Serving a wide range of national and local homebuilders in Northern California, Republic Elite Integration is a perennial top 20 CE Pro integrator, Resideo Security Dealer (First Alert Pro Premier Partner program member), and a Certified Brilliant Smart Home System Installer.
We sat down with Co-Founder and General Manager, Brian Motheral, to learn how his business helps builders unlock growth and a better home experience with integrated smart home and security solutions.
Republic Elite Integration Co-Founder and GM, Brian Motheral, in his showroom with Resideo Security and Brilliant Smart Home System demo displays.
Q: How did Republic Elite get started and what customers do you serve?
I've been in the industry since 1996. I worked for a former large integrator until 2013, when I co-founded Republic Elite Integration. It's a sister company to Republic Electric West, a standard electrician company, which was founded by Eric Stafford over 30 years ago. Republic Electric was installing some forms of low-voltage home automation, but it was ancillary to their normal business. So in 2013, I partnered with Eric and we started Republic Elite Integration. There's a lot of opportunity, power, and flexibility to bid low and high voltage together.
Eighty of our business model is new residential construction, so we work with many national and local builders. We do new residential construction, custom homes, higher-end homes, monitoring, and we also offer aftermarket Geek-Squad type services where we go in after the homeowners move in to set up their technology and customize their experience.
It’s been a great run so far, and we achieved 30% to 40% growth year-over-year for nine straight years heading into 2022. We were probably doing about 400 homes a month at our recent peak last year. We cover the majority of Northern California, Central Valley, East Bay, Sacramento region with high- and low-voltage solutions.
Q: How do you educate builders about the fast-moving world of technology and how it impacts their business?
One thing I tell builders all the time is this: What's the cheapest car you could buy nowadays? Whatever that car is, I promise you its got power windows and doors, a backup camera, sensors, navigation, you name it.
If a modern-day buyer expects that a $20-30,000 car has technology in it, what's their expectation when buying a $500, $600 or $700,000 home? Most people wouldn’t buy a car today with crank windows, optional AC, and a Tom-Tom add-on that you stick on your dash. Nobody would buy that car. The technology needs to be built-in and standard. And the same thing holds true for new homes.
Smart home products are already mainstream and the proliferation of smart products is only accelerating. People younger than you and me, which represent a majority of new home buyers, live on technology and expect it to be included.
We also educate builders that there’s a financial opportunity with smart home tech. People will buy these smart home and security products regardless. It's just a question of will they buy it from you and us, or will they buy it from someone else? They're going to get cameras, security, and smart lighting, etc. regardless of whether we're involved or not. So why not be involved in it? This is a profit center for you. It's not a nuisance. It's a profit center.
Q: Do you get any pushback from builders on smart home or security offerings?
There are two things that builders hate in the security and automation world.
One, locking a homeowner in with a fee. They don't want to hear that. When you have a product like Resideo Security, and you can come in and say, "Hey, we're going to give your buyers a year of free interactive and a white glove consultation and setup service,” that gives the new homeowners a year to decide if they are going to use this or not, which makes it accessible and risk-free.
Two, they don't want to lock their buyers into a Control4 ecosystem or an Alarm.com platform because those customers need to call us every time they want to change anything about their system or add products. Builders don't like that because it can become very expensive and tedious for the homeowners. This is exactly why builders like the Brilliant Smart Home solution. It gives the homeowner the flexibility to add products or customize the system on their own if they want to after we help set it up.
Q: How did you first learn about Brilliant and start offering their home control system?
Back in 2019, we were approached by one of our builder clients who was interested in installing a Brilliant Smart Home System as a standard. We had talked to Brilliant off and on over the years, but seeing demand and requests from prominent builders really got our attention.
It's a lot easier to get a new homeowner to add smart products to those homes if there’s already a control system installed as a standard. We tell the new homeowners, "Hey, this builder invested in your home. They put this control system in here. It's pretty cool and here's what it can do." And then we sell upon that. We see Brilliant as an affordable gateway solution that helps us sell ancillary products and experiences from Sonos, Ring, and other popular brands. And people love it because it’s so easy to use.
Brilliant also really adds to the marketing and sale of a home because now you're selling an elevated home product and experience. As a builder, you can say, "We’ve got the best smart homes on the market" or “Our home includes a built-in control and automation system." Those are the key marketing differentiators that builders like. For the builders who understand the value of the Brilliant smart home experience, it’s invaluable to their business.
Builders like Brilliant because it makes their homes feel more premium and gives their homebuyers a lot of flexibility and options—all at a super affordable price point.
Q: When did you become a Resideo Security dealer?
We have been using different security products for years. Then some of those solutions began to fail in the marketplace, and we had to find something new. We’ve always been in contact with Resideo, and we knew they had a strong offering that fit our pricing structure. We were also aware of the close relationship between Resideo and Brilliant and their plans to integrate their offerings. Since we were already going down a path to start recommending Brilliant to all of our builder customers, it made a lot of sense to start offering Resideo security solutions too. Their technology's better, the platform's better, and it’s just reliable, which is probably the most important thing.
Q: How does Brilliant help you sell security as a solution?
If you try to talk about security only with builders, many of them don't want to hear it. They’ll tell you that the homeowners can get whatever security system they want after moving in.
Now if you say, "Hey, I have a home automation platform that also happens to do security, lighting, cameras, locks, garage openers, thermostats, sound systems, etc.", well, that’s something that a lot of builders are interested in. They want their homes to control all those products and experiences, but they haven’t been able to offer integrated systems and solutions because of the cost. Brilliant changes all of that for them.
One of our big goals as a business is to help builders see the benefit of installing Brilliant and Resideo together as a best-of-both-worlds solution. We recommend installing at least one Brilliant Control panel and a base Resideo security package in each home. Then we'll offer all the options based on those two integrated systems. It’s a win-win for everyone involved: the builder gets to offer a better home, the homeowner gets a convenient way to control and secure their home, and we get to do what we do best — turn people’s smart home wants and needs into reality.
Q: Which builders are you working with, and how do you work with their customers, the homebuyers?
Currently, we work with numerous builders who have standardized on a smart home package: Woodside Homes, Taylor Morrison, Reynen & Bardis, and Tim Lewis Communities to name a few.
With Woodside Homes for example, I've been working with them for 15 years dating back to my previous company. They were one of the first builders that wanted to go down the home automation platform path and they've always been very tech-forward and open to solutions.
They came to our showroom, saw our demo display featuring Brilliant and Resideo solutions, and they really liked what they saw.
Some people at the company really liked the Brilliant portion. Others really liked the Resideo portion. Ultimately, they said, "Why not go with both!"
When a person buys a Woodside home, we schedule an appointment with the new owners to review their technology standards. Their standard package includes a Brilliant Controller, a Resideo ProSeries security panel, four door or window contact sensors, a motion sensor, a Ring video doorbell, a Honeywell Home smart thermostat from Resideo, and a Kwikset smart lock, which is a great baseline system.
Then we meet with the buyers and go through the categories of security, smart home, audio, and networking, all with a consultation approach, and sell on behalf of the builder. We don't hard sell anything though. I firmly believe you need to sell the lifestyle. So we listen to the customer, try to understand their needs, and then educate them on everything we can do for them. Once we get that meeting, the new owners often say, "Hey, I want to add some Sonos," or "I want to add some security cameras," or "I want to add more control panels, more sensors, more smart lighting or this or that." Once new homeowners see how easy it is to control and automate their home, most people want to add new products and experiences.
When I started Republic Elite Integration, one of my big goals was to get some form of home automation into every single home. Thanks to Brilliant and Resideo, I’m excited to say that we’re now doing that for a growing number of home builders.