"The Company The Industry Always Feared Would Arrive" Is Here

By Brian Karas, Published Apr 25, 2016, 08:42am EDT

Not only will entry level product profits be wiped out, but so will integrator labor rates, if this company has its way.

A US company is building a super low cost flat-rate nationwide install option.

We spoke with David Happe [link no longer available], who is leveraging his previous experience at Walmart, Best Buy and Samsung to build, what he says is "the company the industry always feared would arrive". 

Who ** ********

*** *******,********, ** *** ** *****, ** ************ with * ********** ** online ********* *** *********, as **** ** ******** electronics ******* ****** *** Walmart *** **** ***. Happe *** **** ****** with ******* ********* ** the **** ** ******* brands *** ******** *** various ******** *********** ******** like **'*.

********* ******* *** ** listed ** *** ****** company ** ********, *** also ****** *******, *************, ***** *** *** two ********* ***** ** drive **** ***-**** ******* business.  

Camera *** *******

*** ****** **** *** ************, resembling *** **** ***** components ******* ********** **** big *** ***** ******* (e.g., $250 - * ******* 720p ******/*** *** [**** no ****** *********] *** $*** - 8 ******* ***** ******/*** Kit [**** ** ****** available]).

******* *** ******** * hard ***** *** *** price, *** **** ******* everything ****, ********* ***-********** 65' ******.

*** **** *** ***** sold ****** *********, *** Happe ** ******* ** lining ** ***** ***-*** retailers ** ***** ******** of ***** ****.

Flat **** ******* - *** ***** ***********

*** $*** * ****** kit ** $**** *********, performed ** *** ******** organized US *******, ***** ** ** the ******* ** ******** ** a ********** ********* *******. 

******** ****** ***** ********** installation ******* ** ****** to *** ******** ********, and ***** ***** ********* like **** ** *** **** a ********** *********, ***** install ******* ** *** far *******.  

** ******* *** ** existing ******* ** "******* hundred" ********** **********, **** *****.

***** ** ********* ** the ********** ****-********* ***** with ***** ******** *** services.  ** **** ** was ******** ** ***** the ****** **** *** installation ******** ***** ****** predictions *** *** ****** in *** ** ******** market.  *** ********* ** to ****** * ***** player ** *** ****** and ******* * ******-***** percentage ** *** ******** market ** ****, ********** his ********* ** ******** products *** ******* **** major ********* ** ********** them ** *** **.

Installer ********

********** *** **** * flat **** ** $*** per ******* ****, **** some ********** ****** *****, depending ** *** ******** of *** ************ ***** relative ** *** ********** location.****** *** **** ** to ** ** *********, *** **** ** need ** **** *** appropriate ********* *** ********* to ******* ** *** state(s) **** *****.

************ ********* **** ** ***** ************ leads **** ********* ********** the **** ******, ** in ****** ****** **** available. 

********* ** *** ******** ********** ****** ***** 2016 ******, *** ******* ************ rate ** * ****** over $***/**.  ** $***/****, the **** ***** **** to ******** ** *-******* system ******* *** ***** in ***** * ***** for **** ** ** an ********** ***********.  ***** this *** ** ******** for **** ****** *******, any ************ *********** **-**** could ******* **** ***** jobs **** * ****** proposition *** *** *********.

Heavy ******** ** ***********

"********* *** ********" ** a ****** ***** ** being **** ** ******* such *** *******.  

********/********** **** *** ***** product ********, *** ******* uses ****-**** *** *** companies ** ****** ***** fulfillment.  ******* **** ****** sales *** ************ *********, this ****** *** ******** to ** *** **** very *** ****** *********.  

***** ********* **** ** companies **** **** ** Samsung **** **** * lot ** ********, *** thus **** ** ****** more *** ******* ** order ** ***** **** overhead. ***** **** ** true, ***** ********* **** tend ** ***** ** product **** ******* ** be ** ****** *******.

Customer *********** ********

** ******* **** *** "low ********" ********, ***** is ***** ***** *** ********** to ***** ********* ** his ********.  

**** ******* ** ****** in ****** ******, *** installation ****** **** ** a **** ** *** retail ******* ** **** alleviate ******** ***** ************ difficulties ********* *** ****.

Amazon **********

****** ****** ********* *******, ***************** ** *** ** installation ******** *** ***** buying ******** ******, ********* camera ****. ***** ******* ********** into ****** ** * major ********* *** ******, given *** *****. ** course, ******* ******'* ***** size, **** ************ **** *** bought *********.

Fear ***, *** ***...

***** ******* *** ******** are ******** ** **** a ******* ****** ** most *********** *****, ********** for installations **** ******* ********* ladders, *****, *** **** complex ***** ****.  

***** *** ** *** not ********** ** *** one ** ***** ***** costs ****, *** *** trend *** *******. ** more ****** *** ****** and *** *** ****-***** style ******** *** ******* for * *********** ******** integrator ** ****** **** small **** **** **** installs **** ****** *********.  Just ** ***** **** a *** ******** ***** to ***** *** *** costs, ** *********** ******* that *** * ****** presence *** ****** ** survive ** ***** ******* of ** $**** ******* charge.

Vote ***

Comments (96)

Interesting idea...Not sure how successful they will be as a whole it will boil down to labor in each market they serve. Will come down to supply and demand in each market and the markets that can't support the demand will have company's from other areas traveling and increasing cost. The residential video market has been an interesting one for my company, personally as there is a need for labor, but the time and risk is similar to other video installations without appropriate revenue. At the end of the day, there will always be a subset of the market that will choose price as the highest value in their decision making process, and the majority that are willing to pay a little more to have things done 'right'. Sounds like a mass market 'Carter Brothers'... Good luck :-).

I've always enjoyed a Samdung product...



Good luck installing in Residential houses. As they state, if you cannot access sofits and areas to hide the wiring, your goose is cooked and you make no money.

Agreed. We've done this model before. IP cams are making things somewhat easier, but there is a reason that full blown video surveillance systems have never taken off in the residential market. That being said, some industry analysts predict that 1 in 5 homeonwers wants to add a camera to their home within the next year. Someone is going to help them. Hopefully it is us, and hopefully you guys grab some of that coming revenue. If the markets start to change, meet the change and take the revenue and profits that come with the expanding arena.


Your model would work well if you choose to depend on a group of well qualified integrators to partner with. We have kept our distance from the residential Market in the past, due to the uknown factors that cause a loss in profits. If a company such as yours will stand in the middle to buffer against the fallout when the customer figures out that the installation will be "fast and dirty" (look at the typical cable company installations), and offer an "enhanced" installation package that would include a site survey to properly plan the installation and provide a quote to install correctly.

Accurate. What we found on the consumer electronics side was the volume quickly exceeded our ability to piecemeal it together, and we ended up using regional service providers. Consistency of service requires a homogenized experience for the end user. The same thing is likely to happen here with regard to us needing to tap into stronger, capable integrators. I am familiar with a few coalitions of pro installers, and once the volume gets significant enough for them to care (hopefully Q4 2016 or Q1 2017) I will be connecting to some of the larger integrator partners/groups to discuss scale, right of first refusal, and all aspects of what it takes to scale this in partnership with the right mix of market installers and coalitions of larger groups. It's almost worthless to put the cart in front of the horse by serving that up (as a "dream" vs. reality) before the volume dictates the degree of seriousness by which larger coalitions of pro installers would factor this as a business decision.

It is easier for us to just get some work orders into the system, get the smaller scale kinks out of the system and the work order flow, get some proof of concept back to the installer base and the retailers, and then deal with scale. Scale will likely come quickly, but no need to over-promise and under deliver until we have a predictable, replaceable model.

On the front side, we'll vet the intake as we do the initial scope of work with the customer and require paid site inspections on anything beyond routine jobs. Your idea of adding a premium "package" will likely be implemented from the get go. We have a $100 site inspection fee as an option (100% passed to the installer) but the idea of having an articulated white glove service offering from inception is a winner. Gives us the ability to even channel sales into that bracket depending on customer expectation.

Your post was right on. Our work for the next few months is having the discussion at retail. Someone earlier aptly mentioned the retailers who are incapable or uninterested in establishing their own service platform (which is most of them). That's where we'll have the early traction that leads to some deep dive market tests. Success in a half dozen markets on a high volume basis leads to empirical data for the installers, and national scale for the product line/retailers. The volume until then is negligible.

I'm not afraid. We gave up on small jobs a long time ago.

Vendors that don't understand the true costs of an installation business; vehicle depreciation, health insurance, lost time, difficult installation conditions, etc. think it's a good idea to fix bid an install without pre examining site conditions. They work real hard and earn very little.

For mid and large sized jobs it won't work due to complexity.

Agreed in part. We're not competitors for the hard core, professional contracts. The small business is where we see a need, and at some point that yields to the mid and large size jobs which are the bread and butter of the industry, and that won't change. We'll not be doing RFP's for the types of jobs that the industry is built on. We only provide fill in work to keep your crews and schedules full.

We call those guys Trunk Slammers and there's plenty of them in SoFLA.

We're creating the alternative to trunk slammers. The trunk slammers and cable pullers already exist. We're doing the opposite. We're leaning in to the professionals to secure the business. Cable pullers and trunk slammers will never meet the criteria. We want to be the answer to the industry plague of trunk slammers.

We're leaning in to the professionals to secure the business.

The general point of the professional integrators here is that they do not want such business.

You may well very well get some but I think most professional integrators want to run from this. I am not saying you will or will not get a critical mass, but I am pretty sure it is generally not preferred.

The nice part for the installers is that they're not required (ever) to do any of it. We serve up the work. If it fits in your schedule, etc... you take it. No obligation. It puts the installers in the ultimate position of control.

If it's not profitable, nobody wants it. If it's profitable, we'll fill the schedules.

Residential customers are the worst. They are the most picky for neatness of wiring, the installation wiring is usually more difficult (for a finished home than a commercial space with T bar ceiling) and residential customers need the most hand holding and tech support. They are also the first to complain and ask for a discount or refund if anything goes not to their liking. Good luck to you sir.

I tend to agree.

In the early 2000's I was at another startup that was at the forefront (a little too early...) for the networked DVR concept. We had a media server device that could hold MP3's, record TV shows (like a Tivo), and act as a home gateway/router. Plus a few other things (caller ID overlay on TV, IM on TV so you could "watch" a show with friends).

We did a few beta programs with Sears, Rogers cable, and Speakeasy (the ISP), and installed probably 250 boxes in the US and Canada, from Seattle to Dallas to Toronto and places in between.

Some jobs we could be in and out in 2 hours (running RG6 to a couple of rooms and reconfiguring DSL router or cable modem settings), and other houses took 2 days to complete. Even in the same neighborhood it was a crapshoot house to house how long it would take.

I think the flat-rate install concept is compelling. People like knowing how much stuff will cost up front, and many homeowners are likely to be afraid of wiring up even a simple plug-n-play system. But given where component pricing is today, you could probably sell these systems for $2899 installed and everyone would make enough money to stay interested in doing more business.

This commoditized model already exists, especially in the retail arena. The problem is it is not transparent which is one of the reasons why it hasn't taken off.

The entire model falls apart if we don't undergird the installers and if they don't get paid enough to make it profitable. The whole premise is to lean in to the professionals and expand the market size.


I totally agree with you..Even if job gets done within a day and after providing training to the end users, they are not going to pay attention to the training at first go. There will be another call and until they are not satisfied with the knowing of system (May that be in 2 to 3 visits), no guarantee on your payment!

Country like USA still have laws to protect vendors for such defaulters, but from where we work, as the saying goes "Customer is King" is embedded in the DNA here....They will find any excuse to not pay. i.e., Camera not clear, This not what I expected, Recording clarity is hopeless, etc....

This will work for a couple months, until they start getting call backs.

Nelly's Rocks!

So my question is, I pay alot on an annual basis for insurance, state licensing, employee licensing, background checks, continuing education, etc... remind me again why I and every other legitimate company pays for all the above?

Let it backfire on them...indeed residential customers are picky and I doubt this company will pay its installers for return visits. They will quickly learn to hate it just like auto techs hate warranty because they get screwed when it comes time to pay.

We're simply proposing to send you more installations to leverage the existing assets you already own. Hopefully you get more work, hire more people and/or fill your schedules with this fill-in work, and this becomes bonus work for your already existing physical and labor assets. Should be win/win/win.

The fixed expenses you have invested in put you in position to even better leverage your investments for easy pick-up work like this. If the work is profitable, you'd probably want it if it means your teams work more, and maybe you can eventually even hire more if you want to.

Another Attempt to be the middleman and make money for nothing

only truck-slammer type company's will put up with this and they after being broke will eventually side step this company and work on their own capacity driving more work from these references.

I see this already happening in the industry and I just stay out and overprice myself so they dont want me to work for them .

There is no clause for error, installation, insurances, piping, extra's

The Bottom line is that the consumer pays the price for the cheep , unprofessional , drops that any monkey can do as they don't, fish walls, don't run attics, and crawls

This will turn into the trunk-slammer type installs like dish, direct tv with out of car installers with limitation s on what can and cannot be installed.

Remember you always get what you pay for. and that's what you will get

unprofessional , quick , down and dirty techniques

Not to mention the installer assumes all the risk for little reward. Not a great business model.

Terry. The installer gets the lions share of all revenue generated, and overhead absorption. There's no more risk than in any installation transaction.

We have jobs that need installers. Absent of us, the jobs don't exist. We provide incremental work, not taking a slice of an existing pie. The industry is going to grow exponentially, and we're carving out new business and bringing that to installation partners. We're zero percent interested in the types of installs and installers represented above.

Absent of us, the jobs don't exist. We provide incremental work, not taking a slice of an existing pie.

If you succeed in your ambitions, you'll provide a shortcut around using traditional integrators. Surely there will be people that would never use an integrator but it's unreasonable to think that an $1,800 all-in offer, if well promoted / carried, would not put downward pressure / take away jobs from traditional integrators.

I totally agree, but is that enough reason for him to stop what he is doing, or why should he care?

Its kind of the same premise when a Walmart comes to a small town and wipes out all of the small businesses that were there offering similar products. Does Walmart care? They may say they do but they dont. But ultimately the small town mostly benefits from the opening of the walmart.

I hear you.

It only makes sense if it creates more work for the people we want to bring more work/jobs to. There's going to be way more work in 2020 than there is in 2016. So, your companies will probably be growing significantly (if you want them to) with or without us.

With the industry set to explode revenues, there should be many, many ways to grow your business over the next several years. We can be just one of those new revenue streams for you.

We want to sell a 4 camera CCTV system into a convenience store that buys it from Costco, and then we want you guys to install it in a drop ceiling convenience store. We want the customer that might be too small for you to care about, but a job that should be easy, a sale that might not have happened without the offering from the mass market retailer, and an installer that will take the job to keep their crews on the road.

Granted, that is a rosy picture of an easy job, but we'll create some of those along with the tougher ones. We'll serve them all up to you. Hopefully you want them ALL.

Lol- this will be the uber of the industry- get installers in, then screw them over.

Don't hate. :-) I like the Uber comparison (as they provide a better value proposition that is killing the cab industry).

im talking about when it has to adapt to industry change for this company to make money. Remember when uber cut what it pays its drivers, many quit, and lawsuits started rolling in...

I don't see this commoditizing the way consumer electronics installations did for one simple reason. The whole distinction that you all have is that each state has specific and rigid licensing requirements, which doesn't lend itself into a chase to the bottom. There is a specific, particular, credentialed skill set that you have that the trunk slammers don't. Skilled craftsman are more in demand now than ever, and there are less and less "pros" and more and more wannabes out there.

Put differently, there's very little barrier to entry to being a consumer electronics installer. Conversely, there's an extremely high barrier of entry to security credential that should continue to do what it has done for years... keep the specialization to the professionals. When we apply a mass market scale to it, it doesn't mean there will be more installers capable of taking this work. I can't "farm out" this work to a trunk slammer.

Let's pick on a retailer, like Office Depot. They can't send work, through a network, to a trunk slammer. They have to have YOU. They have to have a professional, licensed, insured installer. Today, the amount of work they send you is ZERO. If we can make the amount of work they send you significant to you, it should be all incremental.

The specialization and appropriate high bar of entry into this type of specialization should keep the proceeds profitable for you. And, you are the final determinant. We know going in that the installers hold all the cards. If it isn't what we say it is, it collapses under it's own weight. The only way it works is if you want MORE of these jobs, because they're easy, they're profitable, and they bring you more revenue.

A great difference from the Uber-type model also is that we won't be your sustenance. We'll be your bonus. Our installers will, by definition, be successful without us and we'll be adding jobs to your existing business. So, you're not going to be dependent on us like a driver might be on Uber. Hell, we won't even have a contract with you other than job-by-job at your discretion.

I hope he has licenses in all of the states he plans to do business in; alarm and electrical. Then he should probably get some pretty good insurance.

Agreed 100% on both fronts.

I do admire the boldness to take this on. If it works, it could be a goldmine.

We're here to work FOR the professionals. We're here to facilitate hopefully new business, new revenues, and new jobs. That is the only way this really works.

I'm not trying to be rude, so please don't take my statement as trolling. David, I just don't see many "professionals" sticking with this model. at $100 per camera that's assuming 1 hour per device, with no problems to extend that time. Any more than that in a lot of larger metropolitan areas the going rate of employee costs will make that not profitable.

I have done some homes in my time, and realistically, in a lot of homes - especially the new ones, there are no runs that go very smooth.

I just don't see lots of professionals working in this model.

I am thankful for all of the comments here (even the haters!) as we learn from everyone. I don't think a national installation model is of concern much (referencing the poll) as we're creating incremental business for installers vs. trying to take any from an existing pie. There's a huge growth window coming with the changing end user demand paired with the changing technology. Hopefully we can be a source of new revenue, profit, and overhead absorption for the installer base. We should be incremental revenue, not anything that will interfere with the existing revenues.

As an end-user I get it. I recently bought a toilet at my local HD and paid a predetermined flat fee for the install. Same business model. Consumers will flush this out.

Consumers will flush this out.

and down.

no pun intended

I have to ask, who would accept an 8 camera installation, blind, for 1100.00? The building could be built like a fortress or it could have no way to run cables from point a to point b without conduit. Then what??

We'll have a good profile of the work before we send it over to you.

If you run into a fortress, no one can force you to follow through. Then the question becomes, does Vigilant hold it against you if you don't complete the job unless you are able to document why the job cannot be reasonably done for the money? Ie. Half the cameras more than 300ft away, multiple firewalls to break through, 3 cameras require a lift, etc.

Would Vigilant's position be, "Well, you will make out good on some installs, not as good on others, so it should wash in the end, so if you don't complete this job, we'll put you on probation or drop you from our roster".... ?

A simple site survey should prevent these situations. You should never begin an install that isn't clear to begin with.

In your scenario, either we didn't do our job on the front side with the intake or the customer wasn't truthful or accurate. In any of those scenarios, that's not a fault of the installer. Exceptions happen, and we deal with them situation by situation. The scope of work committed to the customer is specific and particular, and aberrations of that that don't fall within the scope of work are not expected to be provided by the installer for free. Your situation is hypothetical but realistic. Variances will come up from time to time and we deal with them on a case-by-case basis with you. Your expectation from us should be that you're receiving an accurate work order to begin with.

But David:

Amazon was one of the first national customers for us when we launched the consumer electronics installation network.

The problem with what they are doing now is they don't have national coverage for security with credentialed experts (not even close) they don't have true price transparency. For the most part, they're using consumer electronics installers to "run cables" and eventually that will catch up to them. Another downside to some of the existing programs is lack of an option for a customer paid site survey (100% of the proceeds passed through US Install directly to the installer). We can solve a lot of problems on the front side with a customer paid site visit, and we vet that out in the initial customer intake.

We'll end up with that business (or competing business) and be unapologetic about the price delta. The discussion we are having with retailers is about the difference (both quality wise and legally) between existing install networks and what we are doing in the professional arena.

The companies doing the sub $1k 8 camera jobs for Amazon currently come from within the installer base of consumer electronics installers. It's a disaster waiting for the perfect storm.

96% satisfaction rating, 185 reviews for this installer.

You might be waiting a long time for that to "catch-up with them".

To the end-user, InstallerHQ and the VigilantInstaller would seem much the same, except that InstallerHQ is half the price.

I think it's a dangerous business strategy to go after the price sensitive market and then not expect them to be "that" price sensitive. They will surprise you every time.

Agreed. The majority of their installations are in consumer electronics though, with a few successful CCTV installations mixed in there.

As we open the eyes of the national buyers we're in discussions with, the credential of the one doing the installation becomes more important.

You guys know the secret underbelly that makes the trunk slammer even more vulnerable. All it takes is one bad installation from one unqualified installer in one market to create a problem for a retailer on a national scale.

You get what you pay for. If they want YOU, they have to pay for it. If they don't, but a competitor does... we'll position there and then use that platform to shine the spotlight on the achilles heel.

Rather than being forced to compete on price against cable pullers, we're exposing the cable pullers. And nobody knows them better than us because for a lot of these retailers... WE PUT THEM THERE.

We intend to win the business and consolidate that business to qualified, licensed professionals. Amazon's business included.

Let me start out by saying I may have the wrong idea about who your target customers will be. Maybe you are not looking as much for the residential business (as implied here) as the commercial. If I am wrong, and I don't mean to sound like a hater, your business model presents a few conundrums; Well run companies don't have a lot of people just standing around waiting for things to do. For years now, we have all learned our lessons well and keep ourselves both well staffed and streamlined at the same time.

Some already have National Account customers and we will instantly become competitors on some level. I would tell you the same thing I would tell anyone else; welcome, it is deep and warm water, c'mon in. The chief differentiator between what you have to offer and the competition will at some point be or become the price of the labor and it can only be driven downward so far before quality begins to suffer.

As a few others have mentioned, there is very much a "you broke it, you bought it" attitude with some of the customers you will be doing business with. You are insulated from the noise by distance and telephones. We are here on the ground, and it is our "cyber reviews" and reputations that will suffer if things go wrong, not yours (as much).

The bulk of the discussion so far has centered around the labor component of your venture and not so much about the equipment. I don't see innovation in your business model. I do frankly and honestly see it as a part of the never-ending slip-slide to the bottom. You didn't create it, but this does nothing but add to it. I don't see anything that helps increase profits or the standard of living for the American worker. It just continues to reduce them. (Not everyone is a fan of Walmart or they way they do business).

One can argue that you are filling a need. There are many organizations that (amazingly) just don't know how to build or maintain integrator networks and that is your customer. I still wish you luck!!

High-end COMMERCIAL IP Video, Access Control and minor Electronic security is where I want to be and will stay, Thank you but No thank you.

Some of that may come our way, and we'd need people like you to make it happen. Even when stuff is WAY over our head, it still would be nice to be able to send it to you.

This reminds me of my AV days when Circuit City and Tweeter tried to take a custom install business and make it cookie cutter. It didn't turn out so well for them.

Also a couple of years ago (it could still be in use) Walmart tried to do something very similar where they had fixed install prices for mounting TVs and installing surround sound systems. The money wasn't worth it from a installer standpoint. Atleast not for anyone who had experienced or knew what they are doing.

I used to do a lot of residential installs and they are hard to do right while making the customer happy and still make money. That was doing AV work and I think CCTV is even harder and takes more time for residential. Residential customers are VERY demanding and want everything for nothing. Good luck as I want nothing to do with this.

Circuit's FireDog could never fix what plagued Circuit. We were actually an installer for Circuit on a regional basis, filling in where they had gaps in coverage.

Wal-Mart is still doing installations, now with NEW who owns the company that I started. The installation offering you are referring to was the company I started and then sold, and it's still exists in Wal-Mart today (although not profitable). It was commoditized by Wal-Mart and NEW, specifically NEW offered it to them to insulate their real business (selling warranties).

We'll serve up the scope of work. I understand you passing if I send you something unprofitable, but I am surprised you would pass before you even know what we have, even job by job... unless you don't have the extra bandwidth (understandable). Also totally get it if your business model and expansion doesn't want this type of commoditized/homogenized work.

In my opinion this won't radically change the industry. It's simply another play on the same business model that's been used by many of the national integrators and organizations like PSA - subbing work out.

Back in my national integrator days our Ops group had a very large network of subs, our rate to them was $55 per hour, with our estimator for hours needed to complete as the basis. We'd send them the job and it was up to them to accept, reject or counter. In some areas where work was heavy (or union was required) we were paying more. I won't be surprised if David finds himself in this same scenario

As for what will truly disrupt our industry model, there's only one thing I see on the horizon that could/would do it - a true wireless cam solution that works. When that finally appears all bets are off

I do think in some markets there will be some aberrations. It was easier in consumer electronics to serve up a flat rate job than it is in video surveillance, for sure. However, if we keep things towards the higher end on the sliding scale, we know there will be some cost averaging. If I send you eight great jobs, one mediocre job, and one shitty job, hopefully they all end up making sense for you. We have in the past dealt with the exceptions separately. If the exceptions end up being every job, we have trouble. :-)

Experience says that there are some great ones, some decent ones, and some shitty ones. Our job is to flush as much of the shitty ones out on the front side, identify the aberrations, and treat them as such.

But you are totally right.

I was talking with a Sam's Club executive about the old days of "wireless" CCTV systems. While it is better now than it was then, we're still a long way from flawless. Most of our commercial/business installations will still be wired, but PoE making that an easier proposition even now than it was.

But I agree.


HD analog vs IP - what do you prefer / think your target end user would prefer? I see you are leading with IP but I would think HD analog would be cheaper and more conducive to less sophisticated installers, yes/no?

Yes. You're right.

The bridge for us is using the installation model to get the product placed at retail, and coming up with competitive product offers to unseat some of the opening price point systems and configurations currently at retail.

The products we have now were just some easy placeholders.

Ultimately, we don't simply want to be a service provider for retail, but a service aggregator for YOU and a way to channel new fuel into you as installers. That can come from several sources, retail being one of them.

We work for you.

It's interesting that the strategy is to get the expert integrators on board with this as a "fill-in-the-gaps" thing.

I can only see integrators being against this type of work since it guarantees that zero money is being made off equipment sales and all of it from labour. A while back IPVM did a poll asking if your business would do labour-only installs and most were against it. We have a policy against installing customer-provided equipment (Costco, Best Buy) because we don't want to be associated with crap. When they have problems down the road people quickly forget where they bought the gear and badmouth the installation company instead.

I don't know that taking the equipment sales (gravy) away from integrators and sticking them with the hard parts of the job (labour) for the worst low-end market segment of cheapskates and selling it as "fill in your downtime" is going to work very well. Any reputable company is going to be run off their feet busy at any given time of the year, but you'll definitely attract the slammers. In the end, you'll get a reputation for poor quality rushed installs, spend a boatload on after install support and refunds and close up shop taking all your investor money with you.

Thanks for your opinion. As you know, I am new to the IPVM arena, but I have appreciated the insights from everyone that took the time to post here.

We'll do everything we do with integrity and transparency. We're after a different sector of the industry growth than most of you specialize in, but I have learned a ton from you none the less.

We're not taking any sales away from integrators (unless you assume you're talking with everyone we're talking with) and we're not sticking any integrator with any job they don't want.

One in five households in the United States intends to get a camera or more put into their residence next year. We'd like to figure out how to help as many of them as we can.

The conversation here has steered primarily towards residential. Many (most?) of the retailers we are working towards are more small business inclined than residential. Our business will probably be slanted more towards small business than residential, but the residential business is forecasted to be pretty strong and we want it where we can get it, and get it profitably for all involved.

There's a market VOID that needs to be filled. We're going to fill it. You're assuming it is covered by the existing way the market has provided products in this arena. It's not. The work we have isn't taking work from you, but you passing on work before you even know what it is... IS taking you out of the discussion before you even know what you are turning down.

David Happe I spend the first part of my career installing higher end residential alarm, audio, structured cabling, and home theater. I would be devaluing my time/labor to take this cookie cutter work. There is no way we could deliver the quality of work we do now at the prices you're willing to pay. Besides we have more work than we know what to do with. I do know some guys who are looking for work and they would be all over this but I wouldn't let them work on my house if they were the last group on earth.

I don't think we will win you ALL, and I don't mean to devalue you or your work. I am sure it is worth every dollar.

The perfect installers for us are the small to small/mid with a few extra holes in their schedule on a regular basis. I need you to send your best guy out there for me, not necessarily YOU. I probably can't afford you.

I have appreciated the discussion and the chance to engage. I will slow down my posts but you all have been awesome. I will continue to watch your posts and chime in if I have anything else specific to add. You guys are the experts, so you likely see the value proposition (right or wrong). I have appreciated the interchange, and hope to be able to engage with many of you down the road. Thanks! - Dave

David Happe sounds like your typical sleazy salesman, promising the world, and trying to appease everyone and doing his best to appear oh so humble and helpful! He's on your side, buddy! It's pretty easy to see this guy is full of it.

Just one example of his BS : In one line, he says "One in five households in the United States intends to get a camera or more put into their residence next year. We'd like to figure out how to help as many of them as we can."

then in literally the next line he says :

The conversation here has steered primarily towards residential. Many (most?) of the retailers we are working towards are more small business inclined than residential.

So which is it David? You can't even keep track of your own BS lies in a single post.

Bottom line : Stay away from this guy and this business at all costs. He's pretty much already on damage control fresh out of the gate - that's not a good sign.

I think your comment is a little harsh.

In the same comment you're referring to, he said:

Our business will probably be slanted more towards small business than residential, but the residential business is forecasted to be pretty strong and we want it where we can get it, and get it profitably for all involved.

From my interpretation he sees the residential market as having a lot of opportunity in terms of raw growth potential, but expects more overall business from small commercial customers.

He is also being upfront about what an integrator gets paid, and what the install was "sold" as for customer expectations. Integrators can sign up to get referrals, and then pick which referrals (if any) they want to try and tackle.

As others have pointed out, these kinds of jobs may be more hassle than they are worth, but the installer gets to make that choice for his/her self.

No one is holding a gun to anyone's head forcing them to take the rates he is paying. You accept it or you don't. This may have already been mentioned or said, this has generated so many comments it's hard keeping up, but to me it seems somewhat similar to OnForce for IT work. It's very little pay for flat rate work and nobody but the owners of OnForce gets rich on it. But lots people take jobs from OnForce because it's a source of "filler" work- making some money during the times you don't have paying work going on so at least your making something in between the times you make better money. Better to make something during those in between times than zero.

It's an interesting idea, I just can't see anyone serious working with this. Much akin to the ADT licensed dealer network where ADT brought in smaller alarm companies and used them for their labor (and still do) - as contractors, I see no difference in this save that I think the installers working to do this will be even smaller.

If I were fresh out of High School looking for a venture and had a pickup truck with tools this would probably be a great venture. But for alot of us, who have been doing this for a long time, most of these customers that would be the locations for these installs would be one even most smaller institutions would run from. (unless its commercial)

Years ago when I was an actual physical installer, we ran into some slow / sluggish times and subbed out our labor to some of the larger integrators and while it wasn't great it allowed us to keep our teams going until things picked up, this isn't that far from that concept, save the problem with residential installations and the super cheap and super picky residential owner. I couldn't imagine that part, but if he can find some way to fulfill his market of cheap cameras being installed in homes for a cheap fixed cost, more power to him.

I think the difficulty revolves around getting the alarm companies that can work within this model.

Wow, for all the people here that don't want resi jobs, they all seem pretty butt hurt that David is trying to pick up their scraps. Lol

I guess if I could cherry pick the jobs, why wouldn't I take the easy layups? $1100 per day is nice filler work if you are between projects. You don't have to do much leg work getting the business.

While I understand that some here don't like this type of work, are too busy, etc., what harm is this guy to you then? He's just trying to carve a niche like the rest of us. A niche created by the void we all leave behind.

That said, some of these installs will be nightmares! The harder jobs will be the only thing left for the slammer crowd. They will likely do some hatchet jobs and earn a bad name for this company. I wonder how that will be rectified?

I would be open to browsing the list of jobs available and see if there is any meat on these bones. If there is anything juicy, maybe I take a bite and see how it goes. It's not a marriage y'all.


I don't know if it would be in Vigilants best interest to allow cherry picking, for 1, how would you know save to look at the area you were to install cameras at?

I've become pretty good at cherry picking jobs already. This just saves me the time of closing.

As far as quality of gear goes, that is a concern of mine. I won't waste my time banging my head against the wall. If I take a flyer on an install and things go south, no big loss. I won't take another. I don't have much to lose. They will either make it worth our time or they won't retain anything other than slammers. David seems to be aware of this fact. I trust he wants to make this a profitable endeavor, not a pump and dump.

We'll do it for $100 a run if you can staple the wire directly to drywall and drill through floors. No cherry picking needed!

But in all seriousness, there will be major tension between viligant wanting a quality job to keep customer complaints down and viligant wanting it done cheap and fast. You can't have both. Well you can, but the people capable are already employed and not looking for a few bux on the side.

One commenter above said it best - This is destined to fail, but what might have a shot at changing the industry (well, the low-end of the industry anyways) is a good cheap wireless camera that actually works. This is what the people want!

Many years ago I was a Bell telephone installer. We fished walls, hid cable, pulled quad tight before stapling it, wrapped the wire the correct way around a screw terminal among doing other quality work!

Then teladapt jacks came in, and crews were running around installing 5 jacks per house and Bell got out of the install business. As a result trunk slammers became common place at half the price and sloppy installs were becoming the defacto standard. And guess what ? Most people did not care. They wanted a phone "here" and however the wiring looked to get it there did not matter.

The same will happen with these cheap video installs, and then homeowners who will settle for this will settle for similar installs in their businesses as they don't know any better and are not willing to pay more. In the short run (next 5 years?) this will drive down professionalism and unfortunately revenues. I do have the hope though that in the long term quality will win out and the professionals that can ride through this turbulence will succeed. It will be a rough ride in the meantime.

As I've gotten older and especially going around looking for a house to buy, more and more I notice the wires run around on the outside of houses, older telephone and now coax cable TV, in shoddy fashion that you may not be noticed at a glance but is glaringly there when you really look.

These days crews doing resi work for CATV and DSL installs are typically told to NOT try and fish cable through walls. This is partly for time savings, but also for liability reasons. Less holes cut in drywall for outlet boxes or low-voltage rings, and less poking around in walls with fish tape and rods minimizes chances of snagging other wiring, plumbing, etc.

And, I also saw the same thing you did in terms of customers not caring about visible wiring. Many times they don't even know that it's possible to hide wiring for new runs, so they just assume wire stapled to the house is the only solution.

And some consumers really don't care. I remember years ago, a client had a buddy that needed a TV hung above a fireplace. (not my favorite location) I hung the TV and they were happy. I asked about all the cables and hiding them. They said they weren't worried at all...just let them hang. That wasn't picture worthy.

The problem with $100 drops and seeming to be geared for residential but then citing really simple convenience store examples doesn't really paint the picture. If I had any jobs that were that simple, it would be great. However, I rarely get called for simple jobs. The hacks already came through at $100.00/drop or less and now the customer needs it done right.

This isn't always the case but almost every residential is twice as hard to do than most commercial jobs simply due to the structure of a home versus a commercial building. I think I can count on my hand how many home owners have conduit from the crawl/basement to the attic for future use. I have always recommended that and done that for new installs, but much of my work is retrofit. And in residential, to do a job right, generally requires more than one person.

One question aimed towards the convenience store example. Are J-Hooks or other proper means of wire fastening included? Remember, the drop ceiling is NEVER a cable tray if done properly. Technically speaking, the grid support wires can't be used either unless additional grid wire is fastened for the sole purpose of wire management.

One of my clients expanded his store and needed the cable company to install a new drop and extend an existing drop. When installing additional cameras, I popped a drop ceiling tile near where the old TV was mount on a wall that was torn down. Out of the ceiling fell 100 feet of coiled up (stuffed up) coax cable complete with an F coupler. Maybe that's the type of installer that is needed.

I've always thought my jobs would be much easier if I didn't care (did it like the cable company) or was dishonest and cut corners. But then I probably wouldn't have those jobs.

I agree with you Kyle. If the day ever gets here that I find that kind of work acceptable, I hope I have the sense to retire.

U11, if I could cast 10 votes I would.

And, I also saw the same thing you did in terms of customers not caring about visible wiring. Many times they don't even know that it's possible to hide wiring for new runs, so they just assume wire stapled to the house is the only solution.

Not the best practice for security/cctv cabling yes/no?

This sounds a lot like satellite dish installs. Just sling in the devices any old way, as fast as possible and hope you make a profit.

I just don't see the same people that are buying Costco kits for $500 paying double that for the install. Kind of defeats the whole purpose (in their mind).

I have been selling IP CCTV cameras to the residential market online for over 7 years now. The customer who usually want cameras and want to spend the money over the basic wireless plug in netgear types, usually are the ones who self install as they dont want to pay the extra costs with an integrator. Many customers though are going for the lowest entry point for cameras and just adding them onto their existing home security systems like ADT. The biggest factor we have seen is they want something easy to use, and integrated into what they are already using. I have a cousin that just rebuilt a house and they went with cable companies security and camera package as it was low cost and simple. Not many features but they are not the types of people who are techie.

In my opinion, this model is a long shot for long term viability. In the past we have done over $1million online in hardware sales and this provides very little profit, even with having an extremely low overhead model. Very hard to scale. Honestly I am surprised someone is trying to do this at this point, if it was 5 years ago i could see the possibility of decent revenue, but today it is going to be very tough.

With this in mind, to me anyways, you can make more money consulting for enterprise customers, use the same skills that this type of business would require to try to launch, and make 2-3x the profits.

Hey integrators used car salesman, more from your future partner / competitor:

"U.S. Install will not lose a single RFP RFQ bid for video surveillance installation, biometric installation, or CCTV. We are the lowest cost service provider in an industry plagued by 'professionals' who treat transactions like used car sales."

Here's an updated link for you, including including a link to the FTC article the quote is discussing.


Samsung coming too.

There will be tons of installations without licensed or insured contractors. End users will accept the cost because it is cheap, and when something goes wrong, there will be one big mess. I see lawsuits abound. These people have no intentions of following the law. Most don't even know there is one, and if they do, they don't seem to care.

There will be tons of installations without licensed or insured contractors. End users will accept the cost because it is cheap, and when something goes wrong, there will be one big mess. I see lawsuits abound.

That's the hope at least ;)

The sign up form requires your insurance carrier and policy number.

Who wants residential customers call at night and weekend that they cannot access their live cameras or recordings on their tablet / laptop / mobile because of some misconfigured / reset router or lost password...

Who wants residential customers call at night and weekend that they cannot access their live cameras or recordings...

Installers who don't answer their phone nights and weekends. ;)

Update: Happe is now selling cigar humidors:

So you probably don't need to be afraid of him anymore.

That said, the concept of a nationwide flat rate install is still being pursued by Amazon, who you may want to fear.

from big box to small box...

New LinkedIn update from Happe:

Not sure who it is aimed at but quite a statement.

Read this IPVM report for free.

This article is part of IPVM's 6,728 reports, 907 tests and is only available to members. To get a one-time preview of our work, enter your work email to access the full article.

Already a member? Login here | Join now
Loading Related Reports