2:46 PM PDT on Wednesday, June 16, 2010
By CHRIS H. SIEROTY
During the boom times when homeowners were using the equity in their homes for any number of purchases, including expensive entertainment and speaker systems in their living rooms, bed rooms, backyards or basements, they turned to a Riverside business specializing in offering high end products and installation.
But with the collapse of the Inland housing market, the company, AVS Systems, has found that to continue being a successful small business it needed to switch its focus from high-end flat screen televisions and speaker systems to offering home security systems.
It’s a decision owner Art Daza believes will allow his company not only to survive but expand once the economic environment begins to improve.
“I came out to Riverside … when all the new homes were being built,” Daza said. “Construction is done, but we are still here. We’ve always done security systems, but the focus of our business had been on installing entertainment systems.”
In the good times, 80 percent to 90 percent of Daza’s business was installing televisions and speaker systems. But those figures have switched, now security systems make up 80 percent of AVS Systems’ business.
“Last year, we finished a project for the Orange Perris Community Center. It was probably our last TV job,” he said. “Times are changing. Now we are installing a lot more nanny cameras and neighbor cameras. We won’t angle cameras into a neighbor’s house, but the cameras are focused on driveways and back yards.”
He said the neighbor cameras have two purposes: one to settle disputes, while others living in communities with large numbers of foreclosures site security as the main reason for installing cameras. Daza has also experienced an increase in interest from business owners, who use the technology to get a handle on loss prevention or monitoring the productivity of their employees.
AVS Systems’ price structure varies depending on the project. It may be based on the size of the installation or the number of cameras included in a project.
For the installation of a four camera security system, prices range from $1,500 to $2,000. His company will also install a basic, one camera system for between $800 and $900. That includes all the cables and other attachments needed to install additional cameras at a later date.
“These systems also allow the owner to monitor activity from their smart phones,” he said. “There is no monthly fee, but the costs are about $20 to download the application to your Blackberry” or other smart phones.
Not all the firm’s projects are installations, Daza said his company offers security upgrades to their entertainment systems that allow a customer to monitor the cameras from their televisions.He also expects to receive his license within the next 60 to 90 days that will allow AVS Systems to install monitored alarm systems.
“It’s a long process to receive your license,” he said. “We first applied around Christmas. It will allow us to install the monitored systems, while receiving a percentage of the monthly fee customers pay the monitoring company.”
Daza said the monitoring company would handle emergency calls, while his firm would be notified of any problems with the alarm systems.
His firm has sought to created a niche by being able to redo installations of other security systems. He cautioned that many homeowners who buy cheaper security systems at big box retailers and have independent contractors install them face problems later on.
“We have been called to homes where they have left the cables exposed, so we hide all the cables properly behind the walls,” he said. “Also, when the recorder or cameras fail, we have to explain that it is not an installation issue but a quality issue.”
Daza declined to detail profits, though he said the company is profitable. “We were hurting for a while,” he said.
He said with the emphasis on security systems his company over the past six months had been making up for lost business. Daza didn’t expect his television business to return to pre-recession levels, due to changing consumer shopping habits.
“To buy a TV they just run to one of those big box stores,” he said. “We also have been hurt by Sony’s decision to stop selling televisions to us and focusing on stores like Wal-Mart, Sears and Best Buy. There is no margin left in TVs.”
He said AVS Systems does have a showroom at 7123 Arlington Ave. in Riverside. But with the loss of Sony as a supplier that showroom will be closed within the next 30 to 60 days, he said.
“When we do estimates, we’ll do them in home,” said Daza, who added that he was confident that “change will work out well.”
He said AVS Systems focus would remain on Riverside as it has since the business was founded in 1993.
“Because if I don’t focus on Riverside, some other company from Orange County will,” he said. “It’s working out well. If you search for us online we come up in the top three companies. With so many companies that do what we do failing, I’m grateful to still be here.”