Bill Skaer

Editor in chief of Dealerscope

Like many specialty dealers at this year’s CEDIA Expo, Bill Skaer was looking for products, solutions and strategies that will work for a wide range of customer demographics. With pocketbooks tightening and competition increasing, “Any customer worth having is worth winning” goes the mantra among independent dealers and specialty retailers.

How retailers, specialty dealers and custom integrators survive during the next year depends, in part, on the solid business practices that have carried them through past struggles. But now, faced with economic strife at home and abroad, even the smartest, best-managed businesses have to constantly execute new strategies to stay in the game. The best dealers aren’t sitting back, waiting for things to change. They’re driving hard into the retrofit market; reaching out to past customers; leveraging every good idea passed on by buying groups, distributors, associations, colleagues and competitors; slashing operational costs; and boosting the morale of their sales staffs. Curing the Flat-Panel

A brief survey of specialty dealers and custom integrators populating the food and drink stations at the welcome reception for Brand Source’s 2008 Summit and Buying Fair, being held through March 19 at Dallas’ Hilton Anatole Hotel, revealed a hopeful business attitude despite the effects of an economy in the doldrums. Speaking for Brand Source’s Home Entertainment Source (HES) membership, Jim Ristow, HES executive vice president, says that if pre-registration for the event is any indication, this year’s show will be the largest ever. “HES member attendance is up 75 percent over 2007, and floor space square footage is up 40 percent,” he

More so than ever, CES 2007 was a celebration of convergence, showcasing everything from TVs to audio/video gear to phones to home control systems that combined new technologies with the ease-of-use and convenience consumers expect of traditional electronics. While manufacturers and vendors trumpeted the latest and greatest features and functions of their new offerings, many also established plans to deepen their dealer programs by rolling out more training and demo units to help smaller dealers understand and sell more sophisticated products. In turn, dealers reacted to the products with a mix of outright enthusiasm and guarded optimism. What follows, is the Dealerscope wrap-up

Audio Design Associates (ADA), a White Plains, N.Y., manufacturer of home theater and multi-room audio technologies, has unveiled its new SWAN (Structured Wiring Audio Network), a multi-room audio system aimed at the MDU, tract home and high-end custom markets, Dealerscope and CustomRetailer has learned. The modular system fits into standard structured wiring cabinets, runs on CAT-5 cable and is designed to simplify the project’s overall wiring scheme, helping to make distributed audio an easier sell to builders, said Richard Stoerger, ADA’s VP and COO. “We basically wanted to simplify the approach to wiring for the builder,” Stoerger said, adding that ADA recently

Robert Minkhorst will end his 30-year career at Philips on December 31, when he is slated to resign as chief executive officer of Philips Consumer Electronics North America. At press time, Philips had not appointed a successor. Darrel Issa has been elected to Congress. Issa is the chairman of the Board of the Consumer Electronics Association and president and CEO of Directed Electronics. He took his seat in the House of Representatives representing the 48th congressional district in California. Issa, a Republican, won with 61 percent of the vote.…Jim Minarik is the new president and CEO of Directed Electronics, Inc. Minarik is currently the

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