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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.

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Home Automation Podcast Episode #105: An Industry Q&A With Navot Shoresh

In this weeks home automation show of Automation Unplugged, industry leader Navot Shoresh, President of Spire Integrated Systems shares h unique perspective on value-based leadership and his approach to the importance of branding his company as oppose

Home Automation Podcast Episode #105: An Industry Q&A With Navot Shoresh

This week's home automation podcast features our host Ron Callis interviewing Navot Shoresh. Recorded live on Saturday, April 4th, 2020 at 11:00 am. EST.

About Navot Shoresh

With 15 years in the business, Israel-born Navot Shoresh started his first business at the age of 22 after his service with the Israeli Army ended. In 2001, he decided to take his passion for providing high-quality audio visual systems and founded Spire Integrated Systems out of Michigan. 

Now, Spire Integrated Systems employs over 20 employees between their Detroit and Traverse City locations. Spire Integrated Systems has been titled Best of Detroit 2019 by Hour Detroit Magazine in three categories including “Places to Buy Audio & Stereo” category and “Home Theater, Audio, Video Specialist.”

Interview Recap

  • What Navot and his team are implementing to come out stronger on the other side of COVID-19 from revising company weaknesses to training processes
  • How Navot is approaching leadership during this time of crisis and his recommendations on demonstrate value-based leadership
  • Navot’s perspective on the future of our industry and why we matter to our communities after the Coronavirus
  • The power of recurring revenue and a look into Spire’s service contract: SPS Ready

SEE ALSO: Home Automation Podcast Episode #104: A Custom Integration Industry Q&A With Erick Burton

Transcript:


Ron: Hello, everybody! Ron Callis here with another episode of Automation Unplugged. I hope you have your morning brew, your morning cup of coffee, or maybe your smoothie. Let's go ahead and jump into things. Today I'm bringing you Navot Shoresh from Spire Integrated Systems out of Michigan. Navot, how are you, sir?

Navot: I'm doing great.

Ron: Thank you for coming to us here on a Saturday morning to record.

Navot: My pleasure.

Ron: I always like to start out my interviews with just you introducing yourself and maybe going into the way back machine. You are running a leading integration firm out of Michigan. If you could take us back to your origins and then bring us to the present, that would be great.

Navot: OK. I was born in Israel. I spend my early years there until the age of 24. I grew up in a Kibbutz in Israel outside Haifa. For those who know what that is. And I served in the military for almost four years. I was in the military actually during the first Iraq war. My team was supposed to leave early, but we got held back to support in case of this getting expanded. After the military, I worked a little bit from my dad in a factory, learned a bit of how to deal with a day to day job, but I've always been an entrepreneur. I started my first company right after the military. I took a contract for the Israeli cable company, which was just being established. I worked on that contract with a friend of mine from the military for about a year. I made great money and really liked the idea of running my own show.

I then took off like a lot of Israelis do after the military and went on a long trip around the world. I went to Australia, to the Far East, Europe. At the same time, I had a girlfriend that was from Michigan. And then when we came back, after a couple of years in Israel, we decided to move. I moved here in '94. Right in the fall and moved to Michigan. It was a really big shock for me because of all of my connections, all of my opportunities, all the things that I knew kind of basically went away and I kind of had to start from scratch, those of you that have been an immigrant, how it is to start from scratch. I took a job after a couple of part-time jobs with a company that was building a cable infrastructure and point to point data before Wi-Fi. I was using microwave antennas and worked on some very high buildings in Detroit in the middle of the winter. It was a pretty brutal reality very quickly. While I was doing this, I went to electrical engineering at the University of Michigan in Dearborn. I was doing most of my classes at night after work. It took me a little longer than usual, but then in the middle of school, I started a small company that was doing installation. The company I worked for Joe Louis Arena, and that's a funny story about how I got actually into the residential because it's never been in my course of wants, needs, or desires. We worked on the Joe Louis arena, and we were fixing the TV system throughout the building, and I ran into a couple of the executives who said, "Hey, can you come and fix my system at home?" And that led to me meeting a couple of the players, and they asked me the same thing if I could fix their system at home.

I have a really funny story. I went to this one guy's house, and he was a Russian hockey player. And we were going downstairs to look at his media system that he had, and we're talking in the 90s, and I look around he's got all his memorabilia everywhere - the Russian Army team and Red Wings and I looked him like, "Wow you're a big hockey fan." And he just started laughing, and he's like, "You have no idea who I am?" I said, "No, I'm sorry. I don't know much about hockey." It was Konstantinov. And he asks me if I ever watched a game of hockey and I said nope, no clue what that is. And he gave me a pair of tickets, I went to the game, and that's how I got into residential.

Ron: And you realize he was the star.

Navot: I realized that quickly. But that's how I got into the residential world and kind of evolved from there was doing a lot of installation for other people mostly fixing things. And then just started slowly building a company that's Spire today.

Ron: Tell us what is Spire today and I realize there's a little bit of craziness going on in the air, we'll get into plenty of that, but let's just say if it was not COVID-19 and someone said, "Describe your business today," what would that be? What type of projects do you do? What size team do you have?

Navot: I know in our industry we usually share how big the company is, I would say that we focus on two columns. We focus on what I would say the industry calls high end, which is a lot of really large lighting, audio, video, shades whole-home systems. But we also have a very good niche in the world of less complicated, less complex systems and not as much distributed but more really great lighting system with two rooms of really great music.

We do well with both sides, and I can tell you what we don't do well because I think it's really important to know, is somewhere in the middle there is that world of complex systems with limited budgets, not a whole lot of focus on performance but focus on how many zones of audio, how many zones of video. That world we do not do well because it does not allow us enough budget for our engineering team to come into play to execute correctly. Quite honestly, we call it in my sales team, meaningful work, and meaningful relationships. That's from a book called Principles by Ray Dalio.

Ron: Yeah, I've got it right over here on my bookshelf.

Navot: It's valuable; that's the Bible. It's meaningful work and meaningful relationships. When I tell my sales guys when you bring this on, are you going to be excited to talk about it to the installation team and tell us about this project? Or is it going to be excuses like, he didn't want to do this or that. Meaningful work meaningful relationship - that's what we're looking for. Sometimes that applies in these very large complex projects that we do a few a year. It very much applies in high-performance audio/video projects, which we do a lot of stuff with music.

I'm surprised how far our industry went away from it. Music is emotional and impactful. I have the same feeling about lighting. For those of you who have not started in the world of human-centric lighting, I have Ketra at home actually, and my whole house, we converted to Ketra, and I'm totally in love with that product. It completely makes the place feels completely different throughout the day.

Ron: Just to go down that rabbit hole a little bit, in terms of human-centric lighting. I agree I think it's it's once you experience it you could argue, "How can I ever live any other way?" Just curious, how are the design community and your customers responding to that topic?

Navot: You have to show it. There's a big discussion in the industry about showroom or no showroom. When it comes to lighting, anything that affects emotions, you could talk about all you want, but if you show it, it is impactful. We have it set up in our office. We were one of the first showrooms in the country with full Ketra. We showed it and designers who couldn't get to come to my office for 10 minutes would come in and stay for two hours and learn about it because for the first time, for example, when they look at music and television, to them, it's almost like a distraction.

For the first time, we have a product that brings a tremendous amount of value to what they're doing because now we're bringing and showing them their architecture in different lighting and the effect it does on the space. And I think that is an incredible story to tell and it leads to many many things that you wouldn't have otherwise thought about. We've won jobs just because we proposed Ketra, and we were brought in to do the rest of this stuff versus what we traditionally do is audio, video and control, control, control. Now we have something that affects human behavior, affects how you feel in the house. Again that's what we're trying to accomplish is add value.

Ron: You'll deal lead with human-centric lighting, and that will bring everything else with it?

Navot: I mean, I always listen to the customer and what's important to them. We always show it to them, and we always have a discussion about it. And then you can see their reactions. Some react to it and say I don't care, but I would say 90% of the time it's, "I want to know more about this." And some will do it some will not, but it does always lead to discussions about the broader they're not coming to you just for basic stuff. They're looking at you from a different, completely different angle all of a sudden.

Ron: Yeah, that's very interesting. Question for you here, we're all dealing with this, and just in the prep for the show, you told me you Michigan's now on a 21-day lockdown. Let's tell the audience what's going on for Spire right now. What are you dealing with?

Navot: Right now, the governor of Michigan decided to, justifiably so, to put us in 21 days worth of shelter in place.

Ron: And for you, that means job sites as well?

Navot: Job sites are closed. All construction is altered in Michigan. I know a lot of states have let construction sites continue, we actually are completely in lockdown. All of our job sites are closed; we obviously cannot go into people's homes. What we've decided to do it again, to try to take advantage of the time and say, "OK, what can we do?" And then we've taken day by day now. We are evaluating all the time, and we evaluate what programs we have. But we started with a very very simple goal. At the end of this crisis or whenever this ends, I want to have my team intact. That is the most important part of me, and that's every day. That's what we figure what to do. It's hard to keep that going.

For us right now, we are in complete training mode, capturing new ways of doing things. We do document every process we have in our system. You and I talked about it. We spent the last two days with our programming team and PMs on how we are setting up every system from now on the lighting side. That took us about two days of conversation and documentation. Next week we're tackling pre-wire.

Ron: When the lockdown got instituted, it sounded like there you've decided and mandated we're going to be better on the other side of this lockdown than we were going in. But there then would have had to have almost been a listing of all the projects that dictates all the areas of the business that we need to work on. How did you do that, and how did you prioritize what to work on?

Navot: I have an amazing leadership team in my company. Our company runs on a platform called EOS.

Ron: We do as well!

Navot: I have an amazing leadership team, and we've basically separated each one with what they're responsible for and each one tackle one area, and we establish, here's the training for all the installers, this is what the design team is going to be working on., here's what the office team is going to work on, this is what ops is going to do, and we divided and conquered. You're right. We did agree to come out on the other side better. We did agree to come on the other side complete, which is a huge sacrifice financially. I mean, there's a lot of risk involved. But I think there's something to be said about it to send a message to your team when you come out of it; we're going to come out running. We're not going to come up walking, we're not going to come limping. We're going to come running because our workload hasn't changed. We haven't lost jobs. People haven't said: "Hey, we're not going to complete this." People constantly say, "Hey, as soon as you can get back to work, please put me as your priority."

I know what's coming. I think the biggest difference between this crisis and 2008 is there is a finite timeline when this is going to end and may not be the next month it may take a little bit longer for the whole country to clear out of it, but there's a finite time this is going to end. I know in Michigan the reality is by May 1st we're going to open up because we passed the point of peak so I can see where the end is. I think in 2008, there was so much uncertainty on how long this was going to last. This is finite. And I think that's what everybody should remember, as difficult and as it is as scary as it is, it's finite, you can see where it's going to end. I mean, I'm sure they are going to be repercussions to all this stuff that's happening to our economies and going to suffer, but it's we know where it is.

Ron: There are integrators watching and listening to this, that you and I both know, that have decided as soon as the whisper of a nationwide lockdown started to get talked about. There's all this forecasting and prognosticating regarding what is it going to mean for our industry in the country and the world. In many cases, many of them laid off some or all or maybe furloughed portions of their team. And it sounds like you're taking the opposite approach. You're saying I want to keep the team intact. Can you just talk about how you came to that decision and which one is right?

Navot: Obviously, there's no right or wrong. I mean, we all have different situations. I would say that we always ran Spire as a very lean operation, very low debt, always had cash on hand because we always use cash on hand to take advantage of better purchases. We've always had that mentality. We've never overextended, never over hired. Again when you focus clearly on your principles and your focus is solid, always meaningful work, meaningful relationship, you don't find yourself taking jobs that take a beating on you and cause you to hire more people just to complete the job. I think a lot of it just preparation.

I would say to what we've done is because I believe as a leader when you start a company, and you hire people, and it's just like your kids you can't just say, "Hey guys it's tough right now, so one of you need to go somewhere else, live with grandma." It's a responsibility that you take on as an employer. And I understand. I mean again, you and I had a conversation about value proposition or value leadership. What did you value? If it's all about preserving myself, then I understand. I understand. But for me, it was never just about money. It was about creating something greater, something that is solid. And I think it will if you did keep your employees as much as you could.

Again, if this thing lasts one under two months, we might have a completely different conversation. And if these loans don't come through, we may have a different conversation, but the first priority I have every day I work on is to keep my team intact. It's OK to go back to your team and says, "Hey guys here's where we are, what should we do together?" is it taking a pay cut, additional time, PTO?

Ron: Let's get into the PTO thing. I also run a PTO program at One Firefly. I don't have sick leave versus vacation time; it's just one category. It keeps everyone honest. I don't need any reasons or excuses why you're not working, just take your day off. It's your business. So you have a PTO program, paid time off, that you have elected because you can't send many of your people, they cannot go to job sites right now. Literally, there's not one job site. Do you mind sharing what you did regarding your PTO program?

Navot: Yes. So PTO, essentially, as you work through the year, you're accumulating more and more PTO. We give, I think, 14 days PTO, and then you get more as the longer you're in the company. What we've done is we fronted all the PTO to all of our employees for the entire year so they can use them right now and still get paid. Again our goal was to keep our employees employed not just for the fun of it but just that they have money, and they're not getting into a point where they're in a tough spot. We allocated all their 14 days of PTO to work from.

And then Jason, my partner, and I decided for the next two weeks until these new loans are going to take into effect we're going to front the next pay-out period. We're committed to it. We committed to a full front, and that's what we're going to do. At war, you learn very quickly. It's one day at a time, one day turns into a week, a week into two, and then the crisis is over. That's all that you have on your mind. That's what we've done.

Ron: You just mentioned loans. Obviously, there's the CARES Act and the PPP program, the payroll tax program. I'm assuming you applied yesterday.

Navot: I did.

Ron: And what is your understanding of how that's going to work out? When do you think people watching are going to get some sort of notice from their bank as to whether they do or do not qualify, and what do you think will be the payout ultimately?

Navot: So, we submitted ours yesterday. We got confirmation it was processed today. When do we get to see the money? I don't know. I'm hoping in two to three weeks. It's hard to tell, but again I think there are all these different programs right now. There is the Family First Act that you could use. You can only use one program. I know in our area the state has offered some support, some low-interest loans and things of that nature. There are different programs out there. We had Jason put all his focus the last two weeks to dig into all these documentation all these different elements and find us whatever programs we can find so we can withstand this and come out the other side with everybody on board.

Ron: Got it. We deal with a smaller regional bank here in South Florida. They're in multiple states. They're not too small. We weren't able to even submit the application until six o'clock Friday night. And even then, it told us that we would have a second email where we could submit all of our paperwork, and we haven't even received that link yet. So we're sitting here in limbo.

Do you think that there's some type of prioritization happening at the banks as to who they're helping? I'm not saying that that's federally mandated because it wasn't a federally mandated but yet all these banks who have been bailed out for many many years and they're being bailed out again, do you think they're picking and choosing who to serve?

Navot: I'm gonna say what I'm going to say, in my opinion.

Ron: That's why I have you on the show. I want your opinion.

Navot: When we applied one of my clients who helped me, he's part of the banking system and said: "OK, we'll help you as soon as we can on this one." And I asked, he says, "Look, our priority is right now is to support as many as possible as many people as possible and our clients have loans with us." They want to keep those companies alive so they can pay their loans.

Ron: They have a vested interest in helping those companies alive.

Navot: Right. I think that there is a bit of a priority. I mean, I'm sure banks have different levels of clients like we all do. And they put some effort into making sure that the guys with the most amount of risk are processed as soon as possible.

Ron: I think that's a very logical assumption as to how they're going about it. I've been following you on LinkedIn, and you have this strong mandate around leadership and specifically value-based leadership. You referenced Ray Dolio's book, Principles. You've talked about his concept of, "Don't tell me, show me." And the way you're caring for your people even right now in this crisis. That's a demonstration, it's not words, but it's actions.

Walk me through because you also made a joke, you said: "Ron plumbers have it figured out." In terms of labor vs. product focus. What do you think? You have an observation that our industry globally has a mixed-up set of priorities. And I agree with you. Do you mind expanding on that?

Navot: Yeah. A lot of companies when you go on their web site they'll tell you about all these great things about all these principles they have all these values and missions and stuff like that. They write it, and they market it, and I'm sure you see it as a marketing person all the time. I would say big words, but it's really how you act that defines what your priorities are. And I'm going to tell you a story, a quick story I think to explain on a marketing side. It does show the concept of priorities. I don't do marketing in my company, and my marketing team has been posting a lot of posts again and again about really elaborate shade lighting and audio. They've been pushing it, and I had a conversation with a client, and he says, "Yeah, I didn't think that you guys do any automation." And I said, "Why do you think that?" He's like, "because your feeds don't show any of it." Right.

The message we sent out is our priorities stand by what we posted. What you post is what people believe is your priorities. It's your actions that define your priorities, not what you wrote down your website can say all these beautiful things, but if you deliver poor jobs or if you deliver on not so well maintain the type of projects that's who you are. And it's the same thing our industry, I think is lacking. And it's not across the entire industry. There's obviously really good players and in-between. To me, priorities are, if you say our people are the best and we have an amazing engineering team and our installers are the best, but then you discount labor. Think about what you guys are looking at.

Every time you have a job and a customer pushes back, and the first thing you do is you give away labor or you hand over a full document worth of engineering, and you say it's free. What do you think of the people, those engineers, that you gave away their labor for free think? And I think you and I talked about this, and it's how it leads our industry also to the concept of recurrent revenue or the model of 24/7 support. In the past, what we said is here's my guy's number just call him anytime. What does that mean? In a world of value proposition, you just said there is no value to this. This time there's no value.

Ron: And yet, what percentage of our industry does not place a definition or a set of rules of engagement around service or ongoing support? As you said, it's just, "Hey, here's my technician cell phone call if there's ever a problem."

Navot: Or call me anytime. All right. Listen, I've done it. I'm not saying I'm immune to this behavior. We've done it over the years. And I realized that we were hurting ourselves as a company by doing this because we were basically abusing our guys and girls time on a weekend and they come back on a Monday, and they're beaten up. They never had any time to rest. I mean, we talked about this whole concept of what we did at Spire. We worked initially with One Vision, and we learned so much from them about the concept of service, guaranteed service versus kind of like what most of our industry does, which is the best effort. Best effort means I'll pick up the phone and call a technician and I'm hoping he's going to answer the phone. And if he's not answering the phone, I'm going to call the owner, and if he doesn't answer the phone, I'm going to get upset. Versus guaranteed service where you call a number dedicated to the support, and you always get somebody. Which is really what we're trying to repair, and I'll give Joey a lot of credit.

I learned that we repaired the relationship between individuals and technology. That is what it does. At Spire, over the last couple of years, we've been moving into a platform we call SPS ready SPS stands for Spire Premium Support. It's all posted on our web site. You can learn everything you want on it. We share it because we believe that I hope as many people in the industry will take that approach. SPS Ready, what started as just as an ability to monitor jobs and help people remotely turned into a complete reorganization of the company around service. Everything has to be built in such a way that a system can be supported in the long run. And so it had to be designed that way. We had to pick products that can support it to be long-lasting, and you have to have your service team approve the way it's built. It causes to change the design, product selection, rack building, standards. Everything got changed around it. I think this is where our priorities are shifting. I hear so many people talk about, "We sell Control4, we sell Crestron. We are a big Creston House," and also, by doing so, you're saying your priorities are not you and your team the priorities is the product you sell. And you and I know products change companies go in and out of favor, and we're losing from a branding perspective I'm sure you would appreciate it. We're no longer the brand. The brand is what we sell.

Ron: When we started engaging with technology professionals, and I started evaluating their web site or their marketing materials it is so often, and I would challenge because they didn't know better, that they are a representative or a reseller of Brand X Y or Z. They're diminishing their brand position. Great, so you're a Control4 dealer like the other three hundred companies in your city. How does that make you better? Why would you shout that from the mountaintops? And I'm not picking on Control4 for the example, any brand in that's the scenario. But yet as you've done very well with Spire, the brand is Spire. They're getting the Spire experience, and the tools in your tool belt might change.

Navot: Yeah, right. And like I said in the beginning, I mean even the jobs that we do some of them have full-on Lutron and Savant. Some of them have Sonos and just a Sonos Meridian or something like that. But at the end of the day they're all the same they're all built the same they'll have the same standard. And guess what? Every single job comes with one year built into it of SPS; it's not an option. You have to pay for it for one year.

Ron: And it might be on your Web site, Navot. But within your plan, do you have a zero price package? Where you're at least setting the rules of engagement as to what they could expect for technical support or ongoing support.

Navot: Yeah. If you look at the two plans, there's one if you're on the plan and one if you're not on the plan. One of our principles is support always. You may not be 24/7, but if you are a client and you decided not to be on this program, you will always get service, just like the discussion we had earlier with the banks. I may not be there in 24 hours. I may be there in three days.

"It's not about the recurring revenue that's the resultant of you deliver value. And if you can design solutions that deliver the ongoing value, your customer will pay you for that."

Ron: That's fair. I've been getting a number of phone calls this week as you can imagine I know lots of people in lots of places and I've been getting phone calls about service plans. I have nothing to do with service plans. And they're like, "Ron. I know you don't. But we know you're going to point us in the right direction," because I'm going to get into the financial piece. The concept of recurring revenue, and I agree with you. It's not about the recurring revenue that's the resultant of you deliver value. And if you can design solutions that deliver the ongoing value, your customer will pay you for that. The side effect of them paying for that is that even when you have uncertain times of new sale revenue coming in, you have that service revenue coming in, and cash revenue is oxygen for a business.

Navot: And it leads to again if we talk about branding. Again we talked about the different options that are available in the industry right now. You can do it yourself. There's One Vision, there's Parasol. I'm sure there are other ones. And the concept of it is your brand. I have clients who come to me and say, "I want to use you. And the reason I want to use you is because I know I'm going to get that level of support." That's become a sales tool. Because it's no longer just, "Oh, we have that." It's part of our value proposition of support always. I have a client, and I have discussions with people about this. Well, the shade I'm going to give it to somebody else, and I said that's fine. It's being very mindful that that element of the job is no longer part of the support part.

If you're calling and you're calling about a shade issue, we'll have to tell you, "Sorry, this is not part of our scope," and I can tell you 99% of the time, that changed the tune really quickly. "OK, never mind, you can handle it. You take care of it," because it's no longer just about the parts that you sold or how much, it's what's going to happen to me three years from now. Our industry is good at developing, designing, and building something, but do we take into consideration longevity? It's where does it stand from three years from now? And that's the best stories I get is people telling me, "I've had this system for four years it's been humming, and then a couple of times I needed support it was instantaneous."

Ron: We didn't discuss it before the show went live, but this is just triggering an idea, and I'm curious to hear your input. You and your peers there are what we could consider well-run integration firms throughout the country and the world. Yet, at the manufacturer level, so pick all of those brands, speakers control systems, and so on. They want to sell more products tomorrow than they did today. Often they will then go, and they'll put on either rep firms or salespeople. And what do those salespeople do? They go, and maybe with lack of coaching or mentorship from their leadership, they go put on new dealers. They put on new companies to sell that product, and the result is in every market, you have a spectrum of well-run businesses down to very poorly run businesses.

The weight towards well-run companies is probably very small. But let's say 25% of the businesses are well-run profitable scalable and they'll weather this storm outside right now. It'll hurt, but they'll weather this year. Yet the less, the more poorly run businesses may be the ones that don't have service departments or the ones that are hesitant ever to call a customer with a service plan because they know they may not finish the last 5% of the job and they're busy going on to the next job. What's the right answer? Because the vendors want to sell more gear. There could be a belief system that "Well then go and support and love on your best dealers and help them grow." But admittedly, maybe they all don't want to grow because you're a privately held business. You can decide where you want to be, and that's going to be maybe all that you do.

Navot: Yeah. I know a lot of people in my industry have kind of reached a certain level, like that number, and I think it's kind of hovering around $6-7 million and then beyond that. It's very hard in this industry to make the bigger jump and go to something even larger than that. You have to have a really strong market to support something like that. Here's what I would have done, if I'm a manufacturer, and I've seen many of them who do that. There's plenty of manufacturers who really practice what I would consider a more responsible distribution, and what they do is they support the top end dealers, and they don't have to be about dollars.

I always said there are some amazing three-person companies who do phenomenal work. It's not about the size of the company. It's the size of the commitment right to be great right. If I were a manufacturer, I would focus on people who are committed to be great and understand the limitation of they may not want to grow as far as you want. Still, maybe you should make me products that fit what I truly need, that are easier to support and bring better value. Then you can incrementally raise your prices to give me something that lasts longer has more value right and has better performance. You don't have to sell as much. You don't have to sell hundreds and thousands of little widgets. If you sell something of value, there's some manufacturer do an amazing job.

Right now my team is doing webinars upon webinars upon webinars of different companies offering some amazing training. Train people, but don't just train them on the technical side. Train them on how to run a better business, encourage them to go to EOS. Put them in a better state of mind to be successful rather than being in that rat race of, "I didn't complete this one, and I'll have to go to the next one because I didn't make any money." And it's odd to me again until two weeks ago, the biggest source of complaint in the industry is we don't have enough people. And then we don't charge for labor. I just don't understand.

"The "we don't have enough people" is now gone from our vocabulary for the foreseeable future. Maybe not by choice but through realities."

Ron: Well, I can say one thing confidently the "we don't have enough people" is now gone from our vocabulary for the foreseeable future. Maybe not by choice but through realities. I've got a question here. Taylor, he says, "I would love to hear Navots experience with EOS." That's the EOS Traction system.

Navot: I'll say a quick thing about EOS. EOS Entrepreneurial Operating System started in Detroit, and it's a concept for smaller businesses to run their company on an operating system. So rather than having ideas of how we do things, we capture how we do things. It's very structured. It's very honest, and it's very disciplined. It works for companies with three people and works for a company with hundreds of employees. I highly recommend it. We started in 2016. I had my first meeting with my Implementer. He set me around the table with my leadership team, and he asked me a tough question that changed the course of the company he says "so of all the people you have in your company if you had to hire them again who would you not hire?" And I said well maybe this person is that person and that person, and he looks them like well why are they.

Ron: That's a shocking question.

Navot: That was a shocking question, and it led me to a complete overhaul of the entire company. We were extremely profitable. We were doing great financially, but I was a miserable human being. I'll be very honest, and what EOS did, it led me to kind of really understand how I want to run things and what's important to me again. Meaningful work, meaningful relationship. What is the common core of the business? What do we do? What do we not do? And then it kind of leads you into when you have a decision to make. Like, am I going to fire all my employees right now or not? No, that's not what we do because that's not who we are. That's what having a core value proposition that EOS brings to the table. My experience with EOS is amazing. I would highly recommend it to anyone.

Ron: I don't believe in fate, but I'll just tell you something that's very fortunate for my business. I did not know you were on EOS, but I've been hearing of EOS success stories across our industry for the last four or five years. And almost this repetitive drumbeat of businesses getting into proper shape by implementing it. And I went ahead and made the leap for my business last summer. Yeah. And so I spent the fall I hired an Implementer. I actually had him on the show, five-six shows ago. It's on our Web page everyone go to One Firefly go to the Automation Unplugged page, and you can watch that interview with my Implementer.

We implemented over the course of the fall and Q1. This Q1 2020 was our first full quarter operating within. And I look at the war that we are now going through called COVID-19. And I just feel so fortunate that I have a new set of tools and processes and methodologies to follow as a business practitioner, and it scares me to think of what I'd be going through right now if I did not have those tools. If I did not have that leadership team around me and having the frank, open discussions that we now have. I was growing and profitable for the last five years, but there were dysfunctions. Anyone out there, I would recommend, take both of our advice. Go pick up the book called Traction and do it and do it as hard as it's going to be. Navot just mentioned one hard question. There are about 500 hard questions. And when you go through those and peel the layers back, it's game-changing.

"There are so many good opportunities for talking to other people. We joined HTSA. There are all these other buying groups like Azione. HTSA, for us, provided so many different valuable abilities to communicate right now with other dealers."

Navot: You asked me a question earlier about our industry. I mean, what the manufacturer should do. I'd like to also if I was a small company right now and I just started and I wonder what to do. There are so many good opportunities for talking to other people. We joined HTSA. There are all these other buying groups like Azione. HTSA, for us, provided so many different valuable abilities to communicate right now with other dealers and ask, "What are you doing? What can I do to help you?" And I think sharing information and not thinking that you're on your own really can help you in these tough situations because we're all experiencing the same problems.

At least if we share and you learn one thing as we talked about earlier about PTO and you learn how to just leverage two more weeks. It could be the difference between you coming out of this strong and coming out of this weak. And I think that's the key is, and I love what you're doing with this show, let's share ideas let's figure out what can be done what worked for me what didn't work for me. And if one person can take something out of it, I'll be great.

Ron: Yeah, I think it's it's scary to think you're out there on an island by yourself, but what we all need to know is we're not out there on our own. There is a whole community within the CEDIA organization within the buying groups within our industry, and perhaps within your church within your local community within your synagogue within your community, there are people that are going through the same struggles as you. And it really helps to talk about it like, "What are you doing? What do you feel? What are you thinking about?" And then getting ideas from others because they might have an idea like you and I were talking about PTO I think it's a brilliant idea and I might be doing something valuable to you.

Find that community, now more than ever, and I can tell you so many watching this and listening to this so many of you operate as if you're on an island. You've been up till now so busy being busy that you have on your own not been willing to slow down and pause and take an evaluation of where you're at and where you're going. And now everyone's forced to do that. And there's a community out there ready to help.

Navot: Yeah, as I said when we started. If somebody has questions from you after this and they want to reach out to me, I would be more than happy to share with you whatever I can. I'll share with you whatever process we've gone through. How do we get to the whole concept of SPS? I'll share with you the whole documentation of SPS. Because I truly believe if this industry rises up, we have so much potential. Especially after what just happened with people being sequestered at home. Think about this they've been at home looking at their old televisions their old sound systems their bad Wi-Fi. And there is a pent up demand of none that we've ever seen before.

They're sitting there looking at this and like, "I'm gonna do this as soon as this is over," and our industry is probably the best one suited because we adjust quickly. We're relatively small. We cover a very large geographical area. And we could provide the personal attention that a lot of the bigger companies cannot right because we're focused, but you have to be aware of the opportunity and just take advantage of it.

Ron: No, I couldn't agree more. What advice do you have for those that are out there? Some are anxious and ready to get going; some are sitting in fear with high levels of anxiety. What piece of wisdom can you share?

"Being in a situation of fear before in my life at war, I think it's OK to be afraid. It's perfectly fine to be afraid. It's not OK to overreact. It's not ok to completely lose your value proposition your core beliefs."

Navot: Being in a situation of fear before in my life at war, I think it's OK to be afraid. It's perfectly fine to be afraid. It's not OK to overreact. It's not ok to completely lose your value proposition your core beliefs. If you find yourself in a position of being afraid, don't let it just capture you. Go talk to someone, reach out, ask for advice. There are so many people out there trying to help. My wife is in the health care business right now, and compare to what they're going through right now, amounts of a fear of life not fearful of losing some money or even as painful as losing a business is. The loss of life. Think about all these nurses' doctors, even the people working in a grocery store. It's OK to be afraid, but it's not okay to just freeze. And the best way to unfreeze is to go back to your support system. And if you don't have one, this is a great time to create one.

Ron: Amen.

Navot: If you want to learn about what we've done. I am more than open to share anything. There's not a whole lot of things that I consider proprietary because the only thing proprietary at Spire is our belief system. And that's hard to duplicate. I can give it to you.

Ron: But you got to implement it!

Navot: Right. But anything, if you heard something here that we've done, if you want to learn more about EOS and learn about what we've done with EOS or about SPS, call me. I'd be more than happy to send you the documents and the process. Anything you want. Because I truly believe we have an amazing opportunity to come out of it really really strong as an industry. And it's really important that it would be a really solid industry that believes in good quality work. That people respect not fear.

Ron: Agreed. Well, but it's been a pleasure to have you on the show, sir. Thank you again, Navot, for coming on episode 105 of Automation Unplugged.

Navot: Thank you.

SHOW NOTES:

Industry leader, Navot Shoresh, President at Spire Integrated Systems, brings a unique perspective on his value-based leadership and his approach to the importance of branding his company as opposed to branding to the manufacturers they work with. 

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 within 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:

If you'd like to learn more about Navot and Spire Integrated Systems, make sure to visit their website at spireintegrated.com and follow them on social media on FacebookTwitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn! Also make sure to stay in touch with Navot on LinkedIn!

More Automation Unplugged:

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