The design and implementation of great home automation systems require intelligence, skill, and abundant knowledge of the latest and greatest products. Smart home integrators depend on daily market updates from brand experts. So we had a chat with our well-seasoned manufacturers’ rep, Wayne Augustin. And he gave us an insider’s perspective on choosing bespoke smart home technology.
Acoustic Architects: Tell us about your journey to the high-end audio field.
Wayne Augustin: My parents had high aspirations for me, hoping I would become a physician. I did actually enter Optometry school but after a year and a half, I found it was not for me. My hobby was hi-fi electronics. So after dropping Optometry school, I applied for a sales position with Pacific Stereo. I serendipitously got the position because I had a side job at a plant nursery. In the interview, one of the guys asked for advice about his lawn. He was impressed with my knowledge and decided I was the winning applicant that day.
How did you get into your current position?
After Pacific Stereo, I worked for Sound Components selling expensive audio toys. Our store was across the street from Sound Advice, owned by Joe Piccirilli (Rosewater Energy Group). They were about to extend their portfolio into the high-end market. And Joe asked me to head up the expansion. I had a 20-year history in retail and have partnered with several dynamic companies. I also owned my own high-end audio business for a few years. I finally landed in my current position with C&E Marketing in 1999.
What is your area of expertise as a manufacturer’s representative with C&E?
I curate marketing strategies for our product dealers and provide synergy among the reps. Because some systems include as many as 40 to 50 dealer representatives, it is my responsibility to stay updated on what is new and better on the market.
Tell me how that role is currently evolving?
These days I am more involved at the individual job level and spend a lot of my day on the job site, which is new for a manufacturer’s rep. I might walk through after a job is done and suggest changes, including product type or placement. Reps now have more interaction with interior designers and contractors than we used to. We help strategize on ensuring the technology is hidden so everyone is satisfied in the end.
What are the buying trends among older homeowners as opposed to the younger ones?
Older consumers prefer one-touch wall panels to control everything in the house. What goes into a single button is an amazing amount of complexity. Systems can be difficult to maintain and might not work 100% of the time. This is mainly because of third-party updates. The trend is toward less centralized controls like an iPad or phone. The younger generations are already on board with this trend and are more likely to use their phones and apps to control the automation. Voice control is also an emerging trend, which tends to satisfy everyone.
Can you enlighten us on the lost art of selling better goods?
It is exceedingly challenging to get someone to buy a higher-end product without first demonstrating it. The Demo Booth is a really important tool. It provides a peak emotional experience. So much so that if a consumer can see it in action, price no longer matters.
Smart Brands for Automated Homes
How has smart home automation changed your approach to representing product lines?
I’ve found the first rule in dealing in fully automated homes is choosing custom integrator products. Certain products are designed to be paired together and others are just not compatible.
On the subject of home automation, what are your clients most excited about?
Voice activation! As well as the breadth of things being controlled. Circadian rhythm lighting is also getting quite a bit of attention.
Now that home automation is so prominent, what does the future look like?
The future looks like less hardware and more things built into the product structure. Also, the ability to have music trail you as you walk from room to room, without manually selecting zones. And the same concept with video. So, automation is about the person instead of the equipment.
Any word of advice to others in your field regarding home automation?
Choose three or four top automation brands to work with. Or pick the brand to allows you to cookie-cutter small jobs really well. For custom work, choose the system that includes flexibility and a ton of support for the unknown variables.
Tell us about some of your favorite smart products that you are currently representing?
Sonance produces some of my favorite speakers because they have a broad range. They are exquisitely high-end with a primary function of making the actual equipment as invisible as possible. My other favorites are Barco Theaters, Meridian Speakers, and Dynaudio Speakers.
The Acoustic Architects Connection
When did you first meet Acoustic Architects?
In the mid-2000’s right after they opened. They had a ton of confidence and commitment to the client that made me want to get to know them. The founders were also part of Sound Advice right after I left the company so we had several mutual friends.
How has your relationship with Acoustic Architects changed over the years?
I knew Aaron and Spencer first and now have gotten to know a larger portion of their team. We have a lot in common. They are foodies just like me and my wife. She has a food and wine blog. So they call me up to chat about food. Our relationship has now evolved to outside interests.
How are you and Acoustic Architects working symbiotically to meet each other’s needs?
Acoustic Architects view their reps as the primary backup. Every time they make a change, they might need close support. It is a strong relationship because the Acoustic Architects team has to stay in the know about various brands to be differentiated from the competition.
What do you value the most about collaborating with Acoustic Architects?
I represent over 90 accounts with roughly 10 that are similar to the Acoustic Architects profile. Acoustic Architects possess unique fairness in the give and take. They value me not only as a rep but also as a person, as well as what I bring to the table. The team members come to me for advice and support. And I really love the honesty that exists between us.
Responsive Living, the term coined by Acoustic Architects founders, Aaron Flint and Spencer Hauldren, is the concept of seamlessly enhancing the client’s unique lifestyle using smart home technology. Responsive Living allows you to interact with your space via touch input, voice command, and predictive automation, placing you in full control of your home.
If you would like to learn more about home automation, feel free to connect with us. We will be happy to schedule a demo with you.
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