In the Field: Stuart Burgess of Just Add Popcorn

HiddenWires talks with Stuart Burgess of UK-based integration firm Just Add Popcorn.

Stuart Burgess
Managing Director
Just Add Popcorn
Sussex, UK
Specialises in: Home technology installation including media rooms, home cinemas, lighting control, and whole-home automation

When did Just Add Popcorn open its doors? What is the story behind the name of the firm?
The company started trading in 2007, under the name, PPS Audio Visual. To begin with, our main focus was handling the installation services of the nine local Sony Centre’s in the South East; a contract which is still running to this day.

We started venturing into different areas by offering new solutions, and this led to us rebranding the company as Just Add Popcorn in 2012. This was mainly due to the overwhelming range of services we can now offer clients. We wanted to focus the company on clients who wanted a state-of-the-art audiovisual solution, but needed some help and advice on what is possible. With most clients’ daily lives being hectic, we wanted to highlight the fact that we can offer a full 'turnkey’ solution taking all the hassle out of achieving their dream installation. We are able to adapt our ways of working to fit in with our clients’ requirements and ensure that at each step of the way, the communication is efficient and seamless. The end result is a customer who has a professional installation and has experienced a reliable service. It is then simply a case of just needing to ‘Add the Popcorn’.

What does your role as Managing Director entail?
Everything and anything.  My role is very hands on. It is for this reason that I’ve just taken on a System Designer. This will allow me to free up some time and focus on client liaison and business-related activities. However, I will still continue to work on projects, as I enjoy the designing and installing of systems.

Just Add Popcorn specialises in media rooms. What about the integration of these multi-functional spaces make them a challenge for your integration team?
The challenge is to get clients to buy into the idea of a media room. They need to understand that technology offers a lifestyle, it isn’t just a TV on a wall, and this is what can take up quite a bit of time for us.

Media rooms do play a big role in our business. We have noticed in recent times that more people are working from home, so the demand for a media room which combines a living room, and office space, is increasing.

You recently won the URC International Case Study Award at CEDIA Expo.  Tell us a bit about this project?
The interesting part of this project was the living space. The client wanted a double-sided wall to feature in the middle of the living room and kitchen, with an open fireplace. We installed a TV on both sides of the wall, one, which provided a cinematic experience and the other, a suitable TV for everyday viewing. We installed the infrastructure to allow this project to be upgraded in due course. This is an important aspect for us, and something that we always encourage clients to agree to.

As a CEDIA member you often speak about the importance of establishing relationships with designers. What are the benefits of such partnerships? How have they helped Just Add Popcorn’s business?
I enjoy hosting CPD sessions for CEDIA. I am the volunteer chairman of the CEDIA Outreach Committee, so I have put myself forward to take advantage of this opportunity, and have benefitted greatly from it. I do feel that if CEDIA members aren’t getting involved in these committees then they aren’t taking full advantage of their membership. These sessions have helped me build relationships with other industry parties. My aim is to get our industry known as a profession that is as familiar as architects, M&E Consultants and electricians. To do this, we need to be getting the message across of: 'get us involved in projects from the word go, as we can work hand in hand with the other professionals.' It has taken a while to get architects up to speed on the technology side of things, but we are starting to notice that some of them are understanding that they need to build relationships with us, and get us involved in the project at the build stage.

You are a big proponent of object-based audio, especially Dolby Atmos. Where do you see this category going in the next five years? What developments do you anticipate in this category?
I love Dolby Atmos and DTS:X and am enjoying installing these set ups in a number of our projects. At the moment, it is an easy sell for us, as we take our clients to the AWE showroom in Epsom, and they are blown away by the experience, that they say, ‘I want one of these’. As more and more end-users become familiar with the set up, I think that this will become the norm. I expect that some of the big brands will jump on this, and in the not too distant future, solutions will be visible on the high street.

Llanor Alleyne is Editor of HiddenWires. Follow her on Twitter: @LlanorTech

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