Talking Shop: Audio Video Excellence

"X-Factors" probably aren't the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a place to buy a home theater. But for Jared Lewis, founder of Homewood, Alabama-based Audio Video Excellence (www.avxinc.com; 205-871-7289), they set his custom installation business apart from the competition.

To be sure, Lewis sells and installs plenty of elaborate components from his locations in Homewood, Nashville, and Santa Rosa Beach, Florida. But he likes to focus on some of the less flashy parts of the business - those "X-Factors," as he calls them, or "hidden gems" - that can make a big difference: Service.

Reliability. And even something as simple (but frequently overlooked) as neatness.

AVX is more of "an electronics concierge," Lewis says. "Just like when you go to a hotel and you tell this person what you need and they make it happen, we do the same thing with electronics."

That often means helping a customer to tailor his system to his lifestyle. "We had a client who gave us a list of TV stations that he wanted programmed on his remote. But the list was so long that we subcategorized and organized his sports-channel favorites, music-channel favorites, and news-channel favorites so it was easier for him to find just what he wanted to watch."

Among the products carried by AVX are plasma and LCD screens from Fujitsu, LG, NuVision, Runco, Sharp, and Sony; speakers by B&W, Meridian, and Speakercraft; and electronics from B&K, Lexicon, Marantz, and McIntosh. At AVX's flagship location in Homewood, clients can audition equipment in a high-end home theater (shown above), an entry-level home theater, and a lobby area with plasma and LCD sets.

The driving force in custom installation today - and for the last 3 years, says Lewis - is home automation, involving not just A/V operations but also things such as lighting and temperature control. How does Lewis apply an X-Factor to this? Well, many customers, he says, like the option of a Good Morning button or a Good Night button that manages a series of functions. With one press of the button, the lights turn on or off, the TV is powered up or down, the temperature is adjusted, and the window blinds open or close.

Sounds like an X-cellent idea to us.

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