Road Trip January

posted on Thursday, 23rd February 2012 by David Slater

Design  Installs 


One of the remits for INSIDE CI is to connect with the Custom Installer. So this month saw me undertake the first of what will be regular road trips, intended to build bridges and support installers, distributors and manufacturers. Bags duly packed, I set off with Epson's Northern Sales Manager Phil Gibbs to meet three of the brand's forward-thinking dealers.

First stop was the North West Design Centre in Lancashire. The NWDC has partnered with a number of companies to showcase some of the best of the best, it's a great concept for selling. Aquavision, Jab Interiors and Vivid lighting to name a few, have pods showcasing their products at the NWDC. The idea is to invite a client to spend some time looking over products for an install under just one roof, and I have to say it works really well. With two floors covering over 25,000sqft, the extensive showrooms provide working room sets and a comprehensive library of international interior brands, inspirational interiors, new products and specialist services. The next pod to join will be Home Cinema, which will help the CI industry bridge the gap between design, room acoustics and technology.

My next stop was a company called Oldfield Home Controls in Skipton, North Yorkshire; here I met Andrew Smith and Richard Bell. Oldfield is taking a different approach to selling AV kit. There is Oldfield Lighting headed up by Richard, who specifies light fittings, design and control. Clients come in for the full turnkey lighting install. Andrew, meanwhile, looks after the home controls division. It was Andrew who  took me through to Oldfield's amazing cinema showroom.

Sitting down and being shown the system as if I was a client was great, these guys really know their stuff; firing up the iPad which controlled the system via Demopad software is very slick. The intention to detail here hit me like a runaway train. There were images of blinds on the iPad which were not just graphics but actual photographs of the alcoves; with a swipe of my finger the blinds kidded into action.
What drives people in CI is a passion for the technology and what it can do, and Andrew oozed with enthusiasm. If I was the punter being demoed kit, I would have had my credit card out within the first 10 minutes. The system, which comprised Kaleidescape K server and M700 movie storage, M&K IW150 speakers and Epson's new TH-EW9000 projector, was a truly impressive setup. Richard and Andrew have a great business platform and I'd rate them at the forefront of technology installs.

The second day of the inaugural Inside CI road trip took me to see Chris Shaw from Nirvana Audio Visual and one of their Control4 intelligent homes. Chris has a cinema showroom built inside a high end furniture store called PAD Contemporary Living and he tells me it has made a big difference to his route to market. The two companies work in synergy with each other. The install Chris took me to see was a self-build on a large scale.  Again the quality of the whole job shone from the minute I walked through the front door.

We took a tour of the whole house, starting in the basement where Chris has specified a home cinema; the system consists of a 3.5m 16:9 fixed screen fed by an Epson EH-TW9000 3D projector. This model appears to winning custom installers over with its brilliant performance. Sound was catered for by the awesome Artcoustic Diablo range of speakers and Modular centre speaker, while bass was thumped out by a pair of Polk DSW440 subwoofers. An Apple Mac mini added music from the client's iTunes library while movies were spun from a six disc Denon Blu-ray player.  

Moving into the pool area, a Control4 keypad operated lighting, music and the pool cover. With a touch of a button this glided back to reveal the shimmer of lights in the pool, the lighting curved to the same shape as the wall panels creating an awesome effect (pictured above). It was also nice to see the customer singing the praises of the installer, he loved the remote connection to his house via his iPad and iPhone and the fact that every piece of electronics in the home that could be controlled, was controlled. Some mean task and I take my hat off to Chris for pulling off such a great job. Another top addition to the project was over 100 zones of lighting that covered the whole house and was controlled centrally via a Lutron Homeworks system.

It's refreshing to note that each of the three companies I met had a different route to market, but were all as equally professional, which is what this industry is about. Service is of paramount importance at this level of business, and customers need to feel special.   

Richard Bell Tel: 01756 799155
Oldfield Lighting

Andrew Smith Tel:01756 708608 
Oldfield Home Controls

Chris Shaw Tel: 0800 622 6884
Nirvana Audio Visual

Denise Jones (Centre Manager)
Tel: 0161 6844366
North West Design Centre

David Slater

David Slater started his writing career with SVI writing a popular column, he has also guested on publications like Home Cinema Choice and
Living North

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Posted by James Middleton on 26th February 2012, 1:53 PM
Great article, its good to see how other companies find their route to market.

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