The Distributor Dish

The distributor community talks about challenges—and remedies—for the CI sector for the balance of 2011.By Nancy Klosek

David Kaplan, DDG: Our typical customer is the independent residential custom integrator. Flat panel—and attachment to flat panel—has been the business driver for many years. 2010 drove home the point that this is simply not the case anymore. The new driver is the retrofit integration and upgrade opportunity of attaching connectivity and interactivity to the broadband networked home.

Glen O’Brien, Electronic Stockroom: Control has become tied into delivering content, particularly music, around the connected home. This is a continuing trend. Companies like Crestron and AMX really have to guard their flanks from all the newcomers. URC and others really stand to help the dealers make greater profits in 2011.

Tim Coakley, Ingram Micro CE: We have signed an exclusive arrangement with a company called Soul—and Ludacris is making headphones for them. That’s a huge opportunity for us as well this year, going after the high-performance headphone crowd. The headphone category overall for us is on fire. It has been spectacular for us for the last two years, and we anticipate it will be good this year, too. After TVs, home audio and digital imaging, it’s our fourth-biggest category. We have 25 vendors for it and offer about a thousand SKUs. Now, higher-end earbuds and sports products ranging from $70 to $120 and all those points in between are doing really well; we also do extremely well with noise-canceling headphones.

Dennis Holzer, PowerHouse Alliance: For our members, a significant difference is that there are a lot more categories that can be profitable for them. As a result of us forming the group, members are getting into new categories and getting more in-depth with categories than they had been before. With the addition of several lines we’ve been able to do things in areas of categories we hadn’t been able to do before. A good example: we’d always carried standard TV mounts. People used to be willing to pay 20 to 30 percent of the cost of a TV for a good-quality mount when TVs were $3,000. It wasn’t unnerving. With TVs at $1,000, few want to spend $300 for a mount. So we’ve added a line of lower-priced mounts to meet the new need.

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