March 2006 Issue


Distributors Dish

Some of custom's most prominent distributors talk about their businesses, their vendor and dealer partners and their futures By Nancy Klosek Participants: Randy Teague, vice president of marketing, ADI Bob Gartland, president, AVAD Dan Schwab, vice president of marketing, D&H Distributing David B. Lorsch, president and CEO, DBL Distributing Sam Taylor, president, Electrograph Systems Sol Dwek, director of sales, Fesco Distributors Darold Johnson, market segment manager, MCM Bill Stewart, president and CEO, Petra What are some of the hot product categories? How have events like product shortages and pricing drops impacted your business? What else has affected your business? Teague (ADI): Plasma TV

Don't Fear the iPod

Just because the market loves its portability doesn't mean it's voting thumbs down on quality audio—or your business model, for that matter. By Ira Friedman Here's a quote from the CEDIA EXPO 2005 wrap-up article by Custom Retailer's Ron Goldberg, referencing how "disruptive" a force the iPod has become in the CE business: "If your competitive advantage is selling quality, you've frankly got a problem in this new market reality, because if iPod is how people want to get their music, you're not just competing with Best Buy anymore. Now you're also competing with Target and Wal-Mart. Maybe it's not too late to consider

Family Affairs

Many C-tailers have customized their businesses to last generations. But doing so successfully—and keeping the kin happy—is not as simple as it might seem. By Audrey Gray Sherrie Peoples grew up in Kinston, N.C., watching her grandfather and then her father build strong radio/TV retail businesses there from nothing. "My grandfather was the first TV electronics person in Kinston, and my father worked for him for 18 years," she remembers. "But you know how it can be in family businesses. My grandfather wouldn't give him a raise! So my father started Highland TV in 1971, when I was in high school." After watching

Let's Get Philosophical

Some words to live by in the eternal quest for self-improvement By Jeremy Burkhardt I was involved in the organization of the CEDIA Management Conference that took place in February in San Francisco, and I asked a friend of mine, Dan Millman, to speak. Dan has authored over a dozen books that have sold millions of copies around the world. He was the only presenter to receive a standing ovation at the conference, so I thought I'd share my notes with you. If you enjoy these quick points, please reflect on them and pass them on. I hope all aspects of your life continue

Licensing on the Offensive

State and local regulation of low-voltage contractors is on the rise as the custom industry expands. By Janet Pinkerton There's nothing sexy about low-voltage licensing or certification—until, that is, someone tells you your state or local government is going to put you out of operation because you're not properly licensed to do low-voltage A/V installation. So notes Mitchell Klein, co-founder of management consultant firm StayTuned. Klein chairs the Government Affairs & Public Policy Action Team at the Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association (CEDIA). CEDIA, along with other organizations like the Satellite Broadcasting and Communications Association (SBCA) and the

OCAP Cuts Both Ways

An emerging middleware standard promises two-way interactive cable, with or without a set-top box. But does anything ever come easy when it comes to collaboration between the cable and electronics industries? By Cliff Roth Cable TV and consumer electronics are two industries with a long history of mistrust and lack of cooperation, but at January's Consumer Electronics Show, relations appeared decidedly warmer. Samsung and Panasonic announced television sets with integrated OCAP (OpenCable Applications Platform), while several of the biggest cable TV companies, including Comcast, Time Warner and Cox, announced they will begin deploying OCAP in several markets. What's OCAP, you might ask? After all,

Parity and Profit

Even though flat panel TV is going mainstream and its prices are plunging, LG's Bob Perry says 2006 is a great time to be in the custom A/V business. By Janet Pinkerton The downward plunge in flat panel pricing and the spreading splat of flat panel distribution is already sending shockwaves through the custom A/V market—retailers and manufacturers alike. At LG Electronics USA, Vice President of Consumer Electronics, Sales and Channel Marketing Bob Perry seems to be somewhat gleefully looking forward to the wild ride. LG remains committed to the custom channel, says Perry, who pledges that his company's business strategies will allow C-tailers

Randall Baumberger

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

The Beauties Behind the Bezels

Mounts, once drab and display-specific, are now reaching the forefront of flat panel purchasing decisions, offering style points of their own. By Brian Ploskina At January's Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Panasonic showed off a 103-inch plasma television. Now, obviously this unit wasn't something the company was shipping to retail outlets anytime soon, but the unveiling provided a giant-sized example of a particular point: Flat panel televisions—plasmas and LCDs—aren't getting any smaller, and you'll find very few consumers who are interested in placing their pride-and-joy 60-inch plasma sets on top of entertainment centers. In other words, these babies need to be mounted. The

Training is Your Recipe For Success

Just remember: the ingredients don't have to be bland. By Steve Honig One of the big challenges you encounter as a sales manager is training your staff. There are two components to this: How much product training do you arrange? And how much sales training do you add to the mix? Finding the right amount of each is the key to successfully preparing your sales staff for the challenges they'll face on a daily basis. PRODUCT TRAINING The vendors with whom you partner can provide product training through their reps, their training departments or their rep firms. Such training can be valuable if presented

Turns, Turns, Turns Part II

Make your vendors work for you and free up cash at the same time. Here's how. By Robert Ain In the December issue, I talked about dealer inventory turnover rates, and equated them with the month's supply of product on hand. To recap, a true measure of success is how well a company uses its assets (return on equity). If you lower your inventory, you'll free up dollars that can be invested in other parts of your business—more trucks, more installers, an additional location, other income-producing investments. How well do large businesses manage their inventory? Let's take a look. These large consumer products dealers