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Interview: Visualising the future

Starting a new company just when the world is about to go into financial meltdown might not seem like a good idea, but in fewer than four years, Adept Integrated Systems has carved out a considerable niche in the high-end installation market. CEO Matt Cupper explains the secret of his considerable success to George Cole.

How long has Adept been in existence, and how did the company come about?We started in the last quarter of 2007. The company was born to deal with high-end AV, and home installations, as well as home automation solutions. When the recession was kicking in, we were hoping to attract the more affluent end of the market; clients who were a bit more recession-proof. We have five staff, plus around 20 sub-contractors, who are based largely in the home counties. We have offices in Rutland and west London. What is the company’s particular niche?
It’s the high-end, which has become a bit of a moving target for us. Initially, we were doing home theatre installations for £40,000-plus, and then we got more projects in the £100,000 plus bracket; now, we’re tendering for £200,000-plus projects. We also do more complex installations – we’ve just completed a huge AMX project, and we’re now doing a huge Crestron project that includes HVAC, alarm systems, remote monitoring systems, CCTV, intercom, telephony, home automation and distributed AV – we’re pretty flexible. Our client base tends to be high net worth individuals, such as company directors, retirees who have sold their business, investment bankers and property developers. What market trends have you noticed recently?We’ve seen a lot more development of home cinema, in terms of clients realising the opportunities that are available. 3D is a bit of a mixed response – some people want it; others don’t. There’s been a lot of growth in integrating security and CCTV, and in energy monitoring and management. How do you continue to win projects in what is an increasingly competitive industry?We use software that allows us to be quite visual with our quoting. Rather than presenting the client with an Excel spreadsheet, a few images and some literature, the software enables us to lay-out the quote on a planned drawing. So for example, if we’re planning a cinema room, the client can see what the seating is going to look like, what the projector will look like and where it can all go. We can also pull out individual room costs, so for instance, a client can see why moving a projector to a back wall makes for a better installation, even though it costs a little more.It gives the client a better interpretation of what they are buying into. As well as that, I have experience in working on-site, installing equipment and overcoming problems. So when we meet with clients and discuss their expectations and realisations, we can talk in great detail and spot potential problems earlier. IE: What was your reaction to getting two projects shortlisted at the CEDIA Awards this year?MC: It was all a bit last minute from our point of view. One the things small businesses find hard is to keep on top of taking images of their projects. With the CEDIA Awards, we had literally just completed some images, and just managed to meet the deadline. So, we didn’t spend as much time preparing the information as we should have done. We hope to spend more time this year on the preparation. We were happy to be shortlisted, although we obviously would have liked to have had a win; but it’s early days. What are your future plans?We’ve been introduced to a firm of venture capitalists and we are currently going through the final rounds of investment and looking to roll-out a planned set of experience centres over the next three to four years.