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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 #9: an Industry Q&A Session with Dave Gilbert

Learn from the High-End Audio Expert

Watch Episode #9: an Industry Q&A Session with Dave Gilbert

In this Automation Unplugged interview, Ron Callis interviews Dave Gilbert, Co-owner and Senior VP of Hi-Fi Sales located in Cherry Hill, NJ. Dave's integration firm is an award-winning exclusive member of the CEPro 100 (#85 in 2017) and founding member of Bravas. 

About Dave Gilbert

Dave Gilbert is the Senior Vice President at Hi-Fi Sales, a home automation company in New Jersey. He has a wide range of skills in the automation and audio industry, with 36 years of experience running a custom integration business. In his role at Hi-Fi Sales, Dave oversees sales, marketing, purchasing, and management. He is also a Fellow of the International Furnishings and Design Association.

Interview Recap

In this two-part interview, Ron and Dave discussed strategies and industry news surrounding a variety of topics, such as:

  • How Dave got started in the automation and high-end audio industry
  • Dave's business relationship with George Watts over the years
  • His role as Senior Vice President of Hi-Fi Sales
  • The value of having a showroom and best practices in using showrooms
  • Tips for selling high-end audio systems
  • Hi-Fi Sale's role as a founding member of Bravas Group and participation in ProSource
  • Advice for other integrators trying to reach CE Pro 100 dealer status
  • Dave's passion for spending time at the racetrack

For the full interview, start the videos below:

Segment One:

 Segment Two:

Transcript:


Ron:  Hello everyone. Ron Callis here. Thanks for joining me for another episode of Automation Unplugged. And it is right now about 12:32 just starting a couple of minutes behind. And it is Wednesday , June 28. Hope you guys are having a great day and a great week so far. Here at Automation Unplugged, my goal is to bring you some of our industry's best and brightest and have fun conversations. Help you learn a little bit more about them and their businesses. And today I have a very exciting guest. I'm excited to have Dave Gilbert, a longtime client good buddy of ours here at One Firefly from HiFi Sales. Before I bring Dave on I am going to do what I do every week and that is I'm going to go over to my Facebook page here and just make sure that we've got a live stream coming in so far. Facebook live's not let me down and it's always there. But let me just. I can't help it. I got to check it out and yeah it looks like we are live. All right cool. So let's jump right in and let's say hi to Dave. Dave, how's it going man?

Dave: Good Ron. How are you? Hello everybody out there on Facebookland. A beautiful awesome day here in the Philadelphia area.

Ron:  Yeah. What is it a sunny day there? How's the weather is it cooperating?

Dave: Sunny. Probably high 70s. So beautiful . As soon as I get off at this I'm gonna go outside and put out my lounge chair.

Ron:  Nice get a little suntan huh? Now Dave you and I have known each other for a couple of years. We started working together. You became a client of One Firefly back in I think I wanted to say it was 2015 or so. Does that seem right?

Dave: Yeah that sounds right.

Ron:  Think we met at a Pro Source buying group event.

Dave: We did.

Ron:  Yes. And you have become a great client and you're an advocate of one fireflies and I genuinely appreciate that and I know the entire team here does as well you've grown a lot of really fun relationships with members of our staff. And I appreciate that. So thank you.

Dave: Great team.

Ron:  Well thank you Dave. I appreciate that. I want to go and dive into you and your business and I'd like to understand kind of where you come from as it relates to the automation industry and I believe Hi-Fi Sales , the business based in Cherry Hill New Jersey started or was founded in 1979. Were you there in 1979 or can you just give our audience a little bit of a background about yourself?

Dave: No I was not here in 1979. However, in 1979 I was selling audio on college campus at Drexel University in Philadelphia and that's kind of how I got into the business. I myself started as a company that sold audio gear to college students to then resell to other students on campus because think about it . 1979, no Internet, things were done by catalog. A lot of stuff was still fair trade, the Fair Trade Laws were still in effect. A lot of people don't remember what that is.

Ron:  I don't remember what that is. What is that?

Dave: If this is what the price was this is what you paid for it and that eventually was done away with. So we were kind of flying under the radar and selling audio to people on college campus. I was a guy on college campus selling audio and I was selling for HiFi Sales and was one of the top sales guys selling of college reps. We call them campus reps throughout the United States. And because HiFi Sales was at that time it was in Brumal, Pennsylvania. And that's a suburb of Philadelphia. I was a student at Drexel in Philadelphia. I would go and pick the gear up and bring it back to the college campus and then sell deliver it to the people who bought it from me. Fast forward to '82 when I graduated and I was asked to come work for them full time.

Ron:  You were doing that actively as a student? You were selling audio video gear to college students as a student.

Dave: I was.

Ron:  Wow that's cool.

Dave: Yeah and you know that's really before the merge of audio and video. So mostly was audio and course I, like everybody, you know almost everybody I like not only audio but good audio. So that was a good system in my dorm and that's usually where the parties were.

Ron:  Now how did you then stay with HiFi Sales? I mean since that time as a sales rep?

Dave: Yep. This is the only real job I've ever had. I got hired 1982 and I've been here ever since we moved from being a division of a company in Pennsylvania from '82 when I worked for the division at HiFi Sales at that time going there in '82. We left in '87 and became a completely separate company and relocated to Cherry Hill, New Jersey where I am talking to you from right now which is just on the other side of the Delaware River from Philadelphia. And while we were still over at Pennsylvania and part of another company. That's when our shifts started happening towards custom before custom was even an industry where products were made specifically for residential customers. We were mostly using commercial stuff in homes but we were doing some commercially as well.

Ron:  So what was that timeframe if you were to peg a year or a year range where you started to do you know what we today would call custom integrated systems in homes. What was that timeframe?

Dave: Probably '83.

Ron:  So you would I mean I know a lot of folks around the country that has to be one of the earlier people in North America doing custom integrated systems in homes.

Dave: Yeah we were kind of working with one hand behind our back or one arm behind our back because we had to figure stuff out, the audio distribution and kind of adapt things that were being used in the commercial world into the residential arena.

Ron:  How did you do multi-room audio in 1983? Like how did you make that or was that even possible?

Dave: Oh yeah. Yeah. You see those now maybe you have you seen those volume controls on the wall that is a silver plate in the black knob it looks like something out of Frankenstein's laboratory. And then we could use you know what we call now pie plate ceiling speakers. And we developed the way to be able to distribute audio differently than it's done today. Nobody else is doing at the time to be able to put a lot of speakers on one amplifier. So basically it was two-zone stereo receiver at that time I don't think surround sound's even happening but two-zone stereo receiver into a second amplifier volume controls and speakers, back when it was simple man.

Ron:  Yeah it's anything but now. Well I guess it depends how you slice it. I do want to address our audience I want to thank everyone for watching us live. And please share the Facebook Live Feed the Automation Unplugged feed. If you're out there if you're watching there are other friends in the industry that would benefit from hearing from Dave's experiences and stories. And I know Dave well enough to know he has a bunch of those and hopefully we're going to capture at least a few of those here and get those live. So if you're out there please share the feed. If you're watching this and rerun and it's and it is not 12:40 p.m. on Wednesday June 28. That's OK. You can still share the content. And we also definitely want your feedback folks. So as we go along here I'm going to post some questions and I'd love to hear from you if anything right now. You can just drop a comment and say hello. We'd love to know you're there and just say hi to Dave and say hi to me. All right , Dave, you have a business partner. I believe his name is George Watts.

Dave: George Watts, imagine that last name Watts in the audio industry.

Ron:  How convenient. So how long has George been your partner and how did that. If you don't mind sharing. How did that come into being that you had a business? Is he the only partner? Is it two people?

Dave: We have a junior partner Nick as well.

Ron:  All right. So there are three of you. But how did it come to be with you and George?

Dave: I met George in 1976 when he was working at a Hi-Fi shop actually in Cherry Hill New Jersey and he was working there. He had previously done a stint as a teacher at IBM up in New York but that was just something that he enjoyed doing but he found a calling in the HiFi world and introduced me to audio way back when. Fast forward a couple of years he's running the HiFi Sales division of the company that I'm buying audio for and selling on a college campus. So he hired me in 1982. And at that point I was an employee of HiFi Sales. There were three of us. And then when we became a separate company and no longer division of another company he asked me to become a partner in the company because I had a choice at that time. Stay with the company we were departing from or take a risk and go out on this new company. Actually the same name we kept the name HiFi Sales which is why it's still that name just because it's a legacy name and HiFi is coming back but so I got asked to join and come on board as a co-owner and 1987 and though then George was the President the company. He's been there a lot longer than me but he has trusted me in being his business partner and guess the way things work out is he's more of the engineering kind of guy. He's more the day to day nuts and bolts kind of guy and his training and his background is in the technical world and mine is in the business, marketing and by default an audio guy cause I've always enjoyed audio.

Ron:  Do you think it's a strength that you have business partners at HiFi Sales? I mean does that help you or help the business in some way?

Dave: Absolutely. Absolutely I know it's hard for many. Many I've talked to in this industry and in other businesses to have a business partner. But when you do have a business partner it definitely takes a lot of the strain off of you as an individual. And also when you have a business partner that has different strengths than yours, you can play off each other instead of having competing similar ideas. You know we always say if we both thought the same way we'd walk off the edge of the earth together you know following each other.

Ron:  Now Dave what are your day to day responsibilities? Are you still in the business every day or you're actively in HiFi Sales?

Dave: Yes I am.

Ron:  What are your roles and responsibilities in the business?

Dave: Primarily, let's see not necessarily any particular order of importance but purchasing. I do all the purchasing, manage all the vendor relationships, and then marketing I do a lot of marketing although you and your team do most of that for me. I just come up with the ideas and you guys implement it all but my background is marketing and management. So I handle marketing. I handle future development and I go out and kind of work the crowd, work the groups of the organizations that we belong to and where we can get our specifiers from like interior designers , builders , architects kind of like the face of the company. And I do sales.

Ron:  And you still do sales , so still meet one on one with customers?

Dave: Oh absolutely.

Ron:  Okay. Understood. Now we're gonna try something new here Dave. Something I have not successfully done yet on one of my Automation unplugged shows but I'm confident this is going to go well here. So what we're gonna do is I'm going to switch over and this ties into the question I want to ask you next. So what I'm doing is let's see if I can get technology to cooperate all right I think. Oh yeah. Good. So Dave, here's the question. Many integrators I think it's my opinion that maybe most integrators throughout North America do not operate a showroom. They run out of some cases they operate out of their house. Some cases they run their business out of an office space with a warehouse and a design and engineering space and your business has a showroom. And I think that puts you in a rare breed. There aren't that many firms around with the showroom. The shot I've got on now is actually showing your website. I believe we've been here on your website, have a section where it features your showroom. And so here I'm just going to pull up a couple of images of the space. Can you talk to the audience about why you have a showroom and how you utilize that space?

Dave: Sure. When we first moved to New Jersey from Pennsylvania. We're still in the Delaware Valley which is a Philadelphia market. We had a facility that had what I call a private showroom. At that point and now keep in mind this is late '87 early '88. We had there were a lot of competing retail stores and chains in the area many of which or most of which are gone. But we had intended primarily to address the market other builders designers and architects. So we had a showroom which wasn't really visible from the street. If you looked at our building from the street you saw our offices actually and you had to go through the corridor to get into our showroom and we found that really helpful to be able to show our clients prospective clients and our builders designers and architects and as we grew we found we needed more space and start ed looking for another building. And again this is 12 years ago. The building we're in now, we've been in here for 12 years. There still wasn't a place to go and check out good quality audio and video because obviously at that time of the merger of audio-video had fully taken place. So we wanted a place to show people and give people the actual experience. Again this is before the Internet totally exploded but still we felt that to get the full experience and not just the Costco or Wal-Mart experience but the full experience of the quality products that we sell we needed to show them to be able to show that. And we've been successful at running that.

Ron:  Now your showroom, is this by appointment only or is this walk-in traffic? Who comes into the space?

Dave: We're a freestanding building and next to us, shares a parking lot with us a high-end lighting store so interior designers bring their clients there. They can see what we do from the parking lot and seeing through the windows. Walk-in people who are looking for a product and they found us through a website locator from one of the manufacturers and just people..


Ron:  OK sorry for that technical difficulty. Actually not quite sure what happened. Software crashed and had to rebuild a few things. But we are back; see as Dave was saying when you're on the bleeding edge sometimes you get cut and you know such is life. So Dave where were we at? Do you remember? I'm not going to put you on the spot. I'll give you some direction here. Let me just make sure..

Dave: I can look on here..

Ron:  No. I'm gonna just go back to the page make sure we've got a Facebook feed here I'm looking for I think the error. What's really interesting. I just had Facebook crash. I think the error may have been with Facebook. It is possible. But anyway we got one of our audience back. All right we'll keep truckin here. So Dave at least what was top of mind for me is you guys operate a showroom that is rather unique in the industry. And there was a question that was posed. Let me just get back to the comments on our previous feed and there was a question posed by Rachel, no by Debbie and she was asking do you have designated people in your showroom that are there to give to show people around or to greet clients? Or is it just kind of whoever is available would ultimately meet with someone that was to walk around?

Dave: Good question Debbie. So we have one guy who sits behind our counter if he's not running around in the showroom with somebody else and he is there to welcome people into our showroom find out what they are here for and then either that's a retail customer looking for a pair of speakers or piece of Sonos and then he gives them the information they're looking for maybe a demo, shows them the rest of our showroom just in case they don't know what it is that we completely do here. And if it requires some custom or if it's a custom client or a prospective client for custom we usually have a custom sales guy here not just because we want them here in the building. They're usually better out in the field or working on proposals and design. But if that is the case that he will introduce them to our system designers. So our front door's open the whole time that the business is open and there's always somebody staff ed in the showroom.

Ron:  Now Dave do you have any tips for the industry folks out there that are trying to say get better at or learn better techniques as it relates to being successful with hifi audio? I know that you guys have had success , it's not just in your name but you guys have a lot of success selling hifi . What do you attribute that success and how could others in the industry you know take a few of your tips perhaps and tips and use them?

Dave: If I thought about it.. Well most of us in this company got involved in this industry. We were already audio people meaning we enjoyed audio more than just some something playing out of an A.M. radio or F.M. radio in a car or a little mini system at home. We were audio guys to begin with and so that was always our passion. And one of my lead custom guys, his main passion is high end audio and you know if you really love something you're really not even selling to somebody you're just giving them the experience and they kind of sell themselves on it. Once they get the proper experience. Again why we feel we need to show them to be able to give them the proper experience. You're not going to get that on Amazon or anybody else's online store . You're not going to get the experience of the full emotional experience with good quality audio. So I think first it requires somebody that really has a passion for high-end audio and also the ability to demonstrate it.

Ron:  Do you feel that having a showroom is critical for success with high-performance audio sales?

Dave: Yes it's not necessarily as critical. I don't think to be a an integrator but to be able to sell the level of products that we do. You know I don't I don't think somebody would buy a Lamborghini Ferrari Maserati over online without having a chance to experience it first. And with the higher end audio that people really want to experience it first.

Ron:  Do most sales transpire once the client's been through some type of demo with the gear?

Dave: I don't know if I would say that every demo results in a sale but every demo results in a further education to the consumer about why quality audio and why the cost of quality audio costs what it does compared to maybe an MP3 going through a pair of inexpensive bookshelf speakers. But we do find that it continually educates and plants the seed for better quality audio . Plus we hold events with the higher end audio manufacturers in our showroom, we have a nice place to show them and it's good for holding events. And we get a lot of the manufacturers and people who are either the owners , founders of some of the audio companies to come here and do presentations and their names are known throughout the audiophile community so when they see we're having somebody from the founders from all your classes or VPI turntables or the head dude it's a big draw.

Ron:  Got it. Understood. Our audience out there. Thanks again for sticking with us through our tech difficulties. We did lose all of our umph in terms of gaining audience through the shares and the comments that you guys were making. So if you don't mind. There we go see some more people popping in. Give us a comment. Say hello. And if you don't mind, share this. The actual live feed, the previous feed died on us on all of us and therefore you know this is now the feed that we need people tuning into. So give us a comment, let us know you're out there and thanks again for being patient with us. Dave, you guys are members founding members of the group called Bravas. And we had Paul Starkey. He was actually our first guest on Automation Unplugged back in April and you guys saw a vision or saw what that group could be and I'd love to have you tell our audience what is Bravas and why did your business decide to join Bravas?

Dave: Bravas is a cooperative of dealers across the country and actually we have one. We have one member in Canada and the primary objective of Bravas was to get dealers together and get them on the same standard operating procedures how you recognize inventory. How you recognize a sale. How certain things are done on the back end of business. Because the goal is to give us an exit strategy. As small business owners, we can attempt to sell our businesses through individual sales. However that may be maybe through our employees . Through somebody who wants to buy our company. But as smaller businesses and business owners, the perspective for somebody big coming and buying us for big bags of money as Bill Morton would say. Some of you may know he is. Companies who are working on the same platform and seeing how you rank how you rate how small increments or changes in what you're doing can actually affect your bottom line. Because after all , we don't run in the most profitable of business categories out there but we are a profitable sector of industry and we need to be able to find ways just small ways really small ways to make improvements in our profit and also be able to service our clients better. So that's our goal our strategy and we're looking to be able to improve in every way we can.

Ron:  You've been working with Stephen Paul went through Bravas as a member for the last several years. Do any metrics of performance come to mind in terms of you started a moment ago talking about standardizing operational procedures as well as improving financial measurement and one of those is knowing how your peers are doing? Have you been able to put your finger, you and George put your finger on some of the improvements that have resulted in your business by simply being better at finance and management?

Dave: Yeah absolutely. I think increasing our technicians billable time is a major focus on for everybody. I mean we pay our techs and we pay everybody who's on hourly or salary to work a full day and work a full week. But you know being able to measure what the performance is out of how much we're able to bill for that versus what we pay for that is really big and we're seeing the numbers get better and better. Pretty much month over month we also look at what's another big number? Another big number is where are inventory levels are versus where our sales are versus where our projects are in relation to progress. Now we were having brought too much inventory in for projects before, way before they were ready to be delivered and installed. And so we're able to see our inventory levels versus our sales levels and compare that also with our our pipeline to what kind of work we have coming up.

Ron:  Okay. Understood. I appreciate you sharing that with our audience. And hopefully Facebook is still cooperating. I saw it freeze up there for a little bit so we'll keep rolling with it. Now , Dave, you are also, HiFi sales is also a member of Pro Source, a buying group. How long has your business been a member of a buying group and why did you single out that particular group versus some of the other very fine groups that are out there?

Dave: Well we've been a member of Pro Source I think it's 17 years. And at that point or that time when we joined I don't think there was any other buying group that was more specific to the consumer electronics side of things. There were other buying groups that dabble a lot in or included appliances and other things and of course Pro Source is part of Brand Source. So they handle and deal with buying independence itself. Appliances and bedding and furniture but there is this specific division of Brand Source which is Pro Source. And somebody walked in the front door of our building we were on the other side of Sherry Hill, gave us the 411 and we've been a member ever since and the amount of money that we've been able to add to our bottom line because of better programs we had and all the other benefits is astounding. I just went through a benefit review with my Pro Source rep and the amount that we get back versus what we put in, it is a good day at the casino.

Ron:  Now you said a benefits review. What is a benefits review and what does that consist of?

Dave: What our Pro Source rep, in my case Bobby Dodge, will do is we'll do a screen share we'll do a Go-To meeting and he'll show me all the things that we buy product-wise that are through manufacturers that are participating in the Pro Source program. He shows me the stuff that we buy out of the Pro Source warehouse known as Expert Warehouse and compare it to what we, compare our purchases versus what we got back , the extra amount we got back from being a member in dollars and in program benefits and it's just a way for them to show you what your investment is getting you for the what I consider a very reasonable price for a membership.

Ron:  So you spend you know you spend a dollar and you get two dollars back something like that.

Dave: It's a lot more than that but yeah.

Ron:  More than two dollars. Well heck you know I'd put a lot more than a dollar in that. That's fun. Now , Dave, you guys are this year, CE Pro 100. I think you're, I believe I have the number right. I think you're number eighty-five out of the one hundred and you've been in the CE Pro 100 now year after year you know for a number of years in a row. What advice would you give any of our viewers out there that aren't in the CE Pro 100 but would like to grow their business to be in the CE Pro 100. Any words of advice. You know for the I don't want to say the young folks out there that might be old folks. Everybody needs help. Would could you share?

Dave: CE Pro 100 is the top one hundred integrators in terms of revenue so that number is based on annual revenue so you know there's probably a number of people out there that are real close to breaking into the CE Pro 100 list and really grow your business how do we grow our business? Other than the normal things that we were doing , we've recently gotten deeply involved with lighting control.

Ron:  Your advice for others that would like to move into the CE Pro 100. That's the nature of the question. What advice would you give the other business owners out there? Integration firms that would like to get into the the the revenue level that would earn them that ranking.

Dave: Let's see some more expensive products and not necessarily just because they're more expensive but because they do get the better experience to the client whether you know the speaker spec the next model speaker up, add a few more control points in the system around the house for the client and get into different aspects of what we can now offer our clients to be able to increase your revenue. Lighting, shading, networking, surveillance cameras, all the things that are becoming piled on top of what we already do and are controllable by our control systems.

Ron:  Dave what's your understanding of the consumer walking in the door today and you're still involved in sales and their knowledge of this thing called the Internet of things? And their saviness around all things technology and automation and how that's affected your business? You have a perspective you can share on that?

Dave: They're confused they're highly misinformed. They're looking for someplace to be able to help them out. I mean it's just like any new technology. It gets adopted by these early adopters and a lot of people don't know what goes on behind the curtain to make all this work. They just want a system that works. We had a customer come in the other Saturday. I happened to be working a Saturday which I occasionally do. The customer said what's a smart home? Do I need a smart home? I mean. So they're clearly not completely..

Ron:  Was your reply. How much money do you have?

Dave: No, I may have thought it but I didn't say it. We have to start explaining from the beginning what things can be controlled and why a home is smart. And then they start to get it. Once we show them apps on the phone and all the things we can combine together to make a smart home. So consumers are definitely confused and definitely misinformed but the awareness is becoming so much greater as we can see the clear proliferation of custom integrators that are around.

Ron:  I'm going to ask you an off the wall question but I tend to do that on occasion. Do you mind giving credit or kudos to say a vendor partner of yours that you think really goes above and beyond to support HiFi Sales you know year in year out consistently they just they really go out of their way to impress you and your team with support?

Dave: I'll start out with one of the newest vendors we've taken on. Again we're also focused on audio but pretty much everybody who's doing probably home automation has at least one room in the house it's the family room where the family gets together and watches a movie maybe a dedicated theater multipurpose room that's a theater and also a room used for other things maybe a pool table or a dartboard or something. That company is SVS and they make killer subwoofers and great speakers and we just had an event with them and they are always promoting us. They were a direct to consumer company and now they have adopted the integrator and people like HiFi Sales that has a showroom and so they drive a lot of traffic to our company through their social media through their posts and by supporting us in ways that most manufacturers have forgotten because they're not used to dealing with companies or never did deal with companies that had showrooms so kudos to SVS for doing that. Another audio..

Ron:  That's Gary right?

Dave: Yeah. Gary Coleman. Yeah. And he comes from the kind of company like ours that had a showroom and also focused on custom as well as better audio. But I'm trying to think of some of the other companies that ...

Ron:  You were about to give another shout out and I stepped on you there for a moment.

Dave: Oh yeah. So another one is backup audio techniques. Techniques is back in a big way with we do turntables. A lot of people are into vinyl so we do turntables and Techniques reintroduced their infamous SL1200 turntable. We're one of the dealers one of the few dealers that has been authorized to sell the new Techniques line and I use and you know this but maybe a lot of people out there don't , most people probably don't. I use your Lead Concierge service, the One Firefly Lead Concierge service on our One Firefly website and we get a lot of so your agents your folks chat with people on our website. Then I get a report back on what the chat is about. If it requires any follow-up and a lot of it is in regards to questions to Techniques turntables, Techniques amplifiers, Techniques speakers a lot a lot a lot of the Lead Concierge chats that happen on our website are due to people finding out that we're a Techniques dealer.

Ron:  So you think that that particular product that you know. Well I'll back up here. I believe that in some cases in some markets the hifi consumer will have researched some product and they'll know they want that product and then they're going on a hunt to find where can they acquire that product and is that what you're seeing here is it. Is it queries where they are literally doing a search and they're seeing HiFi Sales is the local reseller for that product and then they're reaching out.

Dave: Yes they are. They do a lot of research. They do a lot of reading of reviews they go into forums they go on the different places that audiophiles go to to learn about other product. Techniques is wonderful in supporting our company by having us listed on their website. There's not too many people that sell the product. We just closed the deal for really nice sale, to a woman in Utah. She called here. You know she was up early for her. You know we're on the East Coast and we answer the phone because if you called somebody locally they would still be asleep. We're not open yet and we developed a really nice rapport and she ended up buying a system from us and it was a nice. It was the perfect marketing you know circle to get it out there, get people to call us, give us the information , and then close the deal and she'll be a client for a long time.

Ron:  That's awesome. I appreciate you Dave bringing up Lead Concierge. If you'll allow me, we'll schedule a follow-up Automation Unplugged episode and we'll just do a deep dive into the marketing and that you're currently doing and that we're working together on. I think there's a lot of fun stuff that we're executing on behalf of HiFi Sales. If you're out there and you want to just know right now what are those things. Certainly, go to HiFiSales.com check out their Web site. You also can go to the One Firefly Web site and go to Case Studies and we have a case study right up there on the website where you can learn more about HiFi Sales and what they're doing. Now Dave I just want to close with maybe another fun question. I hope and that is when you're not saving the world from homes that are lacking control or good music. I believe you're often out on the racetrack. Can you share with our audience a little bit one of your passions?

Dave: Sure as most people who have been around at any of the trade shows or walked in here and mentioned anything having do with cars or motorsports that they know it's easy to get me to talk about driving a car on the racetrack. I do have a called a track car. It's a race car. It's a stripped and caged BMW M3 and I just have always been into the auto sports and found out that somebody like me can after a little bit of training go out and drive a real racecourse racetrack. And so if I can move this over here there's my car.

Ron:  Oh yeah. There she is. Is it a he or she?

Dave: It's an it. I don't personify my cars.

Ron:  OK. All right. Fair enough. Fair enough. Now when you're racing that thing How fast are you going or is it. Is it more about maneuverability or is it you know?

Dave: Yeah it's more about.. It's more about handling and skill. But I think that car before I hit the REV limit it will go 139. But it's really the fun of driving a road course. That's very technical and requires a lot of understanding of what we call the friction circle and how braking and acceleration and turning all have a relationship to each other, requires a very technical aspect and part of your mind. And while you're out there you're not thinking about anything else because if you mess up the consequences could be pretty serious. So I love doing it. I've just become an instructor for new drivers, want to get on the racetrack with an organization here and I am having a blast. And as people know when we get to talking about it I can talk about that for hours.

Ron:  I'm still looking forward to getting up there and seeing you, meeting at the racetrack and I'll be that newbie ready for some basic instruction but I'm sure it's going to be a blast.

Dave: Would love to do it, I think my ability to explain what we do and in our industry to people has definitely helped me instruct and teach other people and impart some knowledge to other people who are for the first time newbies on the racetrack like they might be first time newbie for a home theater or a control system.

Ron:  Sure. That makes perfect sense. Well, David, you have been very very generous with your time today and despite our little glitch earlier you said Ron let's just keep on trucking. So I appreciate the positive energy and the good spirit. And Dave you've been a great guest on Automation Unplugged and thank you very much for joining me and our audience today.

Dave: Thank you Ron. Thanks for the opportunity to get get out there and talk to everybody about automation and everything else that makes our company Hi-Fi Sales tick.

Ron:  Awesome. All right gang well there you have it. Another episode, number 9 of Automation Unplugged. That was Dave Gilbert, Senior Vice president of HiFi Sales. HiFi Sales is number 85 on the CE Pro 100 list. Dave is also a founding member of the Bravas group. I say Dave synonymous with HiFi Sales. HiFi Sales also is an active member of the Pro Source buying group amongst their many other associations and activities. So thanks for joining us today. Hopefully next week we won't have any issues but I appreciate everyone out there, your patience and continuing to follow us and the activity as we've been watching it on the consumption of these shows. It's been growing every week which is really exciting. And that's all thanks to you guys. So thanks again and I will say I won't see you next week. By the way, I'm going to Cancun next week so I'm going on vacation but I will be back the week after and we actually have guests booked now through into the early fall. So there's a really cool lineup of folks that I'll be having on and look forward to sharing with you those guests and all the fun conversations that we're going to have. So thanks again guys. Take care. I'll see you soon.

Show Notes

Dave Gilbert is the Senior Vice President at Hi-Fi Sales, where he was built his career in the industry. In his role at Hi-Fi Sales, Dave oversees sales, marketing, purchasing, and management. He is also a Fellow of the International Furnishings and Design Association. Dave started out his career with HiFi Sales in a different capacity 36 years ago and has grown with this home automation company based in New Jersey.

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 become 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 HiFi Sales at https://hifisales.com/. Be sure to follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

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