Watch Episode #53: An Industry Q&A with Joseph Piccirilli
Educating the Marketplace on the Benefits of Clean Power
This week's show features our host Ron Callis interviewing Joseph Piccirilli. Recorded Live on Wednesday September 12th, 2018 at 12:30pm EST.
About Joseph Piccirilli
Joseph Piccirilli is an accomplished consultant, strategist and speaker with a 40-year career that spans the consumer electronics, systems integration and energy industries. In his current capacity at RoseWater Energy Group, he oversees the manufacturing, sales and distribution of leading new technology for residential power storage and handling efforts. Piccirilli was one of the founders of Sound Advice, a publically held upscale consumer electronics retail company. Piccirilli then began to study the causes and effects of the deteriorating power quality in North America. In particular, the damage poor power quality causes in automated residences. That study lead him to develop the Rosewater Energy HUB.
Here are some of the topics Ron had the opportunity to discuss with Joseph:
- Joe's background in the industry
- Joe's experience at CEDIA 2018
- The importance of quality power for connected homes
- Rosewater Energy's HUB product
More Automation Unplugged
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Ron: Hello there. Ron Callis with another episode of Automation Unplugged Episode number 53 probably brought to you by my day job over at One Firefly. Today is a little bit of a unique recording in that I had my guest Joe Piccirilli from Rosewater Energy on. I had him on earlier in the week. But we had some technical difficulties. Our stream into Facebook did not want to cooperate. So if you were on our One Firefly Facebook page, you'll notice that there are four different increments of that video or have been. We're going to be pulling them down potentially by the time we post this video. So here we are at the end of the week. It's actually the weekend and Joe agreed to come back on so that I could interview him in a a one cut recording. And the good news is I got practice, so I got to understand a lot of the topics that Joe was speaking about and hopefully we can make this great content for you are valued listeners. So without further ado, let me go ahead and bring in just a couple of extra pieces of content here. One remember One Firefly is now on Instagram. So if you want to, you know, follow us with our travels across the country to different shows and product messages related to marketing. Certainly please check that out. And also let me bring up our guests lineup real quick. So here you can see we have Joe on. Joe was originally on on September 19th. This we're going to be posting this, this video couple of days later and then our next guest show 54 is the one and only JJ Canon of Digital Delight and The Digital Ramble with his partner in crime, Chris. So real excited to have JJ on and get his perspectives. So let me go ahead and bring in our guest. Mr Joe, how are you sir?
Joe: Good morning Ron. Here we are on a Sunday morning, thanks to our technical glitches, both awake.
Ron: Man, are we dedicated or what?
Joe: My goodness. No one could ever say we don't try hard.
Ron: That's right. Now I don't know how effective we are, but man do we work hard. Joe's like I'm not even going to go along with that one. Joe, how long have you been up this morning already?
Joe: Oh, I've been at my desk since about 5:30 plugging away, trying to get things done.
Ron: So what does Joe do on a Sunday morning when he gets up? 5:00 AM and gets to work. Like what's your routine?
Joe: Well immediately to my coffee machine.
Ron: I'm still drinking mine right now so I can fully relate.
Joe: I'm past my fourth double espresso so I'm done for the day with coffee.
Ron: Yeah, you're ahead of the game.
Joe: Yes. And then you know you get to your emails and my house, cause no one in my house is insane enough to get up that early. Any day of the week, much less on a weekend. I have this really quiet home where I could sit down, answer my emails, go through everything, and then start to work on some of the articles I need to write, work on new product, work on what I think the next five years needs to bring to Rosewater in complete silence, which is great.
Ron: The solitude of an early morning is special. I don't do 5:00 AM on the weekends. I usually am about 7:30 on the weekends and still that typically not always, typically gives me a couple of hours of solitude to get into my office and get whatever I want done. And that's some of my more productive time.
Joe: Yeah, I just find that precious time and only a couple of my closest friends except for now this broadcast know I'm up that early so I never get a phone call. So it's really terrific.
Ron: Is the secret going to be out now?
Joe: I'm going to have to change my number now.
Ron: You got to change your number for sure. So Joe, where I like to start for all of our viewers is, you know, they may have heard of you. I know for example, you and I were joking when we did the original recording this week that I've been in the industry, you know, the automation industry almost 19 years. And I had heard of your name and so many different fashions and circles, but I had never met you. And in fact then we talked further and we realized we live five miles apart. And so now I'm totally guilt tripped that we haven't met. I think that's just plain silly. But can you tell our audience a little bit about your background? Just like to, you know, take as much time as you want. You have a really fascinating background. You stayed in this space, you've seen a lot and just kind of take us through some of that.
Joe: Sure. It's interesting because I was working on a graduate degree in engineering kind of biding time in 1972 and then was recruited by a company in Boston to be in their very large quotation marks, first management training program to work for a chain of stereo stores. And much to my parents' dismay, I dropped out of graduate school, moved to Boston. I would imagine they had a heart attack when they heard you were going to hide that. And through that company, a company called Tech HiFi at the time I would went and opened a group of stores for them back in the Ann Arbor, Michigan. I went to college after doing that for awhile, I decided, God, you know, I could do this on my own. And myself and three guys I went to college with said, let's open a chain of stereo stores. Where should we do it? Well, we were tired of the cold, so we thought should be warm weather. We ended up opening a store in Fort Lauderdale called Sound Advice in 1974. Fortunately for us, Sound Advice became a Florida institution in 1986 we took it public. We're selling highend stereos to any everybody. It was a terrific time to be selling stereos because when music was big and a stereo system wisdom, a real status symbol amongst the youth of that period. So we were very, very fortunate. The other interesting bit of history, stereo systems before that period were toys of the rich. It was Macintosh, Scott, JBL at the time, extraordinary expensive products and then a bunch of soldiers coming back from Vietnam and brought back something called a receiver made by Kenwood or Pioneer that brought the price of audio down to the affordable range. At that same time, a guy named Henry Close was producing loudspeakers that were small, inexpensive, and terrific. So it was really this confluence of factors that allowed this business to explode. And I was fortunate enough in the Sound Advice days to actually get to meet because the industry was small and cottage like. Henry Close came down to visit Saul Marantz came down to this, John Dahlquist, all of these legend speaking to speaker designers came down to visit us at sound advice. A number of them became our mentors and Sound Advice was able to flourish. We were also fortunate that we were able to put together a group of very, very smart people. My sales people, my partners, everybody who worked there was one of those golden moments. So we took the company public in '86 and then in 1989 I got sick, decided it was time for me to take some time off. So I did, I left the company. And then I was..
Ron: You still maintained shares, I'm assuming in the public company? But you are no longer running the company at that point?
Joe: I was no longer involved at all. I maintained shares, but I was no longer involved in the company. And then after about six or seven months, I got my health back. I was kind of bored. So I started to consult and it was interesting because I had this interesting ability for sales training and sales management. I was hired by Texas Instruments, Hewlett Packard, and Sony Best Buy, to implement these programs in their companies. So I did that for awhile. It was a terrific gig cause, yeah, I had a house here, I had a house in Jackson Hole, Wyoming and you know, I was kind of a bum making some money and enjoying the hell out of it. From there..
Ron: Were you the trainer, when you were going around to the, you know, working for these big, you know, Fortune 500 companies, you were?
Joe: I was the actual trainer because I really do love teaching. I didn't know that until I started writing the training courses. It sounded advice and implementing them. But I love being out in front of an audience and training, helping people improve their lives. It's really great for me.
Ron: Oh, keep going. Keep going. That's fascinating. Holy cow. You've already lived several lifetimes in the story so far.
Joe: After that I was, really interested in distribution because everybody was talking about the internet compressing the distribution channel and everybody was going to go vendor direct to customer. But in the system integration space that was just growing. We had all of these tiny little dealers who really couldn't go to Samsung and buy direct who really couldn't go to Sony and buy direct because they were too small. So I decided with a group of people that we would start a distribution company and that distribution company was called Avid and Avid in a seven year period went from startup to the most dominant specialty distribution company in the United States.
Ron: And it was ultimately purchased for by Ingram Micro. Right?
Joe: Ingram bought us in 2005 or six once again, forced me into retirement, you know? Damn. Nobody wanted to keep me around so..
Ron: Crazy. I remember, I mean, I can tell you in so many fashion, I know the story isn't over yet, but so what you created has intersected my life already so many times I'll get to that here when you're, you know, you get through this part of the story, but it's just fascinating now to be sitting here interviewing you for this live show. Well, what is typically live right now, it's prerecorded because technology wouldn't behave. But I just want to add again, it's an honor to sit here and be chatting with you.
Joe: Well, thank you. So after the Avid days, I started playing around with looking at energy and power quality and renewable energy. All of these facets of what was going to become what I thought was going to become an interesting in business. And one of the things that struck me was that power quality, the ability to deliver constant voltage, constant current was going to become more and more important because we sit in an industry, the system integrator industry that is continuing to add more and more microprocessors to a house. We automate lighting. We automate HVAC, we are now trying to voice control everything and each of the sensors in a house requires a microprocessor. Microprocessors do not like voltage variation. So on one side, okay, in order for a customer or a client to enjoy fully, the automation in the house, power quality has significant effect on that enjoyment and also the longevity of the equipment. And then it became clear that power quality in the US in North America was getting worse, not better. Infrastructure is aging. You can't build new power plants and population is becoming denser on the coast and in many, many cities. Because if you look at, I have this great shot of a section of Palm Beach Island in 1950 and that same section today, the number of houses is almost a hundred fold. And in 1950 the few houses that were on Palm Beach Island weren't the kind of mansions that we see today. Many of them were little cottages. Obviously there were some big homes on the sea. Now every house on Palm Beach Island is gigantic. The amount of power going down to Palm Beach on the Island hasn't changed in 16 years. So the power has got to give. So based on those confluence of factors, I decided to start Rosewater Energy with a partner, a friend of mine in Toronto, and I wanted to build a device that at the panel level, not the device level, would provide the same kind of power quality that is demanded by mission critical facilities. I also, because I live in South Florida, wanted to make sure that we would protect any equipment connected to this box from nature's anomalies, lightning strikes. So of course I had to go out and find out how does a mission critical facility protect itself against lightning? And after finding that out, I took that same componentry and included it in my device. I wanted to ensure absolutely the very best power, quality available and ensure that it could never change regardless of input. I wanted to provide significant battery backup. So should your generator fail utility, fail. You have, not minutes, but hours and days of your critical components being backed up. And I wanted the ability to integrate renewable energy. The should you want to extend your battery life, extend your off grid time. You can, and you can without compromising power quality, which is very, very difficult to do. So with all that in mind, we introduced our first product called the Hub 20, we introduced almost three years ago. It was a very expensive, very large..
Ron: What are the price points of these Rosewater Energy Batteries?
Joe: The first product went to end user at about a hundred thousand dollars. Okay.
Ron: And you've designed them specifically with integrator margin in mind, right? So they can represent and sell these products and they're going to make money doing it.
Joe: Oh, yes, yes. Everybody does okay in this equation. But the first product was two cabinets, took up way too much floor space and then I began to redesign the product from a standpoint of not compromising quality or features. But how do I shrink it? Right now I've got a product called the SB 20.
Ron: I just put that screen art by the way so that everyone watching will see that they'll see a cabinet now with blue lights.
Joe: That's the one and that product does everything that my old Hub 20 does, did except sell back power to the grid. And the reason I was able to eliminate that is in all of the Hub 20s we sold, not one person ever used the sell deck feature. So I eliminated that feature. Was able to compress it to one device, bring the price down by about $20,000 and now we have the SB 20 being sold and again, much less floor space because no matter how big the house, everybody's fighting for floor space.
Ron: I think that makes sense. I can't imagine the homeowner in a, I'm just making a number up, a 10,000 square foot home in Palm Beach is trying to generate, you know, renewable energy and sell that back into the grid and care about that number.
Joe: Correct, correct. The only time people want to generate or sell back to the grid is so they can tell their friends they do it cause it's just..
Ron: Yeah, sure there's gotta be a bit of, you know, the, some of those, I don't mean this in a derogatory way, but the tree hugger that that wants to be super green, you know, it's kind of antithetical to be super green and living in a 10,000 square foot house and have a private jet, isn't it? I mean..
Joe: Well this is my term, I've coined it, but you know, everybody needs a little eco bling. So this is their ego. You know, everybody has a Prius in the driveway but they take the S class to the Learjet. Right?
Ron: Yeah. No, that, that makes sense. Now how are you, how are the integrators, cause that's, you know, much of our audience listening are our integrators, either owners or operators or managers or technicians or programmers. How are they receiving or how effective are they at presenting this power solution, this power storage, clean power story to the consumer? And how are the consumers receiving the message?
Joe: That is a terrific question. And the answer to that..
Ron: Imagine that's where your training chops come into play, right?
Joe: Yes. The is really once an integrator sees it, it actually clicks in his or her mind. Then they present it to every client and mostly once they sell the first one he's my product is incorporated in virtually every quote they get. It is really, it is uncomfortable for them because think about it before Rosewater, a power conditioner or UPS was considered an accessory, almost an afterthought and an expensive one was $1,500 really expensive and the product category was treated as an accessory. It was never treated as a core product. So yeah, part of our evangelizing and my training is how do you position this as a core product because it is in fact a core product. It is as important to the enjoyment of the equipment we put in as the equipment we choose. Because without power quality, the equipment we put in doesn't work. Think about all the truck rolls. Think about all the calls from clients saying, I lost my network, I've lost my this box or that box or worse, I can't turn on my damn lights cause a microprocessor blew up. You know those are problematic for both the integrator and obviously the enduser. So what I do in my training now is I really teach people how to position these products at the consultative portion of the sale. You really positioned it out front. You know, I asked a series of questions about power quality early on into the sale. I might position it by saying to the client, look, I'm going to ask you some questions that you may not have been asked before, but I'm going to ask you some questions about the power quality in your residence and your experience with power quality. And I'll say, I'm asking you these questions because power quality is important to the enjoyment of your system as the equipment we choose. I set it up right there and then ask, Hey, have you ever noticed that your lights might dim on occasion? Have you ever noticed that your equipment might flicker? Some of your timers need to be reset. Those are not problems with equipment. Those are problems with utility and those problems are becoming more and more frequent. So later in this presentation, I'm going to talk to you about a device that will prevent all of those power quality problems from affecting your equipment.
Ron: No, it's interesting, a couple of shows ago I had Jimmy on from SurgeX.
Joe: My buddy!
Ron: Your buddy and I mean he's out there like an evangelists trying to solve power problems, you know, jet setting across the country back and forth and doing training. And he's much beloved in our industry. And he's, you know, he's an evangelist and personality, but the show again, we're not live here and I'm sure if we were, we'd have a lot of people jumping in. But the show with him, it was one of the most commented shows and it was one of the most viewed shows in a very short span of time. And I suspect, you know, A.) partly because a little bit of his celebrity, but B.) It's the message, you know, and people are curious, they don't fully understand power and brownouts and surge and noise and how that is ultimately disrupting their systems. Whether that's a $10,000 system or a hundred thousand or a million dollar bit of technology.
Joe: Correct. And, and think about from the standpoint our industry is built on low voltage, not highly high voltage. So you've got a big, a significant portion of our industry that is actually afraid of high voltage. Yes. You know, Lutron sorta got us into high voltage slowly, but most people are afraid of it, don't understand it. Think that they could do some real damage in a high voltage world. And it is companies like Rosewater, people like Jimmy out there or we're going out and making this understandable, trying to break down those old wives tales about dying doing this. And it's slowly the message is slowly coming across. Yup.
Ron: Couple of questions. One of the logistics, let's say the integrator effectively sells this message to the client, which makes a lot of sense. Certainly in larger more complicated systems. I think it could be argued it's a no brainer. It's almost an insurance policy. What the deployment or the installation process look like? I. E. What role does the integrator play and what role does the electrician play? What role does the MEP firm play in that deployment process?
Joe: Once an integrator calls us and says, we have a client, then my technical team gets together with the integrator to ask about, okay, what does your critical load panel look like? What do you want to protect? We, with the help of the integrator and the electrician, calculate the load panels. Okay. One of our devices will do just fine or it may take multiple devices. We then talk to the integrator. This is the floor space required, is everybody copacetic with the floor space? Once that's all all sorted out, we give very specific instructions to the electrician because we can't pull a permit in every county in America. So electrician, we need this wire, these wires to go this way and these wires to go that way. Right. And then the equipment gets delivered to site. Once with the equipment comes from one of my people anywhere in the country. One of my guys goes in, we do the hookup and commissioning. We require at hookup and commissioning, the integrator is present a representative of the client. If necessary, should be present. We get the property manager or that or the client. Sure. He's the property manager. We commissioned the unit, go through training on the unit, make sure that the unit, because the unit sets out alerts. If power's off, everybody gets alerted. If there is a battery issue, people get alerted. So we make sure everybody's emails are up and running. It's connected to the network. Once that's done, we leave. Everybody's happy. We do not get in the middle of the client integrator relationship. We're just there as the installation team.
Ron: Got it. Now question, I'm going to go I'm going to come out of left field here with this. Maybe we just had CEDIA a couple of weeks ago. And I, by the way, I hope you had a great CEDIA.
Joe: We had a terrific CEDIA.
Ron: And as did I I was very pleased with the show and all the action and activities. It was a lot of fun. One of the companies, you know, newer entries to our space was a company called Sonnen. They had a product called Eco Links. It was a lot of talk about Eco Links at the show. How, how was it for someone that's now there? You know, what's interesting, you were first to this space with this type of solution. And now here comes a new entrant and I'm going to project, maybe there will be more. What, how, for now with two players in the automation space, how does someone differentiate the, you know, the Rosewater Energy solution and this newer thing from Sonnen? What are some of the primary differences, you know, maybe you know, to make it easy to digest?
Joe: The Sonnen solution is geared to be battery back up for renewable energy. There is no power quality, there's no power conditioning. There is no surge protection and the battery backup is shorter in duration than ours. Okay. So if you are interested in a UPS function, if you are interested in a power quality function, if you're interested in surge protection, the Sonnen device can't do that. It is not geared for any of those. Sonnen is worldwide the leader in renewable energy, battery backup.
Ron: Got it.
Joe: There are other differences. For instance, in the Sonnen product, they're choosing to use a lithium iron phosphate chemistry as their battery. Now the advantage to lithium is that it's lightweight. That's the major advantage, which is why it's in cars. We choose to use a lead acid, very traditional, very old, very safe. And we use that. We use lead acid for a number of reasons, not the least of which is safety. And from an environmental standpoint, a lead acid battery is the single most recycled product in all of North America. And I believe globally, 96% of what goes into a lead acid battery makes new lead acid batteries.
Ron: It's interesting. So if you're going from that green angle, the lead acid battery is more eco friendly.
Joe: Without doubt because right now no one can recycle a lithium product. There's no recycling available anywhere in North America.
Ron: Got it. Now I am heading out to SPI tomorrow morning at 7:00 AM. And for those listening in our industry, they're like, Ron, what the heck is SPI? SPI is Solar Power. I think it's Solar Power International. Is that correct?
Joe: That's what it stands for. Yes.
Ron: And cause I'm curious. Well, I'm curious, you're more than curious, you're in it. In terms of energy and backup and storage, I think that there are some very interesting plays for our industry. Have you been to the SPI show and if so, what's kind of your read on that? You know, maybe I'll call them solar contractors and all the different flavors that make up that industry that shows, you know, as big or bigger than CEDIA. What's kind of your read on that space?
Joe: I've been to the show twice and it is an interesting kind of industry because the entire focus of the industry is return on investment to consumer. If you put this in, it will pay back financially in X years. Now, I think the math is more than fuzzy, but that's me. But what that means is that that industry is already in a race to the bottom before the technology has even been flushed out because it's all about this is the subsidy, this is why you should buy it. Now we could spend an entire show just talking about the math and why I believe that that industry has missed the mark in terms of customer definition. I got so involved in the math around solar industry and I was so diametrically opposed to the math that was being put out by the industry. I actually funded my own university study to prove my numbers.
Ron: Oh wow. What were you proving? I know it's probably a pretty dense paper, but what's the high level learning?
Joe: The customer for renewable products is never should be the end user. It not the homeowner. It makes the most sense for utility and it makes the most sense for utility to put it in a house and put it in free. I can't go into much more detail, but we have calculated the price and the value to utilities. I presented it to utilities we have. We have done all of that.
Ron: So this is not a public white paper. These are internal research that you conducted to help you refine and define your business model.
Joe: Yes, this is my intellectual property.
Ron: Got it. Okay. I'm definitely not asking you to disclose anything that's IP that's not public knowledge for sure.
Joe: Very interesting. But in any case, Sonnen and Blake Ricotta who's head of sales for North America's..
Ron: You probably knew him from your Lutron Avid days.
Joe: Exactly. And you know, he's very good at what he does and Sonnen and for that type of device has the best plan. I mean, if somebody were to ask me, okay, I want to back up my solar what should I use? I would say someone straight up, just like my buddy Jimmy. If you're going to do something at a device level, never compromise by Jimmy's product by SurgeX from our testing, they build the best stuff at the device level. If you want to back up at the panel level, there is only one device for you in that it's ours because we build the best one bar none.
Ron: Are you excited with the progress of Rosewater in terms of the adoption curve by the automation and audio video space?
Joe: I am pleased. Am I satisfied? Absolutely not. Were there are there things I would do differently? Probably with the benefit of hindsight, I would hope we'd all try and do things a little differently. But yeah, I mean it's a tough road, you know, in the past, both with Avid and Sound Advice in my past, I've always managed to do things that everybody said can't be done. So I'm in that same path right now except a lot older. So it's a little bit more taxing than it used to be. But yeah, the adoption rate is pretty good. And when I see competition that really gives me hope. Yeah. Because then it's, well maybe he's not that nuts. Maybe we oughta look at what he's doing, which is great. I mean I'm very pleased with what's going on.
Ron: My opinion as a marketer and maybe just a human is I, I think competition's great because it means you now have, you know, increased opportunity for eyeballs and mindshare and people then ask questions, what should I use and why? And the more of those questions getting asked generally would mean the more of your product that's going to be sold.
Joe: Without question. That's the way it should work. And think about the timing at this moment. We are looking at one of the main states of system integration, which is home automation getting cheaper and cheaper and cheaper. Now our industry does not scale in terms of number of jobs per year. Most of our installers can only do X number of jobs, period because they have limited curves. So when all of a sudden the dollars per job begin to diminish, our installers are in trouble. So they need to continue to find where is the next way to help our clients enjoy these products. Where is the next product that we can backfill that dollars per customer? And I am a firm believer that it is power quality, power quality as a core product, not an accessory that will help backfill that dollar per customer necessity for the health of our industry.
Ron: When you look forward, Joe and the economy of the past five years has been rather gangbusters. Blockbuster stellar, right? Most integrators in most markets of the country are doing really well and have done really well for, for a number of years now. You know, post '08 '09 meltdown. Yes. And you know, I'm 40 I've lived through, I've witnessed a couple of these ups and downs and I have a sense, I don't want to be the skeptic or the pessimist in the room, but I'm just trying to be an observer of data and we're kind of then doing really well for a long time. And so I'm a little nervous, but eyes wide open about what's in front of us as an industry. Based on the economy. Now I don't know if that's accurate or not. I try to listen and read materials, but I'm curious what your opinion is, what's in front of us as an economy and how does that integrator prepare either way?
Joe: I think barring any kind of unforeseen global catastrophe, you know that we still have a few years run of a really good economy because full of fact of the most recent tax legislation has not been realized. Corporate profits are good. All of a sudden average income is starting to tick back up and job participation rates are starting to tick back up. So those are all really good signs. You know, as long as, and this is a big, if, if the politicians could sort of leave stuff alone and let it go its own way.
Ron: That's a dangerous ask right there.
Joe: I think we're in pretty good and a pretty good position, but we always have to be leery because of what I said before. This industry does not scale in number of jobs per year. It scales in dollars per job. Right. And that we have to be very conscious of all at all times. You know, you're talking about '08 '09 and how things were getting bad. Well, the other thing that happened in '08 '09, look at the pricing of flat panel television, which was the mainstay of our business. Right?
Ron: I haven't looked at that in particular, but I'm assuming that that took a nosedive.
Joe: Well, think about it in, in the two early two thousands, right? 2004, 2005 we were selling flat panel televisions at between $5,000 and $10,000 per unit. And installing everyone we can get our hands on. Today, a better TV that we were selling at $5,000 or $10,000 is 400 bucks. Right? That's just it. You want to talk about wiping out a whole bunch of installers who weren't ready for that?
Ron: Yeah, I'm not going to lie. I have a 65 inch super display downstairs. And Brandsmart was running a special, I was just randomly in Brandsmart and I saw this for, I think it was 4K 65 inch Samsung, and it was, it was like $550, and it's a spectacular and it's a spectacular display. And I'm just like, you've gotta be kidding. I remember I used to travel the country back with Lutron, you know, this is '01 '02 '03 and there were integrator selling $10,000 to $20,000 displays. Oh, of course. In these homes you know, some of these names are names you don't even see them selling anymore. And those days are gone. I remember Farrugia Processors and all sorts of Pioneer League.
Joe: Think about a brand like Fujitsu. Yeah. I mean that was a huge brand in flat panel doesn't exist in flat panels anymore.
Ron: Yeah, when this interview started you were talking about your Sound Advice days and, and I, I wanted to just put out there that when I started my career, I graduated from Virginia Tech and I went to go work for Lutron and I went and traveled to Florida as one of my very first training assignments and I traveled with the one and only Warren Lanza. Yes. And Warren brought me into a sound advice store in Fort Lauderdale. It was East, I don't remember the exact location.
Joe: Store 1. Just between Oakland Park and commercial.
Ron: There you go. Was that store one?
Joe: That was store number one.
Ron: There was some importance of why he brought me to this store. I do remember that. I didn't know what I didn't know. I didn't know how much I didn't know at that time. But that my first introduction to the custom integration space was getting a full day in your first store.
Joe: Well, I am enamored by this channel, which is, I mean I chose this channel very specifically to introduce the Rosewater product because it is this channel that has the full faith and confidence of the innovator, early adopter market. Sometimes when I'm doing training at a CEDIA, want to reach out and shake these guys to let them know that their value is the faith that their clients have in them. It's not about the gear they sell, it's about their value, their personal equity and value. And if you look at this channel, every significant product in consumer electronics has been introduced to some form of specialty or system integrator since system integrator retailing, every one of them. And they start out at what seems at the time of certainly high prices, but get adopted by the innovators, the early adopters go to the early majority and then, you know, becomes a commodity. And that's the cycle. It's always been that way. And this channel is incredibly important to the ecosystem of any product. Incredibly important.
Ron: I couldn't imagine a better way to bring the best technology in the world to the customer that's ready to adopt it and trust there. They're installing contractor than this channel.
Joe: Exactly. And those installers who survived the 2008, 2009 confluence of flat panel television going to near zero and the economy going to near zero in the same couple of years, it's a testament to their business and to their ability to get knocked down and get back up, which, and they should all be really proud of that.
Ron: I started my business Joe, Firefly Design Group when I left Crestron. I left Crestron in October of '07.
Joe: Oh good timing.
Ron: Figured out time it perfectly to just, you know, just preempt the meltdown and cash out all my retirement, all my savings and fully invest in a business that relied on selling engineering services to integrators, which is a category they needed, but none of them knew how to have the money to purchase. It just looks like pure genius and hindsight. And I don't know where I was going with that story, but I just, I wanted to empathize. You know, timing is critical, but if you can learn to survive in that, in that time period, '08 '09, which we did, we survived. Never missed a payroll, you know, gained a lot of gray hair during that time period and lost a lot of hair. But you know, when you survive tough markets, you just learn to operate leaner and smarter or you go out of business and that's okay. Maybe most do.
Joe: I think you add that bit of experience that teaches you that no matter how bad it looks, if you are willing to continue to stand up and think through it, don't panic. Think. You then apply that in both the good times and the bad times because I am a believer that good times put as many people out of business as bad times because in the good times you start thinking or you stop thinking and you start assuming that this is your God's gift. Right? It's all about I am destined to be successul.
Ron: I am destined to be very wealthy and have five jets.
Joe: That's fine. So I think that, you know, the ability to weather that kind of storm and think your way through it and plan your way through it and make those hard decisions is what allows people to survive.
Ron: I want to ask you one last question then we're going to wrap up because we've been going for almost 45 minutes. Believe it or not. Yeah, it's time flies when you're having fun. I'm having a blast. I do run a marketing agency and we do serve many hundreds of integrators. How should a integrator market the capability they now gained through Rosewater Energy? How do you recommend they present that to their customer? Is it, so I'll just leave it there, but what's your opinion of what they should do?
Joe: Well, from my point of view, and you are positioning this product as the product that will ensure the reliability and performance of every piece of equipment they put into their home. This is the product that makes sure that your product will perform in the fashion you expected it to perform. You will actually get your money's worth out of the product. And that the positioning is no more difficult than that. You know, if you were to sit down and I use one of Jimmy's devices in my house to measure my power quality and you measure power quality in house and you go, wow, how does anything survive this? Because power quality is getting worse and worse and worse. So the other thing in terms of positioning of Rosewater in particular, and obviously I'm not objective, but I'm going to make this statement anyway. There is no better built, better performing product of its type available in the marketplace. None. I have gone to great lengths to make sure it is the best. I will put it up against any anybody's product anytime, anywhere. And you know, as an anecdotal kind of proof to that, our very first product was installed in a store in Boca Raton and it was Boca home theater and Jeff was a great guy. So Jeff was getting this gigantic theater and installed as a demo. The cat home theater that's around 1 million bucks. It's like crazy, one home theater, and normally when they come in and install that theater, they bring in their own power conditioner because any kind of electrical noise wreaks havoc with their team. They forgot their power conditioner and they were in a deadline and Jeff said, no problem. That room is covered by a Rosewater device and they didn't know anything about us and they brought in their measurement equipment and measured the power quality in that room. And the guy was measuring it, said, Oh God, my measuring equipment must be off. I can't find the noise floor. And Jeff was just chuckling. He's going, no. That's why we have that device. And that's how it is. I mean it really is. If you're looking for the very best product available, you will find it at Rosewater.
Ron: Joe, let's cap it there. That's awesome. Where can my audience find more about you and or Rosewater, what do you recommend next steps if they want to start poking around or even reach out and speak to you or someone on your team, what are next steps?
Ron: Awesome. Joe has been an honor and a pleasure to have you on the show.
Joe: Well it's been my pleasure. Thank you so much Ron.
Ron: Now that we know we are neighbors, I am going to treat you out to out to lunch and we need to find a day and a time to do that.
Joe: I would love it. I'd love to do it.
Ron: Awesome. All right folks let me bring up my artwork here. Well, there you have it. That was episode 53 of Automation Unplugged brought to you by One Firefly. That is my day job. Let me show you real quickly here the again, the lineup of who we have coming next. We have the one and only JJ Canon from CEO of Digital Delight. He runs a really cool integration out of Houston, Texas and he also is pretty active on social, so you want to look up JJ Canon. He's active under Digital Delight. He's also active under The Digital Ramble. So definitely be sure to check that out. And then also remember One Firefly's is brand new for us. One Firefly's now live on Instagram. So you just go to Instagram and at One Firefly LLC that is the handle that we use, I believe on all of our channels, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. So certainly check us out now that we have caught up with the times. I was actually at a live video training Friday, maybe that was yesterday. Time flies and you have you watch that channel or it really, any of our social channels, you'll see me doing some live video training, you know, just like, you guys, I need to improve every day. And so I was at a class to try to learn how to do that better. So anyway I'm going to sign off. You guys have a great rest of your week, whether you're watching well, no one's watching this live. This is definitely gonna be on replay. So thanks for watching the replay and I will see you on the next show. Thanks everyone.
Joseph Piccirilli's career spans the past 40 years in consumer electronics, systems integration and energy industries. In his current capacity at RoseWater Energy Group, he oversees the manufacturing, sales and distribution of leading new technology for residential power storage and handling efforts. Joe's previous roles at both Avid and Sound Advice allowed him to "accomplish what some called impossible", something he hopes to achieve with Rosewater Energy as well.
Ron Callis is the CEO of One Firefly, LLC, a digital marketing agency based out of South Florida and creator of Automation Unplugged. Founded in 2007, One Firefly has quickly became the leading marketing firm specializing in the integrated technology and security space. The One Firefly team work hard to create innovative solutions to help Integrators boost their online presence, such as the elite website solution, Mercury Pro.