Central Vac Presents Competitive Advantage to Winning Builder Business

Beam’s Harry Kandilas says central vacuum systems offer homeowners a healthier home with better resale values.


Growing a relationship with builders can mean more opportunities, more jobs, bigger projects and ultimately all the difference to your CE business.

CE Pro spoke with Harry Kandilas, general manager of Beam Built-in Vacuums, about a potential competitive advantage to signing on with a builder: the ability to install central vacuum systems.

CE Pro: What message should dealers approach builders with concerning the potential of central vac systems?

Kandilas: Installing a central vacuum system is a sound investment in the home. It’s an investment in a healthier indoor environment, an investment that delivers deep built-in cleaning convenience and an investment that adds value to the home.

Appraisers will increase the appraisal for a home equipped with a central vacuum. For the builder, it also delivers a profitable upgrade that also makes their homes stand out. Beam Built-in Vacuum Systems also [offer a warranty] up to 15 years. For the builder, that brings confidence that there will be few, if any, callbacks. And for the consumer, you can depend upon reliable performance for several years longer than a typical vacuum.

What are other points of interest dealers should cover with homeowners?

Beam Built-in Vacuum power units deliver proven indoor air quality benefits. They completely remove captured dust and allergens from the living space without blowing exhaust air into the home that can stir up dust. A clinical study of allergy patients found that all seven major symptoms of allergic rhinitis declined significantly — up to 61 percent when patients used Beam systems instead of traditional portable vacuums.

All Beam power units have been National Green Building Standard certified by the Home Innovation Research Laboratory because of their indoor air quality benefits. Installing a system qualifies for three certification points toward meeting the NGBS Indoor Environmental Quality requirements. They also qualify for one point toward LEED certification.

Do dealers discuss the power of central vac systems enough?

The cleaning power of a central vacuum can be three- to five-times greater than a portable vacuum. That power advantage should not be underestimated. It’s what assures the deep cleaning our systems provide.

Because the power unit is permanently mounted outside the living space — usually in a basement, garage or utility room — it can accommodate a much more powerful motor that delivers up to 750 air watts of cleaning power. That added power allows our products to capture far more dust and allergens than a typical vacuum.

How do these systems contribute to dealers’ revenues?

Beam Built-in Vacuums offer a highly profitable addition to the integrator’s business.

First, they offer some of the highest margins in the installed home products category. Installation also represents a profit center. And we offer our dealers a complete portfolio of accessories, replacement filters and bags to generate recurring revenue.

They also help integrators build and grow business with builders. Dealers who sell and install central vacuums have a competitive advantage in winning builder business than dealers who don’t.

Are central vac systems a retrofit option?

Absolutely. Installation is somewhat more complex in a retrofit than in new construction, and our dealers set their installation rates to cover the added cost. Our systems can be installed in 95 percent of existing homes without having to open up walls.

A typical 2,000 square-foot existing home can be retrofitted with a central vacuum in less than a day. In fact, approximately 30 percent of the systems we sell in the U.S. are installed in existing homes. We offer installation training to all Beam dealers.

What are some of the latest trends within the category?

Electrolux Small Appliances, which includes our Beam and Electrolux Built-in Vacuums, is constantly researching ways to improve home cleaning technology and the user experience. And we offer our dealers a variety of tools including display units, literature and marketing materials to convey these benefits to their customers.

We’ve introduced sophisticated communication technology that relays information from the power unit to the hose handle on the Beam Alliance System. It tells the user how efficiently the system is operating. It alerts if there is a clog in the system or when it is time to empty the collection bucket. It gives the ability to ramp up or down the amount of suction so the user can vacuum lightweight curtains or other delicate items.