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The Home Theater Specialists of America (HTSA) buying group finished 2008 "down somewhere between 15 and 20 percent," Richard Glikes, the group's executive director, told TWICE.
He said that while it already felt like a tough year in June, "from September forward, it got worse."
"The flat-panel business was particularly hard hit," Glikes added. He said the majority of the struggle in the category stemmed from consumers looking for televisions at prices between $599 and $999. "That's not our business."
Looking ahead, Glikes said, the two key ideas his organization should cling to in the new year are "diversification," continuing the group's strategy to incorporate newer product categories like lighting into its business, and "focus," which he said referred to its vendor partners. According to Glikes, the group could "possibly eliminate vendors," adding that, in business, occasionally "tough decisions" have to be made. "It's not pleasant."
Despite the potential for continued rockiness ahead, Glikes was optimistic for the group in the long term. He said, "When we come out the other side, I think we'll be very strong … It's a good exercise."
In spite of its recent challenges, the HTSA found cause for celebration during its sixth annual Vendor Awards reception, held here at Caesar's Palace this month during International CES.
The winners for each category follow:
Vendor of the Year — Integra
Man of the Year — Jay Vandenbree, Sony's consumer sales president
Most Profitable Vendor — Universal Remote Control
Most Supportive Vendor of the Year — Integra
Best Vendor Training — Speakercraft
Custom Product of the Year — Kaleidescape K Server
Product of the Year — Sony's KDL55 XBR8 55-inch LED LCD TV.