The lines between commercial and residential display products continue to blur, as evidenced during last week’s InfoComm 06, the audio/visual industry’s signature trade show. Products shown by the 770 exhibitors occupying Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center and viewed by the more than 25,000 in attendance had many of the performance earmarks of their consumer-market-destined counterparts, with points of differentiation manifested in product details added to tailor models for commercial and boardroom applications.
While there was clear evidence of technological crossover between residential and commercial, there was less overt addressing at this year’s show of commercial integrators’ interest in exploring the residential path as a potential profit avenue. Last year, about one in four surveyed attendees said they were involved in residential installation, but the Residential Pavilion that was part of the 2005 convention was dropped for 2006, because, according to InfoComm’s executive director, Randy Lemke, “exhibitors wanted to keep their products and their personnel at their own booths rather than stretch their resources over two different locations.”
However, a pre-opening seminar entitled “Is the Residential Market Right for Your Company?” did take up the issue’s pros and cons, and its featured speaker, John Campanella, president of MDCI (Millennium Design Concepts, Inc.), Manalapan, N.J., says he tried to convey to the installers there that while margins are “typically 20 to 25 percent better on the residential side, it’s a completely different atmosphere. You’re working in a home, versus an office space. And unlike in a conference room, there are people around—-wives, kids. So your personality comes into play like it never does in commercial.”
A complete report on happenings and product introductions at InfoComm 06 will appear in the upcoming July issue of Custom Retailer.