fbp
219: PROJECT: automate Founder Pays It Forward During Oasys Summit

Written by Rob Stott

June 4, 2024

Josh Trevithick founded his custom integration company, PROJECT: automate, a little over two decades ago, but he just recently joined Oasys Residential Technology Group – and he’s already realizing the return on his investment. During the recent Oasys Summit, Trevithick sat down to talk about his early experience in the group and how he hopes to pay it forward.


 

Rob Stott: All right, we are back on the Independent Thinking Podcast, coming to you from the Oasys Summit here in Austin. Sitting down right now, always great to be able to chat with members in-person. Mr Josh Trevithick, got it right. Nailed it on the first try.

Josh Trevithick: That’s right, yeah.

Rob Stott: We did it.

Josh Trevithick: You’re the one.

Rob Stott: Project: Automate. Appreciate you sitting down and taking the time, stepping away. I know it’s a hectic environment over there, but appreciate you stepping away and chatting with us for the podcast.

Josh Trevithick: My pleasure.

Rob Stott: Yeah. First of all, where are you from? Where’s business for you?

Josh Trevithick: We’re based in Los Angeles, on the West Side.

Rob Stott: Yeah.

Josh Trevithick: Culver City area. It’s pretty close to the beach there.

Rob Stott: Yeah.

Josh Trevithick: Right between Malibu, geographically centered between Malibu and Rancho Palos Verdes.

Rob Stott: Okay.

Josh Trevithick: Palos Verdes Peninsula.

Rob Stott: Nice little area to operate a business out of, I got to imagine.

Josh Trevithick: Yeah, there’s a lot of potential clients there for sure. Yeah.

Rob Stott: That’s awesome. Well, let’s start with this Summit. I look forward to diving into your business, but I want to start with being here. How long have you been a member of Oasys?

Josh Trevithick: This is our first year.

Rob Stott: Okay.

Josh Trevithick: We actually just signed up at CEDIA last year, so what’s that, September to now.

Rob Stott: A couple months.

Josh Trevithick: A little over six months. Yeah, it’s been fantastic so far. We’ve already realized a return on our investment within the first two months of this year.

Rob Stott: Wow.

Josh Trevithick: Just based on our partnership.

Rob Stott: On what?

Josh Trevithick: Sonance.

Rob Stott: Okay, yeah.

Josh Trevithick: That particular VIR or additional margin that we’re getting from the sale from Sonance alone-

Rob Stott: Paid for itself.

Josh Trevithick: Has paid for our dues for the whole year.

Rob Stott: Wow.

Josh Trevithick: From March on, it’s all gravy.

Rob Stott: Yeah, that’s incredible. Well, that’s awesome to hear. To be here at the Summit, it’d be the first Summit experience for you guys. What’s it been like, the past day, day-and-a-half?

Josh Trevithick: Yeah, it’s been exciting. Meeting some manufacturers. I’ve seen some old faces, some of these manufacturer partners that are out here. Meeting new people too, is always good. That’s actually why I came out. I came out here with the expressed intent to meet other out-of-market integrators that I could talk to and share trade secrets with, without having to feel any apprehension about giving away those trade secrets to your neighbor.

Rob Stott: Right, right down the street.

Josh Trevithick: Yeah.

Rob Stott: It’s like, “Oh, that’s how you’re doing it. I get it.”

Josh Trevithick: Exactly.

Rob Stott: No, that’s …

Josh Trevithick: Yeah, so that’s been good.

Rob Stott: How about the program itself here at this Summit, what has stood out to you about this event here in Austin?

Josh Trevithick: I like the organization, the presentations are really priceless, really valuable. Matt Bernath with VITAL, I thought his presentation was laser focused right where it needed to be. I’ve known him for a few years now. Boy, it’s like when you read a book that you really like, your favorite book, and you read it over and over again, it’s like you read parts-

Rob Stott: A different experience every time you read it? Yeah.

Josh Trevithick: It’s like, “No, I definitely didn’t read that before.”

Rob Stott: Yeah.

Josh Trevithick: Hearing it all again, it’s starting to make sense. Yeah. The bottom line is I was a guy who got into this business and I was really terrified to communicate with the competition because I was afraid I might find out how terminally unique I was. That’s evolved.

Rob Stott: Right.

Josh Trevithick: I founded the company in 2009, so we’ve been in business 15 years as of March of this year. Boy, yeah, it’s been a real journey, I tell you.

Rob Stott: Yeah. Let’s dive into that because the ability to be here in your 15th year, pretty awesome. I think we all know what this integration community can be like and this business. What are those, 15 years ago, so that’s 2009.

Josh Trevithick: Yeah.

Rob Stott: It’s a really interesting time to found an integration company.

Josh Trevithick: It was.

Rob Stott: Man, I just did that quick math in my head. Hold on, what were you thinking?

Josh Trevithick: Right.

Rob Stott: Let’s start there. How about that?

Josh Trevithick: Yeah. Well, I’ve been doing this my whole life, right out of high school. I worked at Radio Shack in high school. I was reading all the little books. They had integrated circuits, remember?

Rob Stott: Oh, yeah. Absolutely.

Josh Trevithick: You used to be able to go in there and you could buy transistors and diodes, get a soldering kit, some PC-

Rob Stott: It’s wild.

Josh Trevithick: …circuit boards, and just make your own circuits. Boy, that was 1996 so I’m showing my age right there. It was just different. I was just remarking to another fellow integrator that I just met here at the conference that, it’s just these kids that we’re seeing out there, they have no idea how much easier it is, doing what they do. Yeah, there’s standards in place now. Back then, we were just making it up as we went.

Rob Stott: Right.

Josh Trevithick: Yeah.

Rob Stott: Amen. You founded a company, 2009. Talk about the trajectory you’ve been on. What’s worked for you or what’s been the staple for Project: Automate?

Josh Trevithick: Yeah. I think that honesty and forthrightness I think, that I was mentioning earlier, is really crucial to gaining a reputation around town that you’re going to act in their best interests, that the project fulfills their needs not yours.

Rob Stott: Right, right.

Josh Trevithick: “Boy, you need six of these and 100 of these,” that kind of conversation can get people spinning. I learned to build a rapport with the client, as opposed to walking in the door and like, “Okay, now let me tell you.”

Rob Stott: Here’s what we’re going to sell you, right.

Josh Trevithick: Yeah, “Here’s what I’m going to sell you.”

Rob Stott: Yeah.

Josh Trevithick: We built a client base over the 15 years and they’ve been loyal to us. I think it’s based on the attitude and actions of not just myself, but my whole staff, which are a group of incredible people who also have incredible work ethic, good attitude, team players so that’s the kind of culture that I’m trying to develop right now. It’s a work in progress. I think it always is.

Rob Stott: Yeah, that’s a great point.

Josh Trevithick: It always is. It’s never done.

Rob Stott: Yeah, absolutely.

Josh Trevithick: It’s a journey.

Rob Stott: What’s working well for you guys? Business philosophy aside. I don’t want to gloss over that because everything you just said is obviously integral to any business. But just product wise, what’s working well for you guys right now? What areas are you seeing success in? Whether it’s product side or elsewhere.

Josh Trevithick: Well, yeah. I guess we should talk about the systems.

Rob Stott: Yeah, the things we’re actually …

Josh Trevithick: The quality systems that we sell, install and support.

Rob Stott: Of course.

Josh Trevithick: We might as well.

Rob Stott: We’re here.

Josh Trevithick: Yeah. We’ve seen a lot of success with some partners that we’ve been loyal to for a long time, who have also continued to grow, and who’ve taken the suggestions out of the suggestion box and read them.

Rob Stott: Wow. That happens?

Josh Trevithick: What a novel idea. Yeah, actually listen to your client.

Rob Stott: Yeah.

Josh Trevithick: We’re their client. Relationships, building relationships with those manufacturers. We’re really … I, I’ll say I. My vision as the CEO is to be at the cutting edge of technology.

Rob Stott: Yeah.

Josh Trevithick: But you’re riding a fine line sometimes, between reliability, resilience and utter failure. We’ve all spilled blood out there and money along the way, trying to pave a path to ultimate reliability and robustness of the systems that we support. Yeah, like I said, it’s a never ending journey.

Rob Stott: Yeah.

Josh Trevithick: We’re happy to have some really good partners here, manufacturer partners. I guess I can name some names. Sonance.

Rob Stott: Sure, absolutely.

Josh Trevithick: They sponsored this trip, so thank you, Sonance, and all you guys over there. Who else? Snap One.

Rob Stott: Sure.

Josh Trevithick: Or should I say, ADI now.

Rob Stott: Right. We can have a whole separate conversation around that, maybe another time.

Josh Trevithick: Right, right. Then, the evolution of everything just has brought about this need to just stay up to date. I really appreciate this conference.

Rob Stott: Thinking about that, again my head goes to ’09 to today and the evolution. Products and projects I’m sure have evolved in the past 15 … This industry evolves so fast. What’s it like for you keeping up? How are you keeping up with all? Obviously, great relationships with the partners that are here. But what do you do to stay on top of what’s on trend on what’s happening right now, to make sure that you guys are at the cutting edge?

Josh Trevithick: Yeah, it’s hard. It’s all how much time do you have to dedicate to that. I think the way that we’re all doing it is just by meeting in a conglomeration like we are right now and building relationships with one another that I hope, I really do hope that lead to synergy, really. One plus one doesn’t necessarily have to just be two, it could be 10, it could be 10,000. If you’ve got the right group of people together in an organization, I think you can really … Then, that focusing on roles like this exercise that we just did.

Rob Stott: Oh, Mr. Sayen, Jason?

Josh Trevithick: Yeah, Mr. Sayen.

Rob Stott: Yeah, it was incredible.

Josh Trevithick: Yeah, Jason, met him.

Rob Stott: Mr. Black Belt.

Josh Trevithick: I think that’s very revealing and telling to a lot of people. When you start seeing your name on that form-

Rob Stott: I was going to ask, what did you see?

Josh Trevithick: Yeah.

Rob Stott: Yeah.

Josh Trevithick: Depending on the size of your company, you could see your name quite often. Then depending on the size of your company, maybe as you are five to 10 deep, you might see, as I’m seeing it right now, places where I could delegate some of the roles and responsibilities to others and challenge them along the way, get them focused now more on specializing in one area instead of me dabbling all over the place, spread thin and doing everything at 50%.

Rob Stott: Yeah.

Josh Trevithick: Yeah, that, I hear that loud and clear.

Rob Stott: Great to be able to go through that, I’m sure.

Josh Trevithick: Easier said than done, but yeah.

Rob Stott: Well, I obviously want to make sure you have time to get back out there, because a great event and I appreciate you sitting down with us. Wrap up, one question for you. You mentioned it earlier, the early returns you’ve already seen on being a member of this group. What excites you about what’s to come with being a member of Oasys?

Josh Trevithick: Well, yeah. I think the organization will grow. It’s fairly young. You’ve got your Azione and your Pro Sources out there, they’ve been around for a while. We shopped around. Azione wouldn’t have us. They said, “Come see us in about $3 million down the road.”

Rob Stott: Yeah.

Josh Trevithick: I was talking to ProSource and I met the guys over at CEDIA in September. Jason.

Rob Stott: Yeah.

Josh Trevithick: Who is just really, it was pretty clear that this kind of partnership is going to, if for nothing else, increase our bottom line.

Rob Stott: Yeah.

Josh Trevithick: Even if we took no benefit at all, didn’t even come here, never talked to anybody and just continued to do what we’re doing, we’re still going to make money, we’re still going to increase our revenues.

Rob Stott: The group experience is obviously new to you, right? You guys were not part of a group previously?

Josh Trevithick: No buying group. I suppose, to some extent, the relationships that you make around the local area because we have these manufacturer rep partners.

Rob Stott: Yeah, absolutely.

Josh Trevithick: They know people.

Rob Stott: Joaquin, you know Joaquin down there?

Josh Trevithick: Yeah. Oh yeah, Joaquin.

Rob Stott: Yeah, absolutely.

Josh Trevithick: Joaquin Rivera, yeah.

Rob Stott: Down in that area.

Josh Trevithick: Very, very good dude.

Rob Stott: Yeah.

Josh Trevithick: Love Joaquin. Eric Light, EV Partners.

Rob Stott: Yeah, absolutely.

Josh Trevithick: Then, Jeff Maleck just retired, this guy’s gone, man.

Rob Stott: It’s wild.

Josh Trevithick: It’s amazing. But John Savali stepped in to take over. He’s great. Yeah, I really appreciate the way that it seems that there is some selflessness still to be had out there.

Rob Stott: For sure.

Josh Trevithick: I want to pay it forward, too. I’ve had that in my mind in this conference too, that if I met anybody who appeared to need some help, some younger integrators, that I’d offer whatever help that I have to them as well.

Rob Stott: That’s awesome. Well, hey, being able to share stories is one way to do it too, so we appreciate you taking the time. This was fun. Get back out there, get some more learning going on, man. We appreciate you being here and look forward to catching up down the road as well.

Josh Trevithick: Yeah. Thanks again.

Rob Stott: Yeah. You bet.

Josh Trevithick: Appreciate the invite.

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