David Thomas felt that there was a better way for a manufacturer’s sales rep firm like his to help systems integrators sell more residential and commercial technology products to their clients and trade partners. The president of Denver-based Momentum Group felt that instead of commoditizing the expensive products sold by the smart technology industry by “writing a price on a piece of paper and shoving it across the table” to an architect, designer, homeowner, contractor, or builder… that training, education, and demonstration were essential.
In addition to creating one-minute how-to videos for professional installers and a web portal for researching and ordering products, Momentum made a major investment to transform a 6,000-square-foot, 120-year-old former lumber company headquarters into a high-tech design center/training facility that shows just how seamlessly tech can blend into a room.
Located just south of downtown Denver, the builder (called “924” after its street address) showcases multiple brands of complementary audio and video technology, all working together like it should in a person’s home or office building. The facility was renovated at no charge to the manufacturers or to the dealers that Momentum Group serves.
It is located in a very hip little corner of the world, which also includes a coffee roaster, a distiller, a brewer called Renegade, and a popular barbeque restaurant. Nowhere on the rep firm’s building is there any reference to the technology that resides inside.
“The goal is to make people feel comfortable in the space, rather than overwhelmed by tech,” Thomas noted. “When an architect, designer, or homeowner walks through the door, they’re in a 120-year-old building that’s brick and timber,” he said. “They see things like an old safe that is original to the building from the early 1900s. They also see a space that opens them up to take a deep breath, and have a conversation about technology, which is about the last thing they usually want to talk about it; they hate those conversations, but if they can see products in here that are working seamlessly together, and they see the wallpaper and a cool blue bike, then they’re open to a conversation.”
Educational sessions can be held for smaller groups of around 15 people in the training center upstairs, or the configuration can be changed to 30 seats facing the same direction toward an LED TV. Seating also can be pivoted 180 degrees to accommodate 80 or more people, auditorium-style, on two different levels. Catered lunches, coffee from the roaster next door, or beer from the brewer across the way in the evening make the space come alive even more.
924 is open 24/7/365 to dealers to show their customers new products integrated into the space or to host parties for architects or other business partners. Momentum Group has a small office
space within the building, with glass doors that separate it from the showfloor during events.
“We show a number of products in here that we don’t even represent, so that a customer can see what a building is supposed to do,” Thomas said. “We can put CEOs and CTOs in a seat, and they see the shades drop in a single push of a button. They see a TV move out on an automated mount, and they’re ready for teleconferencing. The whole idea here is if a CEO is sitting in this seat, and he’s watching this room happen, we want him or her not to say, ‘How much is that TV?’ but, ‘Can you do that in my office? Can you do that in my conference room? Can you do that in my home?’ This is one example of how technology should work together to create a solution that people understand and ask to have happen in their building. We never talk to a customer about brands.”