In this follow up interview, I talked with Mark Corbin, President, Vanco International about distribution, growing trends in the residential AV space, and more about Beale Street Audio. Part 2 (Part 1 here)
Maureen Jenson: More and more we are hearing about the benefits of distribution. As a company that sells through distributors, can you tell us why it’s the way to go?
Mark Corbin: I am a big supporter of distribution, and believe it’s the only way to go. As a manufacturer we are able to build partnerships and relationships with distributors that fully support our company and they bring in our full product line – and in large quantities – making inventory management much simpler and more streamlined. Distribution also allows us to extend our geographic reach without having to maintain numerous costly warehouse locations across the country. In addition to our own customer support team, our distributors provide tremendous value with local expertise, as well as pre- and post-sales support for our integrator community. Distribution provides tremendous value for integrators because they have a team of local experts and one source for every single product need, and they can feel confident knowing that pricing is protected. It’s also easy for integrators to work with distributors on product replacements and warranty items because issues are resolved quickly and replacement stock is readily available, rather than having to wait for the manufacturer to ship and replace products from a centralized location.
MJ: Have you noticed any growing trends in the residential AV space that Vanco is paying attention to?
MC: From a video standpoint, we have seen an increase in the availability and acceptance for 4K. Now that media and data are being pushed out in 4K, cable boxes and streaming devices are being updated in response. This shift has allowed the 4K TV market to take off, which in turn has created an increase in demand for compatible cables and accessories. We are also seeing increased demand for fiber HDMI cables and our models support right up to 8K. Knowing that something even better than 4K is coming is very exciting, and we see the market continuing to move in that direction.
In audio we are seeing a shift from wired to wireless audio systems and a mix of the two kinds of systems, as customers start to upgrade existing systems. Our Spot for Dot voice-activated in-wall amplifier is extremely unique, and also a great fit for the growing hybrid system trend because it allows quality wired products like in-wall and in-ceiling speakers to be controlled wirelessly from hand held devices and via voice control.
MJ: Speaking of the future, where do you see Vanco headed next? Can you give us and our readers a glimpse of the road map ahead?
MC: In the short-term, I look forward to expanding our current Beale Street Audio line and launching some exciting new HDMI-over-IP products under the Vanco and Evolution brands. Our product roadmap for 2018 is solid and I know our distributors and dealers will be really excited about it and benefit from what’s coming down the pipe this year.
Long term, we will continue to develop unique and innovative products that cater to installer needs. We are ahead of the curve and continue to grow our current brands, while also seeking out other relevant brands to add to the Vanco umbrella. I’d also like to see us coming out with more products that cross over into the commercial and security markets as the lines between residential and commercial AV plus surveillance continue to blur. One thing is for sure, you’ll be seeing and hearing a lot from Vanco in the future.
MJ: It’s interesting you mention the crossover between the AV and security markets. Can you tell us a little bit more about this and where you see the AV market heading?
MC: Yes, we are definitely seeing more crossover between security, commercial, and residential markets. And, with the growing popularity of smart devices with consumers, we think the line between these markets will continue to blur and become more intertwined. No longer will there be integrators specific to residential AV, commercial AV or security. More than ever before, integrators need to be a jack of all trades because there is an expectation from the customer that all of the technology in their environment should work together as one system and can be monitored and controlled from the palm of their hand.
The addition of 4K with HDR has also been a game changer in the AV industry, and has created demand for increased bandwidth from extenders and cables. We have seen growth in fiber in the commercial AV space as well, but the features most in demand are still bandwidth and distance. In 2019 it is essential to offer quality products with these two features at a competitive price. Also, with the rise in popularity of streaming services and voice control, as a manufacturer, it has never been more important to offer high-quality wireless speakers and AV systems that are easy to setup and control.
MJ: Any exciting plans or major goals for 2019 (or perhaps a hint at what we might see from Vanco at CEDIA Expo 2019)?
MC: For our commercial customers, we are working on updating our EVO-IP HDMI-over-IP system to incorporate a complete tiling feature, which will allow integrators to display multiple images on the screen simultaneously. Right now EVO-IP does everything except tiling, but it has become an important feature so we are working on a software update that will be available in 2019.
In the residential space, we are planning on increasing our audio offerings in the coming year. Customers can expect to see new solutions from our Beale Street Audio line in response to customer demand for an in-wall center channel speaker that fits between the studs, as well as new in-ceiling speakers with higher-end components for installations where high-fidelity is desired. We are also looking at expanding our PulseAudio brand in 2019 to include a line of value-oriented speakers, but you’ll have to wait for more details on that … and other surprises!