After years of attending, last year CEDIA brought a pavilion to the annual Design and Construction Week exhibition, the joint venture of the NAHB (National Association of Home Builders) International Builders’ Show and KBIS (the Kitchen and Bath Industry show, owned by the National Kitchen and Bath Association, or NKBA). We had a singular mission: engage designers, builders, architects — the really important influencers in our industry.
A big part of that mission – which continues in 2018 with the return of CEDIA’s Technology Solutions Pavilion – involves a bit of myth-busting when it comes to the CEDIA channel. As we shared last year immediately after DCW, three of the biggest myths were addressed at the show in no small part through the efforts of CEDIA’s Dave Chic, the association’s Senior Director of Industry Relations.
Myth No. 1: The High-Tech Home Is Only For the “One Percent”
The evolution of smart home technology is now reaching the point of truly broad accessibility — after all, voice controlled interfaces can now be had for as little as 40 or 50 bucks. But between the humble Dot and the fully integrated wonderland residence packed with distributed audio, automated climate, smart lighting, and a dedicated home theater, there’s a great middle-ground of consumers with budgets big enough to generate decent profits for the integrator.
“I saw a lot of interest from the production builders,” says Chic. “They want packages: good, better, best. They constantly ask me about the more modest installations – ‘Hey, we’re not building $2 million homes,’ they tell me.”
“We can absolutely meet whatever demands are out there,” says Bret Jacob, Director of Builder Sales with Core Brands. “We scale up to the biggest mansions, of course – but we’ve got packages that start at $1,200.”
Then there’s a company like RAYVA: they’ve got pre-configured, dedicated home theaters in a broad range of budgets. Builders, designers, and families are realizing that an extra space, a bonus room can easily become a place for movies, games, and watching sports
Theo Kalomirakis, Executive Director of RAYVA – who built a demo theater right on site at last year’s DCW – tells us, “The attendees who witnessed the demo were blown away. First, they had never seen a home theater in a builder’s show before. Then, they could not believe that you can get everything — technology, seating, acoustics, lighting design, installation, calibration, and guaranteed performance for such a low price ($56,500 to the builders).”
Myth No. 2: Instant Obsolescence
Dave Chic delights in counter-arguments.
“I had a long talk with an architect. He said he saw no value in any of this,” laughs Chic. “But that’s how people think sometimes. Ultimately, he asked the question he thought would put me away: ‘Isn’t this stuff all out of date the minute you put it in?’
“So I asked about the car he drives.
“Turns out, it’s a 2006 Accord. Maybe a tad outdated, but certainly not broken.”
His point made, Chic went on to ruminate about evolving software updates — a topic that Bret Jacob can elaborate on: “I look at what Elan has done – those controllers take software updates that are forwards- and backwards-compatible. The last iteration ran our software for eight years.
“It gives us a leg up on the DIY stuff, too – with some of those products, you pull it out of the box and that’s as good as it gets.”
Myth No. 3: The Bottom Line Bummer
Although it’s begun to fade, there’s still a lingering concern among the DCW faithful about the cash destined for granite countertops suddenly being rerouted into hidden speakers. Builders often look askance when a CEDIA firm winds up in the mix. That’s shifting, though — and you can thank the ubiquitous nature of smart-home media saturation made possible by this very technology.
Theo Kalomirakis says, “Clients have an alternative if they think the granite countertop does not fit the budget. With home theater, there is no alternative: you either love it when you experience it and go for it, or you skip it because you cannot afford it. We strongly believe that buying a theater is a decision that is based on an emotional response whereas the purchase of one material versus another countertop is based on more rational considerations. We saw this play-out during the Builder’s Show, those types of questions came up but once the demo was over the conversation shifted to, ‘How do we get started?’”
And Dave Chic’s found that it helps to include other strategies: “Talk about resale. Heck, leave the tech out of the building budget if it’s an issue. Just include a pre-wire package and let the homeowner and the integrator tackle whatever’s going into this wall or that rack.”
And that takes away another worry: A builder is always concerned that if something breaks or stops working, it’s the guys who hung the sheetrock who gets the call.”
“No,” says Chic. “That’s OUR job.”
He adds: “It used to be I’d go to trade shows and they’d stare at the CEDIA logo. ‘What do you guys do?’ Now it’s changing.”
DCW, the co-location of IBS and the NKBA Kitchen & Bath Industry Show (KBIS), will be held Jan. 9-11 in Orlando, Fla. CEDIA will offer 13 CEDIA Talks, three classes, and two panel sessions at Design and Construction Week 2018.