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Automation Unplugged

Automation Unplugged is a Facebook Live show recorded weekly with our host Ron Callis, Owner and CEO of the digital marketing agency, One Firefly. In each Automation Unplugged episode, Ron speaks with leading industry personalities and technology professionals to discuss all things business development, technology trends, and more. These interviews are designed to help our clients and members of the custom integration industry keep up-to-date with the latest news as well as learn from experts in the field.

Watch Episode #6: an Industry Q&A Session with Tim Albright

AVNation Meets Automation Unplugged

Watch Episode #6: an Industry Q&A Session with Tim Albright

In this Automation Unplugged interview, Ron Callis interviews Tim Albright, the founder of AVNation and the driving force behind the AVNation network. Watch the full video here to learn more about Tim's start in the AV industry and his goals for AVNation, as well as his thoughts on what to look for at InfoComm, Apple HomePod, voice control, and more.

About Tim Albright

Tim is a Certified Technology Specialist (CTS) certified by InfoComm International. He holds a B.S. from Greenville College and is pursuing an M.S. in Mass Communications from Southern Illinois University at Edwardsville. He has designed systems for churches large and small, fortune 500 companies, and education facilities. In his role as President of AVNation, Tim provides integrators with ongoing news and commentary on what's going on in the industry.

Interview Recap

In the interview, Tim spoke about the past, present, and future of AVNation. He and Ron chatted about a variety of topics, such as:

  • What to look forward to at InfoComm this year
  • How integrators and manufacturers can best market themselves in this industry
  • What's new and upcoming with voice control
  • Tim's opinion on Apple HomePod
  • Why Tim would love to interview Nikola Tesla
  • And more.

Watch Episode #5: an Industry Q&A Session with David Weinstein

An Interview with Lutron Electronics' VP of Residential Sales

Watch Episode #5: an Industry Q&A Session with David Weinstein

Watch Ron interview David Weinstein, the VP of Residential Sales at Lutron Electronics. David shared his insight on where the industry is heading, some of the main challenges and opportunities with lighting and shading, and a sneak peek of what’s coming up with Lutron and CEDIA. David offers some advice on how to take advantage of helpful resources provided by Lutron, such as ongoing training and marketing materials.

About David Weinstein

In his role at Lutron, David is responsible for leading sales across consumer facing channels including Residential Integrated Systems, Retail Integrator, and Lighting Showroom Sales Channels.   David also focuses on the top 50 accounts across multiple channels while supporting, managing and closing many large residential projects and identifying and developing major business opportunities.

He has developed successful business and personal relationships with many of the company’s top and emerging customers around the globe and takes pride in his ability to build solid customer/specifier/rep relationships that foster mutual growth and success.

After joining Lutron, David led the launch and execution for the Earn and Learn Program and traveled to two cities per week for two years, hosting events with an average of 100 contractors. He trained more than 7,000 contractors in two years in multiple Lutron solutions.

He also led efforts to position Lutron as the world’s leading manufacturer of ultra-quiet precision-controlled automated window treatments while helping to close on many large residential and mixed-use projects.

His work with Lutron includes roles as Senior Sales Manager, Sales Director and Sales Vice President. As Northeast Area Leader, he received the Quota Buster Award and the Largest Single Specification award (for the Getty Museum) and was the first post-VIMCO global sales leader for the company’s commercial and residential shade business. He led efforts to successfully launch shades into the Residential Integrated Systems channel.  His product line launch responsibility included Sivoia QED, RadioRA 2, and Sivoia QS Wireless Shades.

Prior to Lutron, he was employed at Yusen Associates, where he set up the first National Electrical Manufacturers Representatives Association (NEMRA) computer system, worked inside sales with product line responsibility (including Lutron), developed Yusen’s end-user sales program, greatly expanded Yusen’s presence across Connecticut and rose from sales person to president.

He also worked at a boat rental/marina company for many summers, starting at age 9, which he calls a summer dream job. While in high school, he was hired by the Town of Framingham to work in the computer department, where he learned Digital's Business Oriented Language (DIBOL).

He received the GEM Rising Star Award in front of the entire NEMRA audience at the national convention. He is a Certified Professional Manufacturers Representative graduate and has his Illuminating Engineering Society (IES) Lighting Education Certification. He is also a recipient of the CE Pro Unsung Hero Award.

David has served as President of the IES Connecticut Section, the Connecticut Electric Association and the Electric Institute, Boston. He currently serves on the Nominating and Technology committees of the American Lighting Association (ALA). He currently serves on CEDIA’s Board of Directors.

He has contributed articles to many publications and continues to support Electrical Wholesaling magazine, CE Pro magazine, Residential Systems magazine, Electronic House magazine, TecHome Builder publications and Commercial Contractor. His major speaking engagements/panel discussions include events at the Electric Institute, IES, NEMRA, the National Association of Electrical Distributors (NAED), CEDIA, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB), TecHome Builder and webinars with CE Pro and other trade organizations.

David earned his B.S. in business administration at Northeastern University with a focus on marketing and management.

He spends most weekends and vacation weeks in the warm months on the Chesapeake Bay in Maryland. He and his wife often cruise to Annapolis, Md., St. Michaels, Md., Cape May, N.J., and Baltimore’s Inner Harbor. He also enjoys skiing in Colorado, Utah and Wyoming.

He and his wife are residents of Allentown, PA.

Interview Recap

In the interview, David spoke about his background in the industry and the role he plays at Lutron and CEDIA. He shared his insight with the audience on a variety of topics, such as:

  • What integrators can expect from Lutron at CEDIA this year
  • Resources available to Lutron customers and dealers
  • Lutron's market strategy and focus on innovation
  • Lutron's approach to building relationships on the construction/building side of home automation
  • Underutilized market opportunities and how dealers can best take advantage of them
  • DIY vs. Do It For Me business opportunities
  • How millenial homebuyers are impacting the connected home market
  • And more.

Watch Episode #4: an Industry Q&A Session with Ted Bremekamp

A Talk with the CTO of one Largest Custom Integration Firms

Watch Episode #4: an Industry Q&A Session with Ted Bremekamp

Ron Callis had the privilege of interviewing Ted Bremekamp, CTO of ETC, Inc from West Palm Beach, FL. 

About Ted Bremekamp

Ted Bremekamp is the Chief Technology Officer and General Manager at ETC, a nationally recognized leader in the residential electronics industry. With a degree in Electrical Engineering from Notre Dame and more than a decade of experience in AV and automation, Ted is a recognized industry expert. Ted is also a member of ProSource’s board of directors and the President of the Bill Raskob Foundation, which provides interest-free education loans to deserving students throughout the U.S. In the interview, Ted discussed his role in running one of the largest custom integration firms (#15 on CEPro100 for 2017).

Interview Recap

The live interview covers a series of topics surrounding the AV and automation industry, such as: 

  • Ted's start in this industry and his loyalty to ETC
  • The primary benefits of a ProSource membership
  • A day in the life of running a $14 million a year integration firm
  • How a $5 million business grows to become a $15 million operation
  • Ted's take on Crestron's source code
  • His role as the President of the Bill Raskob Foundation
  • And more.

Watch Episode #3: an Industry Q&A Session with John Baskerville

An Inside Look at Marketing for this Industry

Watch Episode #3: an Industry Q&A Session with John Baskerville

In this Automation Unplugged episode, Ron Callis interviewed John Baskerville, One Firefly's Director of Product. John and Ron discussed best practices in digital marketing for the automation and AV industry, the process of developing new products, and top takeaways from John's attendance at Social Media Marketing World.

About John Baskerville

As Director of Product at One Firefly, John is principally tasked with the management and deployment of all web efforts, both internal and client-facing. John’s career in web spans nearly two decades. Since joining the One Firefly team in 2009, his knowledge and expertise have been tapped to help successfully build up the creative division of One Firefly.

Interview Recap

The live interview covers a series of topics surrounding the AV and automation industry, such as: 

  • John's start in marketing and web design
  • His role as One Firefly's Director of Product
  • The process of designing and launching new products
  • Key takeaways from Social Media Marketing World
  • Trends and tools in digital marketing that integrators should be taking advantage of
  • Rookie mistakes when getting started with digital marketing
  • Black hat vs. white hat SEO
  • And more.

Watch Episode #2: an Industry Q&A Session with Access Networks

An Industry Expert’s Perspective on Networking, Robots, and Black Holes

Watch Episode #2: an Industry Q&A Session with Access Networks

This week, we had the privilege of interviewing Nathan Holmes, Technical Trainer at Access Networks. The California-based company provides tailored enterprise-grade networking solutions for professional integrators throughout the United States.

About Nathan Holmes

In his role as Technical Trainer, Nathan helps integrators succeed by guiding them in best practices and providing helpful resources. Nathan has nearly a decade of technical expertise within the custom integration industry.

Interview Recap

During the live interview, One Firefly CEO Ron Callis, Jr. asked Nathan a series of questions surrounding what Access Networks has to offer to dealers as well as his thoughts on the current state of the networking and home automation industry.

Watch the video to see Ron and Nathan discuss topics such as:

  • How Nathan got started in the AV Industry and his current role at Access Networks
  • The reason behind Access Network’s recent success
  • Best practices and strategies for technical training
  • The biggest networking mistakes integrators make most often
  • The role of robotics and the automation industry in homes and businesses
  • The coolest new technologies to get excited about
  • Astrophysics and what’s really in the center of a black hole

Watch Episode #1: an Industry Q&A Session with Paul Starkey

The Expert Perspective on Bi4Ci

Watch Episode #1: an Industry Q&A Session with Paul Starkey

In this Automation Unplugged episode, Ron Callis interviewed Paul Starkey, CEO of Vital Management and Bravas Group.

About Paul Starkey

Paul Starkey has been in the custom installation business for 24 years, and in that time, Paul has raised venture capital twice, acquired two companies, started two others and has in-depth knowledge of the CI business. These acquisitions and mergers exceeded $280M in value. He has business operations, sales and marketing experience.  His keen insights, innovation, and creativity have been recognized by many in our industry. 

Interview Recap

The live interview covers a series of topics surrounding the AV and automation industry, such as: 

  • Starkey's background and expertise in the industry
  • The challenges currently facing integrators today
  • Bi4Ci: what is it and why do CI dealers need it?
  • Characteristics of successful business owners in this channel
  • The three ratios integrators should definitely be watching
  • Which manufacturers are starting to stand out and having staying power in this space
  • Cool new technologies that are just around the corner
  • Whether life exists on other planets
  • And more.