“Dealers were engrained to not like Vizio. If customer said they wanted a Vizio TV, the dealer would say, ‘You don’t want that,’” admits Dennis Holzer, executive director of PowerHouse, which already offered its members LG, Samsung, Sony and Sharp flat panels.
After all, why should an integrator buy a TV that is available at Costco and Walmart? But fast-forward just over one year later, and Holzer reports that the broad Vizio line, led by its top-of-the-line Reference Series, is winning over CE pros daily.
“There was a lot of negativity at first. But now that dealers have had a chance to see the quality and technology behind Vizio, and now that they have access to the product, they are buying it,” says Holzer. “The original goal [for taking on Vizio] was to show people that it is a technology-based company. Everyone knows that they are in Wal-mart and Costco, but they have technology-based high-end line that was not being communicated to custom integrators.”
The Vizio Reference Series consists of two models: a 65-inch with an MSRP of $6,000 and the marquis 120-inch flat panel with a whopping MSRP of $129,999.
The gigantic 120-inch model fits in well with integrators’ business models because it requires a pre-installation inspection of the jobsite before installation, simply to make sure the mammoth TV can fit through doorway, there is a large enough wall space, and the structural integrity of the wall is sound to support the panel.
The giant TV fulfills an application niche that was once only realm of projectors but without the integrator having to be concerned with ambient light, a clear throw path, bulb replacement, or filter cleaning.
“Dealers are deploying the 120-inch set both in broad commercial business, such as bars, restaurants, auditoriums, boardrooms, as well as residential applications. It is a tremendous set. They have had tremendous success with both TVs in the line,” says Holzer, so much so that PowerHouse quickly picked up the entire lineup of Vizio displays — Reference, P Series, M Series and D Series TVs — and carries them in its 39 PowerHouse member locations across the U.S.
“We don’t focus on selling the 23-inch TVs but that doesn’t mean we don’t sell them,” notes Holzer. By carrying the entire line, it gives integrators access to all sizes, budgets, and different levels of quality. While both the Reference Series TVs have internal tuners, many of the other Vizio displays do not, but Holzer says that is not an issue.
“Most people are connecting satellite or cable into the TV anyways. In commercial applications, having no tuner is not a concern. Not one commercial end-user entity that we have dealt with has asked for something different. When you go to bars, restaurants and businesses, it is amazing how many Vizio units are how there. Why pay for tuner that is not being used anyway?” says Holzer, who adds that it has not cannibalized PowerHouse Alliance members’ sales of LG, Samsung, Sony or Sharp.
“Vizio was always seen as a value line, but now it has proven value, size, technology, durability, sales service and support. For many years, dealers could care less if they sold a TV… now TVs are back in their bids. We have found Vizio great to work with. All the rumors were not true.”