Mark van den Broek
Mark van den Broek
President, SmartHouse Integration
The Home Trust International (HTI): Welcome Mark. What first compelled you to enter the luxury home integration?
Mark van den Broek (MvdB): I entered this field in a very unusual way. I was working for a Fortune 500 firm at the time and had worked my way up to a nice position in national sales. As an entrepreneur I was always challenging the corporate mentality and its snail-like approach to new opportunities. One day, I determined corporate life was not for me. At the same time, a colleague of mine was building a home and was looking for a company to wire it for the future. “That’s it!” I thought, “I’ll wire homes”.
HTI: Who or what has been the strongest influence on your career and why?
MvdB: There have been so many people that have influenced me over the years so its tough to pick just one. The person who has been there from the beginning has been my wife, Aurelie. Her attitude has always been go for it, even when times where tough. The day I came home and told here I had quit my great job and I was going to wire homes for the future, she answered, “That’s great, you go for it… I’m pregnant”
HTI: If you could have told your 20-year-old self one thing, what would it have been?
MvdB: Find someone who is doing what you want to do and go work for that person for free if you must. Learning from someone else’s experience is a much smarter way to learn your trade.
HTI: Please tell us about your family and your personal life.
MvdB: I married a beautiful French woman in 1997 and shortly thereafter started our family. I have three children who are all on their way to great things. My oldest son is at FSU in the entrepreneur college and is a Jazz trumpet player. Next is my daughter who is studying Public health and international studies. She sailed for Team USA and is now sailing on the USF sailing team. My youngest is still in high school. He attends IMG academy and is on the DA boy’s soccer team. We have travelled the world with our kids and have exposed them to many different cultures. They are starting their journey.
HTI: Is there a common thread that runs through all great products? This need not be specific to your category.
MvdB: Quality is the main thread but that must be accompanied by, minimalistic design and innovation. To create a great product. I am a big fan of the Dutch approach to design. I try to approach our designs with the same common-sense approach to our complex projects.
HTI: Do you prefer the country or the city?
MvdB: I prefer the city. I enjoy all the opportunities and visuals the city has to offer. However, our most recent vacation in France was a mix of city and country. This time country was a clear favorite. We rented a great farm house near the Vuvray vineyard -That may have tipped the scales.
HTI: What recent project are you most proud of?
MvdB: Sarasota Modern is currently our crown jewel project. We worked with our client to create the ultimate Smart House. He allowed me to use my imagination while designing his home system. This home has won numerous national awards, Industry awards and it has been featured in publications around the world as one of the best.
This home is a perfect example of the pinnacle of technology blending with modern design. We have integrated all the home systems from lighting and shades, pool control, audio video, security, cameras and more to a single, easy to use platform. If anything operates outside of a predetermined range, including the temperature of his wine, the client is notified where ever he is in the world. Our client allows us to continually “improve” his home. Our latest is an outdoor light show in the pool that is synchronized to about 2000 watts of outdoor audio power. It’s a Disney level show – The neighbors are regularly entertained.
HTI: In what ways has your company or your industry changed over the years?
MvdB: Our industry changes weekly. Technology in the home automation industry is exploding and industry experts are labeling it the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
While SmartHouse stays on the leading edge of technology, we keep an eye on the bleeding edge to pick and choose the technology that we feel will benefit our clients. We want to make sure we offer our clients the latest reliable technology and still be future proofed for emerging technologies.
HTI: The one thing I’ve had forever is:
MvdB: A sense of humor
HTI: What do you miss the most?
MvdB: Competitive Alpine skiing. I skied a lot in my younger years. After a motorcycle accident, I started skiing on one leg, better known as a “three-tracker” and became a very good racer. I love the speed, I love the competition and extreme concentration that is required to ski just on this side of “the Edge”. My wife’s family has a home in the French Alps so we would go there for winter break. Its wonderful to get off the lift, stop and enjoy being on top of the world. Then you get to business and hit the slopes looking for that adrenaline rush.
HTI: What is your favorite object that reflects extraordinary design (or love, etc) and why?
MvdB: My 1966 Pontiac Bonneville convertible. In my opinion, it is one of the coolest cars ever made. Its twenty feet long, white with red interior and has amazing lines. It represents a time in America when design and manufacturing blended together perfectly in an industry that was the best in the world.
HTI: What makes a room sing?
MvdB: The perfect blend of Interior design and technology is appealing to everyone. We focus our designs to fit into each environment as inconspicuous as possible. We work very closely with the designer to find creative ways to hide technology and feature the friendly user interface for the clients to interact with.
HTI: Please tell us about your taste in music. Do you have a favorite artist?
MvdB: My taste in music is all over the map. I grew up in a musical family. I started playing trumpet when I was nine years old. My father was a trombone player and my older brother played the baritone. For several years, we had some serious brass going on in our home. I like classic rock as well as classical and jazz (brass heavy of course). When I get the opportunity to really turn it up, Ill put on some Pink Floyd or Carlos Santana.
HTI: You’re a true global citizen, do you have a favorite museum?
MvdB: My wife is an art expert, so we have experienced so many of the great museums around the world. Paris and Amsterdam lead the pack for me.
However, I have two favorites that are not in those cities. The Cleveland Museum of Art is a spectacular museum. It is special because my wife would take the kids there on a very regular basis and expose them to some of the finest art in the world. The kids have all developed a real appreciation for art. My second favorite is the Kroller Muller Museum and Sculpture Garden in the Netherlands. You get to ride a bike to a small museum in the Otterlo forest that has the world’s second largest van Gogh collection.
HTI: What is your favorite brand and why?
MvdB: Bang & Olufsen. They don’t try to hide their speakers – they celebrate them. Their design and attention to detail is built on 90 years of experience.
HTI: When you’re not working where are you most likely to be found?
MvdB: I don’t have a lot of time when I’m not working. We do however enjoy traveling. We travel often to watch our children in their various sports around the country. We also try to have one or two good expeditions somewhere in the world each year. I also like to tinker on my cars and cruise the Bonneville.
HTI: What makes a great organization?
MvdB: The right people with the right attitude.
HTI: Why The Home Trust?
MvdB: We have been consistently climbing to the pinnacle in our industry. The Home Trust is a collection of like-minded people looking to service the same market.
HTI: If you could be granted one wish. What would it be?
MvdB: To fly like a bird
HTI: If you weren’t in your current field, what would you be doing?
MvdB: Racing cars
HTI: Who is on your personal ‘Board of Directors?’
MvdB: My conscience
HTI: Anything else you’d like to share with us?
MvdB: I was told many years ago: “no one is going to do it for you.”