The ol' TV installation above the fireplace mantel may be the bane of every custom integrator, perhaps more from a technical standpoint than an aesthetic one.
It's hard to argue the slick look of a neatly installed flat panel posted above the mantel, basically taking the place of a piece of artwork or other space filler up there. But maybe don't get integrators started on the dilemma of discussing poor sight lines and neck craning with customers who are perfectly happy to look upward at their TVs, or the potential hassles in working around stud placement and chimneys.
A company called MantelMount with its eponymous product is at CEDIA Expo 2015 in Dallas this year hot off a Kickstarter campaign that raised more than $120,000 last year as a proof of concept and exceeded expectations by 400 percent, according to president Chuck Geiling. Already shipping direct-to-consumers, the company is now chomping at the bit to establish a robust network of dealers, as well as interested distributors, during this year's Expo.
“We've built out a multi-channel sales strategy, and we're very much on a timeline,” explains Geiling. “In April when we launched, we launched our direct-to-consumer business vis a vis our website, and subsequently we started opening up some of the online marketplaces. Then within the last couple of months we launched an online portal for resellers and installers, and one of the reasons why we're here is to really put ourselves out in front of the installers.”
The MantelMount carries an MSRP of $399 and has already caught the channel's eye as a finalist for the CEDIA Manufacturers' Excellence Awards heading into the show.
“We've put together a program for [installers] that allows good gross-margin dollars for them, plus all the service that comes behind it as far as providing all the collateral that they need, an installation hotline, and we are putting a 'Find a Dealer' on our website too,” says Geiling. “So now when somebody comes to us and says, 'Hey I want to buy your product but how can I have it installed,' we can point them to an installer right there, so it's a win-win for everybody.”
It's certainly a win for consumers who want a better look at whatever's on TV from wherever they're sitting in the family room. In its default raised position, the MantelMount already sits tilted 9 degrees toward the viewer (though Geiling says eventually that may be more flush looking).
As the TV gets pulled lower down, it straightens to just 2 degrees of tilt … and it can be lowered a whopping two full feet if desired. The result is unstrained, better line of sight, especially for people sitting relatively close to the TV.
The mount and flat panel will stay put at whatever height in between, so installers and clients don't have to worry about the set drooping once it's dialed in. Meanwhile, it can also swivel up to 40 degrees left or right as well in case there are certain viewing positions that need to be prioritized.
“The product has been over-engineered, but we did that purposefully,” says Geiling. Part of what makes it tick are automotive pistons and counterbalance technology. The bottom of the mount — the pulldown — even features heat-sensing handles that turn red if the temperature above the fireplace exceeds 110 degrees Fahrenheit (if you want to use the fireplace while watching TV). There's also a universal soundbar attachment.
The mount can hold TVs from 48 to 80 diagonal inches, or weighing 25 to 120 pounds, says Geiling. In back, paintable interlocking wall covers allow installers to keep the wall hardware concealed. The mounting plate includes channels to allow for easy post-installation adjustment after drilling into studs.
If all goes well, MantelMount will come away from CEDIA having demoed the product and successfully pitched the story to plenty of dealers, enabling it to put a nice dent in this competitive category.
“For us to service 10,000 installers is quite a daunting task, not that we're not up to it, but we also want to have distribution in the mix as well so we can service the distributors who then service their customers,” says Geiling. “And then, our plan is to go retail in 2016.”