December 2006 Issue


At the End of the Day, It’s All About Relationships

We have been dealing with a tragedy here at Niles. One of our own, John David Starling, just 55 years old and a gifted software engineer, passed away suddenly in November. We were working overtime under pressure of a deadline to launch our new IntelliControl ICS RS232 interface, and David was struggling to fix a few remaining bugs. He came in on a Saturday and worked until he had them fixed. Other engineers came in to help him test his software. At 4 p.m., David left Niles feeling good that he’d accomplished his task. The next morning, David had a heart attack and died. Just

Billing for Installer and Technician Services

How much is your time worth? I just missed a connecting flight here in Chicago on my way from Denver to Dayton, Ohio, so I suddenly find myself thinking about just that. Sure, my client understands he has to pay me for the three-hour training program I’m conducting for him tomorrow. But if I only charged him what I think I should earn for those three hours alone, I’d have a hard time making ends meet. To be honest, I deserve to be paid for more than those three hours. In addition to the time making the presentation, I spent time researching the topic

Bruce Jacobs Memorial Service Details

Bruce Jacobs’ memorial service and burial will be held Sunday at 1:30pm at the Mount Sinai Cemetery, 24210 North 68th Street, Phoenix, Ariz. (just north of Pinnacle Peak road between Scottsdale Road and Tatum Boulevard). The Jacobs family has asked that anyone wishing to may send donations in Bruce’s honor to The Hospice of the Valley, which had been very helpful to Bruce and his family. The address is Hospice of the Valley, 1510 East Flower Street, Phoenix, AZ 85014. Sympathy cards can be sent to the Jacobs family at 15814 South 7th Drive, Phoenix, AZ 85045.


“Bruce was the first person I met in this industry. Seeing his smile and hearing his one liners will be greatly missed. I am sure he will be smiling down at us at CES.” - Eileen Gaske, Associate Publisher, Residential Systems Magazine


“I’m shocked and sad at the suddenness of this, I was informed Bruce was ill on Tuesday and now he’s gone. Bruce, as everyone knows was always the “Life of The Party” or was it “Class Clown”? It really doesn’t matter because he always had that impish, mischievous grin and was able to add levity to any situation. Who can ever forget the many nights at the Riviera while Bruce did his shtick making a seemingly mundane awards event something fun and a must to attend. I first met Bruce in 1997 while VP of Sales & Marketing at Aura Sound. Bruce and


“Bruce Jacobs liked to say he ‘didn’t know about the products’ but I would say he certainly understood the people in our industry and was known and liked by an extraordinary number of them. I was surprised and saddened to hear of his passing. A part of the contemporary heritage of the CE industry just left us. I suspect this news will make many of us pause to appreciate the time we have in this great community. We will miss you Bruce!” - Jim Herd, President, Polk Audio


“Bruce and I had just a few things in life in common 30+ years in the audio business, a love for laughter and early on in life, Hair( he kept his ). He was always fun to run into at the shows. Sorry to see my double go. Now I will get blamed for all the pratical jokes. Love to his family.” - Bruce Jacobs, President, Audio Design & Marketing


“Why bother going to another CE-related event if Bruce isn’t going to be there? He brought life to otherwise tedious affairs. We at EH Publishing/CE Pro enjoyed the time he worked with us, and I personally will miss clowning around with him at the next EHX, CEA Summit, dealer retreat, CEDIA Expo ... My sympathies to his real family and to his extended family at NAPCO.” -Julie Jacobson and the rest of the EH team


“To All at Custom Retailer and E-Gear, Our heartfelt condolences from all at Home Theater Magazine. Bruce will always be remembered for his larger than life persona and his ability to stir up a great time at a moment’s notice. He will be missed. Deepest Sympathies.” - Maureen Jenson, Editor, Home Theater Magazine


“What a terrible tragedy. Bruce was a cool guy and had a lot of life in him. It’s a sad moment.” - Keith Marshall, Proficient Audio


“What a loss! In addition to his valuable advise on CE distribution and retailing, Bruce always could get the best reflection out of people and had a knack for always making me smile. He’ll be greatly missed.” - Jim Noyd, Director of Business Services, Jefferson/Acker Advertising + Communications


“What a shock! I loved Bruce.He was one of the few people in advertising that when spoke with him you automatically wanted to buy space in his publication. I always felt his warmth and sincerity and loved his sense of humor. I will miss him.” - Joseph C. Perfito, President, Tritutaries Cable


“Every now and then you meet someone who leaves a lasting impression and Bruce was certainly one of those people. His white hair, stylish clothes, and ever present smile were his trademarks, but it was his friendly attitude and his ability to make even your biggest problems seem small that made him memorable. He was a good friend and one of the best people I have ever known. He will be missed – a lot!” - Joe Richter, President, 3D Incorporated


“I’d known Bruce for nearly 20 years. He was fun, feisty, always quick with a quip, and never too far from a golf course. My deepest condolences to his wife and family and his friends and colleagues at NAPCO.” - Richard Roher, President, Roher Public Relations


“To the NAPCO Organization and CE community: I worked with Bruce Jacobs for several years at AudioVideo Magazine and learned so much about publishing during that time. Bruce was colorful and energetic in his work habits, and dearly beloved by his friends in our close-knit industry. People were always excited when Bruce had arrived someplace, bringing his fiery, sometimes unconventional approach to a conversation or event. But beyond his wit, deeper than his humor, Bruce was knowledgeable about CE publishing and he set about attaining his goals methodically and intelligently. Bruce embodied the combination of great skill with a theatrical and charming persona, and


“Bruce could win over the most grouchy person in an instant with his smile and pleasant demeanor. Bruce possessed the unique ability to make people laugh even at themselves. His dedication to his family and friends was second to none and far too rare in this day and age. We will sorely miss him.” - Petro Shimonishi, VP Marketing & Product Management, NetStreams


“I had just heard about Bruce’s illness and was trying to get in touch with him when the news broke about his passing. I am so saddened about losing Bruce. He was just one of those people with whom it was easy to feel a connection. He could make you laugh (of course!!), but if you really spent some time with him, you could feel how the unique path he traveled in life made him the utterly one-of-a-kind person he was. My wife Silvia met him a few years ago and fell in love with him after he cracked her

CES Kicks Off a Vital Year for C-Business

As 2006 wound down and many of us prepared to attend CES, we looked back at last year and forward to next. We had a lot to look at. So much has changed for the custom retailer during the past 12 months. At Wilshire, we’re experiencing higher sales of video overall, but with lower-than-desirable margins. The average television price, in fact, has eroded more in the past six months than it has in the last three years. We compiled these numbers regarding video sales in our two stores over two recent months: • LCD panels were 50 percent of our television business, with plasma coming in at

CR_1206 bruce remembered

Dear Bruce, I know you will never read this message, but I had to write it anyway. Since the early eighties, you have been my friend. You used to run pictures of me at Stax Kogyo (you always loved to say the word Kogyo with a Japanese accent) when I had hair, and headphones were all I dreamed of. You counseled me when I divorced and helped me through those rough times. You always went out of your way to spend time with me at events. As my career progressed, you made sure I was recognized by my peers. And when I was appointed vice

Crunch the Numbers, Expand Your Business

Last month, I discussed the idea of market size and evaluating the concept of MCE (Marketing Circle Elasticity)—whether you can expand the size of your market. This month, I’ll use these ideas in looking at your consumer market and how it impacts your business. What is happening in the market? Where is the growth potential? If you’re planning to grow, where will that growth come from? Is the high-end customer buying more expensive products? Or are a larger number of customers buying lower-priced video displays? Is your growth going to be obtained by getting more market share, expanding the size of your market, or both? Is

Déjà Vu at the Convention Center

We have a small industry with few players. And yet we have four dedicated shows every year, and several more ancillary ones. There’s CEDIA EXPO in September. The new CEDIA Electronic Lifestyles EXPO in April. EH Expo in November and March. Plus CES and InfoComm. Do we really need so many shows? The simple answer is, “As long as there are attendees, the shows make sense.” But for whom do they make sense? Satisfying Constituencies Here are all of the players: trade show organizers, educators, exhibitors and attendees. Let’s see how they all benefit. Trade show organizers do these shows to make money. For CEDIA, the September EXPO is its single largest

Let’s Talk

All of this doesn’t feel right, not at all. Bruce Jacobs’ passing, all too soon at the age of 60 and certainly all too suddenly, shocked everyone at the Consumer Technology Publishing Group, as well as his many friends and family. I didn’t get to spend nearly enough time with Bruce, but I genuinely enjoyed each opportunity to do so. The first time we met, before I was working for this particular magazine, he frantically approached me at a Mitsubishi line show in California, camera in hand, all silver hair and tanned face and megawatt, mischievous smile. “Are you Joe?” he asked. “Do me

Look Good, Sound Good, Live Good

In his 16-plus years in the custom installation business, Dave Tovissi too often found himself competing with interior designers, both for clients’ budgets and for space on the living room wall. So when he joined Criteria of Naples, a Florida-based integration company specializing in home theater, whole-house audio, lighting control and home automation, he embraced the company’s mission of bringing interior design and electronics integration together under one roof. “Criteria had just purchased an interior design firm called the Home of Fine Decorators, and they hired me to bring the two companies together to bring interior design and electronics into one palette of selling,” says Tovissi,

Memories of Bruce Story Page

Custom Retailer and E-Gear publisher Bruce Jacobs touched many lives during his distinguished career. Read stories and messages from the people who remember his warmth and humor or share your own.

The Furniture Factor

Even at its most basic, the vocabulary of living room and den furniture—“recliner,” “lounger,” “entertainment center”— has always connoted bucolic comfort and relaxed, easygoing pleasure. That now seems pretty ironic for a category which, tethered to the coattails of the widescreen flat-panel HDTV, has become one of the pivots of profitability for C-tailers and custom integrators. Flat panels have created a vast opportunity, and not just for replacing existing sets. With women increasingly becoming the sales drivers for displays, a yen for better furniture aesthetics has taken a front seat in many shoppers’ minds, say C-tailers whose business it is to note such trends.