November 2018

Babel Buster Network Gateways: Big Features. Small Price.
Control Solutions, Inc. - Minnesota

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Scott CochraneEMAIL INTERVIEWScott Cochrane and Derek Drayer

Scott Cochrane is President and CEO of Cochrane Supply & Engineering, a leading industrial IoT and building controls suppliers with locations throughout Michigan, Ohio, and Kentucky, as well as President of Canada Controls. In 2000, Scott took over the business from his father, Donald Cochrane, Sr., who founded the company 50 years ago. He is proud to be an advisory council member for multiple industry manufacturers such as Honeywell, Johnson Controls, and Tridium, and to be named a 2016 IBcon Digital Impact Award Winner for his innovative contributions to the industry.
Derek Drayer

Derek Drayer is President of RoviSys Building Technologies. RoviSys Building Technologies was founded in 2012. The Building Technologies group grew from two employees to 70 in just four years. RoviSys Building Technologies caters specifically to the building automation market space, with a foundation built on an organization with over 25 years’ experience in virtually every control system in existence. Drayer spends his time working with management to ensure RoviSys culture is preserved and working with potential customers who want bigger things out of their BMS systems.

Master Systems Integrators (MSI)

They make sure all systems communicate properly, coordinate all project participants, collaborate with building owners to ensure systems information will be accessible and usable, and they develop software layers responsible for integration, aggregation, and communication of the building systems.

MSI Interview Series

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Scott Cochrane of Cochrane Supply & Engineering has the unique benefit of working with 300+ of the best systems integrators in the country. Cochrane recognizes the critical role they have within the building automation industry and is speaking with a different highly-regarded MSI each month with the goal of providing examples of industry trends, best business practices, and the growing value of an MSI. This month, he interviews Derek Drayer of RoviSys.

October Interview with Preston Blackwell of Enervise.

September Interview with Tom Davis of ERMCO, Inc.

August 18 Interview with Continual Energy Inc

July Interview with Ian Morse, Division Manager, Building Automation Systems, Conti Corporation

June Interview with Marc Dugré, President of Regulvar, Inc.

May Interview with Rick Gorka, President of the Airon Group of Companies

April Interview with Colin M. Murray, Owner of Solution Control Services

February Interview with Jeff Murphy, President and CEO of ECT Services, Inc.

January 18 Interview with Chris Saltz, Managing Principal of FIX Consulting LLC.

December Interview with Jason Houck from Hepta Control Systems.

November Interview with Geoff Hunter, President and Senior Principal of Palmer Conservation Consulting (PCC)

October Interview with Brian Oswald, Managing Director for CBRE | ESI.

September Interview with Joe Napieralski the Co-Founder and Director of Development of Smart Building Services LLC

August Interview with Sidney H. Blomberg, Jr. the founder and President of K & S Ventures, Inc

July 17 Interview with Scott Cochrane and Ken Sinclair

This month (November/18) he interviews Derek Drayer, President, RoviSys Building Technologies.

Cochrane:  How did you become an MSI?

Drayer:  Becoming a Master Systems Integrator is not something that we set out to do at RoviSys.  As a matter of fact, we were actually not even really aware of the term “MSI” until a couple of years ago.  But once we learned about it and what it meant, we realized that we were already doing it.  RoviSys since its inception in 1989 has always been about relationships with customers first, sometimes to the detriment of our relationships with vendors.  This is because we always do what makes the most sense for the end user, even if this means suggesting the adoption of a new technology that hasn’t been a part of their portfolio in the past.  If our intent is always to do what is right for the end user while being a part of their digitization journey, then we satisfy the core mission of our business.  It has always been like this at RoviSys, and coincidentally, is what being an MSI is all about.

Cochrane:  Can you explain what some of the characteristics are of a good MSI?

Drayer:  My business partner and I like to talk about things in terms of “three-legged stools,” and I’m going to use one here.  I think the characteristics of a good MSI are threefold: (1) wanting to honestly help end users with big problems, (2) technical curiosity and lack of satisfaction, and (3) wanting to be compensated for hard work and accomplishments, not for meeting sales quotas.  There are many other secondary attributes that contribute to or are necessary to be able to do the work, like having enough experience in the industry or having the right staff with the right background, but those attributes can be learned and adjusted over time.  The three I have listed are either in your company’s nature, or they are not.  And these are what set good MSI apart from SIs who just want to do a project, get paid, and move onto the next project. 

Cochrane:  How do you sell Master Systems Integration services?

Drayer:  In my opinion, Master Integration Services sort of sell themselves.  If you are out on the front lines with end users talking about their problems, and how to best solve them, it will be a natural progression for the end user to bring you into their business to get specific to their use case(s) and become a part of their planning.

Cochrane:  How do your customers procure MSI services?
Drayer:  It’s different for each different customer.  For instance, we do business with a data center builder who is scaling globally, and they contract us through their engineering design firm to help with their design process, separately through construction firms to help with installation and commissioning of the physical building(s), and separately yet again with direct contracts for support and improvements once the buildings are built and operational.  For other customers, there is often a “discovery” phase written into the scope of a competitively bid RFP, where we will perform MSI type services and suggest enhancements to the base scope of a project.

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


I would lump A and B together into “Account Management, Brainstorming, and Design” and C and D together into “Implementing Ideas and Proving What Works (And What Doesn’t).”  And I’d say it’s accurate that we spend 30% of our time on the former, and 70% of our time on the latter.  In my opinion, being a good MSI is about doing, then refining that you are doing based upon what worked well and what didn’t, and feeding this back into the 30% brainstorming and design process for constant iterative improvement.

contemporary Cochrane:  Describe a few challenges that you’ve encountered as an MSI.

Drayer:  I’ll describe what I feel are two of the biggest problems facing the BMS industry today:

Customer procurement processes are often convoluted and result in system integration being pared down to a controls package as a subcontract under the mechanical installer, which is selected 90+% on low price.  I’ve worked with multiple customers to help them realize that if they want true system integration, the controls package bids needed to be moved out from under the mechanical package and made into their own RFP with real integration requirements like pulling in utility consumption data in addition to just controlling the mechanical equipment.  This is slowly being adopted, but there are still many examples where customers are shortchanging themselves by not getting involved with improving their procurement practices to gain better system integration at the time of initial building construction.

Recognizing the importance of analytics for your BMS.  Analytics surround us in everyday life.  Recently my iPhone started giving me weekly screentime reports telling me how much time I spent looking at my phone, which apps I was viewing during that time, and how all of this compared to the previous week.  This increases my mindfulness around how much time I spend with my face in my phone, and what I am actually doing when ignoring the real world around me.  But without the data and reports, there is just a vague feeling of “I think I may spend too much time on Facebook” or “I don’t think I spent very much time keeping up with my work email last week.”  When relating to your BMS control systems, the same types of insights can be gained: “How much electricity did my chiller use last week”, or “I wonder how much time my AHUs were able to spend in outside air economization mode last summer compared to this summer” become questions you can get actual answers to, but far too many companies are not spending any time, resources, or money on it, when in many cases the spend can and will actually pay for itself and save money in the long term.  And there are MSIs like RoviSys out there who have the experience and technical chops to put this in place with relative ease.

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

Drayer:  As I said earlier, being an MSI is something that RoviSys has always just naturally done.  It is in our DNA, and it will always be not only a part of our business, but it IS our business.  It is at the core of everything that we do and will continue to be for years to come.


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