Business

HTSA Forges Ahead Without Glikes; Biz Up for Audio, Control, Networking

Home automation, audio and networking categories rebound for dealers in the Home Technology Specialists of America buying group. Fall meeting rosy despite resignation of Richard Glikes.


Absent former executive director Richard Glikes, Brian Hudkins (left) and Jon Robbins (right) took the mic for HTSA awards ceremony. Jeff Zemanek of Lutron was anointed "Man of the Year." Check out the complete list of HTSA award winning vendors for 2011.
Julie Jacobson · October 14, 2011

The abrupt departure of HTSA’s long-time executive director Richard Glikes did not dampen the mood at the organization’s 15th annual fall meeting in Denver this week. Dealers and vendors alike seem upbeat about the future of the Home Technology Specialists Alliance under new leadership.

Glikes resigned last month after 15 years at the helm; his successor—a “managing director,” not an “executive director”—will be named later this year.

Meanwhile, HTSA board members Brian Hudkins of Gramophone (Timonium, Md.) and Jon Robbins of HiFi House (Broomall, Pa.) stepped in to guide HTSA through the fall event.

RELATED: HTSA Names Top Vendors for 2011

The vibe at the show seemed more positive than ever, with dealers and vendors alike pouring out ideas for the “new” HTSA. But the organization, comprising about 60 of the country’s top integrators and 42 manufacturers, won’t move forward with new initiatives until the new managing director is in place.

HTSA has narrowed the selection down to two candidates.

“Whoever it is, he will have a fresh set of ideas,” says Robbins. “They are both forward thinkers with great charisma.”

The buzz on Richard Glikes

Known for his attention to detail and strict adherence to schedules, Glikes’s absence was surely felt during the fall event, where some meetings started five or 10 minutes late (gasp!).

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HTSA recognized Sandra Giraud for her especially hard work in pulling the HTSA conference together after Richard Glikes resigned about one month prior to the event

Hudkins and Robbins were quite candid in relaying the actual events surrounding his abrupt departure. The resignation was not about contract negotiations as has been speculated, they said.

Glikes has started a new for-profit buying group, Azione Unlimited, with the hopes of attracting 250 non-competing dealers, each doing $1.5 million in revenues. HTSA attendees were abuzz about the new venture, most wondering if there were that many integrators in the U.S.

“It’s interesting because the entity he’s moving into is very different from HTSA,” said Robbins.

Hudkins added, “Richard always said that you don’t want to get too big because it’s hard to share.”

Hudkins, Robbins and others in the group gushed over Richard’s stellar leadership over the past 15 years. Before the HTSA crowd, Hudkins said, “We wouldn’t be here without the work he did. Frankly, he deserves a round of applause.”

At which time, the entire HTSA group cheered.

At the end of the day, “the unity in the room really blew me away,” Robbins says. “Not only are we the best idea-sharing group in the industry, we are so together. Not one member said they doubted what we had going forward. We’re excited about what we have for the future.”

How the HTSA dealers are doing

As for business conditions, the mood at the fall meeting seemed less somber than previous years, with dealers telling tales of a rebound.

imageHudkins says the group is up “significantly” in audio, both in high-performance and attachment sales. With the price of flat screens falling, TVs are going into more rooms, providing an opportunity to sell more speakers.

Control systems are up 30 percent. Robbins suggests the home automation business is actually up—uptick in sales is not simply a result of members switching from former HTSA vendor Crestron to new vendors Control4 and Savant Systems.

Another strong category for HTSA members is networking, particularly in sales of high-performance wireless gear from Access Networks, and networked camera systems from ICRealtime.

Still, HTSA has a gap to fill in the networking category and the group is looking to bring in more products for high-performance network management. They are looking at both custom-centric and popular brands but Hudkins and Robbins seemed to be leaning towards a more integrator-friendly vendor.

“For what we’re doing in people’s homes, it’s important to have a robust network,” Robbins says.

In the display category, HTSA has a new story to tell this year: Sharp Elite.

When Pioneer Elite dropped its highly acclaimed Kuro display, HTSA dealers were left without a high-performance flat screen to compete with commodity products. Now that Pioneer and Sharp have collaborated on the new Sharp Elite line, there’s something to talk about in the flat-screen categories.

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Learn more about cloud-based content and home control at the virtual trade event CEProLive! October 27, 2011.

The displays cost roughly 2 ½ times their non-Elite (Sharp Aquos) counterparts.

“Despite a few little bumps in the integration features sets that are getting fixed,” says Robbins, “we’ve found the products compelling, especially when being installed and adjusted by trained people.”

Chasing the cloud and recurring revenue

Darned if dealers still can’t quite master that recurring revenue thing. Ditto for cloud-based services.

Last year, HTSA brought on ihiji – a provider of remote networking monitoring and management systems – but dealers have yet to embrace the solution (as is the case with the other emerging solutions in this category).

They’re having better success with “micro services,” says Hudkins. He cites in particular the BlueBolt remote power management solution from Panamax/Furman, which won HTSA’s Technology Innovation Award this year.

“They’re getting traction with BlueBolt,” says Robbins, “It’s been a huge aid in narrowing down the number of truck rolls, but most dealers have not made recurring revenue on it. ”

Next stops for HTSA: CES in January 2012 to introduce the new managing director, San Diego in April for HTSA’s spring meeting.



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  About the Author

Julie Jacobson is founding editor of CE Pro, the leading media brand for the home-technology channel. She has covered the smart-home industry since 1994, long before there was much of an Internet, let alone an Internet of things. Currently she studies, speaks, writes and rabble-rouses in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V, wellness-related technology, biophilic design, and the business of home technology. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, and earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a recipient of the annual CTA TechHome Leadership Award, and a CEDIA Fellows honoree. A washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player, Julie currently resides in San Antonio, Texas and sometimes St. Paul, Minn. Follow on Twitter: @juliejacobson Email Julie at julie.jacobson@emeraldexpo.com

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  Article Topics


Business · Service & Recurring Revenue · News · · Access Networks · BlueBolt · Cloud · HTSA · Ihiji · All Topics
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