As CE Pro covered in our annual CE Pro 100 issue, the biggest integrators in the custom industry still managed to thrive in 2020 but faced a truly roller-coaster year. The pandemic put a temporary halt to residential business last spring, but thereafter many perennial members of the CE Pro 100 stayed busy nonstop upgrading home networks, home entertainment, home offices and more.
So what impact did that make on the CE Pro 100 Brand Analysis rankings that serves as our complementary research piece based on the number-crunching that comes from asking integrators to name their top suppliers as part of the qualification form?
As usual, the information comes only from a fraction of the custom industry, but it’s a chunk that’s very reflective of the whole. These successful dealers may have found (but are still honing) sound business models; rely on experience and experimentation with cutting-edge technologies; engage from small to large in both scale and volume on projects; plus much more.
And just like there are familiar names of all sizes comprising the annual CE Pro 100, plus newcomers who are working to make their name bigger, the same can apply to their supplier preferences too. The suppliers faced a rocky 2020, but the leading brands remain familiar for the same reasons integrators succeed — they strengthen, adapt, pivot and find other ways to stay ahead.
You can find all of the category leaders and “Bullet Brands” — those that have made notable gains within a category — to see where your favorites landed this year. As some companies made acquisitions or introduced products to address new categories, you’ll notice extended reach or greater market share by some of these familiar brand leaders you’ve followed for years … Sound United adding Bowers & Wilkins, SnapAV acquiring more distributors, Samsung unveiling an outdoor TV, Crestron collaborating on a residential unified communications solution, etc.
Meanwhile, the Brand Analysis also reflects upstart companies and emerging categories that will be interesting to keep tracking. While home theater and home networking received much attention over the past year, so too have technologies such as health & wellness, water detection and smart energy. Maybe you’ll find your next supplier or portfolio solution.