When Byron Dafoe comes home at night, his house rolls out the welcome mat. His garage bay recognizes his car and opens for him. The darkened house lights a path to his kitchen, his favorite radio station comes on and the hot tub heats to 104 degrees Fahrenheit. After eight knee surgeries, he says getting into the hot tub is a nice end to a long day managing all his business interests.
Since retiring from the NHL in 2004, Dafoe, 43, has added golf courses, resorts and subdivisions to his real estate portfolio and continued to work for Athletes Against Autism, a charity he founded with ex-NHLer and former teammate Olaf Kolzig. Although they don’t run themselves, his 13,000 square-foot mansion in Kelowna, B.C., does just that thanks to his other business: Diamante Custom Automation. It’s a company that specializes in wiring mansions for full remote control, using a system called Crestron. It ties everything from home heating to lighting to home theater control into a single smartphone app that can run the house from anywhere in the world.
“You can go as elaborate as you want,” Dafoe says. “It’s whatever you can think up and as long as we can get a wire to it, we can control it from any mechanism.”
Home automation started as a hobby for Dafoe. He had Crestron systems installed in his house in Boston, where he spent the best five seasons of his career, and put them in his Atlanta home when he signed with the Thrashers in 2002. After his retirement during the 2004-05 lockout, Dafoe teamed up with the owner of Atlanta-based Crestron to start Diamante Custom Automation. Now Dafoe sells Crestron systems to other millionaires, including hockey players. His company is wiring Wade Redden’s new house. The Maple Leafs’ Cody Franson, who visited Dafoe in the summer, is also looking at Diamante for a planned house in Kelowna, where Dafoe lives with his wife and two sons. The houses need to be wired with the Crestron system before they’re fully built, so there’s plenty of planning involved.
“He’s very highly recommended,” Franson says. “He’s got an unbelievable home in Kelowna there, so he’s doing very well for himself.”
When it comes to making a sales pitch to potential clients like Franson, Dafoe simply invites them over to his decked-out mansion.
“What better way to do it but to show it in an actual living environment?” he says. “Some of the costs of these things get pretty high, so you want to be able to look the client in the eye and say, ‘This is why this is such a great product’ and I find that’s really easy to do because I really believe in it.”
As for hockey, Dafoe coaches his youngest son in peewee and skates as a forward in a doctors’ rec league. He hasn’t strapped on the pads since he retired and laughs off the suggestion he might appear in a Bruins alumni game some day.
“I just feel that the competitive juices would flow,” he says, “and I’d go and do something stupid and absolutely blow my knee out.
Dafoe prefers to look ahead than look back. He’s always upgrading his house, looking for new real estate opportunities and seeking out new clients. And if he can find someone to buy his seven-year-old mansion, he plans to build another nearby with the most current technology he can think of. After all, he’s got clients to impress, and only the latest and greatest will do.