Apr 21, 2018 Interviews
Interview: How I became a successful e-book author through inquiries and calls for help from customers and colleagues
In the second part of the interview, our KNX expert Manfred Meier describes how inquiries and calls for help from customers and colleagues prompted him to develop the “Ultimate Guide to KNX programming” and thus become an e-book author.
Manfred, how did you discover KNX?
In 1992, at the age of 26, I started my own business as a new master electrician in the field of electrical installation. In 1995 I first purchased the ETS1 demo version and an EIB starter package (EIB is the predecessor of KNX and 100% compatible, note from the editors) from the electrical wholesaler. This was then successfully experimented with in the company. Soon afterwards the full version of ETS1 was purchased. At the time there were very limited training sessions from individual manufacturers, so I took every opportunity to attend EIB workshops and product presentations to gain more EIB knowledge. As early as in 1996 the first customer project, was equipped with EIB (lighting, heating and roller blind).
Certifications took place a little later, which is why only in 1998, after many successful projects, that I took the EIB certification course. This was more or less only to be allowed to use the EIB partner logo.
Due to the increasing popularity of my specialisation in EIB building system technology, I experienced a slow but steady change. My growing experience in the field of EIB and my urge to always produce proper plans and documentation have made me a sought-after electrical planner specialising in EIB (now KNX). Today I only do planning for KNX, mainly single-family houses, and thanks to the internet I plan more and more often remote-projects, which I, sadly, never get to see. My most distant planning project was a KNX apartment in Bangkok.
Due to the great and steadily increasing success of KNX, I get many requests for KNX installing and programming, most of which I cannot accept due to lack of time. Smaller projects, which are in my region, I can accept now and then, because as an electrician I also like to work directly on site. I am currently working not only on ‘planning projects’ but also for a newly started brewery. KNX is a versatile and exciting area with a wide range of applications.
How many people have you trained? How long have you been doing this?
In order to answer these questions, I have to go a bit more back in time. In the beginning I only trained my own employees. But since I quickly became known as an “EIB expert”, from which my nickname “Eibmeier” arose, I got more and more inquiries and also many calls for help. More and more often I received projects of others that I should take a look at. As a result, I noticed that many projects were obviously launched without any training. Some of these projects were catastrophically planned. There were some projects so badly planned that I feared for the existance of this new and great opportunity EIB building system. Customers can only be dissatisfied with such bad or - to put it more precisely - sloppy projects, and this cannot build a good image.
That’s why I decided to help my colleagues by writing my first e-book “The Ultimate Guide to EIB Programming”. This decision was made in 2002 and since I did everything in my spare time, it took until 2004 to publish it. At this point in time there was the ETS3 and my eBook was written for the ETS3. So it can be said that I have been training people indirectly since 2004.
My e-book was written for honest reasons, so I didn’t have to wait long for success. Finally, my colleagues were able to make use of all the experience I’ve already had by reading how I’m working on my projects.
By selling the e-book I made the completely unexpected discovery that a lot of home builders also bought my e-book. Over and over I received e-mails telling me that the house builders wanted EIB, but they couldn’t find an electrician who could offer them that. For this reason, these house builders then let an electrician install and connect everything properly, but did the programming themselves. They successfully completed the EIB project planning with the help of my e-book. This is how I got more and more proud success stories, not only from electricians but also from many house builders.
I can’t say how many electricians and how many house builders I have indirectly trained with my e-books in the meantime, but I think there will be a lot of them. Although I have written my e-books in German only, orders have come from more than 50 countries in the world so far. Even if the sales figures outside the German-speaking countries are not particularly relevant to sales, I am always very happy about every “exotic” order, such as Dubai, Oman, New York and Bangkok.
How do you see the future of KNX?
When I installed my first Smart Home in 1996, I was 100% convinced that EIB would become a global player. Back then I said that “European Installation Bus” was a badly chosen term. I said to many others: “WIB, Worldwide Installation Bus” would have been the most appropriate. The fact that EIB is developing into KNX, and is becoming more and more widespread worldwide is a reality today. In the future, KNX will be installed as a basic installation in almost every new building. If the electrical installation is based on KNX, many more innovative inventions will be possible in the future, which we are not even thinking of today. A modern and successful future needs modern and successful technology like KNX as a basis.
What do you wish for the future of KNX?
For the future I want something very unusual. I hope that the people involved in KNX will grow even closer together. For me personally, some things go too fast and others go much too slow. ETS is developing too fast for many users. Each new version adds a few great features, but compared to previous versions, a lot of things are changed in a bad way or removed. There is still no possibility to save the ETS project in the KNX system in its entirety. For many years now, other systems have been doing this very differently and at an enormous speed. This is where KNX should finally follow suit, this is what I hope for KNX.
What do you want from your e-book for the future?
For my e-book, I hope that it will continue to help many people enter the KNX world. In addition, the proceeds from the e-book have enabled me to support many charitable projects for many years and I hope that I can continue to do so for a long time.