Sunny Isles Beach, Fla. - The Home Technology Specialists of America (HTSA) opened its spring meeting Monday by looking ahead to how it can capitalize on its expertise as CE in homes becomes more connected.
HTSA executive director Richard Glikes greeted about 110 vendor and 100 member executives - including first-timers Audioquest, Dana Innovations, Panasonic, Powerhouse Dynamics and Primevision by Elite -- to place orders and discuss 2010's opportunities and not look back.
"Trusted experts" is how Glikes described his membership in his opening remarks. The "four pillars" of HTSA for this meeting should be "relationship building, idea and information sharing, economies of scale, and program advantages" that can provide profits during a "tough economy," Glikes said.
He said the goal of HTSA for 2010 is that in "challenging times" members have to "revivify" their businesses with "new life and new ideas."
HTSA has more than $450 million in sales and 60 members located in 37 states.
Glikes told TWICE that specialists and custom installers must be more "service oriented" than ever and that changes in the industry, like making home CE more networked than ever before, puts them "in the center of the universe."
"The problem is that we are not in the iPhone or iPad business," Glikes said. And, as Ingram executives told Glikes recently, they bought DBL because "the IT and CE businesses are becoming one," Glikes said.
He noted for years, "many lived off of the flat-panel business, which was great, but now you can't sustain your business that way." Specialists and custom installers have to sell home systems and "performance" of those systems -- as well as their expertise in installing and servicing complex products.
Business in 2010 for HTSA has been "better than 2009," Glikes said, but it has been "up a few days, down then next ... not consistent. What we need is a boost of housing starts" to give the business of CE specialists and custom installers "some consistency."
Of HTSA's members' sales, 95 percent are related to installation, Glikes said. The keys to HTSA's success has to be -- in no particular order -- "high-performance speakers, high-performance receivers," and being able to provide service and installation to "differentiate themselves" from the mass market.
When asked about 3D TV, Glikes expressed as much anger as many of his members that Best Buy and others got the first shot at the technology, but, Glikes said, "We'll sell a ton of it ... probably by midyear when it is off and running."
Glikes also commented on Walmart's Vudu video service, saying HTSA is not concerned about how much personal information about customers that Walmart can apparently access through it. "They can get that information anyway. Our customers love Netflix and anything like it. When a TV is loaded with those services, they can't get enough of it."
However, when comparing 3D TV with IPTV services like Vudu, he noted, "3D is a much bigger deal for us. Many of our customers think of IPTV as buying a steak at a restaurant and getting the mushroom gravy for free."
HTSA is currently working with three distributors, Glikes said. DBL handles Samsung's sales, Almo works with Panasonic, and O'Rourke works with LG Electronics.
As for industry talk of LG Electronics focusing more on mass merchants and big-box stores, Glikes said, "LG has [HDTV models] for regionals and for nationals. They do channel management."
(For more on HTSA visit www.TWICE.com and see the April 19 print edition of TWICE.)