Over the course of eight years, Invision UK has cultivated an extensive portfolio of AV solutions for residential, commercial and marine applications. As the company takes on exclusive UK/Ireland duties for Mozaex Blu-ray entertainment servers, business manager Chris Dawson spoke to IE Residential about the demands of evolving networking technology and the practicalities of assembling a comprehensive CI product range.
As reported elsewhere on this issue of IE Residential, Invision UK has recently become the exclusive UK/Ireland distributor of Mozaex Blu-ray entertainment servers in a further expansion of its already-substantial roster. Based out of Bury St Edmunds in Suffolk and supported by a National Logistics Centre in the West Midlands, Invision UK first began to make its mark with distribution of ReQuest digital audio servers.
Since then, the Midwich-owned company has added steadily to its distribution responsibilities with the likes of Chief (plasma, LCD and projector mounts), Logitech (advanced universal remotes), Monster (cables and connectors), NaimNet (multi-room audio sources), NetStreams (IP-based multi-room audio, video and control systems), Pakedge (Ethernet switchers, wireless access points) Parasound (speakers, general A/V electronics), Polk Audio (loudspeakers), PS Audio (power management systems), RTI (control systems), Theme Scene (home cinema projectors) and Waterfall (high performance speakers and the subject of another IE Residential interview that can be read here ).
Business manager Chris Dawson spoke to David Davies about the latest additions to the portfolio and the many facets of the CI world.
Q: In addition to more conventional areas of systems integration, Invision UK has established a solid presence in the marine market. How did that side of the business develop?
A: The CI market has been going for some time and is known primarily for residential installations, but anything you can do there is suitable for marine applications as well. So if you have got wealthy people who have automation within their home, they may also have nice big yachts - lucky them! - where automation is equally appropriate, if not more so in some cases. A lot of the products we represent are suitable for both - for example, the Mozaex Blu-ray servers are an ideal proposition for marine applications where space is at a premium and the ability to store music and movies, and have instant access to them, is very useful.
Q: Was there a specific moment where you think the company really started to make its mark in the CI sector?
A: It's really been more of a gradual process; we have taken on significant brands all the way through. Our first brand, ReQuest, was one of the first to produce audio servers, so that was obviously important. After that we took on NetStreams, which went on to produce the IP-based Digilinx system that really helped to put us at the forefront of digital audio distribution. Since then, Polk Audio, RTI, Parasound and others have broadened our range of installation products. More recently, the Pakedge Ethernet switches and wireless access points have helped us to cover the increasingly demanding requirements of networking technology. In a lot of projects, you are now beginning to see a multiplicity of different systems all requiring the use of the same home network, so the type and quality of switch needed to handle the greater levels of traffic is becoming a serious issue.
Q: Are you actively looking for more brands, or are you content with your portfolio as it is?
A: Mozaex and Pakedge are not only the recent additions as we have also taken on responsibilities for SolidDrive invisible speakers, which can be attached to a wall or ceiling and turn the surface in question into a driver. It's a great, unique product for residential, commercial and possibly marine applications, and we think it will do very well. There are [no real gaps] in our portfolio now, but of course we will always keep our eyes open for new products which we think fit in or might be useful to our installers.
Q: Finally, how have the last 12 months been for the UK CI sector, and are you seeing signs of improvement?
A: The CI market has been poor over the last year - no question - but despite this we have managed to grow as a business. In recent months, the conditions have begun to improve, and although I wouldn't say the market is booming, the installers we are talking to are either having new contracts coming through or returning to projects that were previously cancelled or postponed. So the market is picking up slowly but surely, which is the best way!
As far as Invision UK goes, we now have an extensive portfolio of products as well as excellent support staff and training programmes, and we will be looking to work closely with existing and new customers to give them all the support they need as their workload grows.