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Mid-Course Correction Re-Fuels Starpower’s Engines

NORTH DALLAS – Starpower Home Entertainment Systems has been providing premium A/V products, custom installations and whole-home integration services to upmarket consumers, including sports and entertainment celebrities, since 1995.

The company, which lays claim to being the largest custom installer in the Dallas-Fort Worth market, operates three showrooms in Texas and one in Scottsdale, Ariz.

Starpower’s CEO David Pidgeon also serves as president of Home Entertainment Source (HES), the specialty buying group, and his twin, chairman Daniel Pidgeon, sits on the Board of Industry Leaders (BIL) of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA).

But even this now three-time winner of TWICE’s Excellence In Retailing Awards was not immune to the economic downturn. Like most communities across the country, the recession hit Dallas and Scottsdale hard, and despite past successes the brothers were forced to return to the drawing board.

“After 2008, 2009, we realized there would be no bounce back,” Daniel recently recalled. “We had to figure out a different avenue.”

After much discussion, the brothers alighted on a new strategic focus that put the customer first. While simple in concept, it represented “a paradigm shift in the way we look at the business,” he said. “We began to redefine the business by the customer, not the merchandise. We started to look at it from the perspective of who our clients are and what they want, vs. ‘We are in the CE business and this is what we are going to sell you.’”

What Starpower’s customers wanted, it turned out, were luxury appliances. “The more we learned about appliances the more we got excited about the category,” Daniel noted. “The way consumers gravitate toward the kitchen recalls the same passion they showed for high-definition TV early on.”

To ensure that Starpower could execute against the category and seamlessly integrate it into the business, the Pidgeon brothers in 2011 acquired an expert in the field – 64-year-old Ed Kellum & Son, a local home-theater competitor with four generations of white-goods experience and a premium majap portfolio that includes Bertazzoni, Bosch, Dacor, Jenn-Air, KitchenAid, Miele, Sub-Zero, Thermador, Viking and Wolf. Within two years, Starpower relocated Kellum to a new, larger showroom (a grand-opening preview was held last week for the trade), and began work on a $3 million dollar remodel of its own flagship showroom here that doubled the size of its sales floor and added luxury majaps to the mix.

Other new, customer-focused additions included premium headphones; hard surface and premium flooring from sister company StarFloors; and home construction and remodeling services from Star Interior Resources, another family business.

The new flagship also showcases the company’s traditional A/V and home-automation businesses with interactive displays and fully functional room vignettes.

“This latest evolution of Starpower will be unlike any store anywhere,” David said of the redesign. “In today’s economic environment, our clients are looking for real value. This new showroom delivers, becoming a ‘one-stop shop’ where our award-winning staff will efficiently and effectively deliver and install better home solutions at competitive prices.”

Starpower opened the 15,000-square-foot headquarters store last month to much fanfare. Some 500 industry guests attended a sneak peek, snacking on hors d’oeuvres prepared in live Sub-Zero, Thermador and Viking kitchens, followed by a public grand opening featuring cooking sessions with Viking and Thermador chefs; a Sony 4K showcase with the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders; live remote broadcasts by local radio stations; and a Dallas Mavericks ticket giveaway.

So far, the strategy is working. “We’re way, way up this year,” said Daniel, despite a drop in video revenue from 40 percent to 26 percent of the sales mix as the company reduced its TV exposure.

“The economy isn’t helping, but what is the internal mindset — we’re not targeting Best Buy or TVs, we’re targeting our customer.”