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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 #65: An Industry Q&A With Ryan Donaher

Selling with a Passion

This week's home automation podcast features our host Ron Callis interviewing Ryan Donaher. Recorded live on Wednesday, February 20th, 2019 at 12:30 p.m. EST.

About Ryan Donaher

Passionate about the CI industry and selling performance-based solutions. Grew up in Hi-Fi, and now enjoy a life of helping customers solve problems and making their clients happy. Love offering unique solutions that get people thinking.

Interview Recap

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

  • Selling performance and profit
  • Is control dead? App life moving forward? 
  • "It's good enough mentality" needs to die

SEE ALSO: Home Automation Podcast Episode #64: A Custom Integration Industry Q&A With Paul Ostrin


Ron:  Hello everybody. Ron Callis here with another episode of Automation Unplugged episode 65. Got my good friend Ryan Donaher from Meridian with us. And let's look here. So today is Wednesday, February 20th. It's about approximately 1230, maybe a little bit after 1230, getting a little bit of a late start. But I hope today is going well for you. Hope you're having a great start to your week. And let me go over and check the the interwebs and let me see if we are in effect streaming live. We should be live on Facebook right now. Let me check that out and bear with me. There we go. And we got people stopped in. Oh, right. Well I'm going to jump right into it. I am going to admit things are moving fast and furious here in One Firefly land. And I have been a busy bee, lots of customers to talk to, lots of new projects and exciting goings ons and all good stuff. So all right, let's do this. Let me bring down the show art and let me bring in our guest there he is the man, the myth and the legend. Ryan Donaher. How are you sir?

Ryan: I'm good. I certainly don't know about legend, but yeah, I'm doing great. Thanks for having me Ron.

Ron:  Legend in your own mind maybe.

Ryan: Absolutely. Yes, absolutely. Yep. That I'll take.

Ron:  So Ryan, where are you coming to us from?

Ryan: My home office in Atlanta, Georgia.

Ron:  Atlanta, Georgia. How, how are the temperatures? It's always fun for our Northern friends. We're here in Florida and it's nice and warm and crispy outside. Yeah.

Ryan: You know, I lived in Miami for 10 years, man, so we always used to rub in the the warm weather to everybody up North. But it's a miserable 45 degrees and raining here the past couple of days, so not the best. Yeah, that's what it is.

Ron:  That's, that's not so good. Are you? How have you managed to be home for a little while? I know you're always traveling the country, visiting your dealers and reps around North America. So are you home for a bit or is this just a snapshot?

Ryan: Well actually I've been very fortunate at home last week and home this week and January. We just, we had CES, which was pretty quick and had a trip to South Florida actually. And starting on Sunday. It's gangbusters. It's eight weeks of straight travel actually. It's going to be a busy couple months.

Ron:  Yeah. The spring season is upon us. Yep.

Ryan: It is. So I'm looking forward to it. My family, not so much, but you know, we've got to do, we gotta do, I'm looking forward to it.

Ron:  That's right. Got to earn a living, got to go out there and hustle, spread the good love. So for those in our audience that may not know you I always like to go into the background of my guests and kind of how you landed in how you landed at Meridian. I know you've had a long winding road from your entry in the industry to where you are today. And you've now been with Meridian for quite a while. How long have you been there?

Ryan: 11 years actually in December. December one.

Ron:  I have a picture. I don't know if I'll be able to dig it up. I might be able to dig it up. I know that when I opened Firefly Design Group in 2007, yeah, I remember how in Hollywood, Florida, I want to say my memory is telling me it was maybe some part of 2008. You came in and stopped by our little office with Meridian gear and you gave a training and we have some pictures from that. I think they're on our Facebook page.

Ryan: I remember that man. I actually remember the second floor right upstairs. I remember, I think I brought an F80, the red tabletop radio at the time.

Ron:  Exactly. Yup. Yup, yup. I do remember that. I'm gonna maybe as we go here, I'm going to go online and see if I can dig that up and share that. But it's all good. I, if I remember, it's a good photo. We both look.

Ryan: All right. So a little, a little younger.

Ron:  We're both a little young and a, you know, a little bit less or at least less gray hair for me. I think you're doing pretty good.

Ryan: Well, not the greatest, just less of it in general.

Ron:  Yeah, there is that. Okay. All right. Well let's go ahead and let's talk about your background and how you landed in this industry.

Ryan: Oh yeah, man. Basically I'm just a lifer in the industry. When I was in high school, my one of my first jobs was working at a HiFi shop in Hartford, Connecticut actually new in Connecticut, so it's a little store called The Audio Store. I worked for Mr Bernie Minako all through high school and college and met my, my fiance then wife or soon to be wife in undergrad, sorry, outside of Boston and followed her to Miami, Florida. She got into a grad program down there at UM moved to Miami, didn't find a job for a few months. Lived in the apartment, drove my wife crazy. Walked around a little Havana trying to sell paper. That was not a good thing. And then my dear friend Charlie Bernese and at at the time was working at Marantz introduced me to a rep from Hilton Gertner down in South Florida and I got a job as an outside rep and the industry worked there for two years and then went to Meridian. And I've been there ever since.

Ron:  Okay. Now how have your roles changed at Meridian or when you started with them 10 years ago? What were you doing and how does that compare to what your responsibilities are today?

Ryan: Yeah, so very different, but you know what Ron, it's funny, it's all still pretty much the same, if that makes sense. You know, I was hired in sales and I was hired for just really to cover the state of Florida and, and look after that. I think they kind of brought me in to see how it go. And then Meridian at the time, this was around that time I was in your office 2008, switched from independent rep firms to factory direct sales representation. So I was hired in that group along with a few others. And so our rep firm in New York closed. And so they said, you know what, why don't you take care of New York? And so I was working two amazing markets, Florida and New York at the same time. And then it just grew. And then the mid Atlantic and the New England and on the Southeast and next thing you know, or they want me to be national sales manager did that for a few years and now I'm running the show. But at the end of the day, I'm responsible for sales. That's my job. I'm in sales 24/7 at Meridian America. And that's what I do. I love working with my dealers and, and helping them sell better goods

Ron:  For those that are watching and listening. And again, whether you're watching live or you're watching on replay, thank you for watching. Thank you for listening. Can you fill them in on who is Meridian? Like what is that brand? I know it's a UK brand and I know it has, you know, they have a bunch of, from my minimal knowledge, I know they're well known for a lot of patents and technologies around audio and acoustics, but can you kind of maybe give us the synopsis of who they are?

Ryan: Sure. Meridian is a 40 year old specialty audio brand and company out of Huntington, UK. So it's in Cambridgeshire, so pretty much around the Cambridge area. It's about an hour and a half north of London. And it was founded in 1977 by Bob Stewart. Now in Boothroyd two, two blokes, very passionate about audio and performance audio, but they wanted to do things differently. They saw Hi-Fi back in the 70s as all of these big complex boxes that had to connect to each other. And what Bob and Alan did very well is put all those boxes into smaller components and make things integrated and basically sell systems. And that philosophy continues through Meridian 40 years to the day, or actually for 41 years to now. It's pretty remarkable. So their first product was an analog active loudspeaker. So they pioneered that category of taking amplifiers out of a big box and putting it in the loudspeaker and continued on that trajectory, building electronics that integrate inside the loudspeaker. And 1998- 1989 they launched the world's first digital loudspeaker. And then in 1991 they launched the world's first DSP active loudspeaker. So I always tell people, you know, Meridian put small computers inside of their loudspeakers in 1991 and think about the computers we werere using back then. Right? I mean it was crazy to think that that could be done. So Meridian is really known..

Ron:  Were they created computers at that point. Cause I don't think of computers as being small and packageable easily at that time.

Ryan: Programmable Silicon essentially, like e-prongs, things like that. That's way over my head, engineering speak. But you know, you had to connect the computer to them to update software and firmware and it's just wild to think that that was such a thing. And, and they did it, they pioneered it. So everything, you know, follow the loudspeakers. So we had a digital input and a digital active crossover network, full DSP network. And then the digital active I'm sorry. The DNA process is all done in digital domain obviously. And then analog based amplifiers. It's always a big misconception. People think, you know, there's digital amplifiers, but no, it's actually a traditional class, AV amps and all the big speakers. Now we're starting to use digital amplifiers because packaging has become a lot better. Technology has become a lot better. It sounds much better. So we just launched a new line of in-wall loud speakers that have a whole new electronics platform that we can fit multiple amplifiers in a space where we can we fit four amps in a space where we only put one before. It's remarkable tech. And what we're most known for are the big signature reference DSP, a thousand beautiful loudspeaker built off of human scale. And it has side firing face drivers, isolated head show. That's a real install actually.

Ron:  So an advanced home theater project, right?

Ryan: Yeah, absolutely. Our friends at HD global, they did that project. First that project kicked off our custom color program actually, because they said, if we don't get the speakers in white, there's no order at all. So very happily did that.

Ron:  We're gonna make white happen, dammit.

Ryan: And we offer loudspeakers in 270 select color options. It's pretty remarkable. But Meridian has been driven by technology and driven by research and passionate about psychoacoustics. So they definitely have pioneered amazing tech over the years, like MLP, which was the world's first, lost society of Kodak. That is the fundamentals of there'll be true HD and, and most recently MQA, which is a big topic, which is pioneering a high resolution music performance and streaming capabilities. So that was a technology that came from Meridian. So now we're ready and it's growing or we're thinking outside the box on the core audio side, which is what I do. We focus on selling loudspeakers, in-wall architectural based product electronics to support the custom installation base here in the United States, while I focused on the US but it's a global brand. So it's very exciting. And Meridian also does work with Jaguar Land Rover. So they do all of Jaguar cars, Range Rovers, and Land Rovers. So the big Range Rover autobiography has a 23 speaker, tri field 3d surround system. And it sounds remarkable actually best-in-class by miles. And also they're working on other channels as well. So they just launched product with LG at CES actually. So LG launched this amazing soundbar and they worked with us to improve sound quality. So it's, it's, it's very nice that we get to do these things.

Ron:  Yeah, I was following some of the ISC coverage and so I know there's the LG. Well let's do LG first. So LG, if I click here, am I going to see some of that?

Ryan: Yup.

Ron:  So what is the partnership with LG? Is it in their soundbars or like kind of what changes?

Ryan: That the products you see right there actually. So soundbars and the Bluetooth loud speakers, small playback, loudspeakers. So any, anything that we can do or that Meridian is doing to help improve their sound is exciting. And phone too. If you go back, they did. I got to hear that at CES. The sound quality of this phone is remarkable.

Ron:  So you're saying Meridian tech is in the LG phone?

Ryan: Yup.

Ron:  This is crazy talk.

Ryan: Crazy talk.

Ron:  Crazy talk. So what does that mean? Like, so when you're playing audio through, you're like, I'm trying to figure out how to show something here, but when you're playing audio through the phone, if you're like listening to your music, you're saying just the phone's ability to play it through its own speaker? Are you saying when you have a headphone jack and you're listening to it through your headphones?

Ryan: It's own speaker and a headphone Jack. So Meridian is helping them improve sound quality of products they offer.

Ron:  Wow. That's very cool. And we just had Chris Gamble from the UK just said hello. So he's coming to us from the UK.

Ryan: Hello Chris.

Ron:  Chris, have you ever heard of Meridian? And I know that's a joke. I know he has.

Ryan: Hope so.

Ron:  I hope so. Dammit. So how do you guys, I'm just curious, with Meridian, I mean, it's such a well-respected brand. How do you guys go to market? Do you guys, are you traveling all around the country and everyone's direct or do you have reps? Do you have distributors? How do you do business in the US?

Ryan: Big changes recently. So, yeah, I think you heard me say that when I was hired, I was hired as part of a shift to direct sales representation in the US but very recently I moved us back to independent representation. So I've been a busy bee. I actually lost last Summer and Fall cause you'd be hiring some of the best rep firms in the business. Very, very fortunate. We had the best. And you know, this is the right strategy for Meridian. Reps are an amazing resource. We can't be in all places at once. I mean, Meridian is a small brand. We're a small company, especially here in the US and the reps make us faster, more nimble. They help us be better service providers to our dealers. So I'm very happy with the switch, obviously on this, having, you know, our guys. But at the end of the day, this is the right strategy for our business here.

Ron:  Previous to that, you had direct salespeople traveling the country doing that and now you have the reps which probably have the more intimate relationships locally and all of their marketplaces.

Ryan: Yeah, absolutely. I mean it's, there's a lot of, you know, obviously there's the financial side of it too where we can travel around and spend a bunch of money, but you know, the challenges you have with that strategy is you can only hit so many people. You only have so many touchpoints. Right. And so when we have independent reps, they're local, they're in the market, they know the market. They have better relationships with the dealers. It's a, it's an excellent strategy. So I'm very happy that we're doing that.

Ron:  Chris just commented that it's one of the rare brands that customers actually ask for.

Ryan: Yeah. Thank you, Chris. Yeah, Meridian has a, a great reputation. We've built some amazing products over the years and continue to pioneer new categories too. So, and again, I know we're not trying to get too product-driven, but you launched a lot of electronics starting at around $1,200 to help integrate itself better performing audio around a home. And that's a big deal. Cause Meridian would get asked for like, like Chris was commenting and we would always get one room in the house.

Ron:  Right? So you'd be at this premium price point. And so although they may desire the brand maybe that you didn't have solutions and now you're entering where you, you have more solutions for them.

Ryan: Exactly. Yup. Exactly. We were getting Meridian out of that one theater room, media room or stereo Hi-Fi room and getting it around the house with architectural loudspeakers, things of that nature.

"There are so many brands that integrators could be selling for speakers."

Ron:  So there are so many brands that integrators could be selling for speakers, whether through architectural speakers. Now that you're in that market. And of course, high-performance audio, which is kind of a category I, I'm thinking you guys are mostly in and you're now broadening past that, it sounds like. So when integrators are selling your stuff, are they selling it because they're making the most money? Is it a profit-driven thing? Is it a performance sale? How do you coach them as to when, when is Meridian the right solution versus say all of the other options they have?

Ryan: Oh, there's a lot of reasons. Obviously, you know, Meridian is not an inexpensive ticket sale, so it's very profitable for integrators and or dealer. So Meridian makes them a good money, which is great, but usually our customers are very passionate about what we do. You know, they love selling Meridian. They love the brand. Meridian has a great story. Alright to sell it's 40-year-old company, masters of digital audio and DSP, digital active loudspeakers, partners with JLR. It's a great story, but the real hook I think is the design approach. So not only are we focusing on something loudspeakers, but these lots because their systems and that's the big thing. So it speaks a similar language to what our integrators are used to doing, which is selling systems. So we have basically you can have a single source component and we run a shielded cat five right there, the loudspeaker. And that's all they need. It is predictable, repeatable performance every time they know exactly what they're going to deliver, an amazing performance and even in challenging environments,

Ron:  But so do you struggle though and I'm not asking you for your personal struggles necessarily, but I'm assuming you're out there fighting the good fight where dealers or maybe they're telling you their customers are saying, you know, good is good enough.

Ryan: I definitely hear a lot of that.

Ron:  How do you, how do you fight that? Or how do you recommend more, more so than you, you know, the dealers that are listening and want your words of wisdom. I mean, how do they challenge that and offer a better solution?

Ryan: There are two challenges with that, Ron. So one is at the dealer level themselves, you know, they're, they're trying to sell it, working with a customer and they say, Oh, you know, I don't, I don't need that or this is good enough. The way to fight that is always with the demo. It's with the experience, you know, you have to give the customer the goosebumps, right? And I, we're, we're seeing, I'm personally seeing a lot of showrooms come back, you know, dealers are investing, our, our resellers are investing in their businesses because they know they need to upsell, right? They have to get people into better performing audio, better performing video, very important. And it's all about the whole experience. It's not just one component, it's everything. So if it's a theater room, you have to have amazing picture, amazing sound, amazing seating. It's like the whole thing needs to come together. So you know, Maria and as an ingredient of that recipe and a very, very good one at that, but we have to deliver the experience and you know, so hopefully dealers are more willing to do that. The one of the biggest challenges we have, you know, people ask us, you know who your competition is. And it's usually always the other integrator that's saying, Oh, you don't need that, you know, Meridian, you don't need that. You know, there's this, this other product, this is good enough for you. And yet that client is driving a Ferrari or Bugatti or what, you know, the Chevy's good enough and it's fine.

Ron:  Well, they would buy the best if they were given the option.

Ryan: It's the thing, I mean, it's just if we all spoke a consistent message, right? You know, rising tide rises all ships, right? I mean, if more of us are preaching performance audio, the better we're all going to do, right? Well, there's only a handful of people saying, Oh, you know, I these $80,000 speakers what's gonna happen, right? Everybody's gonna dilute and go down to the lowest level. So we have to focus as an industry, I'm very passionate on this. We have to focus on selling performance in every aspect of what we do.

Ron:  So Chris actually just asked a question and I'm going to share my opinion on this, or not opinion, but observation. He's saying, are there Meridian experience centers? He remembers one in Chelsea. And I remember I visited one in Mexico City. And so there, there was a time, I think where there was Meridian experience centers around the world. Is that still a thing? Is that still part of the business strategy?

Ryan: No, it is not. So we did, you know, we've invested heavily with key partners or there was one in Fort Lauderdale actually and we had a space in Manhattan ourselves directly. So we put a lot of money into it.

Ron:  I visited that facility. I, yeah, I remember that.

Ryan: Yeah, that was a great place. But at the end of the day

Speaker 1: It was beautiful.

Ryan: The cost. You know what, it's crazy to think about what you have to sell just to pay for that space. It's unbelievable. Yes, it was very good. It definitely helped us sell, especially through the recession, right. Dealers are bringing a lot of customers in. But you know, our goal, what we need to do, we need to focus on our dealers and, and giving them the best customer experience and best support possible. That's how we are the most successful at selling better performing goods. So, you know, to answer Chris's question, yes we had them. But they were owned by other people actually, so they weren't owned by us and Meridian thought, you know, we thought that we could reach more customers and customers, consumers. And the reality is we are nowhere near big enough to do that, you know, especially in the US I mean we need to focus on our dealers. Our dealers get us access to the market.

Ron:  Got it. Mr Shawn's Stermer says hi guys.

Ryan: Hi Sean, How are you?

Ron:  So I have a quick question. Sean asked a question here. I'm going to pop it up on the screen in a second, but I want to follow up on this here real quickly. Are you finding Ryan that the dealers that are most successful selling your gear or I'll just say other high performance level gear. Are they doing that because they have their own offices or showrooms and they're demoing it and or is using customer projects and access to customer projects? Is that good enough? What's your like your top performers nationwide? What is that a variable? The them demoing the gear or having demo facilities?

"Our top performers are definitely those with product on display in their own space."

Ryan: Definitely, yeah. Our top performers are definitely those with product on display in their own space. And they're the end with a couple of reasons for that. You know, they have the product, they live with the product every day, so they know how amazing it really is. I mean, that's a big part of it. You know, when we have our, our customers get it in their homes too. I mean, you look at really our best reseller, their best dealers are guys who own it in their homes because they know genuinely how good it is day in and day out. It makes them very special. So having an in the showroom is another thing. But we do have people who can sell Meridian off of spec who just say, yes, Mr. Smith, Mr and Mrs. Smith, you know, you need the SBA thousands in your life. They're amazing. Here you are and they say yes and so that's fantastic. I mean, then we have clients who say, I want to hear these in my home.

Ron:  You literally will set up the gear and do in-home demos.

Ryan: Yeah, we've done that. Yeah. Many, actually many, many, many times. And that almost always results in a sale. And we have some dealers who do that too. We have dealers who have invested in flight cases actually to roll speakers in and out and into their customer's homes to do a quick demo. I mean, we know it. It's just if they're willing to let you bring it in their home, that's pretty much a clear..

Ron:  It's nearly a slam dunk in terms of the sale.

Ryan: Exactly. Right. So almost every time. So that's a very good selling strategy for us.

Ron:  Alright. So Sean post a quick question for you Ryan. He goes will there be an open API for third party integration and two way feedback?

Ryan: Absolutely. And there already is. So depending on the product class, so Meridian has been a very centralized and home automation for many, many years. And so the existing product ranges like G series, 800 series, our RS 232 base, and it's full to control and feedback off all of those. You know, good and bad. That code hasn't changed in 25 years or something. So it's great guys can go out and change a product, put a new one in and all the codes feel the same. So that's a win. Very recently, last year, Meridian launched the new 200 series line of electronics and it's a new architecture change that gets us now into IP control. So yes, a full two-way control with feedback all over IP.

Ron:  Interesting. So now which control companies can, can benefit from that? All of them?

Ryan: All of them. Yeah. We have already, we have modules written already for just about all of them. So URC, RTI, Savant, Control4, Crestron. Yeah.Elan as well. So I'm sorry I'm doing that off the top of my head, but yeah, we have just about all of them written for 200 series.

Ron:  Got it. So Sean type in a comment here, tell me if that answers the question or if you have any followup questions, I'll be sure to throw it up on the screen. So, Ryan, what is your outlook in terms of 2019? I'm asking a lot of my guests here so far this year as we look forward, you know, I know none of us have a crystal ball, but I have my own opinions and we're all seeing and hearing different things out there. How's the economy looking for you looking forward? And then how do you think, whether that's good or bad or the same that affects your ability to grow your business? This year?

"We're really seeing a return of home theater in a big way."

Ryan: Well, I don't know, right? I mean what I know is, is what I hear from feedback from my customers, which is really important and very valuable. And it seems what I'm seeing is that there are definitely a lot of projects going on. Not necessarily a lot of like mid level building, but you know, a lot of top end projects. We're really seeing a return of home theater in a big way, like big theaters, which is great. So I'm doing a lot of work with the guys in Barker Residential, some of the projects that they're doing. I was working with a dealer this morning on this beautiful, beautiful, beautiful room and full Meridian immersive audio sound system with our new 271. So I think 2019 it's going to be very good for us actually. So I'm confident about it. I know some people seem to be worried, but based on what I see, our pipeline looks very solid So yes, I'm confident for 2019.

Ron:  Well that's good. So I'm sure that your confidence is instilling confidence in those that are listening and are appreciating, you know, kind of words and, or the filter. As you guys, you, I've seen, you know, I'm putting you into a class of vendors that are talking to and interacting with lots of integrators and you're working with people across the country. Do you do, by the way, the US and, or do you do Canada or just the US?

Ryan: Just the US so we just focused on the US and there's so much business to be had here, right? I mean, if you look at some of the major markets and it's like any, any major, you know, market that drives a lot of business for us. Primarily cities, you know, New York, South Florida, Northern Cal, Southern Cal, Texas, right? Mainstream markets for us. But, and this is again why I'm excited to work with reps again because they can help us fill in some of those tertiary markets where we just don't know people and can get to. So it's a great strategy.

Ron:  So I always like to get some feedback. If you're willing to share. And if there's folks listening to this and you know, one day they hope to be selling Meridian, they want to, you know, gain that status and move to that class of, of company that can hold the line and, or they just want to grow their business or be better. Do you have some observations and maybe some characteristics of top performing or, or great companies that you wouldn't mind sharing or, or, or talking about for a few moments?

Ryan: There's no, what's interesting is there's no set. It's a very good question. There's no defined dealer, if you will. Meaning we have a really diverse mix of dealers. We have a very large customer integrators, smaller custom integrators. We have some that are literally just a one or two man operation. I mean we have a couple of guys like that because they take care of a very small network of customers and that's it. They are their go to AV professional and, and this is obviously at a very, very high level so those guys can provide amazing service. And support for that very elite niche clientele. So there's no one set thing. I think the key Ron, is that we just have to be passionate about what we sell. I mean, we truly have to be sales people and we have to know what we're selling.

"I always say selling is verb."

Ron:  I always say selling is verb.

Ryan: Yes, absolutely. And the one struggle I've seen is, you know, just not a lot of it unfortunately in the industry. We are unfortunately all guilty of just doing that and maybe not upselling, taking the easy road. But let's not sell from our own wallet. Let's do the right thing. Let's ask questions, use our ears, listen to what customers say and shell. I mean, I really think if we can do that again, collectively we do that we're, we're all gonna grow.

Ron:  Let look at this comment from Sean. He says, that's, I think he's answering here about your API question. He says, that's exactly what I want to hear. Love your products. I will say your dealers are very passionate. I get demos all the time.

Ryan: Awesome. Thank you, Sean. Yeah, that's, it's definitely the case. I mean, it's fun. I mean, we're selling sexy fun stuff, right. Especially like the big 8ks, you know, there's nothing like them. You play those. We actually had a rep invest and down in Texas buy a pair of DSP thousands for their space and he called me almost crying like giddy is, he was so giddy about them. How awesome. And special they were, he couldn't believe it. So he heard him at the factory in the UK and was like, you know what, I thought I'm really going to sell these. I'll invest. And he did and now he's going to smash it. And it's a resource for his dealers too. So he's gonna, you know, help his dealers sell big stuff by having them.

Ron:  Yeah, for sure. I got Chris is posing a question here. He's saying, are you going to be at CEDIA 2019?

Ryan: We are going to be there. Yes, of course. So myself and a bunch of the guys here from the States and the UK will be at CEDIA.

Ron:  Awesome. Ryan, believe it or not, we've already been on for 35 minutes or so. I wanna just touch on a couple other quick topics. I know your business model, you also your entity, the company that you are and you also represent a couple of other product lines. And I was wondering if you could just mention what those things are and I'll splash from up on the screen and maybe give a quick synopsis in case anyone's interested in learning more. Let me get right up on the screen.

Ryan: Absolutely. So Meridian America is, is an independent distribution business. Essentially. We've always sold and supported Meridian, which has been the focus. But we've had a very unique opportunity of working with two other UK based brands. One is Display Technologies and the other is Cinema Acoustic Treatment Systems. And what we're doing is we're focusing and trying to help our dealers sell complete systems. So a few years ago having talked about this, actually this is a big part of our business is Meridian launched a design and specifications service. So a dealer can get us to set a plans, drawings and we can help them engineer a turnkey Meridian systems start to finish either a media room, theater room and even high performance distributed audio. So through that then we started working with Barker Residential and we helped that, we got into that market and got them where we were distributing Barker Residential for a little while in the US and that got us into display technologies and cinema ATS. And this has been a home run for our business. So we offer dealers very unique problem solving products. So some of the best projection screens in the business, beautiful math position, logic masking systems, vertical mirror moms', hush boxes, in ceiling mirror drops and then full term key room acoustics that dealers can sell and install themselves easily. So it's all about providing a very high level of service with our design and spec service to our dealers.

Ron:  Awesome. Well thank you for enlightening our audience here and filling them in on who those are. Now if people want to get in touch with you, I'm going to splash this up on the screen for those watching and or for those listening will also read it off. But what's the best way for someone that wants to get directly in touch with you, Ryan?

Ryan: Email is obviously the best happy to share and that's very simple. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Obviously you can easily find me on LinkedIn as well. Ryan Donaher. No problem there.

Ron:  Alright, so let me see if I got this right. Did I? I do that.

Ryan: All right.

Ron:  Awesome. So there's on your screen guys, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Awesome. Well Ryan, it has been my pleasure. I appreciate you joining me for a few minutes here today and taking time out of your super busy schedule and helping us learn more about you and all the brands that you represent.

Ryan: Yeah, thanks. Thanks again. Thanks for the opportunity.

Ron:  Awesome. Thanks Ryan. All right folks, there you have it. Show number 65, a nice interview with Ryan Donaher. Ryan is well known and loved all over America as he's been out there working to spread the love about high performance audio and really doing things right. So definitely reach out to him if you want to learn more about those products or just chat talk, talk shop. He's a great guy and a great resource. I am gonna throw up here. Here's our guest lineup. So actually next week pretty sure that's next week we've got Sean from Star Systems. He's going to be my guest. Super excited to have him on. And I think you guys are gonna enjoy learning about his business. A very successful integrator out of the mid Atlantic region in the US he's also a Bravas company. You know, there's the Bravas roll-up effort that's happening in America and he's an instrumental part of that operation. I believe he's actually moving into a CTO role or so for that group. So definitely check that out. And on that note, let me see if I can take this off of here. Nope, looks like that is not going to cooperate. Bear with me here folks is I try to get my computer to cooperate. Looks like it is not going to cooperate. So on that note, I am going to sign off. It is again, Wednesday, February 20th, and I will see you guys next time for episode 66 and have a great rest of your Wednesday and a great rest of your week. Thanks everybody. Be well.

Show Notes

Ryan Donahar is passionate about the CI industry and selling performance-based solutions. He grew up in Hi-Fi getting started in high school at The Audio Store and now enjoys a life of helping customers solve problems and making clients happy through his role in sales with Meridian America.

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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