One of the first CE chains to formalize its builder channel business is Ultimate Electronics, which launched a home theater-based builder program in 1996, added structured wiring in 1997, multi-room audio solutions and an upgrade program in 1998 and security solutions in 2000.
Ultimate ultimately folded the programs and packages into a builder and contractor business division last year, with the stated goal of providing the channel with "a consistently high level of professionalism, service and technical expertise for installation and sales of products."
The division took flight this spring when the A/V specialist signed a series of contracts with developers and custom builders in Phoenix, Ariz., Albuquerque, N.M., Iowa City, Iowa, St. Louis, Mo., and throughout Colorado to provide home networking solutions for new construction.
All told, the company expects to lend its home networking expertise to some 7,500 homes this year, representing a projected $10 million in contracts. According to Jerry Calder, Ultimate's director of builder/contractor sales, business has tripled over the past two years and shows no sign of abating. "We are seeing increased demand for home networking solutions, especially for structured wiring packages as homebuyers plan for the future," he said.
Ultimate is further encouraged by Forrester Research estimates suggesting that 63 percent of U.S. homes will have PCs by 2004 while 58 percent of all new U.S. homes will be networked.