From turntables to turnstiles: meet John Austin
We meet John Austin, London Sales Manager at Integrated Design Limited
John, who has worked at Fastlane for 15 years, is our superstar London Sales Manager by day, and sings and plays in a band by night. And the two gigs, he says, aren’t that different…
What was your journey to Fastlane?
After I left school, I got an apprenticeship with a heating and ventilation company, and did a degree in microelectronics. I was at the company until I was made redundant, and then I worked for my father’s company for six years: modifying forklift trucks and pallet trucks to clients’ specifications.
In between all that, I was also DJing. I played London’s Ministry of Sound and Fabric to name a few — opening for Boy George and Pete Tong; and actually then DJing with Pete.
Then it was vinyl and CDs but now it seems DJing is pressing a button and your PC mixes the tracks for you. It’s a bit soulless. Where’s the passion? I’m passionate about music and when I talk about turnstiles – which may not sound like the most exciting thing! – there’s passion there, too. That comes directly from Derek Huff, our MD, and it filters throughout the whole company.
How did you move from DJing to Fastlane?
When I was DJing I was out six nights a week. Waking up at five o’clock in the afternoon, coming home at four in the morning…there was no life. My friend made an introduction for me at Norbain, and that welcomed me into the security industry. And here I am, 23 years later…
How do you describe your role at Fastlane? What are your key responsibilities?
To keep customers happy. I do a lot of work with architects, and even though I do work with end clients, I don’t sell directly to them. But, I see it as my job to help make the end clients happy too.
Describe how you work with architects
Architects aren’t necessarily driven by the technology or voltages. Yes, the turnstiles need to function as promised, but they are primarily concerned with the design fitting the concept of the building. When you can actually provide their vision – even if the design has to be brought down to Earth a little to suit a client’s budget – that is when their eyes light up.
I’m honest from the outset, and sometimes have to provide reality checks. Have you got the budget? You can’t do it that way but you can do it this way… Because of my engineering background, I know what is or isn’t possible within the project’s parameters.
Is this work as exciting as music?
It’s pretty exciting. The technology is incredible. Fingerprint readers… Facial recognition… Vein readers that actually see underneath your skin… Retinal scanners…high encryption card reader technology…QR code scanners…lift destination screens – all of this can easily integrate into our lanes. This is the same in the music world, using different pedals and effects to get the sound or tone that you need to bring the song to life.
Is it as creative as music?
It’s pretty creative! 80% of the projects I work on are bespoke customisations. Clients might want something simple and that’s that; it works out easily. But others might want designs with pink and green spots. You then have to be creative: to give them something that makes them happy but is realistic.
It’s fun because I’m not just selling a box — I’m helping people create a vision for their unique space. And showing them how they can create a similar look that actually fits within their budget. The designs can be adapted to use Corian, a worktop surface that looks like marble, powder-coated units in many different colours, Glass vanity tops, Rimex, brass, bronze, round or tight square ends, different integrations (QR code scanners, lift displays etc)… It’s very creative.
Which projects/buildings are you especially proud of?
Bloomberg is a favorite of mine. ASOS was also special as we have now provided turnstiles for a number of their sites with more to come. The Brunel Building was also fun to work on. We took our Fastlane Glassgate 250 and adapted the unit to reflect the particular design of the building, using different sized holes to reflect the ‘x’ design they have all over the building. We have also just won a large 24 lane (custom Glassgate 250) landmark project in London which I have been working on for over 4 years. It’s great when all the hard work pays off.
I’ve worked on thousands of projects in London, and I take pride in each and every one. I view them as my sites; not Fastlane/IDLs. And I’ll be walking about London with my family and say ‘That’s my building! That one, too!’ I really bore them!
Sounds like your work has parallels with music: creativity… passion…
And teamwork. I sing lead and play rhythm guitar for Roadhouse – we play Foo Fighters to Hendrix – and if I play a bum note (it can happen), or my guitarist decides to do an extra-long solo because he’s enjoying the moment, we work as a team to bring it back together and make it right.
It’s the same at Fastlane. I’m out selling, but without the design team, without the engineering team, without Phil Allen – our Regional Sales Manager (UK & Eire) – I’d not be able to do my job. Without them all, what I promise the client wouldn’t happen. We all work together. I am also very lucky that over the years I have worked with some wonderful integrators who are not just clients, but also my friends.
Want to know more about Fastlane or see our products in actions first hand? Why not contact our team to arrange a visit to our London showroom for a live demonstration of our product range? Call +44 (0)20 8890 5550 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.