Maybe what the world of green tech and green electronics needs is a distributor. That’s exactly what will launch next week at the CEDIA (Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association) Expo in Indianapolis.
The Energy Squad will specialize in making green tech products and information resources available to custom electronics (CE) pros as well as consumers who go to the new company’s web site. The new distributor will focus on three areas of green and environmentally friendly products: automation, LED lighting and energy management.
“We have seen first-hand how limited professional integrators are when it comes to finding resources to provide them with information on the latest in environmentally-friendly products,” said Jonathan Stovall, founder and CEO of Energy Squad. “We want to show how this stuff works, because a lot of people haven’t seen it before. We want to make it easy to buy and sell green technologies.”
“Energy Squad grew out of our desire to help fill that void. Now integrators will have a trusted distribution partner they can turn to for exclusive green tech products, service, education and support,” Stovall says. The company is already 10 employees strong and includes three ex-AVAD employees, including sales manager (and former founding partner) Wayne Ortner. Stovall has also hired an employee dedicated to social media marketing.
Electronics Dealers Can Sign Up
Energy Squad will share booth space with RoseWater Energy Group (Booth 1221) at the CEDIA Expo, and will feature a display showing an energy management system with an electrical panel, Powerhouse Dynamic’s eMonitor energy monitoring system, a Nest Learning Thermostat, LED light, battery storage, smart meter, integration with solar PV or wind and an electric vehicle (EV) charger—all controlled with an iPad.
Dealers will be able to sign up via the Energy Squad web site starting next week, and authorized dealers can have products shipped anywhere in the U.S.—with selected purchases qualifying for free freight. Stovall says dealers can also purchase marketing materials for presentation to their clients, through a portal on the web site.
Stovall hopes to eventually have local distribution centers where CE pros can shop for green tech products. “[Dealers] are going to want to pick out LEDs and look at the Lighting Facts [labels],” Stovall says.
Many LED fixtures are made to order, Stovall explains, and some LED lights don’t work with some lighting control systems. “Our hope, over time, is to get manufacturers to have good stock of the products that are all cross compatible.”
Rep Firms and Manufacturers
Energy Squad is also talking with regional rep firms and manufacturers, and has begun the process of signing them on. “We are involved in dozens of positive discussions already. In a whole home energy management system, the integrator is essential, and [manufacturers] recognize that quality integrators are essential to making this stuff work together.”
The Energy Squad web site will also feature educational resources for dealers to help them get started in the green tech business. “These guys need to evolve their businesses,” Stovall says. “When I show people how easy it is to go in and do an LED retrofit, it will get integrators interested, and the numbers guys will see how to make this work [as a business],” he says.
“With all the competition coming into [the custom integration] space, the custom installation community has to diversify,” he adds. “Our customers are asking for more and they aren’t satisfied with iPad control and thermostat control. They hear about LED lighting and they’re asking us about saving energy.”
A Dealer Finder on the Energy Squad web site will also serve to drive consumer traffic to dealer sites.
Evolution of a Distribution Model
Energy Squad was developed out of Stovall’s desire to offer green tech installation services as an add-on to his custom electronics integration company, Bethesda Systems in Bethesda, Md. “I had been to an EHX show a couple of years ago, at the advent of LED lights, and I saw the potential for a growing energy management business. Energy Squad was created as a service-based business along with Bethesda Systems, but we found that was confusing for our clients.”
The green installation company also had a problem sourcing LED lamps and fixtures for commercial and residential installations. A couple of Stovall’s business acquaintances from distribution company AVAD introduced him to Joe Piccirilli, the former AVAD Executive Director, who is now with RoseWater Energy Group. Rosewater is marketing a high-end Residential Energy Storage Hub/UPS/power stabilization product that can store energy from renewable systems like solar arrays for luxury home backup power. Piccirilli suggested that Energy Squad pursue a distribution model.
“AVAD developed its business with local distribution locations that had experience in electronics and with custom electronics companies,” Stovall says. It appears that is the model Energy Squad will follow. The company has already aligned itself with a lighting distributor in the Bethesda area, which Stovall says has been integral with its knowledge and expertise.