In the Field with Richard Sagar MBE of Sagar Smart Homes
Richard Sagar MBE, Director of London-based integration firm, Sagar Smart Homes.
Richard Sagar MBE
Sagar Smart Homes
Specialises in: Home and building automation consultants and installers
You started Sagar Smart Homes in 2010. What was the impetus for starting a custom integration firm?
I have always felt Sagar Smart Homes to be natural transition from where I was in my career. Having served an electrical apprenticeship when I left school, I was very fortunate to represent the UK at the 2009 Worldskills Competition, held in Calgary. The bi-annual competition is a celebration of the world’s leading engineering talent, playing the same role that Olympics does for athletics. As part of the competition, we had to deliver a small KNX installation. After my initial training at Ivory Egg, it was very clear to me that home automation and building controls were the future for a progressive electrical industry. After winning gold at the competition, I moved to London and began Sagar Smart Homes. My focus from the start has been to apply the world-class learning and knowledge I gained as part of my Worldskills experience, as both an added-value service to our customers and a culture within the company.
Over the past five years Sagar Smart Homes has been in business what changes have you seen in custom integration? How has that shifted your business’ focus?
It has been interesting to watch both custom integration and consumer electronics industries direct their focus towards the home automation market. We feel that both areas represent increased opportunities for us as a company as more end-users, designers and specifiers become aware of the value of well designed and installed home automation systems. Sagar Smart Homes has focused on home automation and building controls since its inception, so this is where our expertise lies. We have grown to be one of the world’s leading residential KNX specialists, employing some of the industries most exciting talent.
Sagar Smart Homes completed projects in Ibiza and London in 2015. What did you find most challenging about these projects? What solutions did you employ to address these challenges?
Though all projects are unique, there are some challenges, which are universal. The nature of integrating a multitude of different electrical and mechanical systems means coordinating the multiple disciplines can be very time consuming. We have worked consistently over the years to develop tried and tested, systematic project delivery and commissioning procedures to facilitate smooth project integration. They have served as a great tool for demonstrating system functionality and quickly highlighting any cross discipline pressure points before they develop in to more major issues. We continue to invest heavily in offsite R&D and testing and commissioning facilities, giving us the opportunity to test new products and control concepts in our workshop before we specify or deploy them in the field. The facilities also serve as a platform for the construction, programming and commissioning of all our installations before they are shipped to site.
As well as our Ibiza project, we recently completed an amazing project in Melbourne Australia, which has been nominated for the industries leading prize at the KNX awards 2016. Delivering projects overseas requires enormous discipline, with any return visits proving potentially very costly. Sending fully tested and certified installations from our workshop not only gives enormous satisfaction, but invaluable peace of mind!
You are a KNX Board Member and integrator. What drew you to the association? What about the standard makes it ideal for your business?
With a background in KNX, I have always been keen to become as involved as possible in the industry. I have watched KNX develop over the past 5-6 years, rapidly becoming the go to solution for more and more industry professionals. It is a great honour to sit on the board with people who have been pivotal in propelling this growth. As a company our passion for delivering the best solutions possible has led us to look at a number of different technologies, but time and time again KNX always wins out. The open protocol, the massive range of products and manufacturers, with the inherent flexibility this offers gives us the opportunity to provide any solution our clients need, be it aesthetic or technical. No other system comes close.
'Smart Home’ is becoming a ubiquitous term as connectivity has become a central goal for everyone — from integrators to telecoms. What do you think custom integrators have to do in the next few years to stake their claim as experts in this emerging and developing tech category?
Expertise is a culmination of applied knowledge and experience, and it is hard to acquire either if you become too focused on always chasing the “next big thing.” There have been multiple articles of late describing how the “internet of things,” though an exciting prospect, in reality lacks coherence or transparency as the different manufacturers jockey to try and establish themselves as major players in the market. With so many different solutions from so many different companies flooding the market, I think it is important to become a stakeholder in something you believe has a future, than as more than just the next consumerist sweet spot.