James + Giles is definitely a well-established company when it comes to residential installations, dedicated to building and maintaining relationships in its field and offering the same level of service and quality on every project no matter how big or small.
Ce Pro Europe was keen to see what makes this company tick and caught up with managing director Giles Sutton who is also on the CEDIA Board of Directors to discover what goes on behind the scenes.
What are you up to today?
A lot of paperwork today- checking and signing off drawings, proposals and arranging van leases!
How and why did you pursue a career in the custom install/av industry
I was enticed into the industry by someone who I worked with previously in the pro audio world. As a Sound Technology graduate, it appealed to the techie in me!
Give a brief history of your company and your involvement with it
I setup James + Giles in 2006 having been fortunate enough to win a large project from a contact of mine. The clients knew they were our first but liked our ideas, which were quite innovative at the time! The project won several awards that lead on to us winning other projects. I am happy to say we still work with the client today.
Who works with you/What are their roles?
I have a great team who are all passionate about technology. I have a project manager, office manager, technicians, programmers and accounting staff who work with me.
What project are you most proud of in your career and why?
I am particularly proud of the project that we won the CEDIA Award for ‘Best Integrated Home Under £100k’ with last year. We spent a considerable amount of time with the architect and client during the design stage working through all of the technical elements to ensure the system blended seamlessly with the architectural design.
What one thing could the industry collectively do to improve its standing and profitability?
Listening to your client’s requirements and keeping system designs as simple and robust as possible is really important. Do not over promise and under deliver. I also think that as an industry we do not value our expertise and advice enough and charge for it accordingly.
What is your favourite piece of AV kit on the market right now?
It’s not an integration product per se, but the Martin Audio MLA sound system is exciting everyone in the office at the moment as we are installing it in a nightclub inside one of our client’s houses!
What advice would you give new installers breaking into the industry?
Just because you can integrate everything from your kettle to your fridge does not mean you should. Start with simple and profitable AV systems and then move into integration when you have the resources to install it properly.
When it comes to an installation, what would you say is the biggest hurdle?
The biggest problem we usually experience is the quality of the cable running and electrical installation. Even in high-end projects we often find electrical contractors do not run or label cables properly and make a mess of lighting panels which is very frustrating.
With the IoT (Internet of Things) increasing day by day, where would you like to see the industry in five years?
It is interesting… some technologists are predicting the end of all-encompassing control systems as more systems interact with eachother like Nest and Phillips Hue for example. The industry may be going full circle and high quality audio visual, networking and lighting could become more important than touchscreens, like in the old days! We have certainly seen a shift in the value of controls vs. AV components in systems in recent years.
You have a magic wand, what are the first three things you would change about technology?
#1 Consumer electronics brands often push features over quality, 3D for example, which lacked any consumer demand. It will be interesting to see the consumer adoption rates for 4K and the new 3D audio formats.
#2 The continual moving of goalposts making our life a lot harder like HDCP 2.2 for 4K.
#3 A robust IT network costs a premium and is necessary for the majority of components to work reliably. Until network reliability improves control systems and other equipment will become harder to roll out to the mainstream market.
Which emerging technologies most intrigue you right now?
As a convert from the pro audio world, sound is the most important to me. So the emerging surround sound formats of Dolby Atmos and Auro3D are really exciting. The new Datasat Auro3D processors are fantastic.
What’s been the most influential piece of tech in your lifetime and why?
I am sure it has been said many times before but I think the iPad has to be up there at the top of the list. It’s launch was a game changer and completely shifted the course of the industry.