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Parks: Installers Sharpen Retrofit, Green Focus

The majority of home system integrators still in business have suffered average revenue declines of about 17 percent since 2007, but things would have been a lot worse had it not been for their pursuit of the retrofit market, a Parks Associates/CEDIA survey found.

The second-quarter survey, issued last week, found integrators’ average share of revenues from existing-home installations climbed from less than 50 percent in 2006 to 55 percent in 2008 and to 62 percent in the first half of 2009. The surveyed installers expected that percentage to hold through the remainder of 2009.

Integrators are also looking into energy monitoring and control systems to help offset the loss of income resulting from the crash in new-home sales, the survey found. A total of 80 percent of the surveyed integrators are “actively exploring” opportunities in this green-related product category or are planning to learn more about these opportunities, Parks said. Almost one-third of integrators have installed some type of energy-monitoring system in the past year, the survey also found.

“Integrators are feeling the effects of the recession, and they don’t expect their new-home business to improve in the near future,” said Bill Ablondi, Parks Associates home systems research director. “They are adjusting their businesses to account for the down economy by concentrating more on preexisting homes, retrofit and lower-cost solutions.”

Another adjustment would be to tap the energy-management business, which Ablondi called a “potential area of significant growth.” Integrators, he explained, “could serve an important role linking consumers to utilities” if the energy industry reaches out to integrators to increase their knowledge of Smart Grid technologies.

To help installers pursue the retrofit and energy-management markets, CEDIA will offer courses at this month’s Expo on the retrofit and green markets, said CEDIA CEO Utz Baldwin.

In other findings:

• installers’ average 2008 revenues were $1.5-$1.6 million;

• 37 percent of respondents expect their revenues to increase in 2009, but more than half expect revenues to decline in 2009;

• 24 percent of respondents are bolstering marketing and advertising efforts; and

• 45 percent are changing their mix of offerings because of economic conditions.

Installed products are also changing because of technology changes, the survey added. On average, surveyed installers expect that 54 percent to 57 percent of their audio and home-theater systems in 2009 will connect to the Internet, up from about 40 percent in 2008. In another finding, LCD-panel installations have risen 31 percent since 2005 while installs of rear-projection displays fell by 27 percent. In the first half of 2009, rear-projection displays dropped to 3 percent of display installs, from 30 percent in 2005.

In surveying installers’ business practices, the study found that:

• an average 68 percent of contracts are fixed-prices contracts rather than contracts that bill for time and materials;

• 60 percent of installers charge for design services; and

• 53 percent to 56 percent of revenues from audio and home-theater installs comes from hardware sales compared to installation and design services.