Capitol Show Starts in Minnesota

The technology showcase at the Capitol Learning Institute

CHASKA, MINN.- The Capitol Learning Institute, the first event of its kind since 2008, got underway in Minnesota Sunday, offering 70 classes from more than 50 vendors.

Major topics of discussion at the event included how dealers can best sell 3D and connected TV, the rise of “No New Wires” and sound masking technology and other emerging trends in the industry. Exhibitors included Panasonic, Monster, Toshiba, Sanus/Chief, Fusion, URC, Onkyo and numerous others.

Jeff Kussard, Capitol’s director of strategic development, said the Minnesota-based distributor decided to bring the event back to the Twin Cities, after two years of taking the show on the road, due to demand from local dealers to hold a show closer to home. Indeed, the vast majority of attendees the first day were from the Upper Midwest, many of them from suburban or small cities.

“Our goal has always been to provide opportunities to expand knowledge, from a product and applications perspective,” Kussard said in an interview Sunday. Capitol does not wish for the exhibitors to merely give their sales pitch to dealers, but rather to show dealers how to learn more about the products.

The goal is also to “impart information that helps ours dealers expand and reach new businesses.” He noted that a lot of former appliance and TV shops have jumped into all new businesses, including installation, home theater and even more advanced products.

Kussard mentioned sound masking technology, as demonstrated at the show by Atlas Sound, as an example of how dealers can “learn another opportunity to sell different things than what they’re used to selling.” Another example is video conferencing, as Capitol is one of the few distributors carrying Panasonic’s video conferencing products, which were demoed at the show.

3D, however, has been another story. “We’re not seeing as much interest in 3D as TV suppliers would’ve hoped,” Kussard admitted. “But that doesn’t mean the technology isn’t valid. The industry has shifted to a point where the customers has been all along- seeing 3D as more of a feature than a primary function.” Instead, he said, there’s been a shift in focus to access to content, in terms of connected TV.

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