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Wireless Solutions Changing the Picture

Apr 20, 2009 8:32 AM, By Rebecca Day

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Capitol Sales is pressing dealers to go retro—retrofit, that is, to draw on the 99 percent of the housing market that's ripe for a multiroom audio solution. Capitol's initiative, led by Jeff Kussard, formerly of Russound, Harman, and several custom retail businesses, centers on a national education tour that kicks off May 3 in San Francisco. Capitol Sales' Learning Institute Regional Outreach is being held in conjunction with CEDIA On the Road, and Capital Sales attendees will receive CEU credits through CEDIA University.

"A lot of people are concerned about the current state of the economy," Kussard says. "We see this as a time of regeneration where we can provide solutions for our community and help them reposition themselves so they're in a stronger position when we get to the other end of the tunnel."

Addressing the custom residential market, Kussard believes integrators have focused on a disproportionately small segment of potential customers. "This industry has always suffered from a myopic perspective built around an enthusiast's point of view," he says. "Because of that philosophy and the current marketplace, we're limiting ourselves to a clientele that represents 1 percent of the U.S. population." New housing represents about 5 percent of total market in any given year, he says, and the CEDIA channel has a market penetration of 20 percent of that market, at most.

Now, Kussard says, it's time for integrators to draw on business acumen and to apply their trade to opportunities geared "to the other 95 percent of the marketplace." He attributes part of the CEDIA channel's focus on the once-growing new housing market to limits in technology. Traditionally, wireless technology wasn't reliable enough for a smooth audio experience, and integrators had to rely on wired solutions that were most easily installed before walls went up.

New wireless solutions are changing the picture, he says, opening opportunities for retrofit installations. The company recently signed Lagotek for its Wi-Fi and Z-Wave-compatible wireless home automation system to its client roster. Lagotek supports a number of product lines in Capitol's portfolio including Leviton Z-Wave lighting control. Capitol is also pointing dealers to powerline carrier-based products from Russound.

According to Kussard, PLC has evolved to the point where it is a reliable medium—at least for streaming audio—for multichannel and multiroom audio. "And we will see some meaningful video solutions in the near future," he added. "The opportunities that no-new-wires provides for integrators—if they look at themselves as service providers rather than just contractors—opens up markets that we haven't been able to reach before."

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