Home Entertainment & Automation Services in Matthews, NC.
Home Entertainment & Automation Services in Matthews, NC.
Home audio and Video Services in Matthews, NC.  TV installation, Surround Sound, Home Entertainment Systems
Responding to customer demand

Don Miller - Custom Installation Services


Don Miller - Custom Installation Services


Startup originated with requests from clients

Friday, May 7, 2010

Don Miller is living proof that customer service can make or break a business.

For five years, he was vice president of sales for a local company that installed electronic equipment in high-end homes. The recession hit the business hard, and it closed up shop.

But one of Miller’s customers urged him to start his own business so Miller could continue servicing the account. Two other customers stepped forward and invested the money Miller needed to go out on his own.

About a year ago, Miller opened Matthews-based Custom Installation Services. It provides audio-visual sales, service and installation at homes of all sizes, as well as at commercial properties such as bars and restaurants.

His initial clients are still sending him referrals.

“I’ve always been driven by customer service before, during and after the sale,” Miller says. “A big part of my success comes from them standing up to the plate for me.” The company is already debt-free, thanks to two strategies: keeping overhead low and using the Web.

The two strategies often merge. Miller has created a strong Web presence at www.cis-nc.com that draws customers but also eliminates the need for a showroom.

“By using my site as a virtual showroom, I don’t have to carry much inventory or pay a lot of rent,” Miller notes. When someone wants to actually see a system, satisfied customers often allow demonstrations in their homes.

Miller also produces a daily blog to drive traffic to his site and to stay informed on the latest technology offerings. He spends about 20 hours per week looking for relevant articles and including links to them from his blog.

“People who don’t stay up to date are left by the wayside,” he says. “If you can’t change fast enough, you get left by the wayside.”


-To improve cash flow, Miller pays vendors upfront to get a cash discount. He employs two other staffers.

-Miller is a Pittsburgh native who came to Charlotte in 1994.

Charlotte Business Journal – by Bea Quirk Contributing writer

Custom Installation Services, LLC - Charlotte and Boone NC’s Source For Quality Electronics From Onkyo, Marantz & More!

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Channel D Pure Music Bolsters iTunes’ Performance

Serving Boone, Mooresville, Charlotte, Davidson, Blowing Rock, Statesville

C.I.S. - We Are Here To Answer Your Home Technology Questions!

Computer audio enthusiasts that want additional performance from their computer-based systems can run Channel D’s new Pure Music software on top of Apple’s iTunes to play back music files at their native resolutions.

Channel D, a developer of audio software solutions for Apple Macintosh computers, which includes its Pure Vinyl transcription, archiving and record editing software, recently introduced a new high-resolution digital audio playback software program for Apple iTunes.

According to the company, Pure Music is based on its Pure Vinyl audio playback engine and it automatically docks with Apple’s free iTunes digital jukebox software to handle music playback with a high-resolution playback engine. Channel D says that when iTunes and Pure Music are run together, iTunes will act as the database and playlist organizer, while its software leverages the user’s familiarity of iTunes functions such as track selection, music library navigation, and more. Channel D adds that when these programs are combined with a high-resolution sound card or DAC, Pure Music will deliver a dynamic and detailed audio playback.

Robert Robinson, director of engineering for Channel D, notes that one of the major advantages of the new software release is that it will playback audio files at their natural resolution without downgrading the bitrate and sampling frequency of those files. 

“Pure Music offers many benefits over iTunes alone. Foremost, iTunes plays all audio tracks at the sample rate detected when launched. If this were 44.1kHz [CD quality], then all high resolution audio tracks [up to 192kHz/24-bit, which can be purchased and downloaded on the Internet] would be downsampled and played in a CD format, diminishing playback quality.  On the other hand, Pure Music will automatically play high-resolution audio tracks at their native sample rate [if supported by the connected sound card or DAC]. This capability was previously only available in costly ($995) audio playback software, but now is available with Pure Music for just $129.”

Channel D continues by stating Pure Music offers more than native file type resolution playback by also offering features such as Memory Play, real-time high resolution upsampling of CD tracks, a 64-bit internal signal path, dithered volume control, subwoofer crossover, multichannel support, audio processing plug-ins, CoreAudio Hog Mode playback, high resolution audio streaming, precision signal metering, reverse play, and it works with all iTunes-supported audio formats, including but not limited to Apple Lossless, AIFF, Wave, AAC and MP3.

by Robert Archer


Custom Installation Services, LLC - Charlotte and Boone NC’s Source For Technology Answers!

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Can RadioShack & Other Retailers Sell Home Automation?

Home control is still a “push” sell and CE pros are best positioned to push it into the mainstream

When I suggested in my January Industry Insider that home automation has never succeeded at retail, I received a harshly worded response from 35-year industry veteran Dave Rye.

The senior VP of X10 wrote, “Quite frankly Julie you haven’t a clue what you’re talking about.”

He went on to recount the impressive history of X10 – a pioneer in powerline-based control – and concludes, “X10 doesn’t just ‘try’ sell to the masses, we do it, and do it very successfully.”

I concede that X10 does a wonderful job of selling gadgets and covert cameras, but not home automation to the masses. I don’t mean masses of gadget freaks, but masses of ordinary people. And by home automation, I mean integrated lighting and thermostats and maybe a macro or two.

Rye rattles off a litany of X10 private-labeled solutions for the likes of IBM, RCA, RadioShack and Stanley — all of which were very capable solutions back then, but none of which succeeded. True, as he says, they were all “sold at retail, to the masses.”

Sold, perhaps, but not purchased.

We see the same phenomenon today, despite boasts from numerous home-control vendors that their products have been picked up by RadioShack, Lowes, Best Buy and other mass marketers. Picked up by retailers, but are they being picked up by consumers?

On a recent trip to my local Shack — the corner store formerly known as RadioShack — I found a very brisk cell phone kiosk. But not a single person gazed at the modest array of X10-like gadgets.

Furthermore, dust had settled on the two Schlage Link boxes in the store. Although the boxes — containing a Z-Wave-enabled door lock, wireless Internet gateway, and Z-Wave lamp module — sat on prime shelves, they attracted little interest from passersby.

I asked the store associate (a long-time employee): Have you sold many of the Schlages?

He looked at me confused.

When I pointed to the boxes, he said, “Oh those. No, people are turned off by the price. They’re like $300.”

And then I asked how customers felt about the $12.99 monthly service fee for remote access.

Again, that confused look: “What?!”

And that’s probably the same dialog I would have with the folks at Lowe’s, Best Buy or other popular stores that sell home automation.

RadioShack stock is up about 80% over the past year, and the company enjoyed a 26-percent increase in earnings in the fourth quarter. But it was all about cell phones. Phones are easy to sell. Consumers know what they are. RadioShack employees know what they are. Who has the bandwidth to learn about and sell home automation?

Not to pick on Schlage. The same can be said of Xanboo, iControl and countless other home-control vendors that have practically abandoned the retail channel. Furthermore, there has not been a single successful home-control initiative involving utilities, telcos, cable and other service providers, despite numerous efforts.

Home automation still remains a very assisted sale. Except for the geeks, the real mass market doesn’t understand the stuff, and doesn’t want to install it.

So there remains a tremendous opportunity for integrators, even if you’re installing DIY-friendly products like Schlage.

By Julie Jacobson


Custom Installation Services, LLC - Charlotte and Asheville NC’s Source For Home Automation Products!

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Custom Installation Services, LLC | P.O. Box 132 Matthews, NC 28106 | 704-400-8701 | dmiller@cis-nc.com
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