What is a reason(s) for Centronics’ longevity (celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2009)?
I think our longevity is due to our ability to change yet stay the same. We have grown from a TV parts distributor to a one stop shop for CCTV, HDTV, off air, satellite and home theater. All the while we have kept our model focused on customer service and industry/product knowledge.
How are you helping your customers in light of the recent economic downturn?
We offer a wide variety of products to make it easier to get what the customer needs from one location. We want to make it easier, not harder. We have lowered prices on many of our products and have more discounts available through deals we have gained with our vendors. We have also lowered our freight policy. Centronics does not charge for minimum orders and we have no drop ship fees. Our return policy is fairly liberal so that our customers can get the product they need without any hassle.
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Is this a good time to become a dealer / installer based on your qualification requirements and knowledge of the marketplace?
Right now it is a hard time to be a dealer, much less start in the business. Prices are falling, customers are pulling back, and competition is fierce. Having said that, opportunities do exist. New dealers must know the business. You can no longer put up a dish, program the remote, and walk away. You must be able to provide a solution to a customer’s problem. Dealers must have knowledge of the industry and product, much like a plumber knows his industry. It takes time to learn what you do. Customer service is also a key. If you want to distinguish yourself, you need to show the customer that you know what you’re doing and will be there to support what you did.
As a distributor, you also have your own line of branded products…Elite HD. Why?
We have a line of branded products to offer an alternative to some of the other brands that may offer a “one size fits all product.” We totally support the vendors that we distribute. If you look at what products we brand, they are niche products that we felt filled a need that wasn’t filled. Many people have an HDMI extender, but we took that and made an extender and switcher in one unit (the DHCT5). It also allows us to fully understand what we sell and what dealers want from another perspective.
What are some of the latest technological and installation trends in the marketplace you have seen, and how have you dealt with it?
From a technological view, it seems simple is better. The SWM switch was made for one wire for satellite. CCTV kits are becoming popular. One entertainment hub utilized to connect everything instead of 10 different “boxes.” I also see distribution solutions becoming an issue. Many dealers can and will have a job where one component cable was run, but the customer wants HDMI instead. Many new products are starting to implement technology to “change” component to HDMI, or coax to component. This makes it easier to provide a solution no matter what was run.
This goes along with the installation side as well. Dealers want something that can work a variety of jobs without a lot of parts. Nobody wants 10 SKU’s on their truck when they can instead have two to do all the same jobs.
Why does distribution matter more now? Or does it?
Distribution matters more now then ever-especially with the current economic situation. Distributors keep stock so dealers don’t have to. They can get only what they need, when they need it. Distributors keep up-to-date on what is happening in the industry. We do the homework so the dealer can concentrate on their customer base. Distribution allows for better payment options, lower overheard, and a better return policy.
How has the internet helped or hindered your business model as a distributor?
The internet has helped in getting our name to more people. It also allows us to put up new products, new product information, and trade news at a faster pace. We can evolve more quickly then with print. The downside is that anyone with a computer can put up the same products. It has “cheapened” our industry in that anyone can sell a camera at a low cost with a fancy website. They may not know anything about it or stock it or take it back, but you still have to “compete” with that.
Do you provide installation training for the products you carry or is that a necessary part of your business?
We do see this as a necessary part of our business and do offer installation training on the products we sell. We provide free technical support for any of our product lines, as well as design help for larger installs. We also work with many of our vendors to offer training days, webinars, and keep links and tips on our website. We want our customers to see us as an industry resource as well as a place to get their products.
For 50 years, Centronics has been a leader in the distribution of A/V, DBS, off-air, high definition, home theater speakers and accessories, and satellite and antenna products. As the industry has changed, Centronics has met those changes head on. What will never change is our commitment to provide quality products at reasonable prices. Centronics stocks products such as TV mounts by Video Mount Products, satellite distribution equipment by SPAUN, antennas and off-air accessories by Winegard and AntennaCraft, home theater equipmentâ€¦from HD cables to speakersâ€¦by CWI, Speco Technologies, and Universal Remote Control.
At Centronics, our knowledgeable sales staff and customer service is second-to-none. Our technical expertise is the best in the business. And with thousands of parts in stock, our customers can be sure we have what they are looking for. With Centronics, every customer can feel confident that we are not just their distributor, but their A/V partner, as well.