Should I Let ADI Design And Quote An Entire Job For Me?

So apparently ADI offers a service where they will put an enitre quote together for you, one they say you can then just add markup and hand to the customer. Meaning parts, cable, hours, everything.

All my bosses seem to think this is the next best thing, and want to jump on it right away for all our quotes going forward. I am how ever quite hesistant, and resistant to the idea.

So my question to you all is; Has anyone used this service, either from ADI or other distributors, and how reliable has it been? Have you actually used what ever number they've given you and given it to the customer? How do they determine how long a job should take?

I am new to the IP game, and am slowly learning (with a lot of help from IPVM), so the idea of some help with quotes isn't a terrible idea, but given all that I would still rather be building quotes and designing jobs for myself, not letting some guy (or girl) at ADI do it for me.

Anyways, look forward to your replies.


Letting any third party, including ADI, put together a complete quote is a bad idea for integrators, as others are unlikely to know the specific operational details nor have the same incentive in preparing the quote. Moreover, IPVM members overwhelmingly had bad experiences dealing with ADI for advanced technical questions / design decisions. However, contrary to the claim in the opening post, ADI's President confirms that they do not provide labor quotes (which would have been insane).

If you can't do your own quotes, don't be an integrator.

Seriously, you need to know what is going on, and you need to be able to do this yourself.

It is one thing to verify specific issues with a pre-sales engineer, but having a distributor put together an entire quote for you is asking for trouble.

(1) The third party will not know all the specific customer needs and logistical issues that impact a project (which means things will likely be left out, other parts will be over-specified for padding, etc.).

(2) ADI? ADI is going to design / build projects for you? This ADI?

Btw, are they seriously claiming they will estimate 'hours' as in labor 'hours' for you? Really?

Daniel, I am glad you are resistant and skeptical of this. Be hands on, ask specific experts for help but do it ultimately yourself. You will quickly deliver a lot more effective proposals than 'relabeling' a quote from a distributor.

2) Yes, ADI/Honeywell, but not the branch team. They have a special solution team. I 100% agree with you John, if you cannot do your own quote you should not be an integrator.

On the other hand it does happen one needs help. We have some junior salesman that we train as much as we can, but sometimes they do not want to ask our help, perhaps they do not want a team member to see that they do not know. So then the ADI team can be helpful as a "guideline" and only that.

I would personnaly never take one of their quote for granted... Like Brian said, there is too many outside factors... Also another thing is truly they sell you what they sell, not the best solution there is!

Like many members, I've dealt with ADI for years, and the answer is: HECK NO. Even the folks in the 'systems group', who presumably would be putting together the estimate, should not be recommending designs. There is flat out too much those people do not/have no way of seeing that could dramatically change the way a job is bid.

Remember: ADI does not have your customer's best interests at heart... rather, YOU are their customer.

ADI wants to manage/manipulate/cajole YOU, not the customer you are trying to make happy. This difference can leave you in in the lurch with the people that pay your invoices when things go badly. ADI simply has a different motivation in specifying/selling equipment than you do.

All the points you brought up are exactly why I'm hesitant and skeptical, so I'm glad I'm not the only one thinking this. I've not been able to convince anyone else of the dangers of this just yet, supposedly they just want to get ADI to do up a couple quotes as a "Sanity Check" and then go forth from there. But even with they they seem to believe we'll just just what ADI gives us and tweek it a little.

Supposedly it's not the counter people, but a whole seperate "Systems Group" deparment based out of Toronto, for ADI Canada .

I was not in on the meeting with ADI and my company, but from what I am hearing from my managers, yes they will infact estimate labour hours.

I cringe at the thought, ADI reps do not even know what products they sell and most of the time if you cannot provide an exact part number for them they cannot find anything let alone provide the best solution for you.

If they are estimating the job what happens when it goes south ? I am sure ADI will refund you any loss. What size jobs are we talking about ?

Oh that's good, Josh! I am sure they will refund him any loss ;)

Btw, I think this is a bad deal coming from any third party, regardless of their skill level. Quoting based on third party information over the phone or Internet is a disaster waiting to happen. It's one thing to give pointers / advice, another to try to do it end to end.

Here's a good example where understandably integrators expressed great concern.

ADI is pretty low on the list of places I would trust to properly spec out a complex quote for me. They rank shortly after my vetrinarian, and a retired dentist.

Does ADI offer any sort of guarantee for this quote? What if the hours go over their estimate? Do they actually send someone out to walk the job and take notes and incorporate customer requirements?

Even if answers to all the above questions are satisfactory, would you really want to encourage this sort of thing in your market place? Seems like the next step is that they should also just bid the job out to some local day laborers to save you that trouble also.

"Seems like the next step is that they should also just bid the job out to some local day laborers to save you that trouble also."

Oh brother... :)

"Seems like the next step is that they should also just bid the job out to some local day laborers to save you that trouble also."

This is about ADI, not Anixter.

And you're off Anixter's Christmas Card list...

I fully agree with John. Most of the suggestions provided to me by ADI were not what I really needed. ADI has a research department, but they rarely come up with the right product, either overkill for the job at hand or the wrong product for the job, suggesting what they actually carry. An integrator cannot rely solely on one distributor. I use many distributors. A distributor only has knowledge and expertise of some of the products he sells. Example, when I purchase specialized products such as wireless lighting controls, I go with a distributor that deal exclusively with such products, not a big sell-all distributor like ADI.

In addition to what has been said here, They will go direct and compete against you as well.

I will say this in favor of ADI's program. They have a lot of customers who are not that much more sophisticated than day laborers - guys who install what ever is on special at ADI that week, have little education, training, etc. For them, this is an attractive program. Obviously, this sucks for their customers but that's obviously a whole other story...

Daniel, all of your bosses who are advocating this need to get a grip on reality. I can almost hear the conversation around the conference room table. "We need to get more quote out on the street" "We won't have to hire our own sales and engineering team" "Let them do the bid work, it's easy". Clueless are what your bosses are, of that I have no doubt.

ADI or any distributor sells boxes for a living With few exceptions. All the posts above are spot on. They cannot possibly provide you an end to end engineered solution. You are right to be skeptical.

Sounds to me like the empty suits are driving your train into the tunnel......and that light up ahead ain't sunshine!!!!

The worst part is we do have a sales team...

Why don't you ask them to put together a proposal and let's have a look at what they recommend based on you list of requirements?

I like this idea. See what they come up with and then we can make fun of them......

Also, Jason, I know you guys would not have turned that down! You just would have said "Not to exceed $10,000." ;-)

This is probably the only reasonable response here. It's not impossible, after all, that ADI has some employee, somewhere, that knows what they're doing and genuinely wants to sell you stuff that works. Besides, it's not like this is some fly by night distributor. ADI can't exactly afford to piss off their bread-and-butter customers, the small to medium integrators that come in and drop a couple hundred dollars every week. If ADI burned you on a big job, are you going to come in and buy boxes of cable and electric tape and connectors? Of course not. Bottom line: this service may or may not be worth anything, but I bet ADI is, at the very least, putting a modicum of effort into it.

Do not let ADI design anything for you. I used their services a couple times in the early days and they never even close to meeting spec. The only thing they are good for is buying what you know you need and, depending on how much you buy, negotiating special deals with manufacturers.

I thank you all for your replies. I doubt it will ultimately help me, but it certainly gives me some more reasons to be against this should anyone at my office ask my opinion.

I can see some value, as a person who is newer to the IP industry. Having ADI build something for me to compare against. I doubt I would ever take what they gave me and hand it straight to the customer without doing my own research. It's been stressful at times trying to build these systems myself with my limited knowledge, but it has definitly helped me learn, and I get the satisfaction of knowing I designed it and put it all together. Haven't had one not work so far, but I have been lucky to have some extremely helpful IT personell on the customers side for support.

We'll see how things go with the uppers, and I'll try my best to keep you all updated on what the ADI builds look like if I see one.

I don't know enough about ADI to specifically answer that part of the question, but I can say with certainty that I would NEVER let ANY third party design, spec, and quote one of my projects. There is no way that a paper pusher in a cubicle could possibly know the the in's and out's of installs. You couldn't credibly expect someone who never touches a screwdriver to understand or predict the varied issues that installers face when implementing a project. I can only see this going one of two ways:

1) They are either going to be ultra conservative with time and cause your bid to be way over-priced

2) They are going to keep labor time artificially low in order to help land the project and create sales

My bet is on #2, which is great for their sales numbers, but bad for the integrator who will eat the cost over-runs on labor.

I will bet it will be all Honeywell products and other items they get the best kick back on.

I am not sure about that. They do sell a lot of products.

How about this? Anyone willing to get the full system proposal / quote from ADI (including labor)? If so, send it to me ( and we will pay you $100.

I wouldn't even trust ADI to select correct BNCs for a specific cable type, let alone a complete system. I tried that once and they sent RG58 connectors for RG59 Plenum. When the connectors wouldn't fit (as you would expect), ADI refused to exchange them, saying we had specified the part number. We had to threaten them to get them to make the exchange and threaten them again when they kept trying to bill us for both shipments, claiming they never received the return. Even after we provided UPS tracking info, they balked.

I wouldn't wish ADI on my worst enemy... Or would I? Hmmmm!

I sent ADI a bid that specifically specified OnSSI and they sent me a equipment list with Axis Camera Station software. When I called them back they told me that the Axis software was basically the same thing as OnSSI. LOL!

Well if this is a serious question then my answer is... Yes. You should definitely let ADI design AND quote the ENTIRE job for you - for sure.


I have been a customer of ADI from when they were Ademco Distribution. They do have some smart guys there, if you can find them. There are two things that I have found, first is that I have generally been quoted the most expensive item they have for a job. Take for example an audio amplifyer, they quoted the most expensive brand. Second is that the prices they quote are not the prices I get at the counter. I always get better prices when I am there at the store. I cet quotes from the systems group frequently and will discuss things with them asking at times for suggestions. Then I do the homework.

Additionally, I was not aware of any service estimating hours!!! I don't know how they could even do that. But I have found that most of the time I will be asked if I need connectors or cable or other items that I have not thought about yet.

Good luck with starting in the world of IP cameras. IPVM is one of the best resourses I have found. Additionally, I have attended seminars put on at Tri-Ed and found them very informative. Also, look for webinars from everyone else, your supplier for routers, cameras, servers and VMS software. You will get different information from all of them but much of the information will be universal.

Steven, great insights, thanks!

I would not let anyone else design a system for me. If it goes south, I want it on my shoulders. Usually if a job does go south, it's because I trusted someone's word and they were wrong. If the smallest detail can screw up a job, why would I want to trust someone that just wants to make a sale?? My boss would NEVER suggest this.

I use design & build packages all the time from numerous different contractors and what is VERY important is to clearly define what your expectations are and what their deliverables are to be up front. This is true for any project not just video systems. Defining all aspects that are important to your stakeholders (the people you are building this for) such as drawings, BOMs, resources required, construction schedules etc.. will minimize or eliminate change orders in the long run.

Managing expectations is the buzz word you need to keep in mind for both your organization and the contractor / integrators.



As President of ADI, hopefully I can provide some insight on what ADI Systems Group does and does not.

ADI's System Group is an excellent resource for our customers to assist in building a bill of materials, using the customer's (installer's) requirements. We assist with recommendations on different vendors' equipment options. What we provide to a customer is an ADI quote for the specific ADI customer, based on their pricing and including vendor project registration pricing, if available.

ADI does NOT provide estimates of installation labor required, nor do we build entire system designs without dealer input on product requirements needed in meeting their customers' needs.

Thanks for the clarification Michael!

ADI helped me out tremendously when I first got into the sales world. You should find anyone and everyone who is willing to help you out until you are the SME!

Don't use them to "quote and entire job" but heck yea lean on them to gather as much knowledge and training as you can. That is one of the value adds of using them as a distributor.

I lost count of how many times I called ADI for help on stuff like a specific kind of cable, connectors, etc and they quoted me the wrong item. When I called them out they would usually say they either didn't have it or they said I was wrong and that part would work. I would then either find the right part on my own or call the manufactuerer and get the correct answer. Their Engineering group is nearly useless.

I guess all of you started out of the gate to be knowledgable and all knowing in your chosen field? I say bullshit.....most of you still dont know enough to be successful......what ADI is doing is helping those who need it, to learn from it and to grow on their own. You tend to remember those who helped you out in the beginning...

Dont like theirs? You can always create your own estimation or quote generator by using just do that rather than complain of the free service they offer, for those starting out......

Bottom line, you have to start somewhere somehow.......

The most expensive place to get 'free' information is from someone designing a system / solution for you, simply because the cost of it going wrong is immediately significant.

Btw, there's lots of free video surveillance information on the Internet, plenty of general guides from manufacturers, many things from us (like the IP camera fundamentals book, IP Video 101) etc.

"Learning" does not equal "Ask for a Blind Recommendation"

Has anyone ever just walked into a used car lot and told the salesman "You pick. I'll take it!"

I think Undisclosed has made a good case. What if all manufacturers provided this service? What if an installer could (risk free) disclose their current bids and get that manufacturer's perspective on how to address it? The installer would be under no obligation to use the manufacturer's suggested build, but it might give him or her some good ideas.

Almost everyone that touches my work makes some improvement. There have been very few times that I have seen someone else's take and not learned something from it. The flip side is, there have been very few times that I have seen someone else's take and not found something I believe I have handled better. Other people's inputs have good and bad points, and it's often up to us to learn from their positive contributions and sift out the less valuable ones.

It seems harmless (from a conceptual perspective) to get input from other sources, even when (like a manufacturer who wants to move boxes) they have known conflicts of interest.

I would have expected this conversation to focus on real integrators' issues. If you reveal a hot lead to someone, what are the odds they will leak it to your competitors? What are the risks that somehow they will sour it for you?

Also, if you are given a proposed system build, what kinds of things can really mess you up if you are not paying attention?

These sorts of insights, from professionals who have worked this field for long enough to know better, could be very helpful in this discussion.

Integrator, thanks for speaking up, and John, thanks again for a great forum that helps us all get a little more professional by learning from the best.


I strongly disagree -

you seek the advice from those who wish to help you.....and those who have the knowledge...... and typically you reward those who took the time to assist you, by purchasing the product from them.....

Mistakes will be made, that’s how you learn.....the quote will be only as good as the info provided, or the technology being used or the expertise involved in the process....

The hypothetical "what if's " are endless.....most jobs and applications are repetitive and really aren’t complicated......

Simply knocking a Value added service sounds petty and disingenuous, in my opinion

"you seek the advice from those who wish to help you.....and those who have the knowledge...... "

Sure, but what people on this thread are saying is that ADI does not have that knowledge, ergo why it's a risk.

This would be a lot different than a manufacturer system engineer giving advice. More often than not, those people know what they are doing. It's a 'free', 'value added service' but what makes it worth while is that they have the skills / expertise to back it up.

No one is 'simply' knocking it, they are knocking it specifically on ADI's historical problems making even simple recommendations that are close to being useful.

Where do you think ADI gets their assistance from? usually the manufactures directly...... or from an Integrator who unfortunately is not experienced or knowledgable, giving poor information - and the resulting quote being suspect because of faulty information.....

It goes both ways.......

Overall offering more than just being a box house, is a good thing more often than also builds loyalty

I will appologize in advance, I thought I put an update in here but it turns out I did not. I did receive a call from my regional ADI rep about this post, and he did clarify that ADI will not assign labour hours at all, Michael Fink has also confirmed that.

I have not to date utilized the service, msotly because I am personally comfortable enough to design my own systems, and I like to think if I can't design it, the chances are myself, or my fellow installers will not be able to install it so we simply walk away from that. I have wanted to throw a few things at the systems support group, just to see what they'd come up with, but always end up doing it myself. Just the kind of person I am.

The one thing about ADI, and I can't really blame them, is the few times I have asked them for something without sugesting any particular brand, they seem to come with the cheapest avaliable. The reason I can't blame ADI for this, is because everyone I see going into the branch is just asking for the cheapest thing they go to accomplish their goal. By everyone I mean the "Trunk Slammers" I suppose, the guys who don't normally do security, or surveillance or card access, the one who picked it up beccause he figured he could do it and make a quick buck. I see more and more types like this out there.

I personally find my local reps to be quite knowledgeable, but I have also known them long enough to know what they do know, and what they don't know, even if they don't want to admit it.

You can't blame ADI because all the customers in their branches are basically trunk slammers? :)

It's a defense of ADI, probably not the type they were looking for, but.....

I can't blame ADI for always suggesting the cheapest equipment if that's what everyone is always asking for, no :P

I'm a big fan of the ADI systems group - however, I still monitor next to everything they give me as they can't possibly know the details such as lighting, distance, Field of View, etc - and they shouldn't!

Thats my job as an engineer/sales person to know the important stuff. They can help me with new products that I don't know, or in areas where my expertise isn't as strong - they can assist me do my job and they sometimes have invaluable knowledge of products that can do things that I might not know of. That said, its still my project, its still on my shoulders to design something that is going to work for my customer.

Where the ADI group really comes in strong for me is in the time saved of finding the right parts and components I already have in my head, and putting it into a final quote for me. They can help double check some of my simpler errors (an off part number, etc) - but they dont design my job for me.

I have never handed them a map of a customer site and asked them to design a solution for me. Nor would I.

Personally I only use them for product recommendations when I have an odd request. After I get their input, I google like products intensly to understand the design and see if what they've suggested is really the best fit.

Basically, they're a great starting point for product info when putting together unfamiliar systems, but I think you'll find it best to then research what's behind the suggested product to familiarize yourself. Not only will you develop your skills, but also find the best price (if not ADI).