Home Automation Podcast Episode #120: An Industry Q&A With Kevin Hancock
In this weeks home automation show of Automation Unplugged, Kevin Hancock, President of Frame My TV, shares about his first big break installing TVs for The Breakers at Palm Beach and how COVID-19 has impacted the recent expansion of their business.
This week's home automation podcast features our host Ron Callis interviewing Kevin Hancock. Recorded live on Wednesday, May 20th at 12:30 p.m. EST.
About Kevin Hancock
Kevin’s entrepreneurial adventure began 14 years ago after a friend told him his spray-painted crown molding solution for his TV would be a solution that homeowners and interior designers would love.
Kevin went on to founded Frame My TV from his Lowell, MA garage in 2006 and has since sold more than 10,000 TV frames to clients around the world in both luxury homes and commercial properties.
Frame My TV is now known as the go-to expert in TV concealment with all of their products made locally in Massachusetts.
- Kevin’s origin story and how he got his first big break with an opportunity to install all the TV’s at The Breakers resort in Palm Beach, Florida
- How an ambitious decision at CEDIA 2019 helped build a strong relationship with Samsung that has led to his expansion
- Frame My TV's Deco Frame product line
- What Kevin is most excited for in 2020 and his predictions for industry changes in light of COVID-19
We experienced some technical issues as our guest gave a tour of their facilities. Please view the Facebook video above to view the full tour of Frame My TV's warehouse.
Ron: Hello! Ron Callis here with another episode of Automation Unplugged. Here to bring you Episode 120 and today is Wednesday, May 20th. It's 12:37, a little after 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, our regularly scheduled date and time for Automation Unplugged. This is going to be fun. Let me actually I'll tell you who the guest is. The guest is Kevin Hancock. He's the President and I believe the Owner but President and Owner of Frame My TV. It's going to be super interesting because he's been through it with this pandemic and right after he decided to move into a big warehouse tripled or quadrupled his size, immediately got shut down due to COVID 19 and I think we're actually catching him today on day two of reopening. As you can imagine, it's utter chaos in his world. But he still agreed to join us and move forward with the interview and I think he's even going to give us a behind the scenes look of the factory and what's going on there. We're also going to do something we have never done before. We're going to do a live handoff from his computer to his phone. He's going to give us a factory tour and then we're going to try to come back to the computer. I don't know , the whole thing could blow up in our face but maybe not. Maybe it'll work out and we gave it a dry run. It worked out which means it definitely won't work live but we'll give it a shot anyway. All right. Let me go ahead and bring Kevin in. I know that's why you're here. Kevin, how are you , sir?
Kevin: Hello. Good to be here. Thank you.
Ron: That audio and video are cooperating so far.
Kevin: Sounds good to me. How is it on my end?
Ron: Awesome. Yeah, you sound good. I was just telling the audience that you just reopened your factory yesterday or today. How's it going?
Kevin: Yeah it's been great. Over the last two months, it's been me living on an air mattress here in an extra office of the new factory. We just started to move into the new building in the middle of March. We signed the lease on March 1st and then after we started moving in we got shut down on day one.
Ron: You were in the new space that you're in now for one day before the governor shut you down?
Kevin: Yeah pretty much. We had a whole sea of pallets wrapped in shrink wrap and then it was just me.
Ron: Your landlord forgave you for your rent for the last several months right?
Kevin: That would be nice. No. I couldn't stay moved out of the old building. We had to pay for both but that made for a fun little hurdle but we worked through it and stayed current with everything. My landlord says "This is amazing, my other tenants are falling through and you're brand new and you're staying current. " But yet we're staying with them. It's good.
Ron: Well, congratulations on that. I know you're gonna give us a tour of the space not now but in a little bit, you're gonna walk us through and show. Show us what's going on. Correct.
Kevin: That's the plan. Yes.
Ron: All right. Well , that is positive. Kevin, some of our audience may not know you and so I always love to start with your background. I'm curious, TV frames strike me as a random odd thing to get into and decide hey this is gonna be my thing. How did you get in the TV frames and then take us back to the beginning of the business?
Kevin: Sure. I went to a college in Vermont. I went to military school in Fremont and graduate with an electrical engineering degree. It's my background. And then from there, I worked as a photographer for a while I had a photography studio and then hit a bump in the road professionally in life . I had all my eggs in one basket with one client. They changed directions. Meanwhile, about five years before that, I had bought a condo and gutted the whole place put a TV on the wall. I had a Gateway plasma, it had just come out.
Ron: Gateway with the cow branding?
Ron: Wow. I promise you there are some people watching that have no idea what we are talking about.
Kevin: I put this TV up on the wall and all that is very scary a lot of calculus but into a lot of team measures I measured wrong and put an outlet up on the wall, thought I could be an electrician for a day. I have a new respect for electricians because I am not one. I put the outlet up about an inch too high and put the TV on the wall and you can still see the outlet above the TV. Okay what are we going to do? I went to Home Depot, bought some crown molding. Instead of moving the TV up an inch, I went bought a bunch of molding and made it a frame, spray painted it gold and put it on the TV , and people would always comment on it. Well , fast forward five years now. I was excited because nobody else I knew had a flat screen TV in their home. Yet you were starting to see them in commercials and stuff like that but not really in homes and people would always comment on my frames. Well five years later I hit this bump in the road professionally with work with my photography business and I was trying to figure out what to do. I was in a real mess to be honest and a friend over. I said, "Danielle, what am I going to do ?" She said, "I love that frame on your TV" " Danielle focus OK I've got a mess here. What am I going to do about this?" And I said everyone always comments on that stupid frame. And I said maybe there's something here. I started Googling and I found out that 600 people a day back then were searching for the phrase "TV frame" and nothing came up. That's when the light bulb went off. I started to figure out what websites were available and lo and behold framemyTV.com was available and sounds good to me, went with it. We started in my garage. It was just me, I had all of my photography gear. I could photograph all my stuff, threw together a little $50 website on eBay Pro stores. Forgive me if I'm boring you.
Ron: No this is fascinating. I love to hear entrepreneurial journeys and where you started and what inspired you. This is an inspiring story. This is like the American dream.
Kevin: I didn't even know how to finish wood or woodworking at all. I learned woodworking. I knew photography and engineering. I got my mom a plane ticket to come up to help me out. I remember staining all the baseboard s, all the doors for our house and I said mom can teach me how to stain wood and so she did. And then we had this opportunity where actually a good friend of mine from Norwich University, Jackie Berry, said, "Kevin are you outgrowing that garage yet?" By that point, I was starting to pack frames in the driveway. I was moving them so that my neighbors could pull in and get to their condo next door. The dining room would become the packing area as well. He gave me a little bit of space on the top floor of his factory. Pretty close by. About six months out of the gate , we got lucky, we got a call from the Breakers in Palm Beach and they wanted us to frame every tv in the hotel. That was my big break. And it was this little crazy crappy website, spent nothing on web development, just whipped it together.
Ron: Of course you didn't know One Firefly at that point.
Kevin: I didn't know One Firefly at the time but you would have been my hero because I spent most of my startup money on SEO and not on manufacturing and development.
Ron: I'm sure. The Breakers must have been an amazingly big deal for you at the time.
Kevin: Oh yeah. The Breakers deal. I was working by myself and had one employee. I went to the local vocational school and started just hiring up students to help me out. And we got it done. That got us going, got us on the map. The first thing I did with a lot of the money from that project was built a new website. Once again wish I'd known you. Ever since, we've been booking a lot of high-end residential, hospitality, we do a lot of work for luxury hotels like Wynn Resorts, they're a major kind of ours. We just did the Encore Boston project. That's how we got where we are.
Ron: And here you are now moving into a big factory. Obviously there's been growth and expansion. Where are things looking like today? I'll just say forget about COVID if that's even possible. What does business look like for you today? How big is the new building?
Kevin: Yeah. The new building is 30,000 feet. The prior facility was 10,000 feet so it's allowed us to really expand. We started in one little corner of that fifth floor and then we took over a little more space as time went. Luckily I had a good arrangement with the landlord who was a dear friend. We've come to a point, we met at CEDIA this past year and you were exhibiting next to us.
Ron: Yeah it's fair to say, you were right next to us and your booth was slammed. I'd never seen you at CEDIA. Have you done CEDIA before?
Kevin: Yeah I did. I did CEDIA two times a few years prior. But you know we just we didn't really see the ROI from it at the time and we also didn't have a lot of new things to announce. A lot of clients already knew about us. They saw us and got to meet us and that was great. But now what happened was we had a lot of people inquiring about this TV Samsung the Frame. I don't know if you might have heard of it or not.
Ron: I have two Samsung Frames and I like them and my wife loves them. More importantly , I think I'm spying a framed artwork behind you. Is that accurate? Is that actual art or is that the frame?
Kevin: No that's the Samsung Frame TV behind me. It's pretty neat.
Ron: For those that are watching and don't know what that is, can you just click through and actually show what that thing is and why there's so much rage about that?
Kevin: Let me find the remote in my desk here somewhere.
Ron: We have a non framed TV in our master bedroom because I've moved into a new house seven months ago. And we did it in our living room and we did it in our lounge and now she looks at the other TV's in the house with disgust because they're not a framed TV. For those that aren't aware, here I'm going to switch my view, can you demo that?
Kevin: Yeah absolutely.
Ron: Remember for our podcast listeners they don't see this guy. Of course, those watching video are going to see this. They'll have that benefit. But if you're listening, go to the One Firefly website or Facebook page so you can watch the actual demo.
Kevin: Sure. So here we have a Samsung Frame TV. This one's a sixty-five inch. And what it does is you can actually do is art mode. You click the button right in the middle here and you can toggle between different pieces of art. Find a piece of art you like for your decor. They have a few hundred pieces of art come preloaded on it. And then you have an art store with thousands of pieces of extra art that you can choose from. You can say Hey I wanted to put a mat on it you can pick what color. You can say no mat, with the mat, change the color of the mat, say I want the mat to be cream-colored. I'm going backward looking at my screen.
Ron: I don't know how you're doing it. You're talented.
Kevin: It is kind of a backward feeling but I got it. turned away. Basically, this is the way the Samsung Frame TV works. It's really slick because it just it looks like a piece of art on the wall. The TV is so flat, it's unlike any TV I've seen in the industry and we've framed about 10,000 TVs over the years. I've seen a thing or two as they would say that. What was that Liberty Mutual commercial?
Ron: Scoot back over for me Kevin, I just changed the framing there. There you go. Right now I got you in the middle again, sorry I've surprised you. I clicked the button. You were tying that into CEDIA 2019. Because I saw you. You guys were slammed. And if I'm recalling you had launched us a Samsung Frame thing and that was the big announcement from you.
Kevin: That was the big announcement that was why we did CEDIA. We did it in the past and I said now we've got something new. I called my rep and at the last minute and I said I know CEDIA is in just 30 days. Was there any chance you had any last-minute cancellations? She said hold on. She sent me the floor plan and I looked at it. They had one cancellation and it was adjacent to Samsung's booth.
Ron: And One Firefly's. Clearly, you said I've got to take that spot.
Kevin: Yep. Samsung on one side, One Firefly on one side and Sonos on the other. We couldn't have been about amongst better company. It was pretty awesome.
Ron: That's funny. It's actually at that show is when I got a chance to go over to the Samsung booth and put my hands and my eyes finally on the frame. And that was right after that show that actually I came home and bought mine.
Kevin: Yeah. It's an awesome television. It's changed the game for us. We still do custom products. We've done TV mirrors and covers. But we were getting a lot of requests for a broader set of options for Samsung Frame. They offer four different narrow vessels and we said let's take what we do and just make it even better. That's what we did. And what happened was Samsung came over and said. Wow, this is pretty good. This makes our TV look even better. They were really jazzed about it. They were steadily bringing clients over, their top clients over to the booth throughout the show. A new synergy was formed. I think that we were afraid. We put Samsung the Frame on our booth and I said this is either going to go well or it's going to go bad.
Ron: 50 50 flip a coin.
Kevin: I'm either going to get a cease and desist or an 'atta boy.
Ron: That's funny. Any true entrepreneur would do it. I'm going to go out swinging if I'm going out.
Kevin: That's right. That's basically what happened. And then the relationship was formed and there's just a good connection there.
Ron: The Frame TV is certainly big for our audience. Our folks, we play in the CEDIA space, in the home and commercial technology arena. And I know from talking because I've raved about my own love of the TV. I never even could say I liked the TV. But my wife loves this TV. And so I've talked about it on occasion the last seven months since I've owned it and I know a lot of folks in the A.V. industry are selling it and having success with it. What has it done for your business? Is this the reason you went from 10000 to 30000 square feet? Did the Frame TV do that?
Kevin: Absolutely. We got back from CEDIA and we had so many showroom demo orders. We came back. We said we didn't expect people to order and people were just buying demo frames like crazy at the show. And so we definitely picked up on some of this and said wow there is really something here. We set up a small makeshift assembly line in the old building while trying to dual purpose other departments that already had their own specific purpose. And then we realized that we've got to get out of this building, we need more space. The train was leaving the building at that point. We said we need to be ready at this point. We did and then we made the move. And then COVID happened. And then I was scared to death.
Ron: In all seriousness, and I don't want to belabor it cause I think everybody listening and watching is tired of hearing COVID this and that. There's been so much pain and suffering to go around. But it is interesting to hear how people get through it and are finding creative approaches to get through it. What did it mean for you? You were in your place for one day and you had to close down and that was six or eight weeks ago or how long ago was that?
Kevin: Yeah it was March 17 or 18, something like that was when they shut it down. At that point, luckily, we had built up a decent amount of inventory because this product unlike our other custom products is a quick ship product. It's a SKU. We have them in stock. And what happened was we had about a thousand or so in stock. I was able to just stay here at the office as the sole employee because we were shut down. And then I just shipped orders out every single day just left a cart on the dock, UPS guy would come and take the cart. And that was that.
Ron: Do you mind sharing the business model? Are you selling this direct to consumers? I'm actually going to put on the screen your website, just for everyone's information here while you answer that. Do you sell direct consumer? What are all the different channels of distribution you have? And where do the CEDIA channel and the custom integrator fit into that model?
Kevin: Sure. For custom integrators, we have about twelve hundred dealers around the country. We've been selling through the CEDIA channel for a very long time. The beginning of the product was designed to be a direct consumer only product hence the name framemytvcom. And then we started finding a lot of dealers were very interested and started carrying it. As far as this new product line, Deco line. What's really nice about it is really just kind of follows the kiss methodology. It is super simple, keeping it simple. It's just like ordering a Sonos speaker, black or white in which SKU do you want. And that's the nice thing about the Deco product line. It's easy to assemble, easy install. End consumers can buy it from our website. We can really expand our reach through the CEDIA marketplace because as everyone knows there's not a lot of margin in TV. TV prices have pushed down so low that you can't make a lot of money on TV. There's a little more room to have an additional accessory as an upgraded premium accessory that's very similar to the vessels but just takes them one step further. Does that your question?
Ron: Yeah, it does. The dealer is able to make margin on this it's worth their time and energy to demo this and sell this product.
Kevin: Some of our relationships are direct and others are through different distribution partners. We just signed a deal with Ingram Micro. I think that was in March right before this happened. We just had our first shipment off to Ingram Micro.
Ron: So they're going to stock? They're gonna stock locally.
Kevin: Yes they are stocking locally and it is being rolled out.
Ron: Bear with me, we had to pause more shipments because at that point inventory was gold for us. We had to live off the inventory and ship direct for a lot of products. But now there's starting to be more flowing. Now that the factory is flowing again, we're getting more boxed up and replenishing what we burned through during COVID.
Ron: This seems so affordable. These are the retail numbers. $300.
Kevin: $300 it depends on what size. 300, 400, 500. $300 is our 32 inch, the new size they are just coming out with right now. It will range anywhere from 300-800 depending on which style and what size. We make them for the 32s up to the 75s.
Ron: OK I see that here. I've gotta be warned my wife might be watching this and I might have to be placing an order. I don't know.
Kevin: Call me.
Ron: I know someone, that is funny. I'm curious now that you're back in the space, you're back in your warehouse. You're ramping production. Were you able to get all your people back? How is the people side? Did you have to furlough them? Are you bringing them back? What were the mechanics of that just from a business operations standpoint?
Kevin: Right. We did need to. I had to make the really tough decision of do we furlough? What do we do exactly? Nobody knew what to do. There's no playbook for this. Our whole list of contingency plans of what could possibly go wrong. This was never gonna be on it. Fortunately, the feds did come through with the stimulus money. We were able to qualify for the program. But the way they put it together with the extra $600 a week you get from the fed side plus the state unemployment. It made it difficult. Do I make roughly the same wage and work?
Ron: I was going to say it's so awkward when someone can stay home and make the same amount of money or more than if they have their day job. Something about that is effed up. I'm just saying that something about that equation that calculus doesn't add up. Y.
Kevin: We all know that you know the government is crazy. And if we try to remember back to when it happened, when we were trying to wait for the stimulus plans to be announced. Everyone was chomping at the bit like come on, come out with it the right way. They had almost no choice but to just put something through and I think that even if somebody had brought up that detail it would have been an endless argument and we would be still right now before we had a stimulus plan. I don't think they had a choice but to just take action. But now they're kind of trying to figure out what do we do after the fact. My team came back, excited to come back. We don't have everybody back full time. Right now we have everybody back part-time. We're also doing a phased roll in as well, bringing the team back. That way they also still even qualify for some of the stimulus money because as taxpayers we're all paying for it anyway so it's crazy not to take advantage of it.
Ron: Well, I commend you for being a trooper and being a true warrior and entrepreneur and any of my entrepreneurs listening, you're warriors because it's been holy hell out there on the battlefield in the last couple of months. TV mirrors. Talk to me. What is a TV mirror?
Kevin: Sure. So a TV mirror when the TV is off. It looks like a decorative mirror. Turn the TV on and the mirror becomes clear and the TV picture comes through. That's one of our other core product lines. That was one of our first product lines in the very beginning. And then the other one is more of a motorized canvas painting so it's a framed piece of art. You push a button and the painting rolls up and reveals the TV. You can do literally millions of pieces of art to hide your TV. That's our highest-end top of the line product line. What are your prospects? I know we're gonna do a walkthrough of the warehouse and we're going to do a technology handoff so I want to make sure I've asked you at least most of my questions before we do that if that blows up. What is your prognosis for the balance of this year particularly as a manufacturer and attending shows? I'm assuming CEDIA is not the only show you do. You do other shows.
Kevin: We've got a few other shows but right now CEDIA has been the only show we've done. Trade show marketing hasn't really been our primary space. A lot of what's been our space is a lot of SEO. Things people call you for on a regular basis. One Firefly, a lot of integrators looking for great website development and things of that nature because it's a space that they don't know. For us, I took a lot of engineering background and I learned a lot about SEO in the beginning and became a little bit of an advanced amateur we'll just call it and that's our main space.
"SEO is absolutely in our wheelhouse as an agency and it's rather technical. But when you're good at it, it's a marketing superpower."
Ron: As you know, my background is engineering as well and SEO is absolutely in our wheelhouse as an agency and it's rather technical. But when you're good at it, it's a marketing superpower. To hear that leveraging SEO strategy has helped you scale and grow your business, that's music to my ears.
Kevin: We'd be dead without SEO and that was how we got the word out with the Samsung Frame product line is just hammering away at it and worked really hard at it.
Ron: I say we go for it. What do you think? Do you want to do the showroom tour here? Not the showroom but the warehouse tour.
Kevin: Yeah. I'm going to try to switch over and get that link.
Ron: All right. Folks what's going to happen here is Kevin's going to drop his computer feed and he's going to try to connect from his mobile phone. And so we're going to lose him for a minute and then he's going to come back and the whole process here is going to take approximately we theorize about a minute or so for the matrix to catch up to our antics. Let's see what happens. I do see him and you guys can't see him yet. But it takes about 30 to 45 seconds for the video audio and video connection to stabilize. I understand that you can see and hear Kevin but I cannot. thank you Alex for. I appreciate you guys sticking with us here. Alright, Kevin do your thing.
Kevin: I guess I'm just gonna go ahead and kind of carry forward. We can keep the show going. This is our conference room, we're just getting it set up. We've got one of the artworks up on the wall. I switched it over, I stole that remote from my other part of the demo because I couldn't find my remote. We're heading into the factory space here as you're starting to open things up. So this is our art department. The art department starting to get set up right now. It starts up the walls. This area back in here is the metal fabrication department. There'll be a whole welding area and things of that nature. Looking down the main assembly line area as we are coming in here. In fact, while we walk on by, we're gonna just pop in real fast and see Randy in the engineering lab. We will see what Randy is up to. This is our engineering lab here. We've got Randy over behind me. Some of you may have worked Randy, he's Head of Engineering and does all the design work and a lot of tech support work as well with clients. His 3-D printer is busy at work making 3D parts. He goes shooting over my shoulder. The 3D printers are printing a lot of the hardware for all the deco frames. This behind me is the net for the canvas.
We make our G clays for large motorized artworks. We're going to go back out to the factory now. That's gonna be the company gym, that darkroom can be a company gym here pretty soon. Let's go and walk on over here and we're gonna look at the Deco assembly area with file QA work. You see a few of the different TVs in the background, all the different screen sizes. From here we've got the different seventy-five-inch one that just came out. This one here is really popular, ornate gold. Now we're gonna head on over, this is a chop saw, this is a cutting room. They're working on it, they've got assembly areas and see here. The team is all working pretty hard. Everyone's really loving it. The space is making it so much easier for us to flow materials through. Before we were on the fifth floor of an old mill building and it was a great space but it was a lot of character to it but not a lot of efficiencies. Motion sensors back here. Walking into the back warehouse area. I've got tons of pallets with all of our samples department for all the corner samples, different frames, the shipping area.
Things are still getting set up so bear with us. You're literally on day two of everyone just moving in some of the Deco inventory back in here. All pallet shelving is coming for that area and then head on outback and we can see the loading dock area. So now we have four dedicated loading docks for basically for all the shipments are coming in and out every single day. It's really nice before we had one shared loading dock for the full five floors of the building. We're gonna head on back out to the office and I'm just going to switch back over the desktop so Ron can rejoin the show. Adapt on the fly and just roll with it. Right. Whatever happens, happens. And oh actually this is pretty cool. I'm going to show you right behind me. Can anyone take a guess what this big room is right here? That, my friends, is a two thousand square foot freezer because the prior business was a gluten-free bakery and they built this big freezer. But we've decided we're gonna turn it into a big giant spray booth for all of our spray finishing departments. That's gonna work out really well. We just got the hood put in and the booth is getting assembled. It's supposed to get assembled today but probably will be assembled tomorrow. I'm going to head on back out to the office now. I'm going to do a handoff and somebody can just tell Ron I'm heading back to the office and he can pick up the show from here and then I'll switch right back on.
Ron: And folks we're back. Just like that. What's up Kevin?
Kevin: Hey, how's it going? It's good to do a factory tour. I showed people around and actually the tour went well. I think people enjoyed, filled in the gaps just like we talked about. And I tried to hand off back to you and then you know what. Sometimes things just happen.
Ron: It was hilarious. So I could not. And I think we're live now. Let me just verify that we are. We're living dangerously here but we're having fun. We're smiling through it.
Kevin: Hey Ron, one thing that I think you me and every single person listening to this can appreciate is that we're living in a life of adapting and overcoming for these last two months more than we ever imagined. You go with it.
Ron: If this is the toughest thing that happens to me this week I think I'll be OK.
Kevin: Yeah exactly. It could've gone a lot worse. Don't worry.
Ron: It could have gotten worse. The funny thing is you rolled with it and gave your tour. I couldn't hear or see you but you're like screw it. Ron told me to just run with it. I'm running with it.
Kevin: When I was in college at my job in the Corps of Cadets was I was a Public Affairs Officer. I handled dignitaries that would come on campus and in media interviews. I learned a few things about some of that stuff in the process. I brushed it off there for a quick second. I'm not going to lie. There was a bit of sweat. It was hidden underneath of this mane that I desperately need to get cut. I sat down, I called in a favor to an ex who used to cut hair. I need a haircut to interview today.
Ron: You do look freshly groomed there.
Kevin: It's 6:00 a.m. this morning.
Ron: That is funny. What you guys think of this 30000 square foot facility for manufacturing. TV frames all from an inspired idea on the sofa with some gold spray paint and some crown molding to what he has now which sounds like a burgeoning partnership or support of the framed TV. Of course with all your other custom solutions. I know you were actually showing the magnet thing because I could see it on Facebook. What was that thing you were demoing?
Kevin: I started to basically show how the frame assembles and how it magnetically assembles. The assembly takes about 60 seconds and then from there installing the frame takes just a few more seconds. If you want I can show you real quick.
Ron: Yeah I'd love it. Actually, if you would change the view here so the audience can see it better. All right go ahead.
Kevin: Let's get this chair out of the way.
Ron: Show me how that thing goes on up and then also show me if you can if a dealer or a homeowner is buying this thing. How does it arrive to their showroom or their home?
Kevin: Yeah sure. I'll show you real quick what happens with that. We'll use the chair as a prop. This is my Vanna White moment here. The frame's going to arrive all packed in four pieces. So they're all spaced out. We're going to be able to make the transit fine. It'll magnetically assemble the frame the way I showed you with the corner sample. And then from there's two on the bottom, you release the frame from the TV and then from there that's basically how it works. It's really a symbol. Assembles easily, installs easily. The end consumers can do it or I've got some integrators that are charging for install. I said make sure the client goes in the room when you charge for the install. We try to make the product really simple for the dealers. We also have a mobile display kit to make it easier for them to showcase products on some different samples.
Ron: Does this have a cost or is this part of becoming a dealer? How does that work?
Kevin: It's a very nominal cost. They do purchase it but it's a very nominal cost.
Ron: If they're going to become a reseller you expect them to buy that kit. Correct?
Kevin: Yeah. You really should. You don't need to have it but I think it will make it very simple to sell when you're working with clients directly and individually.
Ron: Is that kit just for the frame solution or is that a comprehensive kit across the different types of TVs?
Kevin: No, that kit is just for the Deco TV frame product line which is made for Samsung the Frame. Yeah, that's just for that line. We have about 400 styles so it would be impossible for us to have a full kit for all of our custom product line frames.
Ron: Got it. That sounds good. You wanna grab your seat? Guys that are back with us. I think we see our audience is finding the new stream. And again thank everyone for their patience. I know our audience appreciates this because they're tech people because you do the demo and you'll prepare it in your showroom everything's gonna go perfectly. Your customer shows up. You click the button, but it was working 10 minutes ago!
Kevin: Sure it was.
Ron: Likely story there buckaroo. So Kevin, what has you most excited for 2020? There's lots of weirdness around, lots of challenges. What has you excited?
Kevin: For us, this is chapter two. This is chapter two of the business and I am so excited about all the buzz this thing going on with this new product line and just how well it's been received. And I don't even know what the end of 2020 will look like.
"We're all gaining our footing again and we're looking forward to finishing the year in some position and ideally go into 2021 super strong."
Ron: Do you have a prediction? Like all of us business owners, you have spreadsheets and forecasts and you're doing the maths and reading the tea leaves. What are you thinking of entering Q4 I imagine you had designed goals for 2020 and then March happened, the nuclear bomb that is COVID 19. And now we're all gaining our footing again and we're looking forward to finishing the year in some position and ideally go into 2021 super strong.
"I think that integrators, the industry, and service industries are going to start working remotely with clients."
Kevin: Bigger predictions, I think that we're going to find a different way to communicate with our clients. Many of our parents and loved ones have become familiar with Zoom calls. People who never did video calls in a million years. I can talk forever about Frame My TV. But I think in general terms, I think that integrators, people the industry, and service industries are going to start working remotely with clients. Before you just worked on your website or you just went out for an in-house call or people came to a retail store. Now there's this extra new sales medium that is a new kind of canvas and it's digital virtual meetings. Best Buy adapted pretty quickly and a lot of other integrators I saw were adapting quickly. You adapted. Everyone has changed and I think that we've learned ways to reinvent ourselves because we are forced to. Our hands are forced. I think we can be a lot less scared in the future after this.
Ron: I agree. I'll just focus on North America. I think I read it in Tech Crunch yesterday that Twitter announced that their employees now can work from home permanently. That's an option they can work from home or they can go to the office. Obviously, if you're in manufacturing you can't do that. You have to go to the office or go to the factory. Do you think that America looks different after this?
Kevin: Yeah, I'd say it's going to look different. It's just what you said about Twitter. I think what we're going to see is music to everyone's ears and that there'll be a lot less traffic in every metropolitan area. Think about it for a moment, it's gonna be easier to get make your commute to work because more people are telecommuting, working from home. It's unfortunate for certain businesses like the restaurant industries and stuff that's going to take a toll. But I do think that in general, we're just going to see less traffic because more people are working from home a few days a week maybe. I think people are finding different ways to get a little more quality time with their family, almost too much in some cases.
Ron: I want to make a prediction for you. My prediction is that because people are spending so much more time in their homes, they're staring at those ugly tv's on the wall and I'm already seeing it with my clients around the country. They're seeing in many cases and in many markets a surge in demand for home tech.
Kevin: Yes, there's a huge increase in TV sales and home tech. TV sales have considerably increased during this period. I think that that's going to further go on because once consumer confidence comes back, that's going to further grow. I think you will definitely see an increase in home technology.
Ron: That is exciting. Is there any news you have in the wings that you're going to announce soon? Wink wink there might be big things happening, maybe not. I don't know.
Kevin: I'm not at liberty to say right now we're just going to say that the future looks bright the future looks very bright. There are good things on the horizon.
Ron: There are good things on the horizon. That's great. Kevin to close out here, there are entrepreneurs out there, either running owning the business running the business operating within the business. Any words of advice any words of wisdom that you would pass on to others that are out there living the American Dream or whatever dream in whatever country they live in? But they're out there running their business and dealing with these challenges.
"Reinvent yourself. Change it up. Even if I get out of TV framing, I'll find something else to get into. And that's what entrepreneurs do. We adapt, we innovate, and we overcome."
Kevin: I would say just stick with it. If running a business was easy everybody would do it. And as everyone that is in the business right now knows, getting to where they were before COVID was not easy. After this, if you can survive, you can survive anything. I don't think any mountain is too high. Reinvent yourself. Change it up. Even if I get out of TV framing, I'll find something else to get into. And that's what entrepreneurs do. We adapt, we innovate, and we overcome. It's just in our blood. Previously, I had a photography business and when things looked as bad as they possibly could and I was facing bankruptcy, I rolled my dice to my credit cards and just said let's see what happens. And here's where I am. It works if you believe it will happen.
Ron: Love it. Amazing success story.
Kevin: One last thing Ron. Life begins at the edge of your comfort zone.
Ron: What does that mean to you?
Kevin: Take a leap, whenever you're afraid, doing a live handoff on an online Facebook Live interview. Give it a try. What's the worst that can happen? Take a leap. Take the plunge. Put Samsung's logo on your booth. I didn't say that.
Ron: I don't think they're watching any longer I think they bailed after the mess up in the last stream. That's fun. I put your website on the screen here for those that are listening. framemytv.com. For people that would like to get in touch with you directly, how else should they follow you or get in touch with you?
Ron: Awesome. Kevin thank you for number one joining me on episode 120 of Automation Unplugged but also thanks for being a good sport as we dealt with some of these technology hurdles. You were a good sport the whole way. So thanks for that.
Kevin: My pleasure. Thanks Ron. Thanks for having us.
Ron: All right gang, there you have it. You have let me get this streamer off the screen. There you have it. That was episode number 120 of Automation Unplugged. Didn't go exactly as planned but you know that's life baby. Life doesn't always go exactly as planned and you can choose what differentiates all of us is simply how do you deal with it when things go sideways. As always, if you have not already done so please listen to us on your favorite podcast platform. And speaking of the podcast, I don't know if you guys follow the podcasting universe but it's growing. Joe Rogan's podcast actually just signed up with Spotify and a one hundred million dollar deal that just got announced yesterday. So he's actually moving his podcast over to Spotify. I have no such ambitions here with Automation Unplugged. We are the little train that could or can and we just enjoy bringing you guys, great guests. Folks that make up this fun industry we call the customer integration marketplace and all the characters that make it up and make it work and that includes all of you listening because if you're listening to this that means you're in that industry. Folks, as always thanks for watching. Thanks for listening. We will see you on the next episode of Automation Unplugged. And I think we're bringing you another episode tomorrow. Stephanie is going to be down in the chat section here and she'll drop those notes. We have more shows coming up. A lot of great guests were actually booked out through July at this point. Lots of fun guests coming and we'll see you guys soon. Have a great rest of your week.
Kevin Hancock is President of Frame My TV, which he founded out of his garage in 2006. Kevin and Frame My TV have since sold more than 10,000 TV frames to clients around the world in both luxury homes and commercial properties.
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.
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