Since the 1980s, technology has evolved with breakneck speed; investing too much in one element could lead to a dead end within a few years. The only way a custom integration company can keep pace for so long is to evolve, which is exactly what Lee Travis of Seattle and Scottsdale, Ariz.-based Wipliance did.
Growing up in Seattle, Travis was interested first in working on cars. This grew into a love for car audio systems, which birthed a nationally recognized car audio company. When the market inevitably shifted and car manufacturers improved their own technology, he moved on to doing home theater and surround sound. From there, the builders he had been working with wanted him to provide security and surveillance as well.
“I wanted to build an integration company that balanced between new construction, retrofit and commercial work, and I think we’ve accomplished that,” said Travis, who had bought the domain of Wipliance years before launching because he correctly guessed how big this field would grow.
The road to success did not come easily. The 2008 recession hit hard, but that is where the company’s focus on wireless and retrofit came into play. According to Travis, Wipliance was able to grow through the recession by honing in on direct-to-consumer wireless products. The company developed specialized groups, including a dedicated window treatment division, security division and MDO focus division. Today, they are also tackling large architectural projects, such as Seattle’s Spire tower.
“We try to identify these niches where we feel we can find additional value,” said Travis, explaining that the best way to do this is through partnerships. “We aren’t looking for a hit and run; we are looking to develop a long-term relationship with the builders and developers.”
The Value of Partnership for Custom Integration
Even with a diverse portfolio, Travis says that some factors remain the same across Wipliance’s professional partnerships. Builders and developers want the integrator to service and take care of their client, but they also want to reduce costs, make money or both. Interior designers also want to keep the budget in check, but they also ask the integrator to enhance their overall design and not take away from it. All of these partnerships need quality communication.
“It’s about knowing your audience and what’s important to them,” said Travis. “You might be balancing multiple people, and if those people want different things, you’re the one to bring it to the table and please all parties.”
The company also cultivates long-term relationships with its clients – or even potential clients. Wipliance hosts a Smart Home Happy Hour twice in a typical year, where guests are invited to a finished spec or custom home with integration done by Wipliance. Invitation-only events, like an Evening of Technology, also spread the word about what the company does. The showrooms in Seattle and in Scottsdale, Ariz. show off a full array of smart solutions, like human centric lighting, Samsung Frame TVs and acoustical panels for clients to consider.
While lasting relationships with partners and clients and the varied portfolio allow the company to thrive, Travis says that Wipliance stands out from the crowd because of its people. Some of his employees have been with him for more than a decade, and that is because he invests in them through training, education and continual opportunities. He thoughtfully pushes his employees to move up the ladder and encourages them to be thinking of how they can continue growing in his company.
“There is a lot of expertise that goes into what we do,” said Travis. “It’s really about investing and building in our people, and that’s why we continue to attract employees.”
2020 124th Avenue Northeast
Bellevue, WA 98005