Rusty Deeble, Digital Installers
The core message of Connected Design has always been about connecting everyone in the home business, from custom integrations to designers, to architects, and more. Oftentimes it can be difficult for these groups to understand one another due to the differing nature of their crafts. Our job then is to foster conversations that lead to knowledge and respect so that in the end, the client benefits from the best possible outcome. But for one integrator, this concept had already been ingrained in him from a young age.
Rusty Deeble began building computers and networking them as a hobby at the age of 16. He was able to earn a little bit of money while honing a skill that he’d come to love. At home, Deeble’s surroundings were constantly changing. Furniture, décor, and paint colors had a limited life span before they were swapped for something new. Deeble’s mother worked in the interior design industry and often used her home as a canvas.
So Deeble developed an appreciation for his mother’s ability to totally alter the mood of a room, using strategic design techniques. And while he didn’t necessarily follow in her exact footsteps, the lessons she passed on laid the groundwork for his company that was on the horizon.
A Young Entrepreneur
His passion for technology was unwavering, and he wanted to absorb all the information he could. In college, Deeble picked up one part-time job selling cellphones and computers at Circuit City, and another doing contracted work with a satellite integrator. On a daily basis, he was surrounded by technology, whether it was in the classroom at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) or out in the field wiring stereo systems and installing speakers. He was stretched pretty thin for a 20-year-old, but he just couldn’t shake the idea of starting something of his own.
In 2000 as a sophomore in college, Deeble started Digital Installers out of his garage. Some of his first projects were installing security cameras that used VHS tapes, and wiring in-ceiling speakers. As is still the case today, word spread quickly about Digital Installers, and he was overwhelmed with demand for his audio and video installation services. Meanwhile, he was still juggling two part-time jobs and working towards his degree.
Three years and countless projects later, Deeble earned his bachelor’s degree in Information Technology from CSULB. That degree also represented lots of late nights out in the garage and running from one job to the next. But now it was time for the 22-year-old to put his complete focus on his company and find his place in the industry.
It wasn’t long before Digital Installers outgrew the confines of his garage. The young entrepreneur moved operations to an office suite in 2005 and began expanding his team. Today, Digital Installers offers residential AV, commercial AV, and security solutions, each with its own subcategories like home theater, shading, wired and wireless networks, alarm systems, surveillance systems, and more. Over the years, the technologies Deeble and his team have installed evolved greatly (they’re certainly not installing VHS security cameras any more) and he is staying ahead of those changes.
“Our industry is so complex, that one person can’t know or do it all,” he says. And that’s exactly why Digital Installers has a team of professionals dedicated to each of the areas they serve. One group focuses on shades and alarms, another is dedicated to video walls and digital signage, and one manages the customer retention and marketing along with recurring monthly revenue programs.
Rusty and the DI team make an effort to attend trainings and events like AIA, KBIS, and IDCEC that spark new ideas for their own business. Two of those ideas actually turned into patents: Outdoor TV Cover and TV Template.
“We came up with these products because there was a need in our own company,” he says. “Primarily, the TV Template helps customers understand what size is right for their space. It has proven to sell bigger TVs and allow integrators to be more profitable by saving time on job walks and has reduced TV returns and exchanges.”
Digital Installers also makes sure to pass along the knowledge they’ve gained to fellow integrators and others in the space. They often host “lunch and learns” at DI Studios in Long Beach, the company’s premium event space decked out in the latest technology and design.
“We teach how to accomplish amazing sound while keeping the look of the home as the designer intended,” says Deeble. “We find a creative outlet in giving ideas on how we can apply technology to work with interiors. We understand the process of construction, and we hope to teach contractors, designer and architects the importance of planning for technology in the design phase.”