In the Field with David Milner of Veritais
David Milner of integration firm Veritais, based in the the UK and France.
Tamworth, Staffordshire & Antibes, France
Specialises in: Yacht and High End Custom Installation
How did Veritais get started?
I first started a company 20 years ago in the yacht custom installation industry under the name Marine AV. At the time, we were working mainly with smaller or production boats, supplying the likes of Sunseeker, Princess Yachts, and Fairline. The projects began to build and the installations and boat sizes were gradually getting much bigger in size and budget. We realised in time that in order to expand and thrive within this sector, we would need to diversify. This is when Veritais was born. We wanted our name to reflect our ethos to offer a truthful and honest home service, which is why we chose Veritais, meaning ‘truth’ in Latin. Veritais specialises in Superyacht and high-end residential custom installation, and the boats we will deal with are 35 metres or more in length. We specialise in AV, web access, lighting and heating control, security and surveillance custom installation, seamlessly integrating any or all of these functions into a single, intuitive system.
Veritais is known for the integration of AV entertainment systems as well as control systems in both homes and on yachts. Pictured: The Titania.
Veritais is known for the integration of AV entertainment systems as well as control systems in both homes and on yachts. Tell us how you approach these two unique integration channels. What are some of the differences and similarities?
My background is in yachting so positioning Veritais in this sector came naturally. I understand how yachts work, I know which products will complement a vessel or a room regardless of size, and I understand the various complications, which are common with installing this equipment.
Whilst the products and brands we install into both high-end properties and yachts are very similar, it is how these systems are implemented that is different. A boat can spend six weeks sailing on its side in bad conditions, therefore the equipment has be to secured and able to take knocks and movement. Another problem we face with boats that differs from residential installation is the reliability of power, which is never always stable.
You are the rare integration firm that has more than one location. Why did you feel it was important to have a base in the south of France as well as in the UK? How is that environment different than what you encounter as an integrator in the UK?
For us, a large portion of our business is based in the South of France. There was a definite gap in the market for a specialist installation company based in this area to offer a local presence and so, after many requests from yards and crew, we made the decision to open an office in Antibes and soon Palma Mallorca.
"Our office now works as a local contact point for crew and yards, whilst also acting as an excellent demonstration facility for the control systems and integration products currently on offer."
Choosing Antibes as a location was easy. The location is beautiful and only 100m from the marina, and, therefore, from our clients. Our office now works as a local contact point for crew and yards, whilst also acting as an excellent demonstration facility for the control systems and integration products currently on offer.
Although it is a huge asset having an office based in the South of France, adjusting to the environment has not been without its challenges. Firstly, we learned to be more organised than we knew to be possible. The logistics differ from the UK because there are new things to consider. The weather in Antibes often reaches heights of 35°C-plus during summer months and so the arrival, movement and installation of equipment all needs meticulous planning.
We are always looking to expand and we are sure our office in Antibes will not be our only office outside of the UK – watch this space!
Tell us about a project you recently completed that you are proud of. What were some of the challenges? How did you solve them?
Last year we carried out an outstanding installation on board the 73m/239′motor yacht Titania, one of the most distinctive yachts in the world. This installation involved integrating an extensive system, fully controllable via touchscreens in every cabin, covering everything from TV, music and movies to lighting, blinds, air conditioning and CCTV.
"For a successful installation, particularly on yachts, we have to consider the unique environmental and functional demands whatever the scale of the project."
The system consists of 26 independent zones that can play video and audio sources locally as well as sharing the media stored on the network drive. The main areas each have a Control 4 wireless 7in. touchcreen to provide full control of the zones’ AV systems including the TV, amplifier, media player, DVD player, TV lift, lighting, heating and blinds.
We are entering a period in custom integration where it seems, with networking devices becoming more centralised, that we are almost moving back to a DIY model of automation, control and integration. Why is bespoke, professional design critical to a successful installation project?
For us, a bespoke, professional design service is vital for our business. Every brief is different and every vessel has its own challenges so each system must be designed with careful consideration and unique attributes to suit the end-user and provide a reliable and impressive solution. Services, such as, Meridian’s Design and Specification Service are invaluable to our business. We’ve made use of this service to detail room layouts, speaker positions and wiring diagrams before selecting and specify the best products for our applications, freeing up valuable time for us to concentrate on other aspects of an installation.
For a successful installation, particularly on yachts, we have to consider the unique environmental and functional demands whatever the scale of the project. Therefore the products we choose and the system that is designed has to be extremely robust and reliable whilst able to handle acoustic challenges subject to the mirrors, glass, fabrics and windows within a room. Selecting a product off the shelf just isn’t an option for us. The design and specification aspect has to be spot on.
What should your fellow integrators take on board if they are thinking about expanding into marine custom integration?
The most important factor to consider is the cost and logistics of offering a yacht installation service. It is important to understand the vessels you are working with, to understand the client and to be flexible at any time. If you get it wrong at the outset, or, indeed, at any time during the project, then you will lose money rapidly. The key to conquering any logistical matter is maintaining and ensuring communication both within your team, and with the client’s team. We rarely if ever meet the end client. We will usually go through three or four channels of communication before actually hearing a response from the yacht owner. This means we have to be extremely clear on the brief from the start. The captain of the boat, or the client’s PA, may have a different interpretation of what they believe is required to what the yacht owner actually wants.