Elster: How Audio America is Arming Clients for 2018
Distributor Audio America is moving into 2018 with a new, streamlined website, added warehouse capacity and the momentum of a strong Q4 in categories including home automation and voice control, according to CEO Jonathan Elster, who spoke with Dealerscope at the 2018 CES. The company’s Q4, said Elster, also benefited from strong LG 4K OLED sales at the premium display level, and scored with cord-cutters who sought out solutions like Westinghouse’s 4K Amazon Fire TV.
On the home automation front, “That space did well for us, and our custom installation channel continued to grow,” said Elster, noting that at the Vegas show, it was evident that voice technologies were percolating “into every other product category, from soundbars, to TVs, to security, to receivers, to lighting” which will make 2018 exciting for the Google and Amazon platforms and which bodes well, overall, for the custom install channel. He added that while installers might harbor some concerns about the rise of consumer interest in readily accessible voice control technology, “just as was the case for the DIY type of product, it helps build awareness, and they will adapt to these categories. They’ve done a good job with finding a way to build things like Nest and Ring into their integration projects and into the quotes they’re doing for customers.” Elster said he believes those types of products’ growing popularity can only mean expanded business opportunities for installers. “You’re an installer doing the whole home theater package – why not do the doorbell? Why not do the thermostat? Our dealers have taken on those products and done really well with them. Not every homeowner wants to do it themselves. And they’re calling the installer – and it’s great for our customers.”
A byproduct of more connected-home devices in the market has made for the increasing popularity of networking products – “a category where you’ll definitely see more from us. We’re helping customers by expanding [vendor] partnerships to provide them what they need” in order to provide their customers with more bandwidth.