The intersection between commercial and residential AV
As we head into the week of CEDIA and CI Expo, it’s time to look again at the emergence of the Resimercial market. If you search the term “Resimercial” you’ll come up with top-page results showing how residential design and aesthetics can be brought into the workplace environment. Not what I’m talking about.
Prior to the 2008 crash, the AV world was pretty well split into residential and commercial applications. Where the solution lived drove the design and product selection. You need control in a conference room? Then we’ll put in Crestron or AMX. Oh, you are doing a home theater? Then we’ll put Control 4 with Bowers and Wilkens speakers powered by a McIntosh amplifier. Never the twain shall meet.
Then all hell came down on the residential dealers as the housing market crashed. Custom installers (CI) didn’t get business because the value of their clients’ homes was up to half of what they were the year before. When you’re trying to make your mortgage payment, a whole home audio system is way down on your list of priorities.
Developing a new residential business model
As a business, the residential dealers were left with some pretty smart decisions. Packing up and calling it a day was certainly one avenue many took. They either sold, or simply folded, and went to work for someone else. Those who were more stubborn looked around for other opportunities. That is where those enterprising AV pros saw an opportunity in the “light commercial” space.
Pundits call it light commercial because it’s not as expansive as 100 conference rooms but the installs weren’t in someone’s home. So, commercial. But the light version. Dude, it’s commercial AV. Plain and simple. And the intersection of the two is… Resimercial.
During the 2010s many of these CI dealers found a great new revenue stream in the light commercial area. The doctors, lawyers, and other business owners trusted them with their home AV. They were sure going to trust them in their offices. All along we’re over here debating what to call this new type of dealer. Were they residential installers who did a bit of commercial? Were they commercial AV designers who also did residential? No. They were resimercial AV pros.
COVID Expands Resimercial
Along comes the pandemic and blows the whole thing wide open. Suddenly every office worker has a chunk of money to make a home office in any way they can. Webcams were going for a million dollars on eBay. Not really, but it was close. And here is where the resimercial discussion gets quite interesting. Who is going to own the home office of executives and the C-suite? You are not going to trust your CEO’s home office to some brand new brand that nobody has ever heard of. No. You are going to install the most robust, trusted brands you can get your hands on. The type of gear you would install in an office environment. This calls for commercial-level AV gear. But commercial AV companies don’t “do” residential.
CI integrators have entered the commercial market. They are not competing at the scale of an AVI-SPL or Diversified, but they are competing for commercial AV jobs. In addition, there is another new revenue stream for them; commercial AV in the home. These home offices need to be as stout and reliable as what is expected at the office. That inherently means commercial gear.
This puts the new CI Expo, which is alongside CEDIA Expo this year, in a whole new light. It’s the recognition that residential AV pros are looking for commercial-grade AV gear for opportunities today. This is the first year of CIX, and the ink hasn’t even dried on final numbers, but this is an acknowledgment that resimercial is, indeed, real. There. I said it.