What can vex new-home builders as they deal with digital amenities is the time and effort it takes to marshal the supply chain, as well as the subcontractors that design and install systems as mutually exclusive as entertainment centers and central vacuums.
Integrators can handle it all, but they're not always located where they're needed, and are often unreliable.
"It is not actually a joint venture, it's a strategic alliance," explains Stanley Matysiak, president and CEO of GEHT. "You're dealing with entities that are proven. People trust the people they have been dealing with for a very long time."
The menu of offerings is considerable, including Sony's WallStation entertainment controllers and Bravia displays; GE intercom, security, and structured wiring systems; and Omnimount wall brackets.
"The real power of this was creating complete low-voltage solutions for builders," says Jeff Wilson, vertical market manager, builder market, for GE Security. "It is a turnkey low-voltage solution."
Three key missions of the alliance are to provide consistent installation guidelines and service across markets, consistent pricing, and a consistent product offering nationwide, says Wilson.
The alliance was borne of GE's AIN, which aims for uniformity across geographic markets for the builder channel. "There will be a GEHT deal to meet their needs everywhere they build," says Randi Elrad, vice president of sales for Crime Prevention Security Systems and Custom Home Entertainment in Gainesville, Fla.
With 55 employees, Elrad says the builders appreciate that "they can have one company with highly trained technicians" instead of any number of subcontractors that often are at odds with one another. They like the idea of selling the digital packages as part of the house. "People go out and buy all this stuff after the house is built," says Elrad. "Why not let the builder make a profit on it?"
And not only does the builder profit, but the systems work better, making for happy customers. "The technologies we are talking about are really best installed before the drywall goes up," Wilson says.
"They bring a lot to the table," says Timothy Carlow, director of purchasing for Kolter Communities' homes division, based in West Palm Beach, Fla. "There's a variety of quality products, but what they also bring is integrators. That's the single biggest problem builders have. Sony is Sony, GE is GE, but who is the mason who is going to put it together? Not only are [AIN integrators] a cut above, they bring a pool of integrators to the table. If you have a problem with one, you can pick another. Your packages can stay the same, your specs can stay the same."
The packages offered by the alliance range in cost to the builder between $3,500 and $20,000, according to Matysiak.