When you ask most home systems integrators how they got their start in the business, audio and video backgrounds are often mentioned. Sometimes security is the launching pad into more a more comprehensive product offering. Rarely, however, are central vacuums noted as the springboard into systems integration. But central vac is exactly how Bill Piercy of Albuquerque Sound and Vac got his start.
Although he admits that amenities like whole-house audio and home theater setups are trendier than central vacs, he has stayed true to his roots, focusing the lion’s share of his business on central vac sales and installation.
It’s a choice that has served Piercy and his company well. Within two years of founding his company in 1988, Piercy had established himself as the Number-One central vacuum dealer in central New Mexico.
He then acquired a major competitor who had an exclusive BEAM dealership in the Albuquerque market. The rest is history. Over the course of his nearly 30 years as a BEAM dealer, Piercy made a name for himself the premiere central vac provider for area’s largest custom home builders.
The pride of having earned the reputation as an expert aside, persistence in the central vac sector has paid off for Piercy financially, as well. Today, central vacuum sales and installations still account for approximately 50 percent of Albuquerque Sound and Vac’s revenue.
“It’s our meat and potatoes,” Piercy says. Intercoms, built-in speakers, surveillance cameras and alarms combine to make up the company’s remaining 50 percent of revenues.
“The market for low-voltage was exploding and we felt that we needed to branch out by offering other types of systems. Our contractors were asking for it. And we acknowledge that we could develop recurring revenue by offering security systems,” Piercy says. “But I never wanted to or will let go of the vacuum stuff. I like doing it, and they are great systems.”
So great, in fact, that Piercy credits central vacuum systems as providing the foundation he and his company needed to prosper in a local economy that is lagging the national recovery from the “great recession.”
“It taught me the nuances of home construction,” Piercy explains. “Over the years I learned the important building codes and built solid relationships with some great contractors in the area.”
These relationships with builders help keep Albuquerque Sound and Vac in the face of consumers who are still struggling with a fiscally depressed economy.
“Home buyers are barely able financially to get into the homes that are being built and therefore are putting in the bare minimum,” Piercy says. “Still, if they have ever lived with or used a central vacuum system, or have seen a system in action at our 2,500-square-foot showroom, they often choose to spend money there instead of other technologies.”
Add this to the fact that BEAM continues to innovate and update their systems with new features and functionality, and Piercy remains bullish on central vac’s ability to remain his company’s home technology “slam dunk.”
“BEAM has developed increasingly quieter units, an every increasingly variety of motorized carpet tools and attachments for all kinds of above-floor cleaning,” Piercy says. “I found central vacs to be fascinating when I first started installing them almost 30 years ago, and I still find them fascinating today.”