Walmart, NEW Talk Installation Program

The retailer and third-party installer network discuss the venture.

Walmart, NEW Talk Installation Program
Tom LeBlanc · November 17, 2009

When specialty audio/video installers learned that Walmart and Sam’s Club began rolling out an “HDTV and home office installation” program to 3,600 stores, it spurred some questions.

The biggest ones:

  • Can a big-box retailer handle installation?
  • How will the company’s massive reach affect relatively small CE companies?

First of all, Walmart doesn’t intend to handle installation, explains spokesperson Melissa O’Brien. “We aren’t in the business of installation; we’re in the business of retail,” she says.

Dave Tovissi, meanwhile, has been in the installation business for years. As senior director of delivery and installation for Walmart partner NEW Customer Service Companies, he’s the guy in charge of making sure Walmart installations work.

Tovissi was vice president of custom design and engineering for Sound Advice, a Florida-based 33-store specialty chain. When Sound Advice was acquired by Tweeter, he was retained to run the entire company’s installation department.

After Tweeter, Tovissi was president of Criteria, a Dania Beach, Fla.-based custom installation company.

So, if he’s a custom installation guy, why is he working with Walmart?

NEW Approach

NEW has actually been working with Walmart for years providing extended service plans for the retailer. It partners with other retailers as well as manufacturers.

Tovissi says NEW saw an opportunity to build a network of professional installation providers across the country that it could manage on behalf of its retail clients, but he acknowledges that custom installers don’t necessarily warm up to the idea.

“When you’re a small, independent and you feel you have a premium service, you kind of pooh-pooh the networks that are out there because [you feel] nobody can do it as well as you,” he says. “But the industry has evolved. Whether people are buying products online or from Walmart, the level of installation that’s required to do it shouldn’t change.”

Brian Hertia, director of delivery and installation service management, maintains that NEW has high standards for its network of 11,000 installers. He says they are certified, but he can’t make a blanket statement about types of certification because installers are enlisted to do different things.

“There’s no rubber stamping,” says Hertia, adding that everybody is licensed and/or certified for what they are assigned to do.

  About the Author

Tom has been covering consumer electronics for six years. Before that, he wrote for the sports department of the Boston Herald. Migrating to magazines, he was a staff editor for a golf publication and an outdoor sports publication. Now, as senior writer/technology editor of CE Pro magazine since 2003, he dabbles in all departments and offers expertise in marketing. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Tom at [email protected]

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  Article Topics

News · Best Buy · Big-Box Retailers · Installation · Walmart · All Topics
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