Q&A with the MD!

There is no denying the fact that our MD, Paul Marshall is a wealth of information on the subject of hardware solutions. In the same way that an acute mathematician can just ‘see’ the answer to a complicated calculation, Paul has the innate ability to ‘see’ the optimum cabling route or AV system or steps needed to configure a complicated video distribution solution.

These skills enable us to save our customers lots of time and money because when they come to us, Paul directs them to the exact solution that they Need, even if that means steering them away from a solution that they Want.

We thought it would be a shame to let all of his wisdom go to waste without sharing it with the world!

So we put together a list of questions for Paul and got him to sit down for long enough to share his insights with us (not an easy feat!). This opportunity is often quite rare as he is usually extremely busy with our customers, as I’m sure you can imagine.

Hopefully, you’ll gain a little nugget of information or indeed some inspiration to be able to go ahead and source the right solution for your next project!

Why did you decide to start the company?

The answer I always give is simple. I was driven by a principle I have stood by religiously, throughout my working life and which motivates me more than any other. I instill it into all my staff because quite simply…

If a job is worth doing, it’s worth doing well and it’s worth doing properly!!!

Sadly, before I became a business owner, I was witnessing some very lackluster service delivery in the AV and IT industry and I felt certain I could do a better job!

The perfectionist in me was dying to throw my hat in the ring 😊.

That might sound arrogant but delivering a high-quality service is a basic task, which shouldn’t be that difficult, especially if you’re passionate enough about your industry and the way you service your customers!

I have always stuck to this principle to ensure that ALL of our customers are left feeling happy with the investment they’ve made into our services and I am very proud of the reputation we have built up as a company over the years.

I will never stop ensuring that every job is done to the absolute best of our ability.

What has been your most memorable installation?

About 6 months after we started Protech Solutions, we were asked if we could turn our hands to a large scale audio visual installation at Watford Grammar School for Boys.

We had started out as a cabling installations company and so it wasn’t something we had ever done before.

However, we believed in ourselves and we had the confidence to give it a go. Another company had let the customer down and they reached out to us to resurrect the project.

They needed us to install an 8m screen with 5.1 surround sound and 8000 lumen projector into their auditorium.

As the screen was so heavy, we created a brace around the back of the RSJ to support the weight and attached it to a plasterboard bulk head.

It was the first one we ever did and it was enormous! Talk about being thrown in at the deep end!!

Since then, we have installed many, many audio visual solutions from screens and projectors to interactive touchscreens and even video walls.

To this day, our first install at this school, still holds the record for the largest AV install we have done within a school.

What are the most common challenges faced by customers?

It’s not unusual for the person who comes to us in search of some equipment or a solution, to be confused by the vast information out there. If you’re not technically minded (or even if you are), it can be frustrating and overwhelming.

Often our customers don’t know where to start to find something that will actually meet their requirements. We help them by demystifying technical jargon so that they understand exactly what they’re buying.

This is a huge challenge for customers because they are almost buying blind! This then leads them to spend more than they need to. We can help them overcome this by shedding light on technical jargon so that they understand exactly what they’re buying.

We also recommend reaching out to counterparts in other organisations to find out what they would recommend and what is working for them.

Another challenge being experienced by customers is the constant fight to meet budget constraints. Inviting 3-4 suppliers to come in and carry out a free site survey and providing a quote will undoubtedly help you to get the most competitive quote.

It’s also a good idea to keep asset registers and ask us to document the inventory. This gives you a full, in-depth analysis of the existing technology at your disposal so that you can plan for future requirements.

What part of the job do you like the most?

I have to admit that I do love being out onsite and getting stuck into the installations. In the early days, I was on the tools most days and catching up with the behind-the-scenes operations of running a company in the evenings.

However, as the company has grown, so has my need to be office-based for the majority of the time. We now employ full-time experienced engineers to take care of the installations.

That said, I do make sure I get out there as often as I can permit, especially during school holiday periods when it is a case of all hands to the pump to ensure we can service as many customers as possible!

My favourite kind of installation is definitely large-scale AV. I am extremely passionate about audio and large hall or auditorium audio and screen solutions. The buzz I get from seeing the finished solution in all its glory is like no other!

As we test the solution and demonstrate it by playing YouTube on the impressive screen and the powerful, crisp audio is belting out of the speakers, the look on the customer’s face is priceless!

How can customers save money without compromising on quality?

One of the things we see happening time and time again is that the point of contact for the project, very rarely asks the actual end-user (e.g. the teacher using the screen) for their input.

As such, they instruct us to install the equipment in a certain place, which is NOT to the liking of the user. So more often than not, we are called back in to move the solution to a more acceptable place. This of course is an unnecessary waste of money as it could so easily be avoided.

In the event of a new build project, I would recommend consulting AV experts (such as myself!) in the very early stages of new builds. This would be the favourable thing to do instead of relying on the main building contractor to take full control of all aspects of the project. Often, they do not have the AV and IT expertise to be able to make the right decisions on cable routes.

Instead, the cable routes are either missed entirely or they are poorly executed. So the result is that the cables are on display and the trunking is visible. This is not the most aesthetically pleasing outcome for a new build.

One extremely effective way of saving money and not compromising on quality is to finance the solution through a Leasing Agreement to meet budget restrictions. There is also the option to defer payment until the next budget, on a ‘buy now pay later’ agreement.

Another way customers can save money is by accessing manufacturer accredited pricing. You can gain access to this special discounted pricing through your preferred reseller, as long as your supplier has an accreditation in place and that they do actually pass the savings on to you. It’s always worth asking the question to ensure that you can acquire the most competitive pricing.

Anything else you’d like to know?

If there are any questions you did not find the answers to in this Q&A with Paul, please do feel free to contact him directly at [email protected], where he would be very happy to help you in any way he can.