Despite the shaky economy and mixed retail scene, the 46 dealers comprising the Home Theater Specialists of America (HTSA) managed to add another $50 million in cumulative sales last year.
Their secret weapon — custom home installation — is hardly a secret, and executive director Richard Glikes is unperturbed by the waves of Johnny-Come-Lately's looking to cash in on the burgeoning business.
"Anybody can change a light bulb, but that doesn't make you an electrician," he said. "I wouldn't trust a $100,000 installation to someone who doesn't have a showroom, and the big guys will have trouble managing labor.
"Custom home installation is not a panacea and it's not the salvation for CE," Glikes continued. "It's a very complicated business, and the margin for error is very expensive if it's not done right."
Also fueling group sales is plasma TV — members now account for about 8 percent of total category volume — as well as DLP projection TV, he said.
The newest HTSA addition is Video & Audio Center, an $18 million specialist which recently opened its first Just One Touch store in Santa Monica [see photo, p. 26].