October 2005 Issue


A Strategy for the "Hybrid" Retailer

The focus of the C-tailer should be on in-home installation, not custom integration. By Ira Friedman Last month, I wrote about Bjorn's Audio Video in San Antonio, commenting on an article that Bjorn's owner Bjorn Dybdahl had written in the June issue about the strategic direction of his custom department. I took issue with the strategy and want to expand on this point further. First, let's understand the nature of a pure retail business—one that does no custom at all. These companies compete by offering a wide selection of products, available in stock, at the most competitive prices. The most successful operations have the

Bjorn Dybdahl Responds

In our September issue, columnist Ira Friedman issued an open letter to Bjorn Dybdahl, president of San Antonio-based C-tailer Bjorn's Audio Video, regarding a column by Dybdahl that appeared in our June issue. Friedman's letter, as well as Dybdahl's original column, are available for viewing at www.customretailer.net. Dybdahl responds to Friedman's letter as follows. Dear Ira, At the risk of starting an industry civil war between the high-end custom installation segment of our industry and the rest of us "entry and mid-level install companies," I think it only fitting that there be a response to some of the misinterpretations made by you in


Thoughts, vibes, trends and a farewell to Indianapolis By Joe Paone CEDIA EXPO 2005, the 16th annual installment, drew over 26,000 attendees, a new record and up more than 1,000 from last year. There were over 500 exhibitors. The overwhelming theme of the show was a realization in the CEDIA community, among both dealers and manufacturers, that audio and video quality are taking a back seat to issues such as the portability and availability of content and how products fit into a room's overall décor. Some would say this was a long time coming, as even just last year, scoffing at the iPod was

Creating the Ultimate Customer Relationship

It starts with a healthy and focused You… and it builds out from there. By Dave Donald and Jeremy Burkhardt The motocross rider revs his engine, pops the clutch, dirt flies off the back tire and he heads for the ramp. He spots the landing and pulls the bike over his head and does a back flip. Oh yeah, that's right—back flipping a 200-pound motorcycle over 60 feet in the air and landing exactly where he intended to land 80 feet later. Was it easy? No. Did he get hurt this time? No. But on the road to this success over the years, many

Honeywell's Connected Community

The first fruit of the company's builder outreach initiative mates active-lifestyle seniors with whole-house integration in Utah By Nancy Klosek The brand name Honeywell, an almost subliminal presence in many American homes and offices that resides on the dials of countless thermostats, connotes familiarity, security and comfort. Now the company is attempting to leverage those warm and fuzzy feelings and combine them with the brand's solid reputation among builders into a bigger business opportunity that far eclipses mere temperature control. Since its Builder Program bowed in January, Honeywell has crafted partnerships with numerous companies in an attempt to position itself as a single-source conduit

It's a Converged World After All

As A/V dealers and integrators gird for a digital-home turf war against their IT counterparts, D&H Distributing's Digital Convergence Show promotes the idea that both sides can prosper…and even collaborate. By Joe Paone The convergence of A/V and IT is a growing issue in home entertainment and automation, and D&H Distributing has a unique perspective on the dynamics at work. For years, it has touted convergence and educated its customers—dealers, resellers, integrators—on the concept. The Harrisburg, Pa.-based company's annual Digital Convergence Show serves as a rallying point for the IT-A/V cross-pollination that's increasingly taking place within our industry and within so-called "digital homes."

Leading by Example

HiFi House capitalizes on its work for a Philadelphia-area builder's showcase design home By Janet Pinkerton Philadelphia-area custom retailer HiFi House is riding a wave of publicity surrounding its work on Philadelphia magazine's Design Home 2005, an 8,000-square-foot traditional Colonial farmhouse located in a new development in West Chester, Pa. West Chester is the county seat of Chester County, a historically rural area west of Philadelphia that is undergoing a major boom in upscale exurban development. Public tours of the home, built by Thompson Homes, also of West Chester, took place from September 10 to October 2. Tickets cost $20, and all proceeds benefited

Moving Air

Jamo's mission hasn't changed—even under Klipsch, even in this era of iFi. By Janet Pinkerton During its fiscal fourth quarter ending September 24, Apple Computer sold 6.45 million iPods to generate approximately $1.2 billion in revenue. That's for the quarter alone, and it represents a 220 percent increase in iPod unit sales and a 126 percent increase in iPod revenues compared to Apple's fiscal fourth quarter in 2004. Helge Fischer, managing director of Jamo US, finds those statistics "pretty incredible. What is amazing is that the audio separate component business is being dwarfed by a brand new item," he says. Indeed, by

Opening My Custom Retail Shop

By Joe Calise Starting a C-business is like climbing Mt. Everest. If you don't have a great support staff when you start the climb, your battle will be even more difficult, if not impossible. If I didn't have great people around me, I could not be where I am today. It starts at home. Before you make the leap, make sure your family understands that you'll need its help every step of the way. I've been extremely lucky in this department. My wife and kids have been very understanding. After family, you must rely on great employees. Not good ones, but great ones. Good

The Race to Zero

You won't be able to count on big flat panel margins to sustain your business for much longer. It's time to distinguish yourself in the marketplace. By Robert Ain Let's face it—many custom retailers have enjoyed a free ride the last couple of years when it comes to sales of video displays. Never before has such a large group of consumers been willing to pay such high prices for televisions. Many dealers are selling fewer customers more expensive items, especially the video display. And why not? HDTVs, particularly of the flat panel variety, are a white-hot aspirational product category, and the margins have been