A ceiling mounted array of flat-panel displays at UC Irvine Recreation Center. The installation used 60-percent off-the shelf pro-AV mounts and 40-percent custom mounts from Premier Mounts.
In response to rapidly evolving AV technologies, as well as the influx of inexpensive imported mounts into the country, the industry’s U.S.- based manufacturers are all looking for a competitive edge. A variety of strategies— product diversification, integration of new technologies, and customization—not only allow manufacturers to grow their customer base but also offer opportunities for integrators and dealers to grow their profits.
“Right now, all the traditional mount manufacturers are trying to figure out where the heck this industry is going,” said Tom Noack, marketing manager at Premier Mounts. But, he cautioned, “You can’t diversify too much and too wide because it’s going to kill you.”
Premier, which repositioned itself from the retail to the pro AV market several years ago, places an emphasis on its custom capabilities, frequently turning a custom project into a standard product. “We’re not just a custom shop, we’re a place where you can go and get that stuff that not everybody else has. We put it on the shelf and have it for a decent price, and you don’t have to wait for it,” said Noack.
“We’re trying to come up with really unique things that we can patent and that nobody else has thought about yet. Or, if they have thought about them, we try to make it so much better that it’s almost like a new product.”
With custom solutions, the company is getting paid for solving a problem, not for selling a product, according to Steve Durkee, president of commercial products at Chief Manufacturing. “That ability to customize, where we can add value in our factory, pass that onto [dealers], let them pass it onto their customers, is really a win-win for everybody,” he said.
For those businesses with custom shops, the ideal is to turn a one-off solution into a standard product. “What our business development team will do is assess the needs of that market, design a product that singularly, effectively meet the needs of those spaces, and then once designed and implemented will work to make them universal so that they can come over as standard products in those emerging vertical markets,” said Nick Belcore, vice president of sales at Peerless-AV.
Peerless-AV has also diversified. “Any effective accessory company is one that’s going to look for products that are synergistic to markets where they already have a presence,” said Belcore. “The most logical extensions of our mounting accessories were wireless accessories on one front and interactive accessories on another front.”
Peerless-AV’s wireless mount systems, for example, offer ease of installation for integrators while increasing the versatility or utilization of a product for the end user, said Belcore. Further, “The potential target list is literally everybody who we’ve sold a projector mount to over the last five years. Secondly, is allows people to take advantage of their existing technology apex by making them interactive, rather than having to tear down any infrastructure and buying all-new technology.”
Chief, too, has diversified, expanding into AV rack products while also integrating other products with its mounts. “When we integrated an interactive solution with our short-throw mount, it was logical because it enabled flexibility for dealers to choose these solutions around that,” said Durkee.
With a broader product portfolio, a manufacturer can become a one-stop shop, especially since the tightening economy has resulted in fewer, larger, and more integrated strategic partners, said Durkee. “We can now bundle solutions. Not to mention efficiencies of relationships and processing orders and those sorts of things.”
Premier Mounts designed a custom mounting system for the100-screen video wall installation in Terminal D at McCarran Airport in Las Vegas, NV.Rather than diversify, OmniMount has chosen to focus on its core business. But, said Tracy Knapp, director of distribution management at OmniMount, “There’s got to be something more than just hanging a mount on the wall or from the ceiling.”
A merger at the beginning of 2012 has reinvigorated OmniMount’s product line by providing access to new parent company Ergotron’s Constant Force Technology (CFT), opening whole new market segments, according to Knapp. Integrated into a wall mount or articulating arm, the patented CFT technology allows the attached display or keyboard to be repositioned with almost no effort.
With the release of Windows Touch and its integration into next-gen displays, “You have to start interacting with monitors a lot more,” Knapp observed. Using CFT mounts, such as the Play and WorkFit lines, “With the smaller interactives, you have the ability to move it up and down, all around your desk, at any height you want, and even tilt it so you’re looking down on it, so you can type on it.”
These products also give integrators something unique to work with: “It allows these guys to sell something that nobody else has,” commented Knapp. “We’re giving these guys some profitability back in their line.”
Steve Harvey (firstname.lastname@example.org) has been west coast editor for Pro Sound News since 2000 and also contributes to TV Technology and Pro Audio Review. He has 30 years of hands-on experience with a wide range of audio production technologies.
Tracy Knapp, OmniMount
“The profitability is in your install now; hardly any money is made on the components.”
Nick Belcore, Peerless-AV
Buy mounting products that have been engineered for easy service. “Think of the value to an installer or integrator when they can send one man out to a service call that’s done in 15 minutes versus sending two men out on a six-hour call.”
Tom Noack, Premier Mounts
Plan custom jobs well in advance and spec them correctly: “If you have to rework it, your profit in that project has gone.”
Steve Durkee, Chief
The Rackbuilder online tool allows integrators to configure a system for factory assembly; it then ships in one box, not several. “It’s much more ‘green,’ it saves you an hour, and you can pass on some or all of that saving to your customer.”
The low profile FP-MFTB holds medium-sized flat panels from 27 to 42 inches and up to 100 lbs. A preassembled, space-saving hinged wallplate only needs to be folded open once out of the box. A kickstand, list adjustment, and vertical and horizontal level adjustment allow for easier access to cable management. The FP-MFTB also has adjustable tilt of -5 degrees to +15 degrees while keeping the flat panel close to the wall. Additional specs for the FP-MFTB include maximum flat panel hole pattern of 415mm x 345mm; vertical height adjustment to one inch; list adjustment +/- 3 degrees; distance from wall to back of flat panel of 2.3 inches; and a black powder coat finish.
The new PeerAir wireless mounting solutions include indoor and outdoor wireless articulating arms and tilt wall mounts, a mobile cart, and a wireless projector mount. These solutions enable a faster and cleaner looking installation, and they are suitable for when it’s not feasible to run cables due to environmental constraints. This wireless system can beam the signal through a 131-foot sphere, so users can leave the content delivery devices where they are and mount the screen or projector in a different room, a floor above or below, or outdoors. This product line is powered by Peerless-AV’s HD Flow Wireless Multimedia Kit, which features reverse IR to control content devices remotely, multi-casting to stream up to four screens or projectors from a single transmitter, and WPA2 security protocols.
Chief’s Fusion series of freestanding video wall solutions make it possible to construct video walls in prominent locations for temporary situations, or when wall-mounting is not an option. Available in standard 2x2, 3x2, and 3x3 configurations, the freestanding solutions can be combined with accessories to achieve video walls up to three displays high and any length. The LVM2X2U can accommodate displays up to 65 inches and 125 lbs., while the LVM3X3U and LVM3X2U are compatible with displays up to 55 inches and 100-125 lbs., respectively. This latest addition to Chief’s Fusion series of mounting solutions features ControlZone microheight and leveling capabilities, plus plumb and lateral shift adjustments to simplify alignment. Fully integrated cable management aides in a clean installation, and smooth rolling casters allow for easy positioning.
Sanus VisionMount VLF320
Sanus is now offering the VisionMount VLF320 slim, fullmotion wall mount for 37- to 84-inch flat-panel TVs weighing up to 125 lbs. The VLF320 offers a profile depth of 1.23 inches, and up to 200 inches of full-motion extension, tilt, and swivel capabilities. Product features include integrated cable management, concealing cables within the extension arm; post-installation leveling adjustments; viewing angle adjustments, allowing TVs to be extended out from the wall, tilted, and swiveled in any direction; and decorative covers.
Part of OmniMount’s ActionMount series, the PLAY20, PLAY20X, and PLAY40 offer users an unconventional way to get off the couch and interact with their TVs. Consumers get the most out of their TV investment along with the added health benefits associated with movement and physical activity. Integrating Ergotron constant force technology to provide fluid, omni-directional TV movement, the ActionMount products are as multi-purpose as today’s home theaters. TVs can be raised up to 21 inches for gaming or group viewing or lowered 21 inches for fitness or floor seating. The range of pan (180 degrees) allows the mount to be viewable from multiple rooms or seating areas. CF technology ensures that the force required for movement always remains minimal.
This Crimson universal mounted quad display ceiling mount system is for four 37-63-inch displays weighing up to 150 pounds each. VESA compatible system features a universal mounting interface, through-column cable routing, and 360-degrees of post-installation lockable rotation, for the entire assembly or individual screens. CQUAD63 provides up to 20-degrees of pinlocking incremental tilt adjustment and ships with a 10-foot pipe drop and a heavy-duty ceiling adapter for structural or unistrut installation.
Premier Mounts AM500
The AM500 articulating wall mount accommodates large displays ranging from 65 inches to 103 inches and above with a weight capacity of up to 500 lbs. This low-profile mount features full forward extension of over 15 inches from the wall to access displays for service and alignment. Built-in cable management keeps cables and electrical components organized in one place, and prevents cable pinching. The AM500 provides a full range of motion with left to right pivot movement, due to its double articulating elliptical-tube arms. It also features both a positive and negative tilt adjustment to have the optimal viewing angle and account for involuntary display tilt due to equipment weight. The mount allows for displays to be rotated and positioned in landscape, portrait, or any other arbitrary angled orientation with a 360-degree rotating mounting head.