January 2018

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Dan DruryEMAIL INTERVIEWDan Drury and Ken Sinclair

Dan Drury, President, HVAC Concepts

Dan Drury joined HVAC Concepts in 1988 as a programming intern. Since then he has lived through the evolution of Building Management Systems. In 2011, Daniel formed a partnership with Philip Redman, as owners of HVAC Concepts, and he became President of HVAC Concepts.  Dan is a strong advocate of open systems and solutions being in the customers best interests. He is hands-on with programming and the design of most customer projects. Through his vision, hard work, perseverance and persistent focus on doing things right for customers, HVAC Concepts has grown into a premier provider of Building Automation Systems, Energy Management Systems, Systems Integration, Advanced Analytics and 24/7 Remote Monitoring and Alarm Management services to the Building Automation industry.

HVAC Concepts is an award-winning and leading VAR for Distech Controls and Tridium Vykon. HVAC Concepts operates a large support center providing 24/7 remote monitoring and alarm management, technical phone support, and programming/advanced troubleshooting and support.  In May 2017, HVAC Concepts brought in Fidelity Engineering as a business partner to help facilitate the growing needs of their clients. The partnership is designed to enhance HVAC Concepts’ financial resources, job management, and customer service. HVAC Concepts is headquartered in Frederick, Maryland and serves businesses in the Washington, DC area and along the eastern United States.

Important Characteristics of a Master System Integrator

Open, Open, Open.   All solutions must be open, interoperable and expandable.

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SinclairHello Dan and thank you for joining me this morning. And I also want to congratulate you on your first-ever nomination for a ControlTrends Award.

Drury:  Thank you, Ken. It is a pleasure to have my first interview with you.  HVAC Concepts is very proud to be a nominee for the 2017 System Integrator of the Year Award.

SinclairHow did you become an MSI?

Drury:  MSI is a new and somewhat strange term to me. With open systems and an exploding market to serve, for System Integrators and equipment suppliers, working together is a must. Today, our customers, especially high-value seeking, organized and educated customers, are looking for teams of experts to implement and support their projects. It’s at a point of not what you can do by yourself, but what you can do leveraging the network of talent that is around the world. It’s a 50/50 split with who the company is and who the talent is that they have working with them. At HVAC Concepts, we have grown as a company ourselves, as well as develop very close partnerships we need to provide the high-value System Integration services and long-term support our customers are looking for.

SinclairWhat do you believe to be the most important characteristics of an MSI?

Drury:  Open, Open, Open.   All solutions must be open, interoperable and expandable.   The customers best interest must be the driving factor in all solutions.  Not the System Integrators, not the OEMs, not equipment sales.

Sinclair:  How do you sell your Master Systems Integration services?

Drury:  We don’t really go out and sell.  Corporations, or organizations, that are looking for a System Integrator with our kind of services, in the last few years, now reach out almost like hiring a headhunter searching for employees.   The limiting factor for the growth of many of our customers is finding qualified Controls Contractors to do the work and finding ones that have good business ethics.

Sinclair:  How do your customers procure MSI services? What’s the structure of the contract you’re in?

Drury:   It varies.   Some of our biggest contracts are very loose.   For example, we will be asked, “We are building this set of buildings, are you in?”   Details and formal arrangements will follow, but it’s the initial commitment and willingness and hand-shake to get the job done that matters.   The rest is details.  Or, “We are building at this such-and-such rate in these areas, it’s repeatable projects, at you in?”   Of course, the “are you in” comes with expectations and price.   But it’s the willingness, on our part, to make the commitment to partner and show that we have our customers best interest in mind rather than being the controls contractor who is the low bid, under the mechanical contractor that is the low bid, under the GC that is the low bid. The latter-mentioned usually ends up equaling a less-than-stellar result and ongoing COI for the owner.

Sinclair:  As an MSI, what percent of your time is spent in the following categories? R&D, Consultations, Field Commissioning, and Software Programming.

Drury:  Wow. Well, with the way the industry is moving right now, we spend a crazy amount of time on training. The biggest limitation to our growth and success is finding qualified and competent people that understand everything you just mentioned.   And, we do allocate our time as directed by our customers; if they want us to commission, we commission.   If they want us to program, we program.   If they want us to develop something new, we do it. Consulting? Almost non-stop.

[an error occurred while processing this directive]Sinclair:  Describe some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced as an MSI.

Drury:  Taxes, Taxes, Taxes. The biggest barrier to a growing company like HVAC Concepts, with ethics first, good people and the drive, is taxes.    Tax codes have been oppressive.   Although, it just might have gotten better today.   Having to pay 50% of money earned to pay taxes when you need to reinvest that profit into people, training, and the company is difficult in a high-growth environment like ours.

Sinclair:  Do you envision Master Systems Integration being a part of your business in the future? If so, how?

Drury:  As long as it is needed, absolutely.   The important thing is to be sure that customers, and everyone else involved, are happy with the value.   Being the System Integrator is a commitment, an arrangement, in one way or another, ensuring that everyone involved can continuously meet their business goals.

Sinclair:  Thank you again, Dan, for taking the time to contribute to

Drury:  Ken, it’s been my pleasure. And, here’s to a prosperous New Year for everyone!


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