|AiN Group’s Larry Wright, Todd Girdis and Renee Lupo (left to right) present the new GEHST National Builder Program. It will target top national homebuilders to use AiN Group dealers for security and other residential systems. PHOTO BY SDM STAFF|
The AiN Group announced at its 2014 Live & Learn Conference that it is rolling out a new national program that gives its dealers the opportunity to install security and consumer electronic systems in homes built by some of the largest home builders in the country.
AiN — or, Authorized Integrators Network — is the managing partner of GE Home and Security Technologies (GEHST). AiN Group’s network of about 200 dealers are authorized to sell and install GE-branded security systems from Interlogix, as well as sound systems, lighting, home automation, central vacuum, and other technologies from approximately 30 approved vendors. AiN Group, now in its 13th year, held its first stand-alone conference in late January at the Sandpearl Resort in Clearwater Beach, Fla. Prior to the 2014 conference, AiN Group had co-located its conferences with CEDIA Expo.
“I loved the idea of a stand-alone conference,” said Vince Raia, president of EMC Security, Suwanee, Ga., an AiN Group dealer since 2002. “AiN is so content-rich; there are a lot of speakers, a lot of products to see, a lot of dealer best practices discussions available at and around the meetings. They kept the content very focused and fast moving, and it’s a great time, too.”
AiN Group is led by a 21-person board of directors, and supported by a staff led by founder and president, Stanley Matysiak. Matysiak and staff created an informative four-day event, with plenty of time for networking among dealers as well as leisure time. The guest speakers — both industry experts and motivational — were high caliber.
Michael Barnes, founding partner of Barnes Associates, St. Louis, Mo., spoke about security transactions, company performance metrics, and market structure/competitiveness. Most interesting was his discussion about the “new players” — AT&T, Verizon, Comcast and Cox — which “dwarf” the industry’s current giant, ADT. Barnes presented left-side/right-side scenarios that hypothesized how these new entrants might play out in time, concluding, “I think they’re in it for the longer term and ADT is going to get bought,” he predicted. Barnes advised dealers to keep their eyes on Google’s purchase of NEST, adding, “It’s a huge endorsement for the industry.”
Topher Morrison addressed the dealers about becoming a key person of influence, which requires five things: finding the perfect “pitch”; establishing credibility; documenting everything about your business (get the information out of your head and on paper so you can delegate it); raising your profile; and finding industry partnerships. “Who you are during a time of change is going to determine how an event will benefit you,” Morrison cautioned.
“The motivational speakers were phenomenal,” said Ronald Baskin, security specialist at Integ Security Solutions, Livonia, Mich. “Stan, as usual, does a fabulous job — the attention to detail. He has a great crew. It was informative; there was enough free time, but there was also a lot of learning to be had,” Baskin described.
For example, Barry Rutenberg, immediate past chair of the National Association of Homebuilders, spoke to conference attendees about how politics and the regulatory environment are interconnected with the homebuilding industry. He predicted, for example, that $8.5 billion in remodeling work could be lost due to people not wishing to conform to new flood insurance requirements, if passed as proposed. He showed a forecast from the NAHB that predicts single-family starts will number around 92 percent of “normal” by fourth quarter 2015.
There were two dealer panel best business practices held during the conference, focused on topics such as contracts, insurance, hiring, compensation/benefits, advertising, lead generation, customer strategy, and more. “The real take-aways were the panel sessions,” said Dan Dubansky, president of Structured Cable of Virginia, Richmond, Va., and an AiN Group board member. “Those were really a distilled version of making road trips,” he said, comparing the sessions to making visits to other dealers to learn about their recent successes with getting new business.
Keynote speaker Garrison Wynn covered a lot of ground in discussing things such as leadership, human behavior and communication. Perhaps the message that hit home with most of the dealers was when he spoke about generational differences in managing younger workers. “If I want to lead someone under 30, I need to praise them along the way because that’s what they’re used to,” Wynn put forward.
The GE Home and Security Technologies National Builder Program, planned for launch this month, would formally connect AiN Group dealers with some of the largest national homebuilders in the United States. Builders targeted include D.R. Horton, Pulte Group, Lennar Corp., KB Home, Ryland Homes, Ashton Woods, Toll Brothers, and many more. With AiN Group dealers providing 300 locations around the country, “We have a true network that gives us 80 percent coverage where homes are being built,” said Todd Girdis, executive director of business development at AiN Group.
The offering to builders encompasses five main technologies: structured wiring, surround sound, security, whole house audio, and vacuum. Participating vendors would offer discounted equipment for the program’s model homes; builder employees also would be eligible for discounts on the systems.
Under the program, dealers are being promised benefits of:
- exclusive awarding of business,
- simplified system packages,
- guaranteed standard installation work,
- face-to-face meetings with every home buyer,
- brand positioning, and
- participation in key industry events.
“We will be joining [the National Builder Program] for sure,” Raia said. “Atlanta was decimated in builder business a few years back. At the time, we were probably doing 300 to 400 builder systems a month…[which] pretty much went away for four or five years. This gives us the chance to rebuild that division.
“I like the idea that they are going to bring business to us; that they’re going to go in with a standardized package; that they’re going to approach builders at a level that I wouldn’t have access to them.
“I know we’re going to learn a lot about how builders are thinking. They’re meeting with the top people and trying to understand what they want from their integrator on a local basis, and that’s going to filter down to us. We’re going to be able to use that not only to sign business with those builders, but take those same practices to other builders who may not be building on a national scale,” Raia said.
Dubansky also plans to participate. “The concept sounds good. I think it’s worth the investment, because I believe in Stan and Larry and the group and what they’re doing. Whether or not it works, I don’t know,” he said. “If it does work, the upside reward is very good. They certainly seem like they’ve covered all bases with the money that we’re giving them — going to all the technology building shows, meeting with builders that we wouldn’t get access to. If they sign up three or four national builders and it ends up one happens to be in my market, I’m way ahead of the game. “
An elegant awards ceremony was held during the conference, at which 33 awards (18 from AiN and 15 from strategic partners) were presented to the dealers. Guardian Protection Services; Phoenix Systems; and Security Force were honored with Dealer of the Year National Awards. Ranger Technology Solutions was honored with New Dealer “Rookie” of the Year by AiN Group.
Paige Wire Miles 1,063 Award: Vitex
Paige Wire Miles 891 Award: Phoenix Systems
Klipsch – Dealer of the Year Award: Crime Prevention Security Systems
Klipsch – Rookie of the Year Award:HomeRun Electronics
Dirt Devil – H-P Gold Performance Sales Award: HomePro
Dirt Devil – H-P Gold Performance Sales Award : Vitex
Keystone Wire Top AiN Dealer Award – Western Region: Provident Electric
Keystone Wire Top AiN Dealer Award – Eastern Region: ProCom
Interlogix Top AiN Dealer Award: Guardian Protection Services
Interlogix Top AiN Dealer Award : Security Force
Legrand – Top AiN Dealer Award – Eastern Region: Phoenix Systems
Legrand – Top AiN Dealer Award – Western Region: KPS
Tri-Ed – AiN Partner Of The Year Award: Security Force
Tri-Ed – AiN Partner Of The Year Award: Home Pro
Tri-Ed – AiN Partner Of The Year Award: DataSmart
AiN Group Awards
Visionary Marketing Award: CV Security
Visionary Marketing Award: SmartCom Home Technologies
Visionary Marketing Award: Del-Air
Key-Contributor Award: Scott Alarm
Key-Contributor Award: Global Security
Key-Contributor Award: HS Technology Group
Best Supporting Dealer Award – Western Region: HomeRun Electronics
Dealer of the Year Award – Western Region: iWired
Best Supporting Dealer Award – Midwest Region: DataSmart
Dealer of the Year Award – Midwest Region: HomePro
Best Supporting Dealer Award – South-East Region: Dynamark Systems
Dealer of the Year Award – Southeast Region: Crime Prevention Security Systems
Best Supporting Dealer Award – Northeast Region: SmartCom Home Technologies
Dealer of the Year Award – Northeast Region: Protection By Design
Dealer of the Year National Award : Guardian Protection Services
Dealer of the Year National Award : Phoenix Systems
Dealer of the Year National Award: Security Force
New Dealer of the Year Award : Ranger Technology Solutions