Living the Connected Dream

When the big push for audiovisual and home theatre began in the 90s, construction was still booming. Home automation, energy management and connected lifestyles were but a twinkle in the eye of many developers, and still far off as far as penetration in these homes, albeit garnering notice. Security was also prevalent, but just didn’t have the pizzazz of other solutions, although certainly a must-have for upscale residences.

Eagle Sentry, a central station company and security provider in Las Vegas was all-in, working its partnerships with builders and developers and staking claim to the burgeoning new business in the region. Established in 1986, the company was living the dream—selling security, intercoms and central vacuums—and doing it extremely well. They collaborated with construction companies and made a great name for themselves in the southwest desert town—which hadn’t seen this type of upswing in recent history since the Rat Pack arrived on the strip. Communities sprang up in nearby towns like Summerlin, Henderson and others, thanks to behemoths like The Howard Hughes Corporation, Del Webb, KB Home and others.

Fast forward to the last several years. New start-ups had all but ceased and existing home inventories ran high. But through it all, Eagle Sentry continued to develop its business, focus on training on new technologies and seek out additional avenues of recurring monthly revenue (RMR). That’s when they really began to hone their niche in audiovisual, home theatre, data networks and automated electronic lifestyles.

It was plain old-fashioned hard work and an eye to what the customer wanted that landed Eagle Sentry squarely in the automated home/energy management side of things—and they haven’t looked back since and in fact, keep adding to their repertoire.

Eagle Sentry continues to develop its custom electronic solutions, including residential and commercial security and automation and home theater, with an eye toward easy, interactive controls. It was a logical beginning 15 years ago for the company to become a Lutron residential systems provider. Most recently, at the end of February 2013, the company took its Lutron relationship further, expanding into the shade control market, a burgeoning vertical especially critical in the southwest. They’ve also coupled those offerings with the cloud-based interactive services offered by, further setting the company apart and raising their monthly revenues.

Eagle Sentry is the first Lutron residential systems provider in the region to offer and feature The Lutron Coulisse Collection in its 17,000-square-foot showroom. Coulisse, a worldwide supplier of window décor, partnered with Lutron on the collection that includes more than 700 types of high-fashion fabrics and materials for roller shades, honeycomb shades, pleated fabrics and a variety of materials for Venetian blinds.


Migration path leads to success

“For us, the transition had to do with aligning with the right manufacturers and getting the right training,” said Greg Simmons, vice president. “We were working with builders and didn’t want them going to another contractor, so we started offering new services and we saw that audiovisual and automation was the way to go.” Initially, Simmons said Eagle Sentry focused on being a low-voltage systems solution provider, with security as an added complement. As time progressed, its technicians also became well-versed in high-speed data networks and connectivity, because that was the part homeowners couldn’t live without.

There have been challenges along the way, according to Simmons. “It wasn’t easy for audiovisual manufacturers in particular to see security companies as moving to and being successful in custom electronic designs because the history just wasn’t there,” said Simmons. And he admits that today, as an overall business model, security “isn’t in the initial conversation with customers.”


Lesson in garnering new RMR

During the recession, the company focused on best practices, business improvements and training. They upgraded and updated their showroom. “RMR powered us through the tough times and we got stronger. Some AV contractors weren’t as stable and if a builder lost them, we could easily step in. RMR gave us the capability of improving. We’ve come out as a market leader in the audiovisual segment as well.”

Simmons said the economy in Las Vegas is slowly recovering. “We’re seeing a 20 to 25 percent increase in housing permits and we’ve hired new employees. Being a Lutron dealer has been a plus. They are a strong partner in lighting and shade control. Lutron and security and shading controls go hand in hand.”

In its massive showroom, the company showcases the interaction between security, lighting and control functions for prospects and customers. “For example, when the alarm goes off, lights come on and shades rise up. This makes for a safer residence for both consumers and first responders,” he said. The remote shade control and interactive services also fuel monthly monitoring coffers.


Service boosts revenues

Eagle Sentry also recognizes the increasing importance of providing service and maintenance contracts, especially for the connected home residential customers demand without interruption. Service and maintenance contracts may cover system viability; software and firmware updates; cleaning; assessment of ambient temperature so equipment isn’t damaged; and Wi-Fi and router connectivity and maintenance.

“Automation, home controls and data networks are growing more than the security part of our business. But shading control is definitely the number one growth area.”

Simmons said RMR from all these areas helped position the company as a market leader. “It’s not too late for dealers to get involved and bring on a new complement of services. Having this full complement of services also positions the company for a possible exit strategy in the future. If you are audiovisual only, it’s hard to have that overall strong portfolio of RMR.”