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Meet Matthew Grisafe of AV Programming Associates

Today we’d like to introduce you to Matthew Grisafe.

Matthew, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I love this question! I often ask a question similar to this of my audio video peers and have found that, like me, nobody plans on getting into the AV industry—it just happens. I talk about my story in depth in the book I wrote, titled Our Code, but to summarize, I was one of the many victims of the dot-com bust in late 90’s and found myself without a job. I was doing some database consulting, and it was at that time that my neighbor hit me up about a business opportunity. He needed a technical guy for the programming company he wanted to start. Our first day of official business was September 11, 2001. What a day to start a business!

In our early years, our business was focused primarily on Crestron programming for residences—creating high-end, customized smart homes for clients in San Diego and throughout Southern California. This was back when Crestron was primarily an automation company—making equipment that tied AV electronics together, that we would then program to give users customized control. Over the years, Crestron has evolved and has begun manufacturing things like audio and video switchers, as well as lighting and speakers, which has given us a lot more options when it comes to providing customized control of a home’s systems.

We have also adopted Extron Electronics as a preferred manufacturer of automation products, and our company now provides programming for their systems as well. Extron products are very well-suited for commercial environments. Today, the majority of our programming is for non-residential projects, such as entertainment venues, educational facilities, corporate boardrooms, and houses of worship, and we utilize both Crestron and Extron products. Every project we complete is different, and that’s one of the things we enjoy about what we do.

To date, we’ve completed more than 1,300 Crestron and Extron programming projects, and 2018 is shaping up to be another great year for our company!

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
I think there are always going to be obstacles and challenges in life and in business, but it is how we respond to them that speaks volumes. The biggest challenge our company faced was the 2010 housing crash. At the time, our programming business still focused mainly on residential projects. Our business crashed right along with the housing market. We were almost forced to close the doors.

In order to save the company, we tightened up our operations, my business partner retired, and we became lean. By doing so, we were able to withstand the downturn in the market, while many other companies went out of business. Even now that the market has recovered, we have continued to operate with a more diversified business model, and we have enjoyed more stability and seen steady growth as a result.

Please tell us about AV Programming Associates, Inc..
In the most basic terms, AVPA is a programming company of residential and commercial automated systems. Think of a smart home, in which you can control the environment from your smartphone or tablet. We do the programming for both residential and non-residential environments that gives our customers customized control over systems like lighting, audio, video, HVAC, and more. We are a small company that can respond quickly and take care of our customers, as well as adjust to the market in a timely manner.

We are located in Escondido, and a majority of our programming projects are in San Diego and throughout Southern California, but in this type of business, location is less important than how you respond to projects. Many of our jobs can be done remotely—meaning we can connect to customers anywhere in the world via the internet, and program their systems from our Escondido office. For example, we just did a job for a client in Tanzania—all without leaving the office! We also travel around the county when it’s needed. For example, we recently completed work on the new Little Caesars Arena in Detroit that is home to the Pistons and the Red Wings. Members of our team traveled to Detroit during the final stages of the project to put the finishing touches on the Crestron programming that will control the arena’s HVAC system.

I am very proud of the team that I have built and loved watching them grow as people. I also enjoy providing excellent service to our customers and building long-term partnerships. As far as projects that I’m most proud of, in 2017 we completed the programming for a luxury beach home in San Diego that is one of the most integrated homes our company has ever worked on. The homeowners have the ability to control, via touch panels and their smartphones, the home’s lights, shades, security system, spa, home entertainment system, and much more. This project took top honors at the Global CEDIA Awards. CEDIA is the leading authority of the home technology industry, and they named this home “Best Integrated Home” in the entire world for 2017! It was quite an honor!

One of the things that sets us apart from other programming companies is our longevity in the business. In the AV industry, we see companies come and go all the time. Our many years of experience definitely give us an advantage, especially when it comes to expanding existing systems, or bringing older systems up-to-date. We know how to work with older technology, which means our customers don’t have to start from scratch to take advantage of the advances in AV technology. When customers want Crestron or Extron programming for a new system, we willingly lend our expertise to help improve the system design and functionality requirements.

Plus, we can connect our customers with the best AV integrators in San Diego who specialize in environments from luxury homes to corporate boardrooms, and everything in between.

What are your plans for the future? What are you looking forward to or planning for – any big changes?
We’re always looking for new opportunities, and because we’re a relatively small company, we can adapt fairly quickly when they present themselves. This year, we’re planning to expand the part of our business that does Extron programming, which is used mainly in commercial environments. Some of our customers have also been requesting DSP programming services, so we are looking to grow in that area as well.

Our company’s outlook, overall, is very promising. People ask me all the time if I am worried that the new automation technology coming out will affect our business. I ask them if they have ever seen a gas station open up next to another gas station.

In most cases, business actually increases! Also, when people’s appetites are whetted and they get a taste of automation and what it can do for their home or business, they want more. They want to go beyond what they can do with their Google systems. That’s where I come in and provide programming to give them the customized control they’re looking for.

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