Home Automation Podcast Episode #80: An Industry Q&A With Jeff Francisco
Being flexible in your approach
This week's home automation podcast features our host Ron Callis interviewing Jeff Francisco. Recorded live on Wednesday, June 26, 2019, at 12:30 p.m. EST.
About Jeff Francisco
- Jeff’s industry background and passion for music
- The impact of smart speakers, Amazon & Google, on distributed audio solutions within the CI channel
- How integration fits into the new trend of small living spaces
- Strategies for educating customers on how to use integration in their own homes
Ron: Hello everybody. Ron Callis here with another episode of Automation Unplugged. It is 12:35 on Wednesday, June 26th. I hope you are having a lovely day. A nice start to your summer here for episode number 80. We have Jeff, Francisco of the TDG group or TDG audio of the DaVinci group. And the DaVinci Group has two brands, TDG Audio and Vanguard Dynamics. And we're going to learn all about that from Jeff, here in just a moment. But, let me go ahead and make sure that we are streaming live. So bear with me, I'm going to jump over to Facebook and see if technology is behaving and if in fact we are live. And there we are. We look like technology is behaving. So real quick, what I'm gonna throw up on the screen. I'm going to take my artwork down from Jeff and I want to let you know we are doing some fun summer giveaways. We have a different theme over here at One Firefly. Every month, June through September. And there's an opportunity if you go onto our Facebook and or onto our Instagram, you'll see the instructions. This month's co-sponsor of the giveaway is the manufacturer, Sonen, the energy storage solutions. So certainly keep an eye out for that, look at the posts there and some really cool giveaways all themed around summer camp. Summer camp is the theme of our ongoing monthly reports where we get status updates for all the various marketing activities we're performing for clients. So we decided to carry that forward into our theme of giveaways for this summer. So definitely be sure to check those out. But let's go ahead and bring in our guest. He should be here any moment. There he is. Jeff, how are you sir?
Jeff: I'm doing good, Ron.
Ron: I almost messed up. I said Jeff Francisco at TDG Audio, but then I had to correct myself. It's with the DaVinci Group and TDG Audio is one of your brands, right?
Jeff: Yeah, exactly. The company is The DaVinci Group, and we have two brands, TDG Audio, which is our premier select, mostly dealer, direct brand and Vanguard Dynamics, which is a really no lesser quality product that just a lot of other products that live there. And that's most products in distribution.
Ron: Understood. Now, where are you coming to us, Jeff? What part of this great country are you in right now?
Jeff: I'm coming to you from Southern California.
Ron: Oh, I was about to brag about being in Southern Florida, but no, I think you got me beat by being in Southern Cal.
Jeff: Well, it's still okay right here. I'm in the inland part of Southern California and right now we still have a bit of that Marine influence, you know. Cool mornings, but it'll get burned and hot any day now.
Ron: Yeah. But still no humidity. You know, you walk outside right now here in Fort Lauderdale, it's easily a hundred percent humidity, even if it's only 85 degrees.
Jeff: I understand humidity. I just got back from Beijing. That was a very high humidity.
Ron: Holy moly. Absolutely, absolutely. And by the way, we've already had someone just stop in and wave at you. So Angel Cruz just stopped in and said, Hi, Jeff. Thank you Angel for doing that. By the way, if you're out there watching live or you're watching the replay or listening to the replay, don't forget to go to the post and like the post if you have questions for Jeff live, I'm going to do my best to catch them and read them to Jeff and we'll get his take on the industry or on product development or any of the other fun topics that we're going to get into. And share this video, share this so that your friends in the industry can see it. Please do. So. Jeff, some of our audience, although you have been around you've been around the block once or twice in this industry but I'm going to say maybe there's someone watching that doesn't know you. So, can you give us a little bit of your background?
Jeff: Sure. You know, like a lot of people in this business. I'm a former musician. A lot of us that didn't make it doing that. You look around in this business and there's a lot of us that just fell into it, I think just because audio was cool at the time. And that was really before video. That dates me right? Before there was much video. So that's how I came in to doing what I'm doing by I had given up on the music career. I had some success but not enough to really you know, buy a home and put a lot of bread on the table. And at a certain point it was, you know, mom, dad, you know, I'm coming home and went to discover new opportunities and ended up at a place called SpeakerCraft as a day job. And that was many, many years ago, 1985 to date myself. And you know, most of your viewers probably know SpeakerCraft, and this was a long time ago. And I started there doing some stuff in the retail business. And this was back in the OEM days before the brand was launched. And pretty soon I was working my way into R and D opportunities and working on stuff that was you know, being manufactured in the good old US of A, at the time. And I touched products like the first line of Niles architectural speakers. We were doing product for JBL and Harman really cut my teeth on that part of the business and R and D. And then at the same time was a work in retail. And this was before CEDIA even, and figuring out, well, how do we put this stuff in the homes? How do we talk with home builders? How do we talk to the client? How do we, you know, figuring out really how the business model of custom integration worked. So I was kind of cutting my teeth on both sides of it at the time. And you know, along the way hired my former business partner, which a lot of people now for SpeakerCraft and grew that company and do a lot of things. A lot of people don't know that I was actually one of the owners of there for quite a while until we sold it to to Nortec and along the way learned and did a lot.
Ron: Oh, I didn't know that.
Jeff: Well, you know, my former partner casts a big shadow. So in any case you know, along the way learned and did a lot of stuff in product development. I mean, I did a lot of marketing stuff also and of course strategy and things that are SpeakerCraft, but primarily you know, became the product guy along the way. You know, got some patents invented some stuff.
Ron: Well, what were your patents over at SpeakerCraft?
Jeff: You're probably familiar with the Aim product, which was first speaker to beat.
Ron: And you know, that was amiable tweeter?
Jeff: Yeah, exactly. Actually aimable, the entire woofer, you know? Yeah. That was kind of a revelation at the time of really looking at the product, which is one thing I like to do. I don't think I'm that big of a genius, but I just like to listen to people and what they're doing and what they need. And at the time really trying to figure out why people were using so many in ceiling speakers. And I was surprised to see that they are using them for home theater and that was kind of new instantly speaker home theater. So the idea was, well, how do we make something for home theater that's in ceiling performs the best. And you know, those are the kind of ideas that throughout my career there and, and in the DaVinci group you know, I like to carry along. So, you know, yeah, I was you know, at SpeakerCraft did a lot of stuff, worked with a lot of great people, had a good time, did a lot of speaker product for the SpeakerCraft brand, the proficient audio brand. Stuff people never heard about you know, some consumer stuff. And you know, it was all good and it was all a lot of fun. And then in 2012, I resigned and started the DaVinci group with my current partner, Alex.
Ron: Alright, so I want to jump into to that. But I do have a question. It's a marketing branding question actually for you regarding what you were just saying. And that is, you know, you mentioned a lot of brands that you mentioned, Niles Audio, Sonance, and you may have mentioned another one and you mentioned that SpeakerCraft was initially doing all OEM and and then at some point they transitioned into being a direct brand. Can you just expound on that? I'm just curious, what was your role with these other brands and then when was the decision made to make SpeakerCraft its own public-facing brand?
Jeff: Well, you know, the role with those other brands. The SpeakerCraft was both the manufacturer of those brands and in some cases was also, you know, to get engineering speak were ODM, which was an original design manufacturer. So we were doing engineering and design, in various things for various ones of those companies. You know exactly what my role was in some of those? Some of it was in production, some of it was engineering. It really varied as far as, you know, the how and the when of the SpeakerCraft brand being launched. Really what happened there was, in the early nineties, it became a reality that a lot of people were moving to manufacture offshore into other areas. The then owners really were visionaries of saying, this ain't gonna happen. You know, no one's going to be making a loudspeaker in America for much longer. So, you know, the decision was made to take the expertise and architectural speakers launch our own brand called SpeakerCraft. And that's really how the whole thing happened. A little bit of tidbit history for the records here. The architectural product really wasn't the first branded product that SpeakerCraft did try. It was actually a car audio product. And that didn't do so well. So then that was many years.
Ron: Yeah. The SpeakerCraft brand to the consumer, to the industry was a car product?
Jeff: It was quite a few years before they tried the architectural. But you know, the architectural product was done and I guess you could say the rest is history. So that really the brand came to be because of the marketing pressures of manufacturing. And so it's decided to launch. You take that expertise and launch that into our own branded product.
Ron: Got it. Okay. Thank you for digressing or going through that a little more in detail with me and the audience. That was great. Now talk to me about the DaVinci Group. What is, you said your partner, Alex? So you and Alex started the DaVinci Group. What was your vision for the company?
Jeff: Well, our vision really was one. What I saw at the time was, you know, part of it is you gotta be an idiot, right? It's like a lot of people say that the architectural market is a commodity market, right? Which you know, it's like, okay, why do you want to go into that with, with other opportunities in the, in the business? And, you know, on the surface I see that. But one thing that I've always seen is that, especially at that time and coming out of the great recession and a lot of what's happening right now in the market is there's a lot of big companies, a lot of consolidation, a lot of, you know, I don't want to get too corporate bashing here, but large entities that their priorities maybe aren't quite aligned with the majority of our market. I have this phrase I always like to use. And so much of our market is really, I call it a guy, his wife, a truck and a dog and maybe a cousin that helps out on weekends. Really, they're small business people. And I'm always seeing the value of a company that's small and responsive and can work with people directly. We know their names, we know their business habits. We can help them seize opportunities and deal with problems. And you know, I've always seen, and I saw at the time the value of having a company like that in a market where people are just an account number. It's proven true. And, you know, one of the other things that I thought that we would be able to do entering the market is, while my current role isn't a hundred percent R and D. You know, Alex and I come from that background. You know, I raised my hand and admit it, you know, I'm an engineering geek. And if there's anything that Alex and I know and I could spend a lot of time on his background and his expertise. But you know, I'm going to go out on a bit of a limb here and say that the two of us together have actually designed more architectural speaker products than any other business in the market. We really have, I mean, he's done many for other brands in a behind the scenes role. You know, I've done countless ones. So we really understand, we can be really responsive. We understand all the nitty gritty details and you know, so I saw that as an opportunity to where the two of us together could make product. That was cool. It was reliable. That sounded great. For the price. So, you know, those are the basic opportunities I saw entering the market.
Ron: What are some of the basics or mechanics of how you guys go to market? Just for those that are listening and are curious. You mentioned two product families. I'm actually gonna do a screen share here. I'm going to see if technology will behave. I'm going to warn my audience. They know all too well. Sometimes it goes up in smoke when I do this. But there we go. So there I shared a screen. And so here's the TDG Audio brand. Can you kinda explain what that is and then what the Vanguard line is?
Jeff: Sure. A TDG Audio brand is, you know, primarily our dealer direct assortment of architectural loudspeakers. And that's everything from the standard six and a half inch that everyone needs to you know, premium, dedicated home theater products and everything in between. So, you know, it's primarily architectural products that you would use in those applications. I mean, right now you're looking at our sky bar, which is kind of a unique product that allows you to get a 7.1 system in three boxes. We have some high end distributed audio amplifiers within the line also. That's, you know, in a nutshell what the TDG Audio brand is all about.
Ron: Got it. And then the Vanguard Dynamics brand?
Jeff: The Vanguard Dynamics brand. Traditionally it was a product that we concentrated our distributed audio amplifiers there and then our entry level loud speakers. A lot of production homes use these loud speakers within the Vanguard line. But that prime, right now really Vanguard, we're shifting as you know. I know we may talk about this year, really shifting the focus of that branding into other opportunities centered around you know, voice integration.
Ron: And that's this thing, right? The Veil Amp. That'd be the Veil, right? Yeah. Tell, tell our audience what, what is this thing, cause I know this hits into this category, it's super hot category that I really want to pick your brain on. And that is the concept of the smart speaker. And I think you're going down that path with this product. Can you explain this?
Jeff: Sure. You know, what we did and what we saw. Once again, we'd like to keep our eyes open, not just to the CI market, but the greater market. You know, I always think of this thing that I remember Bill Gates saying. Which is, at the top of his career at Microsoft, he was always paranoid and looking over his shoulder for what was next. And I've always kept that and remembered that in my thinking that anything could change in an instant. And I always remain paranoid and not in a worrisome some way, but in an opportunity way. And in doing that, you know, the smart speaker became something that I quickly saw as a real game changer in our industry. And you know, I can go over the stats. Basically, you know, a lot of Americans own these things. As of the beginning of the year, 58 million people had one. I think the stats were 8% of Americans got a smart speaker for Christmas. I mean, that's incredible.
Ron: Smart speaker being an Amazon or Google hub?
Jeff: Yeah. So what we were really looking at is seeing that people were using these for primarily for distributed audio. You know, the main reason for buying them and using them, or the main use of them was to listen to music. So we're sitting here going, okay, we're in the business of music, right? Of providing people music throughout the home and giving them that experience. And this is how America is experiencing music, is the smart speaker. So how do we, give the CI channel opportunities in that, right? Rather than just having all of America go and click and buy an echo dot or a hub, you know, Google hub or something that just sits on their counter. And they listen to music in that poor way and maybe they buy multiples. So, okay, so that's a demand that's being generated by the ordinary American. But our thoughts are really how do we seize that opportunity within the CI channel? You know, the people that we know, the people that I want to support? That, you know, as I said, the guy, his wife, a truck and a dog. How do we let them seize that opportunity? And what we came up with as you know, we went through a lot of iterations. We actually had a couple of Amazon approved products. Alex and I made pilgrimage to Seattle. And you know, at the end of the day we decided the most cost effective way to do it. And the best way to do it was just to leverage the hardware that Amazon already had in place, rather than recreate the wheel and at our expense, make something real expensive. We came up with a solution that really is kind of dumb or what we're doing is using Amazon smarts, coupling them to our solution and allowing it to work within our channel. And what that is, is we take an Echo Dot, either second generation or the third generation dot. You put it into an end wall doc and we provided the doc power and we take the audio out and it becomes something, you can hook up to two or four loud speakers and you distributed audio through, through that zone. And then beyond that, what you can really do is leverage the power that Amazon has already incorporated into the product of multiroom, intercom, things like that. I mean, we have people installing 8, 10, 12, 17 of these things in a home and it becomes a distributed audio system.
Ron: There's new voice commands. And I don't know this, Jeff, cause I don't have, I don't have, people are gonna laugh at me. I don't have an Amazon Alexa, although a lot of my staff do. But, educate me real quick and maybe for those that are listening. I know 99% of this audience probably knows this. So it's really educate me. You can through voice commands, set up groupings of these so you can have zoning?
Jeff: What you do is, it's a very simple to set up groupings and also what you consider programming. I guess in our lingo is done quickly and easily through the Alexa app. So you can set up zones and, and just like you would in other solutions with our channel. I mean, this is simple enough that, you know, homeowners are doing it all the time. We refer people, "Hey, go watch this three minute video and you'll understand how to do it." So, you know, kind of getting back to that. Some of the original thoughts of this. It was really, okay, we're going to allow people to leverage this power of Alexa in a simple, straight forward way. So we're gonna allow them to get high quality music out of this. You don't have to think about how many channels you need. You just add one for every zone or area you want to have music. And then, on top of that you just use the normal commands that you would, there's no extra programming. Amazon's managing that stuff in the cloud. They've got a lot of smart guys banging and keyboards and these things get smarter every day. And there's all kinds of,countless things you can do with it. But you know, at the basics of it, what it really is, is providing something that I've always believed in and why I'm still here and why there's still people making architectural speakers and amplifiers and putting them into homes. Which is the experience of listening to music throughout the home is fantastic. And this, I believe is the latest way to achieve it.
Ron: So just stepping back from this particular product. I mean, what do you think smart speakers mean for our industry? Just this concept of, Amazon and Google and Apple now acting as this interface? I mean it sounds like you think that's going to continue to grow.
Jeff: It is. I think the biggest change it means for our industry is one there. We've continually, our industry has been one that has been really at the pointy edge of educating homeowners about technology they can integrate into their home. So we've been the one going to the homeowner and saying, You know what? Let me explain how lighting control works. And let me explain the benefits of this. Let me explain how you can have Elvis in the bedroom and you can have Bob Marley outside on the patio and what benefit that comes to you. And our channel has been the ones really educating the home buyer and user on the technologies to integrate into the home. The big game changer now is that we're not the ones doing that any longer. I mean, we're doing that, but in bulk it's really the smart speaker guys. It's Google, it's Amazon to a lesser degree it's Apple. And they're ones saying, Hey, you know what, go buy the smart plug and we can turn on, you know, your toaster go by the smart light bulb and we can control your lighting. You know what, just tell us you want to listen to Bob Marley and I can play it. The education level of the American public is growing. And I believe what we're getting is people that are now saying to the integrator and like to a much lesser degree, they were saying, you know, I want Sonos. Right? And that was kind of a first wave of this you could almost say. And now they're saying, you know what, I want what Alexa does. I want what Google does. And they've already had an experience of some sort of home automation, distributed audio with these products for very little cost. So I believe the big game changer in our industry as this grows is that those home buyers and people that are being touched, it's going to be harder to say, I can do these things for ya. Here's this, Control4 system for 80 grand. And you know, I mean I realize the real benefits of a system that versus some others. Right? But you know, a lot of America is going to say, you know what? I've been living with a some lighting control and thermostat and good music here.
"The theory is that as this technology and all the smart speaker, the Amazon Alexa, the Apples and so forth are proliferating the marketplace, the availability of technology is going downstream. The awareness and education of the consumer is increasing rapidly."
Ron: So Jeff, have a theory here. I've been working on this theory for a few years and this might not sound like any sort of epiphany. I might be stating the obvious, but the theory is that as this technology and all the smart speaker, the Amazon Alexa, the Apples and so forth are proliferating the marketplace, the availability of technology is going downstream. The awareness and education of the consumer is increasing rapidly. And so I see the overall market is just increasing exponentially. It's not yet. So this is maybe the controversial point. It's not that the high end customer that wants to be served by an integrator, I don't see them going away. It's just that the market overall is expanding. Yeah. I mean, do you agree with that?
Jeff: If I partially agree with that, I think that there's always going to be that percentage of people that will appreciate you know, the high quality, the touch point, the serviceability of those systems. You know, I got an anecdote for what anecdotal means, right? But you could call it a Canary in the coal mine. So I was at you know, we attend the ISC show in Amsterdam which was a fantastic show. I'd urge anyone that's never gone to be there. Right.
Ron: I've been several times.
Jeff: Yeah, it's awesome. So we exhibit there, and I had, this February, I had the Veil 3, which is our doc for the Amazon Echo Dot 3. And it was the opening day and it was a bit quiet. And there's a gentleman that walked by the booth and he did a double take and he turned around and came back and he pointed at the Veil lamp. He said, tell me about this product. And I explained to, okay, here's how it works, and then it does this. He goes, you know what, I'm gonna need some of these. And he went on to explain. He goes, you know, I'm a Crestron integrator in London and I have a client that's an American hedge fund manager. He was referred to me by another client of mine named David Geffen. And I quoted him a complete system. He says, I'm a Crestron guy. I quoted him an entire Crestron solution, and he looked at me and said, I've been living with Alexa. I don't want Crestron. Only thing I want in my house is Alexa. I love it. This guy looked at me and said, I'm in the aid of these products. And I don't know, I gotta figure out. You know, how many integrated. I mean, now I know there's other solutions that integrate, you know, the big control platforms and people they have, solutions integrate with voice Alexa. But in this case, this is what the guy wanted. And that was his expectation.
Ron: I think what I'm hearing you say is otherwise, maybe if that customer did not already have Alexa, then that would have naturally been a Crestron sale?
Jeff: It would have been a Crestron sale.
Ron: Yeah and because now he had $1,000 worth of Alexa in his house. His next house is now going to have Alexa.
"I believe there's opportunity. We just need to think a little different. And I know a lot of people already are about what our products and our installations are to seize on that demand."
Jeff: Yeah. I'm not saying this is doom and gloom. I do believe there's a percentage of the market that's always going to be there. I believe the challenge with our industry, and you know, this is our start of our solutions. We have other ones coming. Challenge of our industry is to take what Americans and I believe what people worldwide are demanding. Which is a good thing. It's a great thing. People want to listen to music. People are listening to more music in their home than ever. This is a wonderful thing. So our challenge as a business is to say, how do we make that better? You know, how do we take that need that people have and that they're experiencing and make it better for them? And I believe that the types of products and I believe there are service solutions in there also. I believe there's opportunity. We just need to think a little different. And I know a lot of people already are about what our products and our installations are to seize on that demand.
Ron: So, I'm going to challenge you a little further then. I hear you on the smart speaker and you guys are designing some really neat solutions, clearly with a large potential marketplace that could consume that. And you're designing solutions for the integrator to capitalize and benefit from that, which I think everyone listening should appreciate what you guys are doing. What other trends or shifts do you see happening out there that would affect those that are listening? I mean, you and Alex are looking forward and you're designing solutions. What are other trends?
"One of the biggest trends is smaller living spaces."
Jeff: I think one of the biggest trends is smaller living spaces. And you know, one of the big things that's happening is if you look at where our channel is traditionally profited and realize success. A lot of this is, you know, very wealthy urban environments and those spaces are out of McMansion real estate. I mean, once again, those one percenters, those people that can afford. You know, Hey, it's great you can afford the $50 million home in Brentwood. I'm glad, right? But a lot of people now we're seeing where as you know, 10 plus years ago, eight plus years ago you know, a condo was something that you bought because you couldn't afford a single family home and it didn't have a lot of amenities. And now what we're seeing is that the market's, you know, grown into these, smaller living spaces, but the expectation within those spaces is having all the same great premium stuff. You know, it's the $2 million, 1500 foot condo and people want lighting control and they want distributed audio and they want home theater in their new premium space. So I think in our channel, one of the greatest challenges is really figuring out how to capitalize on those environments and those needs that are being created.
Ron: So when you look forward, do you think the integrators in our channel. By the way, are you able or willing to say how many integrators do you think there are in North America? That we would call an integrator.
Jeff: I have absolutely no idea.
Ron: Well, so I normally say somewhere between 10,000 and 15,000.
Jeff: I think it could be different. It depends on how you define them, right? I mean, I would put it far North of that if you include. There's a lot of people in the secondary channels and there's the CSI guys. But you know, if you went into your local, security distributor and you spent a day at the counter, you would see a lot of guys come through there that are touching audio and touching some form of lighting. And you know, there's a lot of, maybe they don't do it as a full time job, but they're out there doing it. Yeah. I think he could be right in like the core of the market.
"Not much prepares you for the unknown's that running a business. It's, I think, one of the more interesting challenges in life, but a very rewarding one."
Ron: Yeah. I'm thinking classic Rezi integrator. They have a shingle, but no, I hear you. There's the security guys and the, all the other tangential trades that are even in other verticals that are still playing in the world of home, audio, outdoor, audio and home theater, you name it. I agree 100%. A lot of our audience, Jeff, is integrators, either owners or various, you know, any level from, you know, the person organizing the warehouse to the project managers, to the salespeople, you name it. What would be and a lot of our listeners just based on feedback that I've received personally are you know, newer businesses and you know, my personal experience is that running a business not much prepares it, not much prepares you for the unknown's that running a business. It's, I think one of the more interesting challenges in life, but a very rewarding one. Do you have advice? You've been a business owner and or manager or operator for multiple decades. What advice do you have for any of the integrators that are listening in terms of what would be things to consider to ultimately that would benefit them or help them grow their business?
Jeff: Well, just in general, having been through the ups and downs of the industry and seeing how things flow. I would, first of all, I would urge people that they need to be flexible in their approach. And when I say that a lot of guys fall into one type of business, they're servicing or one type of business model and that's great. I'm not saying don't avoid opportunity, but at the same time you're saying, "Hey, here's the products I install and the way I do it and the value of the home. At the same time you're doing that, you need to think about, you know what? I'm not going to turn down. That restaurant up the street that needs some stuff that, you know, maybe it's not as profitable or maybe, but you know what? I'm going to learn what that's about. I'm going to learn how to do a little bit of commercial stuff or I'm going to learn how to do this other house. Or maybe I'm going to stretch a little bit. And you know, I normally don't do a dedicated home theater and I'm going to stretch a little bit and do that. And I think it's good for people to have a range of expertise. So that when things happen, if things go bad, go South, God forbid. You can go, you know what? Wow, the homes over here, there's not so many being built, but you know, what, wow their retail thing has taken off and I got a lot of business over here. Or, those camera's. You know, I learned a little bit about how to put in cameras and stuff and boy, that's really taken off over here. Or so that concept of being flexible I think is important. The other is to try and anticipate change and do what you think you have to do before. It's too late. So whether that's, you know, seizing an opportunity or you know, I'm this, whatever it is in business, it tends to be by the time it's right in front of us and obvious as to what we should do. It's too late. Whether that's an opportunity or a problem. So, you know, my advice is maybe not that the right decision, but all I was trying to tie in, anticipate that opportunity or anticipate that problem and at least act in some way before it becomes obvious.
Ron: Alright, well I have a couple of random questions for you to close out the interview. And if you watched other interviews you're not, you will not have seen me ask this. This is entirely unfair, but it'll be some random questions here and we'll see. And I may or may not continue doing this on future interviews. We'll see how this goes. First question is, do you have a recent book that you've read that you would advise others other business owners or operators or people in the CI business to read?
Jeff: You know, what, not directly related to, to our business. You know, I'm actually kind of a periodical guy. I'll give you my periodical recommendation. And this is going to sound a bit erudite. It's called Latham's Quarterly. And what Latham's Quarterly is. I don't find that website, it's kind of geeky. It's a quarterly, but what Latham's quarterly is, is they have a theme every quarter. And Lewis Latham is the editor. Every quarter they have a theme, whether it's war or wealth or sex or the sea. And they take and they explore that theme from all time. So there could be 3000 year old writings from China, you know, they ask people to do modern day, current editorials on it. And what you find by looking at a particular subject over time, it helps you understand. More than just, okay, what is this about today in June of 2019. It really overall just gives you a broader understanding of life and these situations. And it frames them and it helps. For me personally, it helps my thinking expand rather than just to looking at the immediacy of what's happening now and what the arc of history means to a particular subject.
Ron: I love it. I can tell you I didn't see that coming from a mile away, so I like that. That's wonderful. I'm definitely going to keep that question coming. Next question is speaking of history and historical trends and things that I have an opinion. Things are changing and it has to do with data, the internet and currency. So can you guess the direction I'm going to go? What is your opinion around the sea change that potentially, maybe I'm influencing your answer by giving you hints? What are your thoughts around the trend that's going around blockchain and you know, Bitcoin of course is going bananas in the last couple of days, up 300% or something. So that is influencing me a little bit, but what's your opinion on what's happening?
Jeff: Oh man. I don't know if I can have an opinion. You know, I'll give you my most recent. I'll give you my most recent thing. I follow Paul Krupin, an economist and I believe it's him that is saying, you know, it's been overrated. You know, the blockchain, at least. I know that he's, you know, the guy's a smart cookie, he's won a nobel and he's a bit of a critic of it. I believe. I may be misplacing it here but I believe it was him that I read recently being quite critical critical of it.
Ron: I mean so you're saying it's not on your radar yet?
Jeff: It's on my radar, You know not one that I formed an opinion on.
Ron: Okay. Yeah. Alright, Well that is fair. Well, Jeff I've seen you and heard of you for many years. I've been in the business for 20 years and you and I, our paths had not crossed until this interview. And so I am honored to have had some time to interview you and get to know you better and for your willingness to share with our audience.
Jeff: That's been my pleasure, Ron.
Ron: Okay. Awesome. Well, Jeff, thank you, sir. And I'm going to sign off with the audience here, but it was great having you on.
Jeff: Thank you.
Ron: Oh, let's see here. Well, I was going to take you off screen, Jeff, but I think you're just permanently on screen. It doesn't. My software doesn't want to take you off screen. That is pretty funny. So what we're gonna do is we're going to sign off this way. You're going to hang out with me. You see my software. It's like you roll the dice and that dictates how it's gonna go that day. Oh yeah. So it's entirely locked up. So, Jeff, we're gonna sign off like this, my friend, awesome having you, and we'll see you next time. Okay. Thanks, buddy.
Jeff Francisco brings a wealth of industry and engineering experience as well as passion for music. His career has spanned 27 years with SpeakerCraft as Vice President and his current role at The DaVinci Group as CEO and President.
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:
- The Davinci Group's brand TGD Audio
- The Davinci Group's brand Vanguard Dynamics
- Veil Amp 3 for Amazon Echo Dot