Dealerscope magazine presents:

Q&A: HTSA's Bob Hana on Industry Optimism, the Holiday Season and More

Stephen Silver

At HTSA's fall conference in Chicago this week we had the opportunity to sit down with Managing Director Bob Hana. Hana discussed the conference, members and vendors' predictions for the holiday season and the buying group's new services. 

Hana also confirmed 2015's HTSA conference dates: The group will meet April 21-23 in Nashville for its spring conference. And while next year's fall conference will again take place in Chicago, the placement of CEDIA Expo in October means HTSA will instead meet in September (15-17.) 

Technology Integrator: I just want to talk first a little bit about the conference. What have your impressions been so far, and what's the mood been among dealers and integrators? 

Bob Hana: I am extremely pleased at how upbeat and optimistic everybody is. It's a sign, I think, of a continually strong partnership, and also the fact that business is improving on all fronts, which always makes people a little more pleasurable. It's also highly collaborative- you're seeing a lot of business being written, a lot of new business and new relationships. It's always a nice rewards for all the hard work in putting it together. 

TI: So how do you think people feel about the holidays? Is it going to be a good holiday season? 

BH: I think it will be. I mean, I can already buy Christmas goods at Menards… I think they're already upbeat. I can see already the ones who are retail-hybrid are getting ready for it. But it continues to evolve to a degree with our group- it's a little less seasonal. But I think you're always excited about having football season start, and other different sorts of things that will drive interest in the products. 

TI: I keep asking about 4K every time we talk. And I guess each time it's grown a little bit more. Has there been a breakthrough, or is it still just steadily growing? 

BH: I think there has definitely been a breakthrough in the awareness of what the category is, the fact that it is the future, and that most of the serious business with the installs and the applications being put together, are addressing 4K. They're very aware that they are gonna step up, and this is where it is, and so they're going to put that in that job. 

TI: Are there any other product categories that you're seeing that are emerging this year? 

BH: It's not so much new, but we're still seeing networking driving the business. Not so much driving the install, but being a huge part of that job. Our sales have doubled in that category. But brought along with, obviously, control, and the conversations that are going on with the fact that control is now an affordable solution for more and more people. And services, quite frankly, all of our members are really focused on providing better quality services, and making sure those are part of their value proposition with their clients. 

TI: Now, you announced some new partnerships, or I should say new services for your members. What are you hoping to accomplish with those? 

BH: They're HTSA service providers, and they're basically companies that have unique solutions and services that we think will complement and add benefits to our members' business. In many instances, we do things, and in many instances have been adding more and more marketing resources to allow them to find and close more clients. This time we've also focused on some of the major business structures, and best practices. It's very important that on top of sales and on top of demand, that the infrastructure of their business is solid, and from a financial standpoint and also from a strategy standpoint. And so the resources that we've brought in from some best-in-class, worldwide companies, are very important for our members to have. 

Our financial analyst business, which is the Porte Brown company, we're very pleased to have 435 Digital as a partner, part of the Tribune Company, to be able to offer world class website support, and emphasize their organic search. And to be aligned with a world class training company, like Sandler Training, to be able to work with our members at various levels to assist and make sure once they have found somebody to come in and sell that they be able to close that business and do a good job and closing. 

TI: Anything else you'd like to add about this year or the conference? 

BH: What we're emphasizing at this one is that we have talked and are going to continue to talk about best practices and share ideas and things like that. But it's also at some point to say- at some point, enough input- let's deliver some tools, and let's get real about it so we can move on- there are more things that we'd like to tackle as an organization. So it's important that we get some of these fundamentals behind us and then move on to that. And then, the fall focus- it's a time that we can get together and get focused on how we want to finish the year. And I think from the vendor community they appreciate that part of it, and our members always appreciate that conversation with our vendors. 

HTSA Hands Out Vendor Awards; Sony is Vendor of the Year

Stephen Silver

At its Fall Conference in Chicago, the Home Technology Specialists of America (HTSA) presented its annual vendor awards, and the big winner was Sony. Sony was named Vendor of the Year, while its 4K projectors were presented with Best Video Product honors. 

In the ceremony, held at the House of Blues, Keith Haas was named Man of the Year, while outgoing chairman Joe Barrett was given special recognition- and a football signed by Mike Ditka- in honor of his service with the organization. 

GoldenEar's Triton One was named Best Audio Product, while Savant's Smart Home won for Best Integration Product. Liberty AV was honored as Most Supportive Vendor and Harman as Most Profitable Vendor. 

In addition, Pakedge and Future Automation won Technology Innovation Awards, Dan Paulson and Evan Marty were given Future Leaders Awards and Caster Communications won a Marketing Innovation award. 

MakerBot Won't Have New Hardware at CES

MakerBot will be at International CES this January- but it won't be showing any new hardware. 

Jenny Lawton, who recently took over for Bre Pettis as CEO of the 3D printing pioneer, told Mashable that "“I am happy to say that we’re not going to be launching new hardware products at CES." Instead, the company plans to "focus on ecosystem and material space" in 2015.

MakerBot debuted five new products at the 2014 edition of the event.

Sears to Close 77 Stores

77 Sears and Kmart stores will close prior to the holiday season, according to multiple media reports, including by CNN Money. The closures will result in the loss of 5,300 jobs for the chain.

41 Kmarts and 36 Sears stores will shutter.

Sears had denied a report, earlier this week by Seeking Alpha, that put the closing total at over 100.


Polaroid Expanding Fotobar Concept in California

Polaroid announced that it is expanding its Fotobar concept to seven locations throughout California. All of the locations of the 300 square-foot stores will be located in Westfield Malls.

"Our new micro-retail stores represent the best of our technology, merchandising and retail knowledge, creating a highly scalable, efficient store model that can be rolled out nationwide,"  Warren Struhl, the company's founder and chief executive officer, said as part of the announcement.

 "Two years ago when we launched Polaroid Fotobar, our goal was to reinvent how consumers interact with their digital photography in a fun manner. Now, we have a brand new retail footprint in which consumers can print their best memories for their wall, desk or shelf."
 

AVAD to Launch Opportunity Tour

AVAD has announced plans for its fourth annual Opportunity Tour, which will visit 23 cities throughout North America. 

The tour will focus on the  Bose, Lutron, Samsung and Samsung Professional product lines.

"The AVAD Opportunity Tour allows us to collaborate with dealers all across the United States and Canada and give them something that will translate into resources to make their customers happy,"  Jim Annes, vice president and general manager of AVAD, said as part of the announcement.

 "We have consistently found that integrators that take us up on these opportunities for education and support are elevating their businesses and coming back next year to tell us how it has worked. When a program like this produces results, we’re happy to keep delivering that success driver."

See the schedule here: 

  • Tuesday, October 28 - New York metro area, Dallas, San Diego and Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.
  • Wednesday, October 29 - Chicago, Houston, Irvine, Calif. and Charlotte, N.C.
  • Tuesday, November 4 - Washington D.C. metro area, Scottsdale, Ariz and Los Angeles
  • Wednesday, November 5 - Minneapolis/St. Paul, Denver and Livermore, Calif.
  • Thursday, November 6 - St. Louis, San Jose, Calif., Northern New Jersey and Calgary
  • Tuesday, November 11 - Boston and Nashville, Tenn.
  • Wednesday, November 12 – Atlanta, Seattle and Toronto

Triad Speakers Adds Budget R Series

Triad Speakers has announced what it calls "a cost-effective, aesthetically-pleasing in-ceiling loudspeaker line." 

The line includes the R-25 (5.25-inch driver), R-26 (6.5-inch) and R-28 (8.5-inch), priced at $300, $350 and $400, respectively. 

”Triad’s R-Series is designed for cost-conscious music lovers,”   Triad Speakers, Inc. Founder / President and CEDIA Chairman Larry Pexton said as part of the announcement. ”We’ve designed and engineered each speaker with pride in the United States of America, with the utmost attention to quality, décor-friendly design, and high performance sound - eliminating costly frills and features that add nothing to sound quality.”

“All R-Series models, even the smallest, are fully-engineered to deliver the rich natural sound that Triad is famous for in open acoustical environments, especially in locations that lack the depth required for sealed enclosures."