Peter Pruneanu of Intellis first came across our radar through his generous support with the 2012 Romanian Film festival. As promotion of the event came underway, it became quite clear that Intellis is more than a custom audio-video, lighting, and applications installation business.
What Peter is really selling or installing is peace of mind, solace, or a personal experience with the median of your choice.
For those of you who know Peter personally, his business model is not a far a stretch from his life style of choice. ROCX finally caught up with the avid hiker, kayaker, skier, or videographer to get some tips on what he thinks has made his business successful:
The business in a nutshell…
The business is about providing and installing custom audio-video equipment (TVs, speakers etc.), custom lighting and electric window treatments (electric shades) and other low voltage applications (surveillance, networking, security). The type of clients we cater to are typically residential and commercial customers, looking for high-end smart-home solutions.
How did you get started in this business?
I got started at the core of the business: as a helper, than an installer and worked my way up to project manager. From there I convinced my former boss to let me become his business partner, and finally now I am the sole owner of LLC. When asked what he thinks the future holds for his businesses, Peter answered “Future? TBD. Dedication? 100%. Regrets? None.”
When asked what he thinks the future holds for his businesses, Peter answered “Future? TBD. Dedication? 100%. Regrets? None.”
What do you actually do on a day-day-basis?
“My typical day starts at about 7:00 am helping my teams of installers (currently have two to three, depending of the day) get started. From 9:00 am on, the day is divided between seeing new projects, and talking to people either by phone or in person - mostly customers or potential customers, but also business associates. In the afternoon my focus switches to running the business; from 4:00 to 7:00 pm – I work on writing estimates, answering emails on technical questions, scheduling, and billing. My ‘normal working day’ at least as far as right now- is from 7:30 am to about 9:00 pm. I’m somehow always behind with something,” he shares.
"Projects that are out of the ordinary are the ones I like the most-they challenge me! A few years ago I had the opportunity to work on a house in Lincoln Park that was a 200k project, with a 45ft vertical space of open architecture. It was amazing! Currently, I’m working on a 10k sqft house, a triple lot in Gold Coast, with a very demanding customer. These are the best projects, because the way you respond to these challenges creates the opportunity for Intellis to distinguish itself from the competition. This is the creative aspect of the business, where you have to think outside-the-box, versus the traditional approaches". When asked what the outcome has been, he said “the outcome is giving value and purpose to everyone that is involved. It results in more contracts based on referrals. That’s how you win”.
What do you think are the top 3 skills required?
"I think the number one skill I unitize is a high tolerance to discomfort. This idea was borrowed from a different author, but it fits the bill here perfectly. An entrepreneur after all, is a single person trying to play an orchestra—at least in the early stages of the business. Not only do you have to learn each instrument in your spare time (who’s going to pay you for the learning curve? Nobody). All the while, trying to convince people that you know what you’re doing, and they should buy your albums."
"In the beginning, you are everything; you are the worker in the field, the specialist, the designer, the architect, the sales person, the office manager (and the secretary), the project manager, the supplier, the purchasing, the shipping carrier, the billing and the collection department (there is always work in here, ha!), the customer support, the technical support, the online support, and the business developer. Not to mention, the visionary and strategist for your future goals, the marketing director, public relations etc. etc. etc. It may sound like an exaduration, but it's not, every second is a transfer of thoughts from one field to another, a decision, a move or a call to make. Good luck trying to have some personal life in between! Or stay sane!"
"You asked me for three skills, but really you need 1000 skills—and you have to be good at all of them. Otherwise your company will be as weak as the weakest link in this whole chain, and you simply cannot afford that--there are a thousand others other there trying to compete with you. Only after you've gained a certain degree of success (in terms of sales and contracts) and mastered this process, can you begin to think about hiring and retaining staff to delegate some of your responsibilities.
Qualities I look for in my associates (and in myself, for that matter)...
Passion (this includes all of the above-mentioned). All of your results are depended on this quality.
Lastly, what are some tips I would give to newcomers?
Quit! Quit! Quit! Run from pain to safety and duck!
PS: If you stubbornly refuse to, you might have a slim chance to succeed after all.
Dani Sandu serves as the ROCX correspondent in Romania, writing about issues most pressing to Romanians both back home and abroad.
Recent weeks have seen the Romanian Parliament organize talks about drafting a new Romanian Constitution. Seeing that all of Romania’s population has a stake in what the supreme law of the land says, these talks were meant to be as wide and far-reaching as possible. Any and all Romanian citizens should have been empowered – even if they decided not to take advantage – to take part in them, but very few were. Crin Antonescu, the Senate president and Liberal Party president, was appointed chair of the Constitutional Commission in early 2013. Shortly after, he decided to allow the creation of a Constitutional Forum that would act as the sole instance of broad popular consultation. The Forum was to be comprised of lawyers, magistrates, civil society workers and any citizen who could prove interest and substance. That Forum was entrusted to Cristian Parvulescu, the leader of Pro-Democratia, a well-known NGO. Parvulescu accepted and, on short notice and without almost any resources, he mustered a team that led these talks with other NGOs and anyone else interested. They came up with a very strong report of suggestions for the new Constitution
(available in Romanian).
Not long after the report was publicly released, the Parliamentary Commission started voting on proposals stemming from this report and other political amendments. The Commission granted access to the media, so we can discuss some of the decisions taken until now. It’s important to note that discussions and negotiations are ongoing and most of the decisions are still far from final. While there are definitely points that can be deemed useless or contentious, the Commission has been racing to get things done as soon as possible offer a version of the Constitutional to be voted on towards the end of the year.
Before jumping to a discussion about the Constitution per se, one provision of the discussions in Antonescu’s Commission is already making political hay. One of the Commission’s first decisions was to reduce the turnout threshold to 30%+1 of the population (previously 50%+1 of the population), with at least 25%+1 of the population in favor to pass. Surely, this decision brings to mind the summer of 2012 referendum to impeach Traian Basescu that failed because of low turnout. Besides, 25%+1 of the population being in favor actually guards against boycott, as it would be enough to win a referendum with a 50%+1 threshold. Still, considering that more than a few Western democracies do not have such a threshold, that the Venice Commission is reticent to it and that Romania has been marred with low-turnout and a definite census problem (no one seems to actually know how many citizens still live in Romania), this decision seems to make life easier for such legislation to be passed, not necessarily to put a dent in Romanian democracy.
Still, this more lenient threshold does also complicate the majority’s situation. President Traian Basescu, in an attempt to block parts of the new Constitution and preserve some power of initiative, has pledged to call another referendum for a one-chamber 300 member legislative body. According to current legislation, the President can call for a referendum without the approval of Parliament. A similar referendum passed in 2009 by wide margins but was never legislated on. This threat definitely leaves the USL majority in a bind: damned if they preserve the low threshold and probably be faced with a referendum outcome against their legislation, damned if they cave and abandon the new threshold and probably struggle to pass the new Constitution. One potential way for the majority to extract itself from this predicament would to be keep the Constitutional point that limits the number of Deputies to 300 + ethnic minorities that was already adopted in Commission. No mention to the size of the Senate has been made.
Here are some of the new constitutional provisions passed through Commission which we may find to be law in the near future:
- Romania will continue to be a national state despite severe criticism from the Magyar ethnic Party;
- The Constitution introduces the term Region – yet to have been adopted in secondary legislation in Parliament – to pave the way for Liviu Dragnea’s regional reform;
- The Romanian flag will once again have a coat of arms, after 23 years since it was removed after the Romanian revolution;
- The Constitution overtly bans discrimination based on gender, race, ethnic or social origin, language, faith, religion, political convictions, disabilities, age or sexual orientation. The latter three sources of discrimination had not been directly stated in the previous Constitution;
- Media structures functioning in Romania are obligated to publicize their ownership structure;
- The family is defined as a union between a man and a woman – one of the most contentious points of the debate. Later, the Commission revisited the vote and rejected it. Its situation is still unclear.
- Any and all citizen of Romania will have to appear before a Parliamentary hearing if asked by the legislative. This provision seems to target prosecutors, who had previously refused to appear in such hearings under the basis of the legislative infringing on the judiciary;
Many other provisions were discussed and will be discussed in the following days. Generally, successful Constitutional models are short and easily understandable by every citizen. At this point, the Commission’s works have gone in the opposite direction, placing a lot of clutter in the Constitution that could have just as easily been legislated by Parliamentary decision. Still, as initially mentioned, one of the new Constitution’s biggest weaknesses is the fact that, by and large, it comes from elected politicians, not the population. In a moment when most of Romania is feeling disenfranchised with the political process, involving and empowering citizens would have arguably been an opportunity to change not just law, but also social norm.