There are other companies we see working on technology for the home. For example, Google was working on a robotic assistant for elderly. Automated medicine dispensers that aid in presentation and verification of medications. We are working on a robotic arm that could be installed in your garage and would wash your car. A collaborative arm that would be safe, and it’s about introducing robotics into the home in an organic way.
As a part of our series about “Homes Of The Future”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Mark Chaney.
Mark Chaney is a serial entrepreneur; as well as Founder and CEO of Calvary Robotics and WineCab, who specializes in custom equipment and robotic solutions. His mission is to create real leaders that not only manage projects and people, but also mentor and motivate people to achieve their goals and dreams.
Mark’s commitment to innovation has grown to go beyond concepts and manufacturing, and further into identifying the needs of clients around the world with advances in technology changing around us every day. Bringing such advanced developments into new spaces for customers/clients, as well and looking at integrating these technologies into homes is the future.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?
When I was growing up, I lived with my dad, he had a garage machine shop and he was very frugal man– If something broke, we had to make it ourselves. We’d make bikes and small inventions. I loved making things on my own. I also worked part time in a machine shop working on race cars. For me, there’s something wondrous about designing something and bringing it to life. When I went to college, I had a scholarship for art and math, but had a passion for design. I also loved to race cars and motorcycles, and I guess if someone had hired me to work at space-x or a formula one racing team, that would have been the dream.
My first career position was at an automation company that specialized in automated assembly and test lines in the automotive industry. It was a high-tech company with very talented technicians and engineers, but they built the same concepts over and over again. As the lead engineering manager, I had concepted innovations to develop new products, but management was content with their current business structure. This led me to start my own company- Calvary Robotics.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
I worked for him at Wegman’s grocery store when I was 16, and he personally asked for me to be fired. I was putting groceries up for display and he asked me to tie my shoes, tuck in my shirt and wear my name tag. I had responded that I will do those things when I’m finished (with my current task). He went to my boss and asked for me to be fired. My boss told him, “he’s the hardest working guy here,” and Danny’s response was, “fine just get him to clean up his act.” I did learn an important lesson about being a team player, and re-thinking the way I presented myself each day at work.
I had the opportunity to have dinner with Danny in my later adult years, and at that dinner some 25 years later, he asked me how things had gone for me after he asked for me to be fired. I filled him in on Calvary Robotics and he wanted to know my secret to success. I told him:
- Hire the best
- Pay for performance
- Learn to say nice things to your employees all the time — people perform the best when they’re in a gracious working environment
Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?
At Calvary, we had success right from the beginning. We grew quickly because we hired the best local talent and we were innovative in our engineering design approach.
What took us to the next level was developing intellectual property. We’ve easily spent 50% of our net profits each year in research and development- This is probably 10x’s more than any of our competitors. We started developing our own robotic software, which made it easier to program robots remotely. You can now put robotic arms anywhere in the world, regardless of available local technical support. I think this is what helped us develop WineCab. Without this advanced programming technology, we couldn’t have created this product.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person to whom you are grateful who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Arunas Chesonis, Chairman and CEO of PAETEC, is someone I’ve learned tremendously from. During his career, he’s developed more than a dozen tech companies and he has helped me develop business philosophies for my career.
For example, instead of just working on business and the team building that goes with it, he’s taught me about customer experience, such as the interactions between people and our equipment. You can always find a way to satisfy a customer or client if you understand what they care about, and why. Businesspeople come up with something they like and they drink their own Kool-aid instead of listening to the customer’s motivation to buy/use. You need to keep innovating to keep your customer base on their toes, and excited about the products.
Do you have a book, podcast, or talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us? Can you explain why it was so resonant with you?
One of the books that inspired me to start my own business was “Awaken the Giant Within” by Anthony Robbins. I was 28 when I read it and was at a crossroads — I was broke and wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my life. It taught me to make goals, post them for others to see, and create a master daily plan to meet those goals.
The very first goals I made: financial, business and personal — every one of those worked out exactly how I wrote them down within 18 months. Every time I’ve done it, it’s worked and I can say it’s one of the minor miracles in my life.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“You don’t get what you deserve in life, you get what you put up.” If you’re okay with something less, that’s what you’re going to get. Set your bar high.
Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Homebuilding in the US has grown tremendously. We’d love to hear about some of the new trends and techniques that are being used to build the homes of the future.
Most trends in smart homes are about interfaces and software. For example, we see Alexa, and we see televisions on the front of refrigerators. There are a lot of applications that exist, but not a lot of automated physical motion.
The WineCab would be akin to completely changing the process of refrigeration. Taking a scanner and software like ours, and implementing it with a refrigerator could help with shopping list, menus, calorie-counting and auto-fill when items are low.
The difference you see implemented with WineCab is that our interface incites real action. Once you load a wine bottle or case, it robotically scans each bottle, while gathering real time data on the wines, as well as expert recommendations and tasting notes. Our AI helps select wines based on preferences, our security elements can lock out bottles and utilize facial recognition, and auto-refills based on inventory management; And it does all of this in a performing arts way.
I didn’t think people would be as excited as they are about WineCab, but when they see the robotic technology firsthand, it’s transformative. What we’re doing is leaps and bounds beyond what’s on the market.
There is a lot of talk about Smart Homes. Can you tell our readers a bit about what that is, what that looks like, and how that might help people?
Truthfully, the technology for Smart Homes is moving quite slowly as it’s still all about interface. What we’re seeing now with home automation is that it’s created to connect all existing utilities together as well as act as a communication hub. With WineCab, we are reinventing the way people store and serve wine.
Aside from Smart Homes, can you talk about other interesting tech innovations that are being incorporated into homes today?
There are other companies we see working on technology for the home. For example, Google was working on a robotic assistant for elderly. Automated medicine dispensers that aid in presentation and verification of medications.
We are working on a robotic arm that could be installed in your garage and would wash your car. A collaborative arm that would be safe, and it’s about introducing robotics into the home in an organic way.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would really like to encourage volunteering. You are bringing value to your life as well as others. When you volunteer, it’s often you get more out of it then the people you are serving. This breeds true joy. You become better financially because you start to value the power of money and what it can do for others. When you are about to waste money on something, you say “wait a minute, this could be important to someone.” It teaches you to love your neighbor as yourself. We have several charities our employees are dedicated to serving and we find that it leads to a happier workplace overall.
How can our readers follow you online?
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!