The Tough Get Tougher
n Hager: The first thing is ethical business practices. So many times, I’ve seen vendors sitting in front of my desk, saying, ‘You know, our brand isn’t sold in your county. And if you do a good job with it, why, you’ll be the one and only.’ I would start out and get up to $300,000, then $500,000, then next year’s goal would be $1 million in purchases. Then the next thing you know, that brand is in so many places they’re nearly authorizing phone booths! When you get to where everybody has success with a brand, then somebody becomes a showroom and you get people who look at the sets in your place but will buy somewhere else. Or, they’ll buy on the Internet.
A couple of years back, manufacturers created upper-end lines to help specialty dealers develop desire of ownership from audiophiles and videophiles and allow them to make a bit of profit because it wouldn’t be sold through the chain stores or warehouse clubs. Then, volume became the thing, and it hurt. Even with brands that couldn’t supply the existing dealers they had, they just wanted an excuse to sell to the big boxes. It makes it tough to build an image for something. And what good it does, I don’t know. So to some lines that wanted to be on every doorstep, we said ‘adios.’ Chain stores might have a brand, but they tend to have the bottom of a line. But if you go into a local dealer, they might also have the top of the line. And you need those guys for a good selection of everything. Otherwise, you just have all the names brands out there making it as cheaply as they can.
We’ve selected quality manufacturers that make good stuff. And we are into things like custom cabinetry, high-quality surge protection for the whole home and top-shelf video security. We’re trying to develop new markets based on listening to consumer needs. We do systems in small museums, in stables, mobile phone systems for farms. Electronics is electronics. The new growth is going to be in working with small businesses and in solving problems on a one-to-one basis.