Runyan adds that C-tailers who add central vacuum to their product portfolio increase their attractiveness to builders. "It's a fit because the builder wants you to bump him a lot more products," he says. "The builder wants to bundle more products in there." In addition, Runyan says builders are looking for air quality solutions, and central vacuum is a great fit in that regard.
Says Collis, "Consider this: you're already at the house." Why not take advantage of that, he says, and easily install a high-margin product?
While most central vacuum business is likely to gravitate towards new construction, manufacturers stress that retrofit is also a market waiting to be tapped, and not much more taxing on the installer. In fact, there are advantages, says Runyan.
"The benefit of retrofit is that you get paid that day," he explains. "You make full margin [in retrofit], because the builder [in a new construction situation] is always going to ask you for a discount." About 95 percent of existing American homes can be retrofitted for central vacuum, he adds.
Most manufacturers say their systems generally require one inlet for every 700 to 900 square feet in a house.
BIG BUSINESS IN CANADA, SCANDINAVIA
Interestingly, central vacuum is a popular product in Canada. According to Collis, about 20 percent of Canadian homes have central vacuums; in the province of Ontario, the figure is a stunning 90 percent. Often, the piping and inlets for the systems, sans the core power unit, is roughed in to the house as a matter of course before the homeowner moves in; afterwards, the homeowner can choose to complete the installation.
Conversely, Collis says central vacuum systems reside in only four percent of American homes, with most of those installations in the northern states that border Canada. "Unlike the southern United States, every house up here in Canada has carpet," explains Collis.