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CEDIA Becomes A One-Stop Shop for AV Installers and Dealers

Oct 22, 2006 12:00 PM

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While the International Consumer Electronics Show grows to embrace the expanding tech universe, CEDIA is evolving into a one-stop shop for many custom installation and specialty AV dealers. With CES topping 152,000 attendees and 2,700 exhibitors last year, some CEDIA members are choosing the increasingly select CEDIA show as their primary tradeshow for the year.

“Everybody that you need for a profile of our business was at CEDIA in Denver,” says Evan Fusco, vice president of custom sales and design at specialty AV dealer Park Avenue Audio in New York. “It wasn’t just the home automation and multi-room people who have always been there, but also the audio- and videophile manufacturers are becoming more of a presence, too.”

Fusco cites increased attendance by companies like Meridian, Arcam, and Krell and noted that officials from several high-end speaker companies attended the September show as well. “A few of our manufacturers had dinners for the dealers in Denver, and they’re going to be displaying next year with a full-blown presence.”

CES, on the other hand, has become more diluted for specialists, Fusco claims. “CES has become so big it’s hard to move around, and the majority of it has nothing to do with our business,” he suggests. “For us, CEDIA has eliminated the need to attend CES entirely.” At the same time, he cautions that CEDIA could be headed toward a similar path with too much expansion. “CEDIA is on a terrific growth path. I don’t think they need too much more than they have now.”

Greg Margolis, president of Hometronics in Dallas, notes that fewer CEDIA-oriented exhibitors are attending CES. As a result, he says, there’s less of an emphasis on CES within his organization. “For the last two years I've considered not going,” he says, “but I continue to go because some of our key manufacturers who had prototype products at CEDIA are showing actual production units at CES. With the advent of CEDIA in April, that might do away with us having to attend CES.”

“The biggest problem with CES is the consumer part,” says Scott Varn, marketing VP at Harmony Interiors in Asheville, N.C. “The 'C' doesn’t stand for custom. Their show is full of retail gadgets we can't or would not want to sell. And the floor is mixed with consumers and dealers. CEDIA is much more specific to an integrator.”

Employees at Sound Solutions in Culver City, Calif., haven’t attended CES for years as CEDIA has grown to meet the company’s tradeshow needs, says marketing director Mark Elson. He says the CEDIA market reached a new stage at the Denver show, which boasted 28,000 attendees and more than 600 exhibitors. “It was clear this year that the industry is maturing,” Elson says. “And I was impressed with the overall level of coordination and management, including the venue, shuttles, food services, traffic flow, and facilities.”

Denver received thumbs up approval from many dealers in its first of a three-year contract as CEDIA host. “I thought Denver was fine,” says Fusco of Park Avenue Audio. “The convention center was much better than the one in Indianapolis. It was larger and it could handle everything in one room. That was a huge advantage.”

Says Margolis of Hometronics, “Denver is a great venue. Its central location in the country makes it easier to reach than other cities where CEDIA has been held, and the downtown area is very suitable for a convention of this size. I wouldn't mind seeing CEDIA stay in Denver permanently as long as the city could host the growing attendance.”

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