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Capitol’s Hayes Sees Sustained A/V Growth

EAGAN, MINN. — Capitol Sales is broadening its video and audio selection and expects sustained growth this year from its retail and custom installer customers.

Curt Hayes, president and chief financial officer, said the CE distributor recently received the entire Toshiba 2013 TV line, “which is mostly Cloud-based and gives consumers access to updated apps.” Hayes also reported that Capitol has received most of Panasonic’s TV line, “which has been well received by retailers and, I think, should be by consumers.”

Regarding other categories, Hayes said, “We see continued strength in wireless speakers. We have substantially added products there and added soundbars for TV also. Overall, audio has more legs to it now than video.” He added that networking technology has become more popular and that while Capitol “hasn’t added vendors,” it is making more products available.

Hayes also reminded that Capitol has changed its education process in January with “two-day events, once a month. We bring out eight suppliers here and do solution presentations, to help retailers and integrators. For retailers, we help them put together TVs with soundbars. It is also important that retailers build networks.”

As for the marketplace as a whole, Hayes said Capitol has “more bids in place than last year. Wire and cable sales are up 35 to 40 percent over a year ago. If something gets connected [on that wire and cable], sales should be great, but it is still a bit of a roller coaster. But we are solidly ahead of last year.”

As for retailers’ business, Hayes said that they are “still concerned about Internet (only) players, but with many suppliers addressing how they go to market with MAP programs or UPP, having a minimum price for the Internet and everyone else is an advantage to retailers … who [rely on] brick-and-mortar sales.”

And he emphasized, “I hope these [pricing] programs do stay in effect. [Retailers] could add wired or wireless speakers, not worry about a web price for TVs being lower, and walk away with some increased margin.”

Custom installers are also doing much better now since “in the past three or four years we have helped with education to show them how to do commercial buildings and build systems for houses of worship, sports bars and schools … which has broadened their business.”

Hayes declared, “While there may be some concern about the economy going forward … we clearly see it being an up year and see indicators that make sense. We see more wire [and cable] sales, and as more homes are finished, electronics will be attached. Even at retail we see positive signs.”