Janet Pinkerton

Janet Pinkerton
California Removes Larger TVs from Energy Regulation, For Now

California's specialty a/v retailers gained some ground as the California Energy Commission (CEC) seeks to regulate TV energy efficiency in the state. The revised CEC regulations, posted Friday, excludes larger  - and more profitable televisions  - 58 inches and up, from its proposed energy efficiency restrictions.

Critical Gas

For custom retailers with delivery and installation fleets, the rising cost of fuel is a double whammy, one that drives up expenses while eroding consumer confidence and depressing sales. To cope, c-tailers are scouring their P&L statements, trimming costs, leveraging efficiencies and upping fees and warranty prices to restore margin. Operating its fleet of more than 200 vehicles, Abt Electronics & Appliances is in a unique position. It handles its own fueling and maintenance in-house, enabling the Glenview, Ill., company to maintain, wash, fuel and store its fleet on premises. “We save about 15 cents a gallon by having our own pumps,

Building E-Waste Volume & Efficiency

For David Thompson, director of Panasonic North America’s corporate environmental department, it’s recycling déjà vu all over again. In the 1990s, Thompson took a leave of absence from Panasonic to help start the Rechargeable Battery Recycling Corporation (RBRC), a non-profit formed in 1994 in response to multiple states requiring manufacturers and retailers to collect rechargeable batteries. The success of the RBRC’s national battery recycling program, which featured actor Richard Karn (“Al Borland” of TV’s Home Improvement) as its spokesperson, was able to prevent an “increasingly difficult patchwork of state laws” regarding battery recycling from emerging, Thompson said. Now Thompson is heading up the

Flanner’s eCycling Taps Demand

Within the first hour of Flanner’s Home Entertainment’s eCycling event, held in partnership with Sony and Waste Management on April 26-27, police had to be called to help direct traffic. During the 11-hour two-day event, roughly 3,100 cars drove onto Flanner’s lot to drop off a total of 36,405 lbs. of eWaste—enough to fill to 17 semi-trailers. The weekend also marked the debut of the Flanner’s “It’s easy being green with your home entertainment” brochure of “green” tips for purchasing, using and disposing of electronics. “I was shocked and thrilled by the response,” says Flanner’s President John Flanner. “It clearly showed that there’s a

15 Minutes With: Marilyn Sanford

Sanford, also a chair of CEDIA’s Registered Outreach Instructor (ROI) Task Force and its Green Task Force, shares her experiences building her business and her passion for the industry. What is your background? How did you come to the industry? I was an accountant/comptroller for a large multi-national, but I hated it. I’m much more entrepreneurial than just that. They kept promoting me and paying me more, so I stayed and after a while it becomes like family. We created a joint venture called Trust Joist MacMillan to take a new, engineered wood product, Parallam, to market. This was part of my responsibility

The ‘Green’ Minefield

At a time when crude oil has topped $100 a barrel, custom-centric companies are carefully deciding whether to incorporate “green” issues into their marketing and sales approach. Marketing one’s “green” capabilities as an electronics systems contractor (ESC) is a bit like dancing through a minefield. No company wants to get hit by allegations of hypocrisy, misinformation or “green-washing.” At Aurant, a custom integrator in Salt Lake City, CEO Jeffrey Anderson believes that, “As an industry, we do ourselves a disservice jumping on green as a marketing bandwagon. “There’s no debate we want to evolve our industry to be more efficient, more economical and

Serving the Network

Amid the juggling that is running a custom retail business, Leon Soo Hoo, president of Paradyme Inc. in Sacramento is researching the media server market, specifically Windows-based media centers, for new products and services to sell. It’s not easy. “I just see this like the Wild West right now,” Soo Hoo said. “Everyone is coming out with different technology.” Paradyme customers aren’t demanding media servers. But as an A/V specialist, Soo Hoo wants to position his business correctly as the market shifts deeper into networking and storage of digital media. Soo Hoo pointed to Pioneer’s advocacy of the Digital Living Network Alliance (DLNA) standard,

Apples, Oranges & ‘Green’ Electronics

Every day, companies small and large announce a revolutionary “green” product or technology. Yet how is a consumer, dealer or competitor manufacturer able to verify and compare such claims? “Right now, there’s not an agreed-upon industry standard” by which to evaluate consumer technology products on multiple sustainable criteria, says Gregg Chason, vice president of industry affairs and relations at Philips. Major CE manufacturers, like Philips, Panasonic and Sony, have long operated environmental programs influencing both company products and processes, and they are increasing intensity. For example, since 1998, Philips’ businesses operate under an EcoVision program that sets four-year targets for environmental improvement

Crunch Time for C-tailers

The custom industry is unused to a soft market, but custom retail execs interviewed in September and October reported that the rich are still spending, but that the mid-to-lower custom markets are hurting from a variety of economic conditions. The impact of the housing bust, subprime mortgage foreclosures and the credit crunch continues to vary with the local market and with the local economy. Jim Ristow, executive director of the Home Entertainment Source buying group, in September said, “The housing market and credit both are affecting business to varying degrees. On the ultra high end, it’s not affecting it as much. Those

New Rooms, New Options

The home theater furniture market is broadening with the proliferation of flat-panel TVs. As flat panel TVs are no longer limited to the high-end user or to the great room, vendors are designing a/v furniture for a wider variety of living situations—whether it be renters who can’t wall-mount their plasmas, or home owners buying second and third flat-panels for other areas of their home. “Not everyone is in a position to mount the TV on a wall,” said Sanus Systems founder and general manager Jim Wohlford. At CES, Sanus will introduce its Vertical Foundations line, which features a spine-like pillar attached to

The Feedback Loop

Having changed her driving habits by watching the digital fuel consumption gauge on her Prius’ dashboard, Jackie O’Neil wanted a similar feedback system for her LEED Gold-rated, zero net energy home. And the home automation and control industry is close to providing just that. A former corporate exec who educated herself to be a developer of energy-efficient homes, O’Neil built two zero net energy homes—one for herself, the other for her sister—near Perkiomenville in southeastern Pennsylvania. With grants to help off-set the cost of the $40,000 photo voltaic system that supplies the home’s energy, the first home was built for $167 per square foot;

Juggling Priorities

A “green” home-building project is never simple. Custom retailers and integrators seeking to become subcontractors on “green” homes need to be prepared for a higher-degree of collaborative planning and problem solving. For Jeffrey Fullerton, director of the architectural acoustics group at Acentech, an acoustics/vibration/technology consulting firm headquartered in Cambridge, Mass., “The biggest challenge is making sure we understand the goals of green design.” To paraphrase the Environmental Building News’ 2001 article, “Establishing Priorities with Green Building,” the priorities of a green building should be to: • Save energy (via high levels of insulation, high-performance windows, the use of renewable energy sources,

Integrating Energy Efficiency Into Current (and New) Installs

The integrator of electronic systems can do much to improve a home’s efficient use of energy and water. Adding room occupancy sensors—tied into lighting systems, and/or heating and cooling systems—is a basic way to gain energy savings, for example. But the electronics systems are complex, and custom installers and their vendors are re-thinking their products and installations to go green, or at least “greener.” Programming to reduce power usage “Nearly all the products that we sell in the consumer audio/video world go into standby mode when you are not using them, but they are sitting there still turned on, still consuming energy,” said

Let There Be (Effective, Energy-Efficient) Light!

As consumers and states get increasingly serious about green living, custom integrators and their interior design partners are learning how to use energy-efficient lighting options, most notably compact fluorescent and LED lighting. In the process, they’re discovering both pros and cons to these lighting alternatives. “For years, our philosophy was to use lots of incandescent lights and then dim them to 80 percent,” says Ken Erdmann, president of Erdmann Group in Springville, Utah. “We can do that with incandescent easily.” These days, however, more customers are asking his company to use compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs). Energy Star-qualified Compact Fluorescent (CFL) bulbs use about 75

The Greening of Custom Installation

Market interest in energy-efficient, environmentally sustainable lifestyles—often referred to as the “green” movement—is being driven by a myriad of factors: consumers responding to ever-rising energy costs, the increasing awareness of climate change, pressure on builders to differentiate in a down housing market and, possibly, consumer desire to do something positive amid an uncertain time. In addition, the residential housing market is about to see the arrival of not one but two new green rating systems: The U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System for Homes (currently in pilot, due for official release this fall) and the