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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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Watch Episode #69: An Industry Q&A with Marc Oliveri

Keeping an Open Line of Communication

Watch Episode #69: An Industry Q&A with Marc Oliveri

This week's show features our host Ron Callis interviewing Marc Oliveri. Recorded live on March 20th, 2019 at 12:30pm EST

About Marc Oliveri

Marc initially got started in the CE channel while attending college in the mid 90's, installing custom security systems. He then made his way to Texas in 2000 and shortly after got onboard with Apple in their education group. While at Apple he was requested to assist a friend with his four restaurants and their overly complex AV system. Marc officially launched mero CONCEPTS in October of 2013.

Interview Recap

Here are some of the topics Ron had the opportunity to discuss with Marc Oliveri

  • Importance of good customer service for integration companies
  • State of the industry in 2019
  • The difficulty in providing simple solutions vs complex solutions

Transcript:


Ron:  Yeah. Hey guys, I'm struggling there. Hey guys. Ron Callis with One Firefly. Welcome to another episode of Automation Unplugged show number 69. You can see there, I just clicked on the wrong button. I think I shocked Marc. He's like, what? I thought I had a minute or two. Anyway, today is Wednesday, March 20th. It's a just a little bit after 1230. I hope everyone is having a great day. A great start to your week. And let me jump over here to Facebook. We are streaming live into Facebook and door. If you are listening to the recording then we are simply maybe only in your ears via the podcast. So let me just make sure that we are in fact streaming live. So bear with me As you can hear. It is allergy season. I'm here in South Florida and allergy season is pawn us and I am fighting through it. Maybe like many of you I suffer from allergies and it's just as much as you want to celebrate spring, of course it's, I'm in Florida, so it's always spring or summer, year round. But regardless, apparently some plants do open up and let their pollen out and man, it's Holy. Hallelujah. So anyway, I will do my best to clear my self off off Mike as we go here. I am excited to bring you a fun interview with Marc from Mero Concepts and I've known Marc now for about a year or so and he's a client at over at One Firefly and he's got an exciting business. He's running out of Austin, Texas. And in fact Marc was kind enough to host team One Firefly in December at his facilities there in Austin and demo all of the technology and his showroom for our team. We flew about 30 people and to Austin and he hosted us and did a Q and A session with the team. They could ask him questions about being an integrator. And it was a lot of fun. So let's go ahead and meet Marc. Let me pull him in. Let's see here. Here he comes there. This time it's for real Marc.

Marc: Hey Ron, sorry.

Ron:  Yeah, sorry about clicking the button prematurely and I your face, you were like, you gave me the oh no face. Oh crap. I'm not ready. How are you today?

Marc: I'm great. It is a gorgeous here. Finally we have some sun. It's about almost 70 degrees here and we will be kicking off our allergies soon also.

Ron:  Oh yeah. Awesome. Right. Well I'm, what is the plants or the trees or the shrubs that are, are the culprit down there?

Marc: Mostly here is cedar. A lot of times that's a, the big culprit.

Ron:  It's called cedar fever, right?

Marc: That is a real thing. And you can actually see the cedar exploding off of the trees. So what you would you think is like rain or a haze will actually be the cedar itself.

Ron:  The cedar pollen moving through town?

Marc: Correct. So I lived here now 19 years. They say it takes about two years to get effected by it. And I can say that I get affected by it.

Ron:  Oh wow. So it's interesting. So it's not like your body starts fighting it immediately. You have to be exposed to it enough times to where your body then starts whining.

Marc: Yeah. And then you're kind of going, why do I feel off today? Why am I not, my eyes are itching. I don't, am I getting a cold? I don't know. And it happens about twice a year, so.

Ron:  Got it. All right. Well I feel your pain man. And I was just on the phone this morning with Jason from CE Pro and he's up in Boston and he was saying snow is still on the ground, but as soon as that snow melts, they'll be suffering the same, same effects up there probably in a matter of weeks.

Marc: Yes.

Ron:  Mr Marc. For those listening they may not know much yet about you and your, your past and where you come from and how you came to be running and operating Merco Concepts. So I always love on these interviews to kind of start out with just about you and maybe your backstory.

Marc: Yeah. So I started I was in college in the 90s and mid nineties and started with a company called West Tech Security, doing custom security systems and really gravitated towards that, learn how to work within clients' environments, retrofit wiring. And so that kinda took me into the industry and I got, I got the bug and did that for a few years and then realized the industry was kind of more focused on contracts and not so much the actual project itself. And so I kind of walked away from it and then ended up at Apple for moved out here, ended up at Apple for about a decade and kind of honed customer service and working with and yeah, that kind of

Ron:  You are with Apple there in Austin?

Marc: Yes. So we, they have a campus here. It's now about 6,000, almost 7,000 employees at the time. We were only 1500.

Ron:  What do they do? And a curiosity. What do they do out of Austin?

Marc: Well, everything from operations to payroll to engineering, to education, all of that is done here in Austin.

Ron:  Okay. And when you were with Apple, what department were you in? What were you doing?

Marc: Education group. So I worked with schools around the country, kind of walk, walking them through how we do our, how we present our product. It wasn't just about the speeds and feeds, it was how to integrate Apple into their environment.

Ron:  I got it. And how did you then land from Apple to running an integration firm?

Marc: So that came about. I have a friend who's still my friends surprisingly, and a neighbor that had four restaurants and he was just had very complex control systems in his restaurant that never seemed to work correctly. So he engaged me to come out and take a look and I started helping him out and he was building new restaurants and so I started kind of helping him design and do the new aspects of his new restaurant.

Ron:  And were you incorporating Apple products? Was that your plan or was your plan to go back to your past, and I think I read here that you got your start in the 90s in the security business or were you drawing on that experience or were you trying to, you know, put Mac minis in his restaurant to run it or something?

Marc: I was putting Mac minis in the restaurant to control his security cameras. That's, yes, truly was, I was like, there's no need for a PCs. We'll do all Macs. We can figure out how to make Apple integrate into your environment. So everything I was looking at was a based on an Apple platform or back end.

Ron:  Okay. Interesting. And so when, when did you ultimately start Mero Concepts?

Marc: 2013 officially. October 18th of 2013 is when I officially started.

Ron:  Got it. And can you describe your business today? Kind of, you know, what areas do you serve? What type of projects do you do resi do you do commercial, do you do both?

Marc: We are predominantly a commercial, 70%, 30% residential, but we take a residential approach to our commercial projects. So we want to make the commercial environments feel more like a home environment. And so we focus on delivering a more thorough compliment, complimentary service and solution. We're not just throwing in very industrial type look or feel. We're very focused on our team. And when I say we, it's our guys truly the, the, you know, I'm more like just a coach. And I've got a small team of guys that really kind of show off our capability.

Ron:  Are you doing most of your work there in Austin? Are you doing work out all throughout Texas or where, where do you take on projects?

Marc: We take central Austin. We'll go up to Waco, out to Houston. But we focus mostly in the central Austin area. Okay.

Ron:  Interesting. And a little bit about your product mix, if you don't mind. Like what are some of the brands you're proud that you represent?

Marc: We are proud to represent control for James Loudspeaker, Rebel speakers, Savant systems. We do a lot with those companies. Sony XBR, LG OLED, Epson, Screen Innovations who's a local company here in Austin, they do amazing screens and we have really had great success with them.

Ron:  Yup. Okay. That's pretty cool. Well, I'm gonna throw up here on the screen. I'm gonna attempt to see if I can be a little bit better with technology. Look at that. I made your website show up on beautiful website and I wonder who designed that website.

Marc: Funny thing we had, this is the fifth iteration of our website and this is the first time that I found somebody that actually listened to what we were looking for and delivered something new. The previous four were just iterations of the first site, which I was never really satisfied with because I wanted to tell a story about working with us and I wanted, you know, I remember distinctly with you guys saying, I want, I don't want stock imagery. I want our imagery. I want our work to show, I want people to feel like they're in our you know, what they're going to experience when we're in their environment. So and I wanted it to be clean and simple and I always wanted it to be current and fresh. Right? You know, a lot of integration firms, they'll do a site in 2006 and then they don't change anything for 10 years. And you go to the site and you're like, Whoa, are they still in business? Are they still relevant? Do you know? What are they doing? They could be great firms and have really tremendous capabilities. But if this, if the first impression that a client sees is a site that's 10 years old, you know, what, what can I expect for them to do in their environment? Right? So that's something that we really, you guys hit it out of the park with our, with our site.

Ron:  You do something Marc, that many integrators do not do, and that is, you actually take pictures of the stuff that you work on. Correct. It's novel idea. Right? It's so crazy. I mean you work these beautiful projects. It really would be cool if you took pictures of it and we do that.

Marc: Well I had a little photography bug in me as a kid growing up, but I also want things to present, you know, to the picture to tell a story. Not just a picture of you all there. As I say this, not just the picture of the rack, but you know, to tell the story, but I mean this far, but let's see. But you know, racks and how we organize is important, but kind of just show that the actual environment itself.

Ron:  That's pretty cool. What, what sort of feedback have you received since you launched the new website last year?

Marc: Sorry, I'm really bad at this. I talked over you. Can you tell me what was that question again?

Ron:  No, that's okay. I said, what was your experience? What sort of feedback have you received from your customers or folks that have been visiting your website? Has it been positive or?

Marc: Very positive. Very postive. We, a lot of clients that come to us have said, I looked at your website, you guys look like you're doing a lot of great things. We liked the look and we liked your design language. So let's, you know, that opens the door to a conversation with us.

Ron:  One other thing, one of the many things that you do, Marc, that's pretty unique from my observation or I guess the, the viewpoint I have or vantage point I have working with lots of different integrators. But you're doing something in particular, by the way, I'm going to throw a comment up on the screen. Maggie says a beautiful modern website. Definitely my style plus orange is my jam.

Marc: I can tell a story about the orange thing too. Some people are, they go, Hey, is that your you know, orange must be your favorite color? And I'm like, actually growing up, red was my favorite color, but I sat in a Marceting program back in 2000, I think it was. And this team was talking to us about how orange was going to be the new branding color going forward. Like there had been iterations of blue being the color and then it was going to go into orange. And so that's kind of where I picked up the orange coloring.

Ron:  Purely out of a seminar based on recommendations or best practices.

Marc: It was where I picked it up. And you know what it does stand out and I'll show you I'm committed. So these are my other pair of glasses I wear when I'm needing to see. They are actually..

Ron:  The orange outline.

Marc: There's an orange vein through them. So yeah.

Ron:  No, go back up. I'm going to full screen now. This, everyone can see that orange let, let's see it. Oh, that's funny. Yeah, yeah.

Marc: Anyway, I do care about branding. As you can see down to everything we do from our business cards to the cabling we pull through our projects. We want our stuff to be, we want to know what our pieces are. So we even have our cable in orange, gray, and white.

Ron:  Now you have also true, and I just do it up on the screen here. You've also chosen as an integrator to also be active on Instagram and not many integrators from my experience, you know, I want to say, I don't know, maybe less than, maybe less than 50 or less than a hundred or something like that. You know, at least in North America here are very active on Instagram. And you are active on Instagram, kind of. What's your take on that? How do you see that platform being used to help drive your business?

Marc: I like it because it, again, it tells a story with pictures. It's succinct, it's clean, simple, it's all about our design. And lets us tell our stories in a very fast, simple way and doesn't have a lot of noise around it for, from what we see. So that's kinda why I liked it. And again, it lets us show off through photography and video. We also put some videos up there and we don't do anything amazing with our, you know, the video. There's one that I shot there that was on a Sunday. And that piece is I did that in one shot, one take and did it with my iPhone. And got the timing down and what we were trying to show there and that particular pieces that from the movie soundtrack to the act from the movie to the soundtrack, we can incorporate that into a client's environment. So we can not only provide you with an amazing experience to watch the movie, we can also have a great two channel experience to listen to the sound. Right?

Ron:  Yeah. You're getting pretty good engagement on these social posts. So if you're out there watching this or listening on Instagram you'll find them at Mero_Concepts.com. So what I'm gonna do here just to help out my eye folks that are more visual, I'm actually gonna, let's see if I can get my technology to behave. There we go. So there's the the Instagram channel for Mero Concepts. Check them out, follow Marc and and his team and see all the beautiful pictures that they are posting.

Marc: Yeah. And you know, I want you, before you go off that page, the one with the vacuum cleaner those are some of the things that I, you know, I encourage other integrators focus on something that's unique, that's different, you know, not just the picture of the rack or the picture of the AV receiver, right? We know that we do that, but tell the story about how you treat the client's environment, how you care about everything from when you step, you know, step on site that, you know, our guys walk in with their vacuum cleaners and we chose Mila because, you know, like I said in that story there, no one wants a shot back in their house, right? No one likes that loud sound. So, you know, one of those things, we, we chose those vacuums because they're quiet, they're not obtrusive. It's what a client's already used to hearing in their house. They know what we're going to take care of their environment that we are going to clean up after ourselves. And so, you know, take those pieces and focus on that because that kind of shows the client a little different story about what you do.

Ron:  Oh, that's very cool. I appreciate that. So there you go. I'm going to turn the crawler off. I am going to come back over here to the website just in case anyone is interested in visiting you online. If you're listening to this audio, it is MeroConcepts.com and I'm going to put that up on the screen here and don't forget if you're out there listening to this. And if we are live and you're listening, please post your questions and or comments for Marc. I will do my best to read them off live to Marc and you'll get his live feedback. If you are listening to the recording or watching the recording, you still can post a comment and both Marc and I will be auditing the comments over time. So definitely we'll, we'll get your replies. Even if you reply after the fact after we are live, most of our viewership by the way Marc happens on the replay or after the fact, you know, we'll have a handful of people watch us live here and then, you know, over the course of the next month or so, we'll have a few thousand people check us out.

Marc: Then I shouldn't be so nervous right now.

Ron:  Oh no, definitely not. No one's watching. No reason. No. I don't want to dismiss those that are watching. I love you and I appreciate that you're watching, but yeah. No one's watching. Just, you know, no reason to be nervous. All right, there we go. I'm going to pull that down now. Marc, I was hoping we could I want to touch on a of topics kinda rapid fire topics if you're game. One is, you know, you did spend a good chunk of your career at Apple and you had some pretty, I'm imagining, some pretty interesting takeaways that you've then adapted or applied to running your integration business. And I'm just wondering, you know, what are those or what, what are some of those things that have come top of mind?

Marc: So top of mind, one of the big things we would always, you know, what that was driven at Apple was to surprise and delight. And that can be little things to big things. It's just setting an expectation and not over setting that expectation and then giving a little delights to the client, meaning like, you know, just the little touches that maybe they don't think about, but when they look back they kind of go, Oh wow, that, you know, I wasn't expecting that. Or you know, one of the showing up when you're supposed to show up is actually surprisingly a surprise and delight to some clients or finishing the project. So I took away that. I also took away a design aesthetic. So I wanted things to be very clean and you've been at our office, you kind of see our design language, you kinda can get an idea, but when we bring clients in, that's when they kind of get the aha moment of, you know, for us it's not just these pieces that we're putting in. It's really the whole experience that they're getting and that we really try not to disrupt their environment. We want, we want the tools to allow them to, to enjoy their environment.

Ron:  Well, what would you say? I actually, I see that visually I look a little pixelated, so I don't know. Can you hear me okay, Marc?

Marc: I hear you fine. But you are a little pixel. I don't know how I am on my end, but..

Ron:  No, no, you're coming through crystal clear. So it might be my network.

Marc: Local network or network. We can come out there.

Ron:  Yeah, I do think I need some network help for sure. I appreciate the offer. I'll just, I'll fly you right in and we'll get that taken care of. So what Marc, what would you say that your firm is super lucrative at? What are, what are you guys best at? There's lots of people in the Austin market. There's lots of people for sure in the Texas marketplace. What do you guys think you do best

Marc: For us? I think it's our team and how we interact with our clients. I think that's the best thing we do. I truly do. I don't think we are doing, you know, I tell people all the time, and this is why I'm, I try to be really engaged with other integrators in this market in this area. Austin has a lot of animosity within this division or within the CI channel because so many of them came from other companies and you know, thought they could start their own companies. And but for what we do, there's no secret super secret sauce that we have right? There's no patented thing that we're doing. We just engage our clients, provide them with good service, follow up, stay on top of the project. We never want to be the group that prevents, especially in the commercial environment, we never want to be the group that slows down the project. So just having that open line of communication and being engaged with them, that's really what sets us apart. I think that's what makes us fit in.

Ron:  And given that you have been in business now for a number of years, you started this business in 2013, you know, I, and I know you well enough and you and I talked offline. You know, there have been some lessons along the way when you're running a business. You know, I, and I've shared with you a bunch of my lessons that I've learned along the way. Many of those listening are running their own business and, or those businesses are at varying levels of tenure in the marketplace. Are there some learnings that you have that are kind of top of mind, some things that you wouldn't mind sharing with others that you've kind of along the way learn to focus on or to make better?

Marc: Yes, definitely stay focused. Don't squirrel or get attracted to the shiny stuff as much. That's one of the things I've had some difficulty learning was, you know, we'd have different vendors come in and you know, in the moment you start, you know, a bad punny, you know, you start really just, they're pumping something into the air. You start really believing in everything that they're saying and then you make this whole paradigm shift in your company and don't realize how disruptive that can be. And it truly is disruptive. And we went through that a few times where it really kind of threw us off our game and had us not focus on what we should be doing. And so you know, pick, pick a product and alignment that is going to support you, that's going to keep you know, when you do have an issue, cause realize it's all technology and there's going to be problems from time to time, but there's companies that support you, that stand behind you, that are quick to get something resolved. Those are the companies aligned with it's not about what's the cheapest company or what company has the shiniest thing or what one is the bleeding edge on technology. One of the things we've really resisted right now is voice control for that reason because we don't know where that's at yet. And so we don't really introduce it into our client's environment unless they truly ask for it. And if they do, we kind of talk them through it and explain like, here's the pros and cons and this is what you kinda can expect. And you know, you're only going to get 94% accuracy. And that sounds like a lot, but it really not a high mark for voice recognition because as soon as you have to talk scripted or kind of figure out how you need to phrase something to make a command happen welll, then it's not natural and it doesn't fit in. And then they, they stop using it and then it was just this shiny thing. So that's one of the things that we've really, you know, we're now taking a step back and looking at things and going, okay, what, who's the tried and true, what product makes the most sense? What can allow us to be efficient and streamline and not deliver just a bunch of pieces that are not going to play well together.

Ron:  No, that makes sense. So, you know, staying focused on brands and looking at more than just price, but looking at the total package of what that vendor is bringing to you and support in products and innovation and price, all of that together and not jumping too quickly. Is that one of the primary takeaways?

Marc: I think so. And you know, one of the things we talked about offline was you know, I grew up in a generation I like, dude, as soon as we could have CDs and just skip, right, it gave us this ability to go to that next song. Well, that can happen in business too. You think, Oh, I could just change instantly. And while it's good to be nimble and not become just set in your old ways and miss where things are going to, are miss how the industry's progressing. Give things some time. Don't be the first to react. Let things work themselves out a little bit because when you do that big change, you're not only affecting yourself as the owner, you're affecting your guys and girls that are working, you know, that are working on your team with you, you're affecting your clients. There's a lot of disruptions that happen. And then vendors start to question why they want to work with you because you're just pivoting to whatever that next shiny pieces. And so then you're having to rebuild those relationships with them. And, and it's just, you don't see it upfront. Like, Oh, I'm going to save a little bit of money over here and this is going to be great. And, and then you six months down the line, you look back and go, that costs me so much money because now my guys, my team when they went out, couldn't be as efficient at doing this project because they were trying to learn another whole thing. And so

Ron:  That makes sense. By the way, I want to throw up there just because Stephanie had made a comment and I want to put it up on the screen there for you. She says Stephanie says your Instagram is awesome. I love the idea of showcasing previous projects. She actually asks you a question Marc. She says, have you noticed a shift in what homeowners are looking for in their projects as smart tech begins to grow? Are you seeing a change in consumer demand?

Marc: We are. So, you know, my buddy JJ, who's with Digital Delight out in Houston.

Ron:  I think he gave us a like here on this video. I don't know if JJ is watching live.

Marc: So him and I always talk about the industry. We probably talk at least once every two weeks. We should try to get on a call and he'll come out and visit. We went to Houston once for a little bit, but him and I talk about these things and realize to answer her question, there is a change. There's a change in these companies like Eero in Logitech and Sonos, but ones that are flying the flag as we like to say, the ones that are really promoting the conversation with the client. They're getting them to think about, Oh, I, you know what I want to do whole house audio or, you know, my internet is kind of slow in this area, I have a dead spot here. I don't have great coverage. And so it allows us to have these conversations with them, but we also have to set expectations at the same time because while certain things fit well in certain environments other things don't. And some things you want to be doing some traditional, but then have some of the newer pieces in that environment. And so in that we have to, you know, a lot of conversation now is everybody's going to streaming. A lot of people are quote unquote cutting the cord, which I hate to, it's such a, cause you're really not cutting the cord to you're not really saved the money. You know, you added Netflix, you put on maybe Hulu on top of that, then you may be subscribed to HBO. All of a sudden you're back up to, you're getting into a cable bill. But what it does do is it allows you to consume and enjoy those pieces on more devices. So you're not locked to just sitting, I'm going to sit in front of my TV and this is what I'm going to watch and I have this guide and I have all these channels that maybe I don't really pay it, you know, that I need. But now you're shifting and saying, okay, I'm going to do Netflix with Hulu and I'm going to be able to watch this on my Apple TV or my Roku. But then I can take that through my iPad or my tablet. And, and so clients are asking for that. They're asking for, you know, we get a lot of discussion around, Hey, I'm thinking of cutting the cord, talk to me about that. So we try and hear ourselves and kind of flush out what services we think are doing well and kind of present, you know, back to the client and let them know the pros and cons of, you know, simply stopping a traditional service.

Ron:  Got it. And Stephanie, thanks for that question and Marc thanks for your insight there. You know, Marc in running a business, I think I again talked to you offline. You know, I think it's one of the harder things anyone could ever try to figure out how to do. I know I've talked to people that make it sound easy, but it hasn't been my experience. It is easier now only because I've purchased so many lessons along the way. And in the case of integrators, these technology contractor types of which I'm putting you into that category, what is your opinion on kind of where you started and where you are now? In terms of your financial intelligence about your business?

Marc: Yes, that's a great question. And we talked a lot about it. So you know, I started out and I had some very large projects. Fortunately that started me off into the industry doing a friend's restaurant because it was a large restaurant. It was a, you know, almost 8,000 square foot restaurant. And we did a full array of TVs and video distribution and distributed audio. And that got me to go, wow, there's a lot of potential in this industry. And I started looking at things the wrong way. In the beginning I was looking at revenue numbers and not looking at what things were costing me, which I think a lot of business owners probably do. I'm learning that you know, you've got to pay attention to your overall cost and realize that while something shows on a piece of paper, this cost, what are you putting out there and how many times are you having to go back to that project and take care of it? And where is it appropriate to charge the client? And where did you miss the mark on the rate, or maybe you, maybe you overcharged. We've had that sometimes that feeling of like, did I put too many hours into this project? Did I put too much on it? You know? And so those are things that I had to learn along the way. I feel, you know, my dad gave me a piece of advice of, phew, this is a little while back about, you know, running your business and going through the trials and tribulations that you're going to hit and that you've gone through. You're going to get your MBA, meaning you're not gonna get your MBA traditional sense sitting in a classroom, but you're going to learn a lot of things very quickly about what it takes to run a business and why it's not as, you know, the Instagram is a nice shiny piece, right? And Facebook makes us show our best light and our website is a great story. But behind the scenes there's so many moving pieces and so many things that have to align. And that's the difficult part. That's the part that you, that you spend probably 80% of your time trying to figure out is how am I going to keep my guys, you know, in a project? Are they on the right project? Is this job the right job for us? Learning to, you know, say the proverbial no to things. That's a lot of things that we had to learn was, you know, just because this presents this number of revenue doesn't mean that this makes sense for us.

Ron:  Just recently you said no to a project, right? You had an opportunity presented to you and it didn't feel right.

Marc: It was real recent this week, this past Monday. We went out to a client, it was our second visit out there. You have this beautiful home theater that he had done back in the 90s and he was going to refresh it again. But the way he wanted to do it and everything, he had all his components picked and already purchased. He had all of his things. He essentially was engineering the project and wanted us to put it in. And one of the things, and it would have been a nice, you know, looking at the revenue number, what we were thinking it could have potentially been, would have been nice, but I couldn't find the end game. And that's the thing I look for now when I propose a project or when I'm thinking about when we're going to take on something is, where's the end game? When or when am I going to finalize that delivery? And I just felt like I couldn't get there with this project and it wasn't going to be our design and it wouldn't be anything that we would have truly done. It wasn't that he was picking out beautiful. I mean his equipment was great. It's just stuff we don't work with on a regular basis. So these efficiencies all of a sudden start going away and then my guys are gonna have to learn all these new things and you know, are we delivering truly what the client wants? Do we have the ability to get the carpenters in there that need to be in there because he wants to sink the projector into the ornate woodwork that he has at the back of the theater to hide the projector. And so when we met with him, he's like, okay this is what I'd like to do. And we talked about, we met with him for over. It was, we were probably there for almost two hours and then he goes, I need this by Wednesday cause I want to make a decision by Thursday. Well that was my first red flag. Okay. That there's no way I could put that whole solution in place, have accurate numbers to him, know exactly where my cost was going to come in at, but in three days. And so I didn't think it was fair to myself. I didn't think it was fair to the client. It wouldn't have been fair to my guys because it would all been just crap shoots. And that's one thing I've learned I don't want to do anymore.

Ron:  Okay. Were there times in your career where you would have just said yes to that and taken a dog?

Marc: Oh, I'll back up. That project, the client the friend of mine that has the restaurants, if I was a wise man back then I would've said no. I was still working at Apple at the time when we took on, I was kind of transitioning out of my my position at Apple and getting this year and he presented me with this great big project and I'm like, okay, I think I can do it. Now because I was able to control the design and I was able to build it out the way I thought would best fit in with their environment and it worked. But being, if I look back at that and go, would I do that again? I don't know, that was pretty risky, but sometimes you got to take the risk.

Ron:  I think you've got to have a bit of naivete to start a business to begin with. I don't care what that business is, you've gotta there's a bit of often a lack of knowing what you're getting into. Cause if you actually knew what you're getting into, you might not actually do it.

Marc: Yes, it was scary.

Ron:  It certainly would. Mr Marc I appreciate you spending some time here chatting with me. Believe it or not, it's been 40 minutes.

Marc: Wow. We're stopping okay. I was just getting warmed up. Relaxed.

Ron:  You were just getting relaxed. Just getting in. It just means we'll have to do a number two. You know, we'll have to have an interview number two at some point.

Marc: I would really appreciate it and I really truly appreciate you consider us a, we love working with your team. You guys do a lot of great things with us. It was great having you out here in December and getting to let you guys see kind of our story and what we do. And you know, it meant a lot that you would even think to come, come out and bringing your whole team to our place.

Ron:  Well, if you recall, when you, when you first engaged us, you had said, Hey Ron, when are you going to come out and visit? And I said I don't go and visit my customers. And I am saying that publicly here on the show. I just don't do that. I'll see people at trade shows or industry events. And but then I remember when I called you and I said, you remember when you said you wanted me to come out and see your show store? How about I bring 30 people with me? And you're like, Oh boy.

Marc: I did have that Oh Boy moment.

Ron:  Yeah, the rest is history. Well, Marc, I know we all have busy days and our audience has a busy day, so we're going to get everyone back to their daily, regularly scheduled programming. So Marc, I just want to say one more time. Thank you, sir for joining me on the show.

Marc: It was my pleasure. Thank you very much. Also have a great day.

Ron:  Awesome buddy. All right gang. So there you have it. Sorry for a little bit of the internet bandwidth issues. I think I got a little pixelated there along the way, but hopefully my audio was carrying through. And if you're out there, don't forget to like this post a comment and if you would be so kind, share it that way your, your friends in the industry can ultimately hear these interviews and if they want, they can sign up for the event on our One Firefly Facebook page and get notices when there are future shows. They're there approximately every week. Depends sometimes whether I'm traveling or not, whether I can that happen. Now, speaking of Instagram, one Firefly also has an Instagram page, so please go out there and like it, we have been growing our Instagram following nicely since September. I think we have at this point, over 500 people following us on Instagram. And that is super cool. We have a great team behind that channel. I go into that channel and post every now and again. And my team keeps a regular flow of fun, interesting content. They're both a little bit of work, a little bit of play, and it's a great way to follow One Firefly. Now additionally, I have our upcoming lineup. So I don't think I can make that any bigger, so I think we'll just have to, you know what, maybe we'll do this. Nope, that's not making it any better. So there's the upcoming lineup. You can see I'm going to have Eric Thies next week and it looks like the text is actually too small for me to see the other name, but it's, I think it's fellow named David. So David and Eric are going to be on and that should be a lot of fun. That'll be the 27th. And the 27th is the day before my birthday because my birthday's the 28th. So if you want to send presents and them look up One Firefly's website, send presents to the office address, I will receive them warmly. I'll appreciate that. Just kidding. Just a nice hello or a text message or an email. That'll be fine. So on that note gang I appreciate everyone's time. Hope you have a great rest of your week. If you're suffering from allergies like I do, I hope you feel better and you find the right medication or some rest and I will see you guys soon. Thanks everybody.

Show Notes

Marc got started in the CE industry installing security systems while attending college. Later on, he worked at Apple for many years before being asked by a friend to help with their AV systems for their restaurant. In October 2013, Marc launched Mero Concepts focusing on smart home control and commercial automation solutions.

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.

Resources and Links from the Interview:

You can also learn more about Mero Concepts at https://meroconcepts.com/ Make sure to follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

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