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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.

Home Automation Podcast Episode #20: An Industry Q&A With Bryan Stanley

Exploring Networking, Customer Service, and the Importance of Preparedness

Home Automation Podcast Episode #20: An Industry Q&A With Bryan Stanley

This week's home automation podcast features our host Ron Callis interviewing Bryan Stanley. Recorded live on Wednesday, October 18th at 12:30 p.m. EST. 

About Bryan Stanley

As an AV & Home Automation specialist with over two decades in the business, Bryan Stanley, owner of Spycom Technology Solutions has worked with everyone from mission projects for the homeless to local media moguls. He was born in Lancaster County and became a top car audio salesman while still in high school, which led to his current love of all things tech. Spycom thrives in the heart of Amish country, which is a fascinating backdrop for cutting edge technology. Bryan is a member of CEDIA and his company was named one of CEPro’s Rising Stars. When he’s not running his business, you can find him on his motorcycle meandering roads surrounded by farmland or flying a Cessna as a licensed pilot. He enjoys getting to know his customers, which often end up as friends. He always goes the extra mile to make sure to provide quality products backed by great people, which has provided Spycom increased success every year.

Interview Recap

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

  • Bryan’s background in the industry and how his longtime interest in AV and electronics influenced it
  • The history behind the name Spycom
  • Typical projects that he considers to be their “bread and butter”
  • His takeaways from CEDIA
  • How he networks with other business owners and the importance of learning from others
  • Managing clients’ expectations and understanding their perspective
  • The demand for his industry in Amish country
  • The importance of preparedness to find solutions
  • And more

Home Automation Podcast Episode #19: An Industry Q&A With Chris Smith

Exploring Company Communication, Creative RMR, and Employee Retention

Home Automation Podcast Episode #19: An Industry Q&A With Chris Smith

This week's home automation podcast features our host Ron Callis interviewing Chris Smith. Recorded live on Wednesday October 5th at 12:30 p.m. EST. 

About Chris Smith

Chris Smith got a crash course in Sales at 17, running an inside sales program for a tool company. It was here he learned that if you out-hustled the competition in service and support you could win their business no matter the age. He broke into the AV industry pulling wires and getting certified programming home automation systems. After studying Sociology in Santa Barbara, California he moved to Boston to join Bowers & Willkins as a National Trainer before being promoted to Regional Sales Manager. When McIntosh Labs took interest he managed a sales team for them, and during their merger into World of McIntosh served as advisor, led the merging of sales teams, and oversaw the ambitious build-out of the WOM Townhouse in Soho. Working closely with Cloud9 on this project he decided to relocate to NYC permanently and join the Cloud9 team as VP of Business Development. In his spare time he likes to run, with 3 half and 1 full marathon in the queue this year.


Interview Recap

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

  • Chris' background on the manufacturer side
  • His role in the rollout of Slack for Azione Unlimited
  • His role on Azione Unlimited's Advisory Board
  • How Cloud9 Smart gets creative with transportation in Manhattan
  • Effective employee retention practices
  • The multiple avenues for RMR
  • Marketing strategies
  • And more

Home Automation Podcast Episode #17 and #18: An Industry Q&A With Josh Christian

Forming clear standards for the AV and automation industry

Home Automation Podcast Episode #17 and #18: An Industry Q&A With Josh Christian

This week's home automation podcast features our host Ron Callis interviewing Josh Christian. Recorded live on Wednesday September 27th at 12:30 p.m. EST. 

About Josh Christian

Josh has been a technology enthusiast since a young boy, working hard to earn straight A's as a 6th grade student so he could get the loudspeakers and turntable he wanted so badly. Straight A's were earned, the new stereo was earned, and he has never looked back!

Josh's first job in the electronics industry was as a salesperson at what was then called Wilshire TV & Stereo, now called Wilshire Media Systems in Thousand Oaks, CA in 1995. Josh joined custom installation company DSI Entertainment Systems in late 1998, where he helped the firm grow into one of the largest custom AV installation, home theater, and home automation companies until it was folded into VIA International in 2013. In May 2015 Josh joined Axiom Design, a low-voltage technology consultant specializing in the design and engineering of home technology systems.

Josh is an experienced educator, teaching at the annual CEDIA Expo from 2002 to 2006 and delivering several dozen industry outreach presentations to some of the top architects, general contractors, and interior designers in the USA. In serving in several different roles, as a technology salesperson, a marketing specialist to the design & build trades, an industry outreach liaison, and as a technology consultant, Josh brings years of experience and perspective to the Home Technology Association. Josh's goal has always been to deliver exceptional technology experiences to clients, and in his role as Director of Certification for the HTA, he gets to expand on that goal as he identifies the top home technology installation firms and brings them the recognition they so badly deserve.


Interview Recap

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

  • Josh's background in the AV industry
  • The response to HTA's public launch
  • The big names on HTA's board of advisors
  • Why HTA formed
  • HTA's goals for the industry
  • The value of HTA to integrators, manufacturers, homeowners, and trade professionals
  • Details on the certification process and requirements
  • And more

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

Exploring the Impact of Hurricane Harvey

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

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

About Ryan Heine

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. We work 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
  • How to get involved with relief efforts
  • Refined Systems' take on CEDIA 2017
  • Ryan's favorite hobby: improv!
  • And more

Home Automation Podcast Episode #15: An Industry Q&A With Blake Richetta

It's time for integrators to go solar.

Home Automation Podcast Episode #15: An Industry Q&A With Blake Richetta

This week's home automation podcast features our host Ron Callis interviewing Blake Richetta. Recorded live on Thursday August 30th at 12:30 p.m. EST. 

About Blake Richetta

Blake Richetta graduated from Edinboro University of Pennsylvania with a Masters in Business Administration in 2001 and shortly thereafter he began a 15-year career at Lutron Electronics, the world leader in lighting control. While at Lutron, Blake successfully designed and implemented an industry leading business model for the RadioRA and RadioRA2 products. His approach to building the distributor and installer channels and the overall channel strategy for the RadioRA business advanced the global market for smart home lighting and automated shading, contributing to the overall growth of the home automation industry.

After departing Lutron, Blake joined Tesla Motors as North American Powerwall Sales Manager, bringing his expertise in selling high-end residential technologies to the nascent energy storage industry.  After a brief stint at Tesla, Blake joined sonnen, Inc. as Vice President of Sales, drawn by the company’s innovative capabilities and high quality, technologically advanced residential storage products and services. Sonnen’s innovation in energy storage goes beyond smart batteries to include the “sonnen Community”, a peer-to-peer clean energy trading as well as Grid Services platform which uses a “Virtual Power Plant” by way of aggregation.

In June of 2017, Blake was promoted to Senior Vice President of Sonnen, Inc. and named “Representative of the Global CEO” for North American operations. In his short time at Sonnen, Blake has led the US organization into a period of rapid sales and organizational growth. The company’s new manufacturing facility and “InnovationHub” in Atlanta, Georgia opened in April 2017. Outside of work, Blake enjoys spending time with his family, including his wife Priya, and is an active volunteer and philanthropist in his hometown of Santa Monica, CA.

Interview Recap

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

  • Blake's background with Lutron Electronics and Tesla Powerwall
  • How Blake landed in the solar power / clean tech industry
  • What sonnen batterie has planned for the U.S. and CEDIA in particular
  • Why integrators should be interested in solar storage
  • And more

Blake breaks down the state of clean energy technology and the role that it will soon play in the AV and automation industry.

Home Automation Podcast Episode #14: An Industry Q&A With Deborah Smith

What happened to selling high-end audio?

Home Automation Podcast Episode #14: An Industry Q&A With Deborah Smith

This week's home automation podcast features our host Ron Callis interviewing Deborah Smith. Recorded live on Thursday August 23rd at 12:30 p.m. EST. 

About Deborah Smith

Deborah Smith of the Deborah Smith Group is a long time industry consultant specializing in helping integrators, vendors and associations with brand and marketing strategy, strategic planning, and long and short term programs for revitalizing custom and retail sales, launching new projects, creating market differentiation, brand development selling more stereo, and implementing recurring revenue programs.

For 14 years, Deborah served as Executive Director for PARA (Professional Audio/Video Retailers Association), producing the association’s annual management conference and creating industry-acclaimed business education, sales, training and marketing initiatives for owners of independent retail and system integration companies.

Prior to PARA, she was VP of Marketing and Purchasing at Tweeter for 6 Years (from 7 – 21 stores), and GM at Harvey Electronics in NYC for 3 years. Smith was awarded the 2001 TWICE Lifetime Achievement Award for Excellence and Achievement in the Consumer Electronics Industry and she received the CEPro Master designation in 2013. She is a regular editorial contributor to CEPro and a frequent public speaker and workshop presenter for various industry groups.

Her company also offers meeting planning, conference design, keynote speaker selection and management training services. In 2010, she helped create the industry’s first ever CE Pro Virtual Trade Show, and developed a wide variety of business education offerings and management workshops for EHX. She was also instrumental in designing and producing the first ELAN Trio Summit event and several years of D-Tools User Conferences.
Deborah can be reached at 617-739-9877 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Interview Recap

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

  • Deborah's background and why she chose to stay in this industry for so many years
  • Why the channel has shifted away from selling stereo
  • Practical tips for helping integrators increase their high-end audio sales

  • With CEDIA right around the corner, what takeaways integrators be trying for 

  •  The services her consulting firm offers for sales, product launches, RMR, etc.