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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 #60: An Industry Q&A With Marie Devlin

How DIY affects Integrators

This week's home automation podcast features our host Ron Callis interviewing Marie Devlin. Recorded live on Tuesday, November 20th, 2018 at 12:30 p.m. EST.

About Marie Devlin

Marie Devlin has been running Smart Systems with her husband, Pat, since 2000.

Prior to that they owned a tropical plant company in the Dallas area for 18 years. They sold it in 2000 and started Smart Systems.

Marie really loves this industry because of the way it changes and the ongoing technology. It never gets boring and there is always something new to learn.

Interview Recap

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

  • Security for networks and automation systems.
  • How DIY affects integrators
  • Tactics for surviving economic downturns and growing a profitable business
  • How to incorporate service plans as an integrator

SEE ALSO: Home Automation Podcast Episode #59: A Custom Integration Industry Q&A With Joe Whitaker


Ron:  Hello everybody. Ron Callis here with another episode of Automation Unplugged. We are here for episode number 60. I hope you all have a nice week plan. This is Thanksgiving week. I I promised you last week we were going to make a show happen this week and our guests, Marie Devlin was kind enough to free up her schedule even though she's busy here, right in advance of the holiday to talk with us. So today is Tuesday, November 20th. It is just a little bit after 12:30 PM Eastern standard time. If you are watching us live or on replay please like the show. Please leave us a comment. Let us know where you're coming to us from, where you're watching the show from. It's always fun to see where folks are originally. I see people jumping into the live feed now. And so if you're out there, don't forget to tell us where you're from and where you're watching the show from. And as we go, please don't be shy and raise any questions that you might have. So let me go ahead and bring in our guest. Here she comes. All right, look at this. Awesome. Marie, how are you?

Marie: I'm good. How are you doing Ron?

Ron:  I am super, Oh, look at this, Marie. We already have some comments. We have Jordan Littmann. You know Jordan, he's your content marketing specialist here at One Firefly. He said, Oh, you're having Maria on. I gotta watch. So he's hanging out. He's coming to us from sunny Florida. Here we go. Look at this. We got System Design and Integration coming to us from Boston. And if you're out there, please don't be shy. Interact with us. That always makes it more fun. But Marie, how are you doing?

Marie: I'm doing great. How about you? You're ready for Thanksgiving?

Ron:  I am. My family and I are actually going to be laying low this year. We're going to stay here in South Florida, no travel, and just a lot of relaxing and maybe a bit of Turkey and a bit of wine, but we're gonna take it easy this weekend.

Marie: Cool, us too.

Ron:  You're gonna lay low. You're staying there in Texas?

Marie: Yeah, we are. We're just going to hang out with the family and hopefully do not a whole lot, but that'll be good.

Ron:  Not a whole lot. Now when are you closing your shop? What are you closing your offices there?

Marie: Well, we might have one or two people work Friday if we need be, but usually we're closed. Maybe half will work half a day tomorrow and then be off. So yeah.

Ron:  Okay. Well Marie, what I always love to do when I have guests on is I like to first before we get into kind of what's happening right now at Smart Systems and what's happening with you and has you excited, I always like to go back and kind of start with you. Where did you come from in terms of joining this industry and what's your background? And I learned something in reading your bio that I did not know which you owned an exotic plant store or an exotic tropical plant business for 18 years with your husband, Pat.

Marie: Yeah. We would go into businesses and malls and take care of the tropical plants in them. And yeah, we had 30 employees and it was very boring. It was the same thing from the day we started to the day we ended. And I mean the plants never changed price. It was all the same plants, all the same containers, all the same employee problems. So it was quite a relief when we sold it.

Ron:  Now what's interesting there is to say that you sold it. So there are people in the business of acquiring and aggregating such businesses?

Marie: Yes. Cause it would, it had recurring revenue. People would pay us a monthly fee to then either lease the plants or buy him and then then they have a maintenance contract. So we were able to sell it for quite a bit. Cause we did it for so long, we had like I said, we had 30 employees, so it was the largest company in the Dallas Fort Worth market that was privately owned when we sold it. So yeah. And we just got tired of it. Yeah. Pat had always loved AV stuff, so that speakers, we always had huge speakers at home and huge TVs and people would come over and wonder if we want a game show or something? And so when we sold it, Pat started working in this business and we weren't going to work together on this one, but I think I'm better at certain things than he is. He's a great sales guy. So yeah, here I am. When I started out, I knew nothing. And it's been quite a journey. It's been fun. I've enjoyed it and I love this business. I love well part of it is I do love working. You know, there's a lot more men I work with, which is a whole different dynamic. Mostly it was women we worked for and so that's a lot nicer. And I mean it's just a better for me, it's a better environment. I just work better, but yeah, it's been I've just always learning something new and it's always changing that I really, really enjoy that.

Ron:  Now in 2000, is that when smart systems as a business was born and that was originally being run by your husband Pat?

Marie: Yes. And he ran it for maybe, he went then I had to go learn a lot. He went to a lot of CEDIA trainings and worked with other people that knew a lot. He went to the THX training and stuff like that. And then I think he partnered up with somebody for a little while and learned more another guy that had been in the business for awhile and then after we were doing it for, or he was doing it for about a year, year and a half and I noticed his papers piling up in the accounting, not getting done correctly. Then he started asking me to help him and I begrudgingly did. And then we just kinda went from there and worked out of the garage for a couple of years before we got our first office. And yeah, so it's been fun. It's been a journey.

Ron:  What is if you don't mind sharing? Inside of Smart Systems, you are the president or the CEO, the executive. What does that mean in the way you're managing the company? You're more on the financial side of the business and operations?

Marie: Yes. So Pat, he does sales. And along with we have another sales guy, Jeff Starkey and we have a sales team and engineering department and all that. And yeah, I just oversee the whole company. We have a warehouse manager and an admin and well project managers, a couple of those and a service department. And I just oversee all that and make sure everything's running and getting our profitability, being profitable and just kind of interacting and I love finding new product and letting everybody know about new product and possibilities. So I do that.

Ron:  No, I think it's fascinating. And now I know that you guys are running, just cause I know you, Marie, you and Pat and I've worked with you for a long time. I know you guys run a great business and you're a profitable business and you've been able to consistently grow and grow profitably. What in that, I'm going to say that's recently, that's my knowledge of you guys is recent. Maybe the last three or four years. Has it always been that way for Smart Systems? I mean if you look at your origin as an integration firm since 2000, you guys had been in business, what does that 18 years? 19 years.

Marie: Almost 19 years. Yeah. When we started out, the first couple of years were rough and then we got to be pretty profitable. And then 2008 came and we kinda had to look and see what we needed to do to make it through time. We're in the Dallas market, so it didn't affect us as bad as some parts of the country. But we picked up a security division at that time. And then we had to let some technicians go that, you know, it was just a good time to clean house with all that.

Ron:  Now you acquired a security business or you grew internally a security business?

Marie: Yeah, we grew one internally. There was a guy we knew because of the licensing here was in Texas. It's kinda tough to get at first. And so we hired a guy that had a security license, a manager's license, which was what we were lacking. So then we were able to set the company up with the security division through him. And then so he ran that division until 2000. And I believe it was 2014 or 15. I can't remember when he left exactly. And then Pat went and got his manager's license at that time. And then we just kind of downsized that part of the business a little bit because we found it not to be as profitable. That it wasn't our, you know, with that security guy leaving, that wasn't our forte. We found we were losing a bit of money on that just doing the security side cause it was so labor-intensive and the margins aren't as good.

Ron:  Are you still in the security business now? Do you have that recurring piece of your business?

Marie: We do. We have a couple of hundred clients and we just have two security technicians now. I think at one point we had seven and yeah.

Ron:  Well we just had a question, Marie show up here. I'm going to put it on the screen for us and it's Kris. Kris comes to us from an integration from out of the UK, but he says, how will you prepare for the next recession?

Marie: Yeah, when the last recession came, we just looked at picking up new products such as shades security. We were already doing lighting and things of that. I think it's time for us to get into low voltage lighting and do more of that. We've picked up outdoor shades and outdoor lighting. But when those times come I think we'll be better prepared for it, you know, having gone through it already. Because, I already have been thinking about it and we've been marketing a little bit more heavily now, get our name out there more. So I don't foresee it affecting us too badly. You know, we like to run lean and mean. So I anticipate that.

Ron:  No, that makes sense. So is it fair to say that because you went through the '09, '09, '10 and survived, many of your peers did not survive. Right? So you survived. Now you were fortunate and you are fortunate. You're in Texas. Texas is like its own little, you know, super economy country. Many people around the US and around the world, maybe can't fully relate. Texas is very special. It's an amazing economy.

Marie: Always cranes around.

Ron:  Yeah. It's always, there's always, always growing. I love Texas for sure. For many reasons. But are you saying because you went through that the way you run your business every day, every year is really with the eye on being prepared that if things did change in the economy.

Marie: There are certain things I'm prepared to do in the event that happens. Yes. I mean there's, you know, it's a time you might clean house.

Ron:  Kris says he's moving to Texas by the way. That's what he just posts.

Marie: Yeah. And sometimes we get more experimental with stuff cause we have right now cause we can so you just kind of go to what you know, and then you know, stick with that what, you know, partially. Yeah.

Ron:  All right. One thing I want to jump into here and I don't want to waste any time before we get there and that is that I know you have been a client and I want to go as far as to say an evangelist of the vital management team and specifically their BI for CI concept around financial metrics or business performance metrics. And can you speak to that and I can even throw something on the screen while you're kind of for our audience telling them what the heck we're even talking about and how it's helped you?

Marie: Yeah. So we've been working with Paul Starkey and Steve First since 2000, I believe it was 2015 right when our security manager guy left, which turned out to be a blessing when he left cause we discovered we weren't being very profitable on his jobs. But what BI for CI does it integrates with QuickBooks and you can see the dashboard daily and just see what's going on within your company. How your revenues are running, how your profitability is running, if your labor is not running correctly. The production, the inventory, just how everything's flowing. And ideally you want all your little dashboards to be blue.

Ron:  Blue is good. And I just see a question here in the comments, Marie. So I'm just going to answer it. BI stands for business intelligence and CI, well, if you're watching this, you're probably in the CI space, custom integration. So for custom integrators, so business intelligence for custom integrators, that's where the name comes from.

Marie: Yeah. And I know when we started with Paul and Steve, they didn't have the BI for CI up yet. They would do everything. Paul, I mean, Steve did everything manually and the first time I'll never forget that. He gave me our dashboard, if you will. It was all red and red is the worst it can be. And I just took, he gave it to me on a piece of paper and I just took it and my stomach curled up.

Ron:  Did you take it to Pat and the two of you cried together?

Marie: No I crumbled it up and put it in my pocket.

Ron:  Yeah, for sure. Now, Maria, do you think it's fair to say that many business owners our operators in our business and I'll just say from your interactions, I know you're in buying groups and you're very active in the community. Do you think it's fair to say? Many do not know exactly how they're doing or at least compare it to maybe what normal is.

Marie: We had no idea. You know, if I could, I was making payroll and everything and so I thought, Oh, everything is okay and everything. But I had no idea how extended we were because we were taking customer deposits and then we were, you know, we weren't covered. We needed to just keep that money in the bank and you know, I know some people go buy boats or whatever and they end up just overextended taking the customer's money. And we were just running, our labor mix wasn't good.

Ron:  Well, now what does that mean? Labor mix? Can you dive deep here for a moment?

Marie: Sure. So the labor compared to the product we were selling needs to be like around 30%, 33%. And I think it was running in the, maybe in the teens somewhere at that time. We knew we needed to either charge more for labor, put more labor hours on a job or something of that nature so that we could become more profitable. And then also we were looking at you know, making better deals with vendors, things of that nature. And then our parts, we noticed we were losing money in that arena as well. And so we started charging a miscellaneous parts fee and just added onto every quote cause we were giving away cables and such that just didn't get accounted for. All these things, you just add them all up together and now we usually run, we're usually running green and blue if not, you know, predominantly blue. There's always the labor aspect that kind of kicks us a little bit now and then, but we can see it right away and take action right away.

Ron:  How often are you looking at your dashboard?

Marie: I look at it at least weekly. And then monthly we have a meeting with Steve where he gets on the phone with us and we'll do projections and you know, see where we're on target or not. Cause we set goals and strive for all that. And then we have about an hour call a month with him.

Ron:  Can anybody running a business in the integration space watching this, can they use BI for CI or what is the onboarding practice look like? What, needed to be able to get this for your business?

Marie: When we started with them, we had to change the way we coded our Quickbooks and how we were running our accounting quite a bit to make this be useful.

Ron:  So you probably have to make some changes to the chart of accounts, right? The categorization?

Marie: Quite a bit. Yeah. And so that we could see exactly what a bucket those numbers were going into. So yeah, there was quite a bit of work on the front end. We actually closed our old QuickBooks file. Yeah. It was 2014 we closed our old QuickBooks file and opened a new one and just started fresh with it. But our QuickBooks file was really old and needed to be done anyways. So that timing was good. But yeah, it took us several weeks to get up and running on it. So we could see what was going in, where.

"There's an adage in business that to change things, you need to watch them."

Ron:  There's an adage in business that to change things, you need to watch them and you want to, if you want to change your profitability or whatever, those KPIs you'll hear different. You heard them called different things in different books, but the only way to change them is to look at them every day or look at them with some frequency. And I think it's really neat what these guys have done to enable our industry to do this.

Marie: And it was painful and I've talked to a few companies that are going through it and you know, giving them some ideas on how to do it, but it is quite a bit of work, but it's well worth it. I must say,

Ron:  Do you make more money now than you have in your last?

Marie: Yeah, it's not something I have to concern myself with. I mean, prior to 2008, everybody was making money, it seemed like, and you can just do whatever. But you know, after that with this I don't, you know, I can sleep at night. I know how things are going, so, and I know immediately what adjustments I need to make. So, I mean, it's stupid little things like a meeting you know, having your technicians come in the office every day, having them go straight to the job site, sometimes that makes a huge difference. Having somebody meet him with parts, stuff like that can make a huge difference on your bottom line when you can pick up, you know, say you're picking up a couple of hundred bucks a week, it all adds up.

Ron:  Yeah, that's brilliant. I appreciate you sharing that. And everyone that's out there, here, let me put this case, you can't see what's on your screen. I'm gonna throw a quick title here. If you're watching this, you will see this. And there's the website for BI for CI. This is, and I'm assuming they can just come here to the website and log in like.

Marie: Well you have to get a log in from Steve or Paul I think, but you know, they're happy to talk to you and they're not, they don't even know I'm having this conversation with you right now

Ron:  Yeah we didn't ask for permission. Right. We're just, we're going right up the middle here with what's helping you.

Marie: So I mean, my main thing is to help other integrators. So but this we found to be a super useful tool, so that's why I share it. So, yeah.

Ron:  Amen. I love it. Now that's a, that sets us up for a nice transition. Cause I also want to talk about your being one of the founding members of Bravas and I know that you know, that has Bravas has occasionally been in the news. It's, I don't want to say it's regularly being talked about in the media, but it comes up every now and then. And you have been hard at it in the province with the founding members of Bravas really for a good number of years now. Maybe since, I want to say 2015 is when that started. '14 or '15. Yeah. For our audience. Can you tell them what this is and what your involvement is?

Marie: Well, there's several companies across the country and we're just all working together and it's really cool to get together with them and just kind of share ideas and you know, we're all on the same platform and using BI for CI and giving each other tips and helping each other out to become more profitable and working together. So it's been you know, we share jobs. You know, if there's a job that comes up on the other side of the country, you know, we're not there, but maybe there's somebody in Bravas over there, we'll send it over to them. So yeah, there's a list of everybody in it.

Ron:  Is the plan Marie, to continue expanding this group and, and if someone wanted to learn about becoming a Bravas member, what would they, what's the protocol? What would they do?

Marie: Yeah, reach out to Steven and Paul and they can help them with it. Yeah. Yeah.

Ron:  Okay. So they would, I'm going to try to see here. Is there, I don't even remember. Is there an immediate way here for someone to make contact now? Yeah. I don't know. I'm going to have to look at that. I know there used to be, so let's see. Sign up locations. I don't know. I should know that, shouldn't I? Sign up site minute. We'll have to take a look. Well there was live chat on that website and now that that isn't, that's no longer on there. That's one of the things I was telling you with Michael Buckner that we were talking about adding back to this corporate sites.

Marie: Yeah we get a lot of ours are with you. We get a lot of leads that way.

Ron:  Yeah. well let's talk about you then and yeah, and you said one of the things that you are doing, you're more mindful of right now at Smart Systems is the idea of marketing. What does that mean for you? What does that mean for you as an integrator in a competitive marketplace in Dallas?

Marie: Very very competitive.

Ron:  You know, my goodness, there's so many companies in Dallas. What are you doing and why is marketing top of mind for you?

Marie: Well I try to get our logo out there as much as possible. You know, through you know, working with you. We do that. But we also do some local advertising and some magazines here and just trying to get our logo out there as much as possible so that people recognize it. Then when they go to, you know, maybe they're not doing something with it today, but you know, when they're ready to do something like that, when they see it, there'll be the familiarity with it and reach out to us. We've also hired someone to start just working with builders and architects and meeting with them and to set up our sales guys to be able to work that way. And then we're just been more much more conscious of how we are we just set up systems, better systems for our engineering and our paperwork flow so it's better for customers and they can tell we're just not, you know truck slammers and just coming out there and, you know, not be in business next month or whatever. So yeah, we started the service plans.

Ron:  Yeah. Can you talk for a moment about that? You know, this has really been out there in the ether for a number of years in our industry of what to do and how to do it. So what's your approach?

Marie: Well, we've just kinda rolled these out this year or there's more definition with the service plans. We just you know, we've got the three tiers. Well four tiers. One is none. And then we've got the blue, which is the least amount of one, the silver and the platinum plans. And so it just depends how much support a customer wants. Because what we found was we were giving away a lot of services like on weekends and after-hours that we weren't getting paid for if we were remoting into somebody's system. Cause every job either has a Hegi or OvrC in it. And so we can remote in and do a lot of diagnostics and fix a lot, many things that way, but we weren't getting paid for it. Now we're trying to get the service plan out there and get the recurring revenue going so that we can be compensated for all the stuff we're doing. Because yeah, I mean, so many companies are out there and not getting, just doing stuff and not getting any payment for it.

Ron:  I want to dig deeper into this. I want to answer, we have a question here from JJ Canon. And he just wanted to ask for the correct spelling of the Bravas website. So I just wanted to, JJ, you did get that right. It is Bravas, B R A V A S .com. So appreciate that question JJ. Thanks for watching. So here, here on the screen is I see that you have your service plans linked up to a cart. People can transact that right from your site. What sort of,

Marie: Yeah.

Ron:  Response are you getting from your customers as you guys are bringing up service plans and when in the sales cycle or is it being discussed? Is it discussed up front when you're initially selling the system or is it at completion of the install? Well what works for you?

Marie: That's something we've been dealing with. So our sales team actually wasn't bringing in and up until later cause the first year we put a system in, we usually give a year's warranty with it, including labor. And so we've just said hired someone to start going in with the sales person at the beginning to start kind of presenting this. And then the other thing I've been doing is I have a service technician. That's all he does. And when he goes out to client's houses, he'll show him the service plans. If there is somebody that we notice, you know, we're not, I mean they're there, they're calling us quite a bit. And I mean honestly it's a way to save them a little bit of money and then it gets us, you know, in front of it. And then if there, we're compensated on the weekends this way as well. So you're not giving away that free time and labor where previously without a plan, they just expected that service, You know, honestly where I'm going to retrain the sales guys. Cause I know like with Pat, I heard him on the phone with a customer and he's telling him, yeah, we're there 24/7 and I'm like, Oh no, we're out for a fee.

Ron:  Yeah, exactly. There is a charge.

Marie: Yeah. So it's kind of where having to retrain every, you know, everybody and, and get them used to this. And then the technicians were just, you know, sometime they'd get a call and they just answer the phone and take care of somebody and don't say anything. So yeah, everybody needs to be compensated, including that technician that took that call and took care of that customer. So, yeah.

Ron:  Awesome. Now one last thing, and I'm not doing this to toot my horn here at One Firefly, but I know that you're a believer cause a lot of times I bring crazy ideas to you and you're like, I dunno about this when Ron, but let's try it. And I brought you one of those crazy ideas and that was putting live chat on your site. What has been the response? What's the good and the bad of doing that?

Marie: The only bad, I mean once in a while we'll get something from somebody that wants a, Oh, sometime we'll get the, Hey, I don't, your website doesn't look good, which it just cracks me up because I know better. Don't you Ron?

Ron:  I do know better. Absolutely.

Marie: But no, we've gotten quite a number of leads through it and we just have to qualify the leads as with any marketing thing. But we've gotten quite several, at least six good jobs over the last year with it. And but sometime we'll get a request like, Oh, do you have a 55 inch Sony and how much is it? And then we can just tell that somebody's just trying to do something, some kind of internet.

Ron:  Just trying to get a price or something like that. Yeah.

Marie: And those, we don't, you know, we're just, we, sorry, we don't do that type of work. So, yeah.

Ron:  Oh, that's cool. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts there. Oh, there we go. We've got an answer. Hello, goodbye. And close that. So I did want to pick your brain on a couple of other topics if you have a few more minutes. Sure. What is your what are your thoughts around this? Do it yourself kind of craze, all these IOT products. There's probably gonna be more tomorrow than there are today. Do you see this as a risk or a competitor that stealing business from you or potentially a threat or how are you reading this?

Marie: Our customer is not somebody that would do that. And if it is somebody that wants to go do that, all the power to them. But that isn't our target customer. So I don't see it as a threat. I think it helps the industry, it makes people more aware of us. And I think people like going to one app for everything. So I do see it as a, it's a good thing cause it makes people more aware and makes them want that stuff in their house and we can provide an all around solution for the whole thing. So I see that it is as a plus.

Ron:  Okay. Next is, this is the rapid fire section of the interview. What sort of technologies have you excited for 2019? What sort of solutions or technologies are you guys looking to get more into and you think your customers are going to demand?

"The low voltage lighting. I see as a big, the next big thing. When we picked up shades, I mean now that's 25% of our business. I see the lighting going the same way."

Marie: The low voltage lighting. I see as a big, the next big thing. Like when we picked up shades, I mean now that's 25% of our business. I see the lighting going the same way.

Ron:  Yeah. And do you mind sharing which partners you're looking at or, or you're talking to?

Marie: We're looking at either Color Beam or Luma Stream right now. But we're big Lutron dealers as well, so I know they're rolling out so possibly that, but right now it's leaning more towards the mainstream I think.

Ron:  Okay. And is there, I'm just getting up to speed on this, so pardon my ignorance on the topic, but is the idea that if, if the customer, your customer is working with you on the low voltage, all the audio video and automation gear for the house, that part of that product mix now would also be all of the lighting fixtures for the house?

Marie: Yeah, that's the plan that, I mean, it's, we're in the learning curve right now. We have to figure out what we can do and how to sell it. We're just now getting into it.

Ron:  I can tell you that I'm also hearing from our perspective at One Firefly. I mean I'm hearing quite a bit of demand from integrators around the country wanting to add that type that subject matter to their marketing efforts. So whether that's to blogs or emails or website or whatnot, I think that's in the ether. I'm just curious, is the consumer, you know, weirded out at all by the idea of not having like normal Romex or high voltage lines to cans in the ceiling or do they even care?

Marie: Only a little bit, but I think it's more of an education that we need to provide. Because it's, I mean, to me it sounds safer and better and more reliable actually. So we'll see.

Ron:  That'll be interesting. Yeah. All right. This is my last one for you, Marie. You are you've been in business for a good number of years with your prior business and now as an integrator for the last 18 years, there are some people that are watching this, that are newer in their business lives, their entrepreneurial journey as integrators, what advice do you have for them? If you were to give them two or three things to focus on early in their careers early in their business, what would those things be?

"Be very well educated on your product that you're selling. So that upon installation it goes quicker and smoother."

Marie: To be very well educated on your product that you're selling. So that, you know, upon installation it goes quicker and smoother. And yeah, and then just look at your profit margins and keep an eye on that. And don't forget to keep a good eye on.

Ron:  Now, how does the average business do this? You know, let's say that some of you know, our industry is made up by salespeople and programmers and technicians and people that join our industry from running tropical plant supply stores and they come from all these different industries and, or roles within our industry. And they may not be the financial person. So how do they follow that advice?

Marie: Get a good accountant, I would say then. And if that's not your forte because frankly that was how I came into this was cause Pat, that's not Pat's forte. So, and I'm much more conscious of that so that is why I ended up running all that. Yeah.

"Get an accountant, get a bookkeeper. Get somebody that knows how to make sure that you're making money, dammit."

Ron:  Get an accountant, get a bookkeeper. Get somebody that knows how to make sure that you're making money, dammit.

Marie: Right. If you can get someone.

Ron:  Amen. Well, Marie, it has been a pleasure having you on episode number 60 of Automation Unplugged. Thank you for joining me today and joining our audience.

Marie: Thanks for having me. I really enjoyed it.

Ron:  Awesome. Thank you so much Marie. All right, take care. All right ladies and gentlemen, thank you for joining me for episode number 60. You know, on that last point, I'll just, I'll give you a quick story on, on my journey at One Firefly and I started this business in 2007. I left, you know, a nice paying job at Crestron to start this. And that was what Marie said is the thing you should start out doing. I wish she had given me that advice back in 2007 because I was a the perfect case study of being really busy but not necessarily focusing on the financials and the financial structure and profitability of the company. And over time I've learned that's critical and I've actually gained you know, great help. Actually, there was a time where I consulted with Steve First you heard her mention Steve and Vital and Bravas. And then in 2013, I brought a great person into our business. If you do business with us, you guys know Taylor and Taylor's an MBA in finance and really added a lot of financial intelligence to the business. Between that and me putting together a board in 2014 with a lot of people with strong financial backgrounds, it really helped me turn the ship into what is today a strong and thriving profitable business. So I think that was great advice. So I'm going to throw up on the screen a request. If you are not currently following One Firefly on Instagram, please do that. You can find us on the gram at One Firefly, LLC. There you go. Let me pull you figured out. I got to figure out all my graphics here, pull that down, and then I will throw up this one. And thank you for joining me and we are going to be back next week at least. I'm pretty sure we're going to be back next week with episode number 61. Have a great, if you're in the US have a great Thanksgiving and if you are abroad, just have a great week. Remember, that's a decision you get to make every day. So on that note people, I will see you later. Thank you. Ciao.

Show Notes

Marie Devlin came into the CI industry after owning a tropical plant company in Dallas for over 18 years. Marie and her husband Pat started Smart Systems in 2000. Marie really loves this industry because of the way it changes and the ongoing technology. Marie currently oversees operations and finances of the company and her husband Pat is currently overseeing sales for Smart 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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