Like late afternoon thunderstorms and Saturday graduation parties, the arrival of the official summer solstice means it’s time for the annual Professional Audio Associates (PAA) Summer Show in Woburn, Mass.
The 2016 edition of this long running event featured veteran PAA vendors like LG (consumer and professional) and Onkyo as well as newcomers like TiVo and United Leather. PAA president Lew Freedman was thrilled with every aspect of this year’s event. Not only did the attendance shatter last year’s number but the written business topped all previous shows as well.
“I was especially pleased with the amount of new business we did. Guys were buying lines that they’d never carried before,” he said.
This wasn’t lost on the vendors. First time exhibitor TiVo, set up right next to a bevy of LG flat screens, was demonstrating the new (a very sleek) TiVo BOLT as well as the multi-room companion TiVo Mini. Regional sales manager Jeff Miller could not have been happier. “This is a great group. Traffic has been steady and we’re converting lookers into buyers,” he commented.
Although premium home theater seating manufacturer United Leather of Dallas has been with Pro Audio for nearly three years, 2016 was its first Summer Show. National sales and marketing manager Shelly Norman was happy about her decision to venture east.
“Everyone is very nice and they’re receptive to our made-to-order just-in-time business model,” said Norman.
With nearly 30 basic styles of seating, five grades of leather in more than 100 colors, Norman proudly boasts that United has over 2 million possibilities handmade and delivered in less than a month.
Proof of how much this event has expanded, vendors have begun setting up shop in PAA’s vast warehouse. That was where the dealers found LG Commercial Display Group displaying their latest in video walls.
Fresh off its recent success with the showing of video business solutions at PAA’s Tech Day in Connecticut, LG sales personnel Karl Jackson and Chris Martel were enthused to show their stuff to the northern half of New England integrators.
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On display was a fully operational 55-inch four-panel display. The LG guys were touting the versatility of the piece along with the new ultra slim bezels that provide a more seamless image for great visual impact. Jackson called business overall as “gangbusters” and was pleased that more and more of PAA’s residential integrators were getting serious about the commercial business.
“They’re beginning to see that the learning curve to go from residential to commercial isn’t really all that steep. If you’ve worked with displays in the home this is no great leap,” he noted.
Across the way in LG's usual spot was a lineup of LG home TVs in various sizes. John Dixon, LG’s Eastern home entertainment accounts manager, was holding court to a crowded audience. Dixon was hoping to have the results for the “King of TV” shootout going on that same day in Manhattan as a part of CE Week. The results didn’t come in until after the PAA event closed but it’s worth noting that a 65 inch LD OLED from LG’s Signature Series did beat out a Samsung and a Sony in the New York battle.
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From opening to close, the action at the sales counter was as busy as a bakery on Saturday morning. That was owing to not only the aggressive cajoling of the staff but the increased number of enticing show specials, always called “Steals and Deals.” From simple percent off by vendor listings to specific closeouts, markdowns, promotions and incentives supplied by vendors, there was a lot of money being saved all day.
Lunch is always a big deal at PAA shows and this year was no exception. Making their debut under the food tents was Tennessee’s Real BBQ, an award-winning local chain that rivals the restaurants in the Deep South.
As always, lunch is the place to interview the attendees, specifically the integrators who came from near and far all over New England. This year, although enthusiasm for business over all was pretty high, there was an undercurrent that certain products—both specific brands and broader categories—were becoming over distributed and available to anyone with a wire cutter in the tool box.
Time and again, the CIs said stated this was no reflection on PAA. In fact some felt PAA had themselves become a victim of this development. Evidently, this was also a topic of discussion at the annual golf tournament dinner the night before.
Enthusiastic vendors, big crowd, good deals and great food. The winning combination for a successful early summer day.