HTSA Gathers, Brazenly
June 19, 2006

The Home Theater Specialists of America (HTSA) buying group held the second in a series of three middle management meetings early this month in Chicago. The Brazen Buyers Meeting took place in Chicago; attendees includes 35 buyers from member companies and four representatives from Monster Cable, including Head Monster Noel Lee. The meeting, said HTSA, focused on “honing buying skills and understanding that buying is a two-way street.” The first meeting in the series was the Audio Boot Camp, held in April in Raleigh, N.C. The third and final meeting, called The Custom Managers Meeting, will take place in St. Louis from July 14 through 16.

Randall Baumberger
March 1, 2006

Ultimate Electronics' president and chief operating officer talks about leading the recently bankrupt specialty chain out of the woods and into the light Ultimate Electronics, the Thornton, Colo.-based specialty retailer that had aggressively expanded throughout the Mountain and Central time zones after going public in the late 1990s, had fallen on hard times by early 2005, as it declared bankruptcy, exited certain markets and closed more than half of its stores. As Ultimate hit bottom, Mark Wattles, the founder and former chairman and CEO of the Hollywood Entertainment video and game rental empire, as well as an Ultimate stockholder and huge fan of

An Open Letter to Bjorn Dybdahl
September 1, 2005

By Ira Friedman Several issues ago, Bjorn Dybdahl from Bjorn's Audio Video in San Antonio wrote a column outlining a difficult transition his company recently undertook. It made for good reading, because Bjorn was honest about his company's troubles—particularly the partial mutiny of his installation department. Seldom do I hear a dealer confront his company's managerial failings as directly as Bjorn has. For this, I commend him. And yet, the solutions Bjorn has put into place are reminiscent of those employed by other retailers facing the same situation: the fixes tend to be misguided, and usually miss the point entirely. Here's a recap of

Stocking Stuff
July 1, 2005

Industry veterans weigh in on the lifeblood of C-tailing: managing inventory By Nancy Klosek Ah, the way things used to be. In the salad days of brick-and-mortar consumer electronics retailing, inventory management was a matter as simple as stocking a kitchen cupboard with the fixings for a pound cake. Keeping track of the four or five major ingredients you knew you'd always need was a cinch, and the quantities didn't vary much. Replenishing the shelves in 2005, however, is a bit more complicated. Even for Betty Crocker, whose ready-mix cakes have splintered into a dozen niche permutations, the larder has become a microcosm of

Does Brand Matter?
November 1, 2004

Of course, brand matters—but whose brand, and to whom? Is the brand that matters the nameplate at the bottom of the display frame or the company name at the top of the installation invoice? Come to think of it, what is brand? How do you define it? What is it supposed to evoke? Something as abstract as an impression or an aspiration? Or something as nuts and bolts as timely shipping and a competent support center? Whose brand preference is the most important factor? Is it the customer/end-user who lives with the purchase? Or is it the C-tailer, which might choose brands based on

The 2004 C-Business 50
April 1, 2004

Today's evolving C-Business landscape is like a Rohrschach test, in that the patterns look different to everyone that takes a peek. But in spite of—or perhaps as a result of—the explosive changes taking place in technology and business practices, the sector remains rich with possibility and continues to grow exponentially. Sometimes that success is driven by companies and individuals whose work is often overlooked in the larger scope of events. Other times, the success is the work of highly visible forces, who bring forth visionary ideas that rock the industry. All of which brings us to this year's C-Business 50. Each year, Custom Retailer

Can Terk Strike Again with T2?
June 1, 2003

The exploding demand for custom installation and integration has brought a lot of me-too companies into the market, on the manufacturing side, as well as the installation and services side. With its pedigree of innovative industrial design and clever solutions for the consumer accessories market, Terk Technologies out of Commack, Long Island, has never been a me-too company. Its new T2 division, which is focused on high-quality signal management solutions, aims to bring the same level of product panache directly to the custom installer.T2, as both a product line and a business division, has been in a beta phase since last year's CEDIA, and

Speak Out! Rep Distribution, Part II
February 1, 2003

Deborah Smith's cover story in Custom Retailer's December issue, "Rep Distribution: A Puzzling Landscape," struck a chord with many disparate factions of the vendor-distributor-retailer axis. For some, it was pure music, to others, decidedly off-key. Custom Retailer received so many comments and so much feedback on the story that we decided to open up our pages for other points of view — pro and con. Chris Browder Executive Vice President B&W The old adage "you are who you sell" has never been more true than it is today. In the case of B&W, the quality (not the quantity) of our dealer network has

Rep Distribution - A Puzzling Landscape
December 1, 2002

By Deborah Smith Executive Director, Professional Audio/Video Reatilers Association (PARA) Wherever CE specialty and custom dealers gather these days, the most widely discussed and highly charged topic of conversation can be summed up in one word: distribution. Over the past several years, dramatic changes have rocked the traditional rep and distribution practices for the regional marketplace. As a result, the new landscape that determines how products are sold, by whom, to whom and for how much, is demanding a complete rethinking of brand positioning, brand loyalty, and market strategy. All four cardinal points of the CE chain — dealers, reps, distributors and vendors