Product Distributors and Home Theater Installers

Where do Home Theater Installers Do Their Shopping?

AVAD Vendopalooza 2013 - San Diego, CA
Photo of the AVAD Vendopalooza 2013 - San Diego - Example of a Distributor Mini-Trade ShowCalifornia Edition. Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to

Although the vast majority of consumers buy TVs, home theater receivers, and other home theater components through regional and national retailers, home theater and commercial audio/video installers and integrators, do their shopping either directly with the manufacturer or, in many cases, via local, regional, or national wholesale product distributors.

The Customer and the Installer

When you consult a home theater installer/integrator, in most cases, they will present you with a complete home theater or audio/video solution for your home or business. After a customer and installer have agreed on the nature and budget for an overall project, the installer then goes out and gathers the products and services they need to accomplish the goal of the project.

Since most installers tailor each job to the specific needs of each customer and installation environment, different products are called upon to do the job, and in some cases, a custom product may have to be assembled from a variety of components.

In other words, unlike a big box or regional store, installers don't have "50 of this item" or "50 of that item" just sitting in their dealership, often times they may only need one or two of a specific item per week or month, and for a highly-specialized project, maybe only once or twice a year. Also, since many items are high-priced, even at the wholesale level, in most cases it is just not cost effective for an independent installer to have inventory sitting, waiting for an appropriate job to provide it to a customer.

The Installer and Distributor

This is where a product distributor comes in. The installer goes to the distributor with their "list" of needed products, as well as tools and services (which may include additional tech or architectural support for specialized projects) they may need to complete a job or a series of jobs.

Also, the distributor aids the installer not only by having many products on-hand but is also able to secure additional needed products using their volume buying power. The distributor acts as the wholesaler for the local installers or integrators. Distributors typically don't sell products to the general public, they will refer such requests to the individual installers or integrator that they service.

Distributors: More Than Just Wholesalers

As part of providing support to its installer and integrator customer base, home theater/commercial distributors may also provide additional services, such as design services, product training (including certification programs), and periodic "mini-trade-show" events where manufacturers set-up booths and explain their products and services to attending installers. The "mini-trade-shows" are like a really small version of CES or CEDIA on a local level where the installers and integrators can get more one-on-one time with the product manufacturer and service providers than they would get at a large trade show. Such trainings and events keep the installers and integrators up-to-date on new products and technologies.

If you are considering a custom home or commercial audio/video or security installation, make sure that your installer is trained and certified for the job, and can provide you with the needed products themselves, or with the support of a distributor.

Examples of Audio/Video Distributors include: