URC’s Total Control: A Move Beyond the Single Room
URC will begin to ship on May 13 the first SKUs in its new Total Control line – a “native to the network” whole-home control and audio product suite developed from the ground up over a three-year span, as described in a daylong preview seminar at the company’s Harrison, N.Y. headquarters.
The company’s founder and CEO, Chang K. Park, said he began thinking in the mid-’90s, well into URC’s industry tenure as a producer of its own universal remote controls and as a major supplier to the cable and satellite industry of remotes, that “someday, control will be a forethought rather than an afterthought. We felt it was important to move from one-room solutions to controlling the whole home, with the guiding principle that it be easy for the installer to program and implement, but with great flexibility to be customized. And that’s where we are today.”
Due to the Total Control lineup’s modular nature, integrators can use various elements to build systems from a scalable platform small enough to manage a modest multi-zone AVR system but expandable in numerous configurations to address whole-home integration needs while keeping the construct simple for the integrator and easy for the end-user to navigate.
URC is backing up the launch with detailed in-person trainings as well as online instruction, and will institute a certification requirement to ensure that integrators fully understand how to promote the products to clients -– and how to deploy them once they’re sold. There will also be a thorough printed programming guide, said Mitchell Klein, director of business development. “No other manufacturer is offering the level of training we will,” he said. “We’ve done a lot of learning from others and will try not to make the same mistakes.”
The system sits in price and accessibility range between two distinct categories, said Russ Hoffman, manager of content development. At the first level, he explained, are mainly wireless, limited-expansion, low-margin entry-level systems – accounting for about 60 percent of all such systems sold today. At the upper end of the pricing spectrum reside prohibitively priced systems “that will even flush your toilet;” these account for five percent or less of the consumer A/V market. “Level Two is where we want to play. It’s a middle-market approach, retrofit-friendly and mid-priced. We’re driving at about 35 percent of the market, which is a nice chunk,” added Hoffman. Total Control will afford integrators a degree of off-site management capability, as well, translating to fewer unnecessary truck rolls “since we’re now IP-network-based with this system,” he said. “And dealers can still charge for off-site programming.”