Peter, The Butler, Investigates Home Technology With Dallas Sight And Sound’s Bill O’Connor

Peter, The Butler
Peter, The Butler

We’ve asked Peter Van Ryder, owner, trainer, and staffing specialist at Estate Management Solutions (EMS) to interview and evaluate businesses related to home construction, remodeling, maintenance, products and technology from the same perspective that estate managers would analyze these services.

Peter offers these suggestions and questions to ask in any screening process:

  • How many price options will you provide?

  • What is your insurance coverage?

  • What is your state licensing information?

  • Are you listed with the BBB?

  • Can I get three references? Recent work only, nothing more than a year old?

  • What other vendors have you worked with (Follow up with the other vendor and see how they liked working alongside them)?

  • Who else have you worked with? “This is a trick question, says Peter. “I want them to tell me, ‘I can’t disclose customer information, but my references have given me permission to use their names.’ If they start listing names, time to keep looking. Discretion is an unwavering point.

 The rest is chemistry, body language and how they walk through the home.

Bill O'Connor
Bill O'Connor

In the interest of full disclosure, I have been using Dallas Sight and Sound and Dallas Safe and Sound for many years now for a myriad of clients. I brought them in to fix a reception issue caused by poor programming. Their diligence, follow-through, and awareness of the employees have yet to meet its equal in my 10 years here in Dallas.

When you first step into Dallas Sight and Sound’s office at 14354 Proton Road in Addison Dallas you are greeted by what looks like an everyday painting over an old console stereo system center with a mid-century modern look. Upon closer inspection, you will notice that the painting is one of the new Samsung Frame TVs with a customizable frame. Bill O’Connor takes out his phone and gives a brief demonstration of the TV, no remote needed. 

Bill O’Connor teaching a class of architects and interior designers.

We step inside the work area where Bill shows me around the office and gives me a demonstration of the Ketra system. Ketra is a complete lighting solution that can be programmed to follow the patterns of the sun. Color temperature hue (k-value) of the light changes, based on the location of the sun. In the mornings and evenings, it’s warm orange/yellow. When the sun is at its peak based on the latitude and longitude of the home or office, the color temperature is bright blue-white. Once again, he pulls out his phone and tells me to keep my eye on the reds in a painting; very subtly the red seems to come alive. He made the colors pop by changing the color vibrancy setting by affecting the CRI, or color rendering index, to a higher level. This is the same technology used in museums to give you the closest representation of the artist’s vision and can be used to highlight your art, furnishings and other features of your home.

We continue around the office where he shows me the design area with full-size architectural drawing printers, the service department, and what is called the “burn-in area” where there is a sign that states, “Never take an unopened box to a client’s house!” This area is where they prebuild every project before delivering it to the client’s site. They were working on an alarm system patch panel mounted on board; once complete it would be tested, then partially disassembled and installed. Why do this?  “We want to ensure everything works properly and the time on-site at the client’s home is reduced, resulting in higher efficiency and minimizing the impact to every client,” Bill explained.

Your first contact with DSSI will most likely be with either Bill O’Conner or Andy Thompson, who will spend as much time with you as you will let them, the more time the better. They will guide you through identifying your needs and wants, whether it be new construction or renovation. Once complete, they can give you a range of cost allowing you to better define what your budget will be.

Once you define the scope and budget, DSSI will provide you with options, placing you squarely in the driver’s seat. When an agreement has been reached, they get right to work. They assign each of their clients a specialty code that is used to identify their project. Once this is done, the homeowners’ names are no longer mentioned, unless they are addressing you directly. It is a company policy that the clients’ privacy, security, and confidentiality are paramount.

As mentioned earlier, your system will be assembled in their lab/warehouse, where every component and wire are tested, allowing them to arrive at your home and install the system with minimal impact on you. Once the system has been installed and re-tested, your ongoing care is handed off to DSSI’s client services department. This is another area in which they excel – when you have a service need and call during normal business hours, a helpful real person will answer the phone. After hours and on weekends, DSSI has three on-call techs available. You call the same phone number and the system is designed to ensure you will get a call back in less than 15 minutes – and this level of care is available 24/365. All systems they design have remote access allowing most software issues to be resolved immediately. Their focus is on finding the cause, not just resolving the symptom.

A well-organized security panel

Here are some questions and answers that will continue to give you some insight into DSSI and what defines their processes:

Peter: What is the primary focus of DSSI?

Bill: Dallas Sight and Sound was founded as an Audio/Video company 35 years ago but has evolved into a Home Technology Company. We specialize in Crestron, Control4, and Savant for control systems. But that just scratches the surface of the products we offer. It spans from lighting and motorized shade/drapery controls to Home Automation hardware, from home networking to sound-isolated screening rooms, and everything in between.

Peter:  How does DSSI help the customer identify what their needs are?

Bill:  We like to focus on the client’s past and perceived future experiences in their home and then apply our combined hundreds of years of experience to guide them to the best solution.

Peter:  I’ve noticed a decline in requests for media rooms when helping clients design their new homes or renovation. 

Bill:  This is primarily due to poorly-designed spaces. Acoustics are often ignored or misapplied, and full sound absorption is used when sound defusing diffusing material is what is needed to create a more natural sound. There is a psychology behind sound and how it impacts us. Sometimes we may not realize what’s wrong, but when it doesn’t feel right, this is usually due to a poorly-designed audio space.

Peter:  What insurance does DSSI carry to protect their clients?

Bill:  Our coverage far exceeds industry standards and norms for builder requirements. 

Peter:  What makes DSSI so successful?

Bill:  It all began in 1984 when Dallas native David Rogers founded the company based upon solid core values of quality, high value, service and accountability to our clientele. It is much more than being able to properly design and install technology systems correctly. It’s the passion of our employees and how they act in the home. They are taught to leave the home in better condition than when they arrived. If large or delicate pieces of art or furniture need to be moved, they are handled proactively and appropriately, we hire a white glove moving company to take care of it. Before leaving, each space is checked for any debris left behind. We encourage them to overthink and remember that they are in someone’s home. It does not matter how well we do the big and complicated things if we can’t get the little things right – every time!

Peter:  I’ve noticed that you have iPads around the office instead of Crestron touch panels, why is that?

Bill:  Crestron panels are great pieces of equipment, but iPads are often far more versatile and also economical. An iPad can be used for other purposes other than solely controlling the smart home system. It works with all control systems, so if our client decides they want to upgrade at a later date, we can integrate the iPad into the new system. A personal iPad (or phone) can also be tailored to be used while out of the home to check cameras and security systems, and control lighting and environmental systems.

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The entry to a client’s media room

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