Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now


Embrace New Tech, HES Tells Members

DALLAS — Home Entertainment
Source (HES) is urging
dealers to add home control
to their repertoires to help offset
margin declines in their core
A/V businesses.

Executive VP Jim Ristow
outlined a new model to members
attending the group’s 2010
Spring Summit here last week
in which dealers become
“integrators that do A/V
specialty,” rather than A/V specialists
that provide limited integration

Citing CEA forecasts, Ristow
said home technology, including
structured wiring and wholehouse
sound, will outpace traditional
CE categories this year
with 6 percent growth, while
disciplines such as automation, lighting and energy management could
increase by as much as 20 percent, he

“That’s where we can go to make money,”
he said. “Gaming, IP, IT, A/V —
only we can pull it all together.”

Driving the integration of technologies
will be smartphones and the coming wave
of tablet computers led by iPad. The latter,
he said, “will do for control what iPod
did for music.”

Ristow advised members to avoid both
overly esoteric applications and mass-market
solutions, and to aim instead for the
mainstream “semi-custom” control market.

Home control is one of several areas that
the group’s 475 members should pursue
in this time of “hope and opportunity,” he
said, including 3D and rear- and front-projection
TV, whose large picture and fast refresh
rate provide a better 3D experience.

Thanks to the availability of 3D content,
compared to the dearth of source material
in the early days of HD, consumer
awareness is ahead of the industry for the
first time in driving a new technology, Ristow noted.

HES will help members promote 3D
with prepackaged special events, press releases
and other turnkey solutions because
“you’ve got to show it to sell it,” he said.

Other strategic opportunities include
video on demand, which he deemed a
saleable feature in TV, as well as plasma
displays and audio. Plasma, which still
offers the best-quality picture, is being
abandoned by big-box chains beyond the
opening price point, while audio “is actually
alive and well, [and] we need to bring
back the passion” for the category.

None of these options alone will provide
a home run, Ristow said, although
together they can provide “lots of singles”
and important margin opportunities.

He added that those who adapt to
the new marketplace realities by changing their business models will be rewarded
for their resiliency and perseverance,
while those that don’t might not survive.

“A whole new market is about to explode,”
he said. “The good old days are
gone. You need to renew and reinvent.”

In other HES news, Ristow reported
that the group’s Expert Warehouse instant-
rebate portal became operational
in January, and that about two-thirds
of members are utilizing it. The online
tool, which consolidates claims, reduces
administrative costs and reduces average
payment time from two to three months
to 15 days, could recoup as much as $10
million in unclaimed funds if all 550
members participated, he said.

Ristow also reported on last month’s annual
Video Summit in New Jersey, where
HES and Alliance partner PRO Group
held informal discussions with key vendors.
The upshot, he said, is that manufacturers
are working to develop and enforce stricter
channel policies, particularly for online retailers,
which will help stabilize the market.

“It’s not perfect,” he said, “but it’s better
than it was.”

The Alliance partners will meet with
manufacturers again this month during
a planned trip to Asia.

HES Adds Seven Vendors, Honors Best

DALLAS — HES said it expanded its
vendor roster with the additions of

Epson, Integrated Systems, NuVision,
Paradigm, Peachtree Audio, Somfy and

, and announced its Vendor of
the Year award winners. The group included


for accessories;

Definitive Technologies

, for audio;


, for video; and


as most supportive vendor.

Lynn’s Audio Video

was named HES
Member of the Year, and Randy Blanchard

Expert Custom Warehouse

an Excellence Award.

Other highlights included a series of
joint HES and PARA education sessions,
and an address by recently elected
HES president Vance Pflanz of Pflanz
Electronics, who introduced
new board members Bob Dodge

Talk of the Town

and Alan Guyes


, and returning directors
Bill Janka of

Mission Audio Video

Marty Hayse of

Dennis Sage Home

, David Pidgeon of

Home Entertainment Systems

and Andy Kersey of

Hamlin & Kersey


Attendance at the Summit, held
here at the Hilton Anatole in tandem
with AVB/BrandSource, HES’s parent
group, was up 10 percent over last year,
Ristow said. The event will move to the
World Marriott Center in Orlando, Fla.,
next February.