started introducing me to local integrators in Houston that he sold to or you know had interaction with and one of them was Refine d Systems. And I met with Sean and we really liked each other and that's it.

Ron:  So how long have you been in the industry?

Ryan: Two years now and I knew just for the record, disclaimer like I knew nothing about.

Ron:  So how did you ramp up to know enough of something that you could in fact sell something and make a living selling these?

Ryan: As a lawyer and someone that does actually do improv as a hobby, improv comedy as a hobby kind of made me develop a skill set to fake it until you make it. But being a small company you know we don't really have or didn't have a huge infrastructure in place for formal training. You know you kind of have to get on the road and hit the bricks and start selling. Online videos, CEDIA trainings, customer interaction, you know ride alongs. I just sort of picked it up on the fly as best I could. And there were some difficult or some embarrassing moments but I think I kept them to a minimum. One was understanding wireless dimmers versus wired low voltage keypads.

Ron:  I think that still tricks up a lot of veterans. I wouldn't beat yourself up too bad about that. It still requires some line diagrams and a bunch of coffee to figure it out.

Ryan: Yeah. No but I've been lucky to have a good support structure in place and I think that you know a lot of the online courses and taking courses at CEDIA has certainly helped.

Ron:  Well I was going to jump into that. So you and how many crew did you guys take out to CEDIA? I would imagine it was fewer considering you had just been clobbered by the hurricane.

Ryan: Well Ron when you have reservations in place and courses paid for. We didn't make a change.

Ron:  That's impressive.

Ryan: And we actually I think took the most people we've ever taken to CEDIA and it was one two three four five six of us actually. So 2 owners project manager myself programmer and technician.

Ron:  OK so what caught your eye? What were your big you and or your team you could speak on your behalf or for your team, what were the big takeaways from CEDIA? And I'll just preface that. Did you like the city, San Diego do you think that was a good spot for the show?

Ryan: Oh of course. The last two have been in Dallas. I went to school in Dallas. Dallas is fine but being a native Houstonian so to speak. It's just not that great to me.

Ron:  Not nearly as great as Houston right?

Ryan: It's got pros and cons but overall no it's not great. But I have actually lived in Southern California at a time when I was doing acting that's a whole other story. And I actually ran a marathon in San Diego. So I'm somewhat familiar with San Diego but was certainly excited to go, just weather alone. And when we got there it was somewhat hot. The first few days and sticky from their perspective yeah from my perspective being from Houston and you being from Florida I mean it felt great to me. Yeah. And I made it a point to when we had some time off on Wednesday to go to Hotel Del Coronado. It's one of my favorite places on the planet.

Ron:  Actually I have never been to that hotel I think I've been by it or near it.

Ryan: It's a quick ride over the little bridge. And it's a hotel that is very open to the public in terms of you can just go in and go to go on their little beach or you know drink and eat at their establishments. I think it might have been featured ironically in Baywatch but I'm not positive but it's a very old hotel with beautiful scenery and I enjoyed a lot.

Ron:  You officially get the 10 points for referencing Baywatch on an Automation Unplugged episode.

Ryan: Yeah. By the way as we're taught as we're talking it is raining here. I can hear it now. And what's funny now is and we'll get back to CEDIA is that it freaks you out now when it rains. I know that sounds silly but because we're so used to rain anyway. But we're like oh my gosh.

Ron:  But there's probably so many thousands or hundreds of thousands of people right now that that rain means additional problems.

Ryan: I didn't mean to steer away from me you ask me about CEDIA. Our takeaways love San Diego. We were more class focused this year or at least we filled up our schedules with classes. I personally came in Monday night and I was actually pretty sick from taking in dirty water and drywall and things like that. But I did the trainer class where you're trained to do CEUs or conduct CEU Lunch and Learns for architects designers etc.. And I did a bunch of classes on sales techniques, getting referrals, and we kind of dived in on classes as far as product. We kind of visited our line card including One Firefly in terms of people that we interact with or sell or pay you. But there were no real big surprises this year. There were some great products like to do. Always like to hear audio demos because it's just kind of fun and I feel like this year there are some scaled-down audio demos in terms of not a full-blown theater that costs you know five hundred thousand dollars which is wonderful but maybe more appropriate for consistent selling. You know maybe built out living rooms and things like that. We went to Wisdom who we really like, JBL, and so really concentrated on visiting our people and kind of getting more educated on certain things. There was a couple of items and always like the shoot outs of TVs comparisons, projector comparisons , seeing them live and being able to go back to your customers and say you know I saw I flew to San Diego and saw it in person.

Ron:  Were there any takeaways in terms of watching these shoot outs or listening to these sound rooms or any anything else maybe interactions with other integration firms that resulted in you guys deciding to make any product line moves?

Ryan: Yes. One would be Origin Acoustics. Well we don't typically sell their product but other people do. And I did not know that they even though their name is Origin Acoustics and this would make sense. They do a lot of paneling like acoustic panels. And it was a kind of a cool system and it was relatively inexpensive compared to others. There was I think Dish Network had a built-in titler, video titling in their boxes. That was kind of cool. The shoot out confirmed what we already felt about and again I know if I could name a product. Sony versus Samsung versus on TV Sony vs. you know Epson or whoever on I can't take them either.

Ron:  So how does that work? Is the company that proposes to have the better product. They're the ones that do the shoot out so..

Ryan: Yeah. You have to trust them that the projectors are calibrated to their fullest extent. The reigning champion and the challenger.

Ron:  Does the challenger get to come in and calibrate their machine?

Ryan: No no it's on the home court.

Ron:  Home court advantage.

Ryan: But it was cool to see it. But they were also honest like Sony was very honest about and I really like people that I can't remember the exact one it was. I'm so sorry. But it was like Sony versus whoever it was and I forget but it was their big boy. Top of the line and it was very, you could barely tell the difference at all. And he was saying honestly I can't really tell one. I'm going to show you one thing that I think is different, and ours is you know whatever ten grand less. So that was interesting. But yeah I don't know if CEDIA could ever do this but it would be funny to have it on a neutral playing field and have them both come in my day reciting dialogue.

Ron:  I agree. If you're out there and you know of whether CEDIA has done that or a proper venue for shoot outs that are on a neutral playing field please comment.

Ryan: I guess they have to split rent on the room and but it could be interesting to watch. But it's really funny. Well it's a really funny story. You go into a Sony demo and I walked in a little bit late cause I was next door looking at the HDR presentation and I walked in and our programmer. He had just gotten there too. He kind of stops the guy doing the presentation he goes. Which one am I supposed to be looking at. Like which one am I supposed to think is better. So it's like you don't know. Which one of my supposed to like? OK thanks. Got it. Got it. Got it.

Ron:  Which one is supposed to sound better?

Ryan: I can totally hear it. Yes yes yes.

Ron:  That's definitely me I'm not the guy you want to bring into one of those and I'm generally it can be challenging for me to see. It doesn't mean it isn't better or different. Or the contrast ratio of you know a million to one versus a million and two hundred thousand to one and I'm not the guy that probably will say it.

Ryan: And I was a bit of a novice coming in I still kind of am you know I don't know everything but you know you don't know what you don't know. And then when you do know you become a little bit more of a snob in terms of audio quality and video quality.

"At the end of the day it's better to sell it's certainly nicer to sell expensive stuff with good margins."

Ron:  But if you can believe it. Right? So if you can see it and or be taught to see it or taught to listen to it then you can further do that for your customers. At the end of the day it's better to sell it's certainly nicer to sell expensive stuff with good margins. I mean if it's the same amount of energy to sell it and the same amount of energy to install it why not sell better stuff?

"A lot of the customers and clients have to rely on trust."

Ryan: Right. And you know you have to feel out the customer in terms of what they want . Lots come in and they say you know I don't need a lot of great stuff. And you know it's just a matter of whether you push a particular product or whatever you got to get a feel for them. But oh I lost my train of thought oh you know you can't have a demo room with every single product out there. You can choose certain ones to showcase and show difference. But you know a lot of the customers have to rely and clients have to rely on you know trust. Right. And when I can say I went to CEDIA and saw it and I'm telling you you know it's X Y Z. Right. You know there is a there's a lot of trust in any industry. Like I'm trusting my contractor right now when he tells me in his accent this is going to be really really nice and I just have to go OK. Because again empathize with the customer. I don't have time to go looking for tiling. I don't have time to do it right. You've got to go buy pictures. Yeah. Yeah. I go buy pictures and you know what.

Ron:  So we're going to wrap up here but I've got to know more and I'm sure my audience is dying to know more about this improv deal. You do improv. What exactly is that? I think I kind of know you get you know a group of people together and you're acting but are you acting from a script and do you do this in front of an audience.

"Improvisation is making stuff up on the spot from nothing."

Ryan: Mm hmm. So one of the biggest misnomers is that when they hear improv people think oh that standup comedy because you hear live at the improv. Improvisation is making stuff up on the spot from nothing. But you typically take a suggestion and that inspires you to do scenes with scene partners. There might be two three four five six people in the group. If you've seen Whose Line is it Anyway. So that is a form called short form where they do some suggestions from the audience. They play a little game. Have a little moderator. It's like that but not like that. I've done that. What I do more of is long-form improv where you get a suggestion at the top from the audience. OK what's the suggestion. Oh it's banana. Great. Thank you. And they have to trust you. And there's a famous group called T.J. and Dave out of Chicago and they say you know trust us this is all made up. And then you go into scenes and you sort of edit your own scene to start new ones and the idea is that banana inspires maybe a discussion about chimpanzees which maybe inspires a discussion about you know zoo wildlife and then maybe there's a scene about two zoo keepers talking about how they wish they had better jobs or that they're not getting enough benefits and then that might you might see that zookeeper at home and his nagging wife and their four kids and then that kid at school who's being bullied and then that bully who really is actually insecure down deep and then maybe he's eating a banana at the end of the show. The idea is that everything can be inspired by something previously and everything is linked how does that make you. Does that make sense?

Ron:  Yeah. Man that was awesome. That was a great explanation. How often do you do this and what sort of audiences do you do this in front of? Like how does this? What are the mechanics of this.

Ryan: OK. So usually they're in smaller venues you know you don't. We're not like a big production with scripted you know I do teach and coach teams and you can teach improv. Yes just like a basketball team practices dribbling practice shooting practice plays they practice their rhythms you can do that the show is still made up but you can practice skill sets. I'll do a plug. There's a theater in Houston called Station Theater. You want to look it up on Facebook and then there's also a theater called Comedy Sports which is pretty well-known nationwide comedy sports does more short-form station theater does more long-form. And my particular group, if you want to look it up, is is on Facebook called Baby Knuckle. So like a baby's knuckle. And there's some YouTube videos other improv does not translate as well. One camera as it is live. But I typically do it now. I used do it more often and it would kind of take over my life but I teach probably two classes or sessions a month and probably perform two or three times a month usually on Thursday or Friday or Saturday nights.

Ron:  OK well I'm going to look up Baby Knuckle if you're out there and I'm going to put a link to it here in the notes.

Ryan: Yeah do it.

Ron:  Well, Ryan thank you very much sir. We're about 45 minutes here we've been live.

Ryan: Oh wow.

Ron:  Yeah man it goes by in a blink doesn't it.

Ryan: Yeah.

Ron:  So Ryan thank you for being very generous with your time and your willingness to share about your personal hurricane recovery efforts as well as what Refined Systems is doing to help raise some money to help the community there. Appreciate it.

Ryan: Thank you. And yeah. Thank you for your time. And we're happy to do it.

Ron: Awesome. Well gang that's another episode of Automation Unplugged. I appreciate you joining me here hopefully. You hung out with us for the whole fun conversation. And stay tuned we're going to get back on the program here which is producing a show every week. And on that note have an excellent rest of your Thursday great rest of your week. Get some rest this weekend and we'll see you guys next week. Thanks so much.

Show Notes

Ryan Heine is the Director of Business Development at Refined Systems, LLC. Refined Systems, LLC is a premium provider of residential and commercial audio/video and automation systems including audio and video distribution, home theater, lighting fixtures and control, motorized shade and drapery treatments and control, video conferencing solutions, acoustics, and sound masking, among many others.

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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