Richard Glikes, executive director of Home Theater Specialists of America (HTSA), is expecting more bloodshed come Black Friday, but he doubts that any of the buying group's 62 specialty A/V dealers and whole home integrators will get stained.
That's because HTSA is looking beyond video and the expected promotional carnage to the greater riches offered by lighting, systems design and whole-home control.
"All Thanksgivings are bloody in the CE business," he told TWICE in a post-CEDIA interview. "But we don't have to respond to Black Friday promotions. We're not in that business."
Indeed, video is "not that important" to HTSA members, Glikes declared. "Design, lighting and control are much more important to our business."
The group's de-emphasis of video is a reaction to precipitous price declines in flat panel, which Glikes attributes in large measure to the warehouse club channel. "The clubs have had a tremendous impact," he observed. "They're taking more and more share now that prices are down and consumers are more comfortable with the technology. And when you have a tertiary brand sitting next to a Sony, a Sharp and a Panasonic, it legitimizes that other brand."
Despite aftershocks in the housing market, business and traffic are beginning to pick up for HTSA members and the industry overall after several fallow months. "People have short memories, but summer's always a struggle," he said.
The $500 million group itself is "in good shape," Glikes reported. "We've grown to 62 members with more qualified people, and will be adding personnel to help manage operations. Our Intranet site is starting to become robust, and our consumer site, myhtsa.com, is drawing a large amount of hits, up 40 percent in the last year." HTSA will also be announcing "some new strategic partners" shortly, he said.
At CEDIA, group members gathered to hear Rob Gerhardt of the Group Gerhardt design firm suggest ways to attract architects and builders to their businesses, followed by a Cisco presentation on its newest routers and phone systems. The buying group also discussed its latest marketing initiatives, and addressed four top-of-mind topics: How to maximize billable hours, compensation plans for custom installers, how to plan for the next phase of flat-panel demand and how to get into the lighting business.
The meeting was followed by the group's traditional CEDIA cocktail party, which drew 175 attendees. "CEDIA is our show," Glikes said, "and it has a great bunch of vendors."