April 2004 Issue


And Now, Anti-Distribution

A New Kind of Deal From HES By Jeannette Howe Back in the 1980s, a specialty CE manufacturer with a roster of 400 franchised retail dealers was considered a healthy manufacturer. Today, the fragmentation of the marketplace has created more dealers than any given manufacturer can profitably service. Generally speaking, there can be 400-plus members of what's called the "van and ladder brigade" in any given major market. Realizing that it costs a manufacturer upwards of $50 to fulfill a single PO and cut an invoice, it becomes clear that some form of re-imagined distribution is necessary to service this smaller

HTI+ Certification for Home Technology Integration

"Seal of Approval" for Custom Installers Gains CompUSA, D&H Accounts By Cliff Roth The year-and-a-half old CompTIA certification program for home technology installers, known as "HTI+," gained new visibility and a higher profile this past March when CompUSA, the huge computer and consumer electronics retail chain, announced that it will be certifying a group of technicians who will act as an elite force among the chain's 2,000 technicians. And in a related development that could expand the certification program immensely, D&H Distributing is offering thousands of dealers discount vouchers to get their technicians certified. "With the right training, our technicians do the whole home-entertainment

MERA KnowledgeFest

By Brett Solomon As a custom retailer, did you ever have fears of business abruptly coming to a halt? How about slowly tapering off because of variables you can't control? In the mobile electronics industry, the biggest fear keeping independent retailers awake these days is how motor vehicles are becoming increasing difficult to work on. Recently, we attended MERA's (Mobile Enhancement Retailers Association) KnowledgeFest in Louisville, Ky. The central motif that ran through the event was OEM Integration and the challenges independent retailers face because of two key problems. The first problem is that dashboard designs are becoming increasingly complex, so much so

Overcoming Goliath

Strategies for beating the big-box boys By Leslie Stevens If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle.

Proposals That Work

How C-tailers And Consumers Get On The Same Page By Mark Fleischman A document can take on a significance that lasts hundreds of years. Take the Declaration of Independence. That bit of parchment didn't come out of nowhere: Jefferson wrote it to summarize colonial grievance with the misrule of King George V. It came about, you might say, as a result of unsatisfied consumer expectations. So it is—on a much smaller scale, of course—with the written proposals that C-tailers use to nail down agreements with their customers. Everyone in custom install has a slightly different take on how the proposal should work. So perhaps

Real Life Tales of Third Party Tech Support

By Natalie Hope McDonald To them, "geek" isn't a bad word. Quite the opposite since the entire momentum of the Tidewater, Va.-based Geeks On Call relies on the colloquial way in which tech support is applied to residents and small businesses in need of IT help. The street-wise vision, which encompasses computer repair, network solutions, training and upgrades, even moves beyond the service realm and into third-party franchising opportunities, something Geeks On Call uses to evangelize its business model. Says Geeks On Call President Walter Ewell, the company manages more than 125 franchises nationwide. The objective to provide on-site computer solutions side steps warranty

TCP/IP and Whole-House Audio

NetStreams says their time has come to team up By Joe Paone The fruits of Internet-based standards and the lessons learned by the companies that used them for data networking may likely soon be replicated by whole-house A/V installers. Once upon a time, corporate data networks were based on proprietary protocols, with employees logging onto centralized mainframe computers via monochrome dumb terminals. While the systems were secure, they were expensive to build and maintain and offered limited functionality and choice. By the late 1990s, as American homes plugged their PCs into the global Internet, most companies caught the fever too, replacing proprietary protocols on

The 2004 C-Business 50

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