Apr 14, 2018 Interviews
Manfred is an independent electrical engineer and certified KNX partner and has gained his first EIB/KNX experience in 1995. Due to his focus on EIB/KNX he became a sought-after specialist and in 2004 he published his accumulated expert knowledge in the ETS3 Tutorial. Since then, more than 1,000 professionals started their KNX experience using the books of Manfred.
In the first part of the interview, Manfred explains how electrical professionals can increase their sales with KNX or set up their own businesses. In the second part of the interview, he will describe how inquiries and calls for help from customers and colleagues prompted him to develop the ebook “The Ultimate Guide to KNX Programming”.
Hello Manfred, please introduce yourself briefly to our readers and describe your experiences in the field of KNX / ETS
My name is Manfred Meier and I live in Warngau, a small village near the Tegernsee valley, Germany. In 1992, at the age of 26, I started my own business as an electrician. In 1995, I first bought the ETS1 demo version and an EIB starter package (EIB is the predecessor of KNX and 100% compatible, editor’s note) from the electrical wholesaler. I successfully experimented with KNX.
Soon after that the ETS1 full version was purchased. Training was very limited at the time from individual manufacturers, so I took every opportunity to attend EIB workshops and EIB product presentations to further expand my EIB knowledge. As early as 1996, the first customer project, a single family house, was equipped with EIB (lighting, heating and roller blind).
It was not until 1998, after many successful projects, that I more or less obtained my EIB certification to be able to use the EIB partner logo. Due to the increasing awareness of my specialisation in EIB building systems technology, a slow but steady change took place for me. My growing experience in the field of EIB and my urge to always create proper plans and documentation made me more and more a sought-after electrical planner specializing in EIB (today KNX).
Today I only plan KNX systems, mainly single-family houses, and thanks to the Internet, I now also plan more and more remote projects, which I never get to see. My furthest project that I planned was a KNX appartement in Bangkok. Due to the great and constantly increasing success of KNX, I always receive many requests for KNX commissioning, most of which I cannot accept due to lack of time.
However, I occasionally accept smaller projects that are in my region, because as a craftsman I also like to work directly on site. Currently I am working for a new emerging brewery in addition to my planning projects. KNX is a versatile and exciting area with a wide range.
How many people have you trained? How long have you been doing this?
To answer these questions, I have to go a little further. Manfred laughs
At the beginning I only trained my own employees. But since I became known as an “EIB expert” very early on, which gave me the nickname “Eibmeier”, I received more and more inquiries and many calls for help. More and more projects have been sent to me and I was asked to have a look at them. As a result, I noticed very early on that many projects were obviously tackled without any training. Some of these projects were catastrophically planned. That was partly so bad that I saw this new and great opportunity “EIB” seriously in danger. Customers can only be dissatisfied with such a bad or sloppy planning and execution.
That’s why I decided to help my professional colleagues by writing my first ebook “The ultimate EIB quick course”. This decision was made in 2002. As I wrote everything in my spare time, it took until 2004 to release. At that time there was the ETS3 and my Ebook was written for the ETS3. So you can say that I started to train people indirectly since 2004.
Success arrived quickly. Finally, my colleagues could easily access all my experiences by reading how I carry out my projects. Since the beginning, I sell my ebooks online so that everyone can buy my ebook. By selling the ebook, I had the completely unexpected experience that a lot of house builders also bought my ebook. Again and again, I got e-mails in which I was informed that the house builders absolutely wanted to have EIB/KNX but did not find an electrician who could offer them this.
Therefore, these house builders only had the electrician install everything and have it professionally connected. They then successfully completed the EIB project planning and programming themselves with the help of my ebook. So it came that I got more and more proud success messages, not only from electricians but also from many house builders and still get them today. Unfortunately, I can’t say how many electricians and how many house builders I have trained indirectly with my ebooks in the meantime, but I think that it must exceed 1,500. Although I only wrote my ebooks in German, I received orders from over 50 countries around the world. Even if the sales figures outside the German-speaking area are not particularly relevant to sales, I am always very happy about every “exotic” orders, such as Dubai, Oman, New York, Bangkok etc..
Which professional groups can benefit from KNX in their business?
First and foremost, of course, all electricians who want to use the opportunities that EIB/KNX technology provides. More and more colleagues are recognising the many advantages of KNX. Others remain persistent or try themselves in other systems. KNX is the only system that can easily connect all trades and due to the uniform certification of the products there is an almost incomprehensible pool of manufacturers and products. In my opinion, there is no other system that can compete with KNX in terms of investment security, flexibility and price/performance ratio.
Right after the electrical installers, KNX customers, i.e. again the house builders, benefit from the KNX business. Because the laws of the free market prevail. If I compare today’s KNX devices, i.e. mainly actuators and sensors with the performance range of former EIB devices, then a lot of positive things have happened in this area. I myself live in a KNX house with KNX devices from the year 2000 and have already experienced the advantages for myself several times. Although my KNX devices are from the first generation, all changes and extensions to our house, especially those that were not even known to us at that time, could be realized without any problems. My wife and I have never regret our investment in EIB/KNX.
Back to your question. More and more heating installers are also recognising the advantages of KNX and want to take a slice of the cake. That’s why I’m concerned about the electricians who still refuse to invest in KNX training and the ETS software today. KNX is an incredibly interesting business field and offers possibilities we wouldn’t have dreamt of some time ago. I myself am a good example. Thanks to KNX, I became a sought-after KNX system integrator and KNX planner. At the same time, I also became a relatively successful e-book author due to my great willingness to help.