Interview: Customer first, gadgets second10 December 2010
The CEO of the Netherlands-based multi-CEDIA Award-winning custom installer Censys Residential Control, Edwin A. ter Velde, is keen to shift debate in the CI sector towards the specific needs of the customer and away from any faddish obsession with the latest gadgets. Indeed, the industry still has “much further” to go all-round if it is to realise its full potential, he tells David Davies.
When did you establish Censys Residential Control, and what was your starting point for the company?
We formed in 2005 with an awareness of the emerging possibilities in the CI sector. Ten years on, it is still a young market, in my opinion, and in a lot of cases I see companies focusing more on the technology than the clients and the services they provide.
What we try to achieve with Censys is a professional approach to the market in which we are led by client satisfaction and a strong focus on our customers, instead of simply selling all the new innovations made in the last month.
What is the average value of your projects?
We are very much focused on the top end of the market and our average project would be in the region of 150,000 euros, although some of our larger installations have approached the 1 million euro mark. We take a completely customised approach every time and all our projects are multi-disciplinary, typically involving HVAC, security, gaming, audio, video, home theatre, etc.
These can be very complex installations, but the client simply wants something that is easy to operate. The interface has to be as simple as possible, and we spend a lot of time on that.
Any particularly elaborate projects that stand out in the memory?
Absolutely. One involved the creation of a control solution for a car-lift to an underground garage. The owner of the property had nine cars and wanted to be able to bring any one of them to the surface by simple commands. A very interesting project, although I don’t expect it to become a commodity!
Another project that stands out is the development of a security system for an outdoor swimming pool that allowed the owner to monitor the movements of his children via a security camera with software recognising the movement of a child. There was so much to get right; for example, the sun’s reflection on the water in the pool made it very difficult to get a good image, and the software had to not respond to, for example, a cat.
How was 2010 for you and what are your expectations for next year?
2010 was a fairly regular year and we have three major projects on the go at the moment. As for next year, it’s too early to say, but then again that is always the case as, in my experience, the moment you start to feel worried about the orders, two new clients will pop up and ask you to start their projects right away!
Ultimately, the question isn’t so much whether there are enough or not enough projects; in my view, it’s always the case that there are not enough and that you need to work constantly on your sales and customer relations.
You say that the CI sector still has ‘much further’ to go in order to realise its full potential, so how do you see the business developing over the next few years?
Everywhere you look, it’s clear that people are working on providing integrated functionality, such as telecommunications companies supplying data services, video-on-demand and more on one wire. CI is going increasingly towards an IP control platform, and that means a lot more companies out there could have the skills to maintain the networks. As a result, the emphasis for CI-focused companies like ours has to be on offering something extra special to the client and ensuring a very high standard of service.