Jesse Howe is the president of HTA Certified home technology firm Signals Audio Video. He has been working at Signals for more than 20 years, in charge of operations in four locations, including Palm Desert, Los Angeles, La Quinta, and Maui. The company works by referral only, and is all about getting the job done right, on budget, the first time, and has been able to maintain a strong client base for 26 years, many of who have been with Signals since the beginning. Their motto is that their houses “just work.” The company recently added low-voltage lighting from HTA Supporting Brand Colorbeam to its lineup. In this Q&A with Jesse, we talk about what was behind that decision and just how it’s working out now.

HTA: What led Signals AV to adopt low-voltage lighting?Colorbeam Mission

Jesse: The low-voltage lighting option provided us the opportunity to sell the fixtures we were controlling anyway. We had previously always done the control system, but the electrician did the lights. It’s nice to be in charge of every aspect of it and that way we can actually guarantee that work. Handling the lighting fixtures provides us more opportunity and more control. Rather than relying on someone else, it’s now all under our control. 

Why did you decide on Colorbeam? How long have you been selling Colorbeam?

First of all, the people are great. When I first met Mauricio Gaudio (CTO & Co-Founder) and Mike Teolis (President & Co-Founder) 5-6 years ago, I got really technical with Mauricio. We sat down, and he talked our language and had a solution. And if he didn’t, he would make the solution. They have great interfacing options like Crestron. The capabilities of their products plus how willing they were to work with us to develop the interface was a winning combo. They offered a lot of time and energy and met with our programmers to address our specific needs.

Additionally, we don’t put anything into the field until we know it works. We did beta testing three years ago, and once we got proof of concept that everything worked as it should, we were off. We installed it in my own home, and I lived with it before using it in client’s homes.

What are some of the features that Colorbeam has that you love? Colorbeam Summitridge Drive_recessed lighting

They dim all the way to 1 or 0 percent flicker-free! As I mentioned before, we love how it integrates reliably with Crestron; the interfacing just works. The dimming also just works. The fixtures are clean, and we love the physical aesthetics of the product. The color-changing is excellent. I start the day at 4500 Kelvin color temperature, and when I’m reading to my kids before bed, my lights are down to 2700 Kelvin.

Not only that, we never want to tell our clients ‘no’, and Colorbeam’s flexibility means we don’t have to. If the client decides tomorrow they want to change something, it’s easy for them—it looks like a conventional lighting system but has full-blown control, and they can change it on their own—all the while saving power and dimming seamlessly.

Colorbeam interior lighting

How is Colorbeam different than some of the other smart home lighting companies and systems out there?

The support and dedication are tremendous. When we need help, it’s just a phone call away. Colorbeam is a Canadian company, but they are getting me products by the next day when I need it. Support helps steer what companies we choose to work with, and Colorbeam’s is fantastic. The whole team is dedicated, and they get it done.

The training is also excellent. Colorbeam hosts webinars and even does private webinars with us due to how in-depth we’ve gone with their product line. If we need demo products, we get it right away.

They seem to be very responsive to your needs from the front lines of the industry.

We had many conversations with Colorbeam on what we needed and what would make the integration better. And our level of job isn’t average. We are doing extremely large homes, so nothing is easy, everything is custom, and every room is different. With this level of execution, you need a support team behind you that can deliver. Again, most of our vendors and our rep firms for the products we sell are all chosen for that very reason. Colorbeam is at the top level and adapts its program based on what we need. They see the value in it because it will help them in the industry at large.

What’s the value of Colorbeam to the end-user? Outdoor view

"I love how Colorbeam Lighting dramatically transformed our backyard.”  - Jesse Howe

Their power usage has gone down. They have more flexibility in emergency and pathway lighting because of how Colorbeam can be configured. They have greater switching flexibility. They don’t need as much physical space. They don’t need as many electrical panels. They save money long-term, and the increase in initial cost is nominal.

Tell us a little bit about the business opportunity Colorbeam presents. 

That’s easy. We opened up an entirely new revenue stream by selling the fixtures instead of the lighting control system alone. Suddenly, in addition to a $60-70,000 control system, we are now adding another $70,000 on the lighting itself. It opened up a whole line of profit margin and a better deliverable product now. We don’t have to wait for other contractors and are more in charge of the schedule, eliminating bottlenecks.

It’s a no brainer.

Credit to HTA for this article & Signals AV for the interview.

Contact Colorbeam for more info.

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