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The Capitol Sales Value Proposition

Today I had the good fortune to spend an hour talking to one of the more well-respected distributors of the custom installation industry, Curt Hayes of Capitol Sales. It was nice catching up on Capitol's recent history and new business developments.

Where do your product lines come from? Chances are you procure a sizable percentage of your “inventory” from a distribution company or stocking rep.

Today I had the good fortune to spend an hour talking to one of the more well-respected distributors of the custom installation industry, Curt Hayes of Capitol Sales. Hayes was visiting New York City from Minneapolis on a media tour to the various trade magazines on the east coast. We had talked at CEDIA EXPO in years past, but it was nice catching up on Capitol’s recent history and new business developments.

Curt Hayes, President and CFO, Capitol SalesHayes prides himself on his company’s ability to bring products from 125 different manufacturers together into solutions for custom installers. Capitol provides technical and business training at CEDIA EXPO each fall and EH Expo in the spring and fall. The distributor also holds its own training session in Minneapolis each March (burr!), where 58 classes are held in two days. In all, 1,200 integrators (representing 20 states) were trained by Capitol Sales in 2006. Some were new entrants into the industry, but most were returning veterans in search of new knowledge in our ever-changing business, according to Hayes.

Capitol Sales runs out of a single location in Minneapolis, whereas more and more distributors are supporting multiple locations. Hayes spins this fact as an advantage, saying that his company can ships products from a single location, simplifying the delivery process for the integrator on a job site. Also, freight charges are waved on all Capitol Sales orders that are place online.

Capitol’s value proposition seems to be working well, as the company has grown 15-20 percent each year in the last 15 years. Employees are happy too, apparently, with Capitol’s average tenure being seven years and some sales staff serving as much as 15 years with them.

The latest news for Capitol Sales involves the state licensing of two of its employees to teach CEU credit classes to low-voltage installers based in Minnesota.

In addition, Capitol Sales responded quickly to a new nationwide shipping requirement implemented by major ground parcel carriers this years. Carriers began charging freight with a new rate calculation called “dimensional-weight,” determined by the length, height, and width of the box in addition to weight. By investing in new technology, Capitol Sales automated this element of the shipping process.

Using “The Dimmer” parcel dimension capturing device from Datatrak, the Capitol Sales team can automatically capture parcel dimension and weight with the push of a button. The information automatically feeds into a shipping software system that calculates shipping costs and prints a label, allowing shipment within seconds of processing. The upshot is that integrators may get packages a day earlier, and they instantly have information of freight charges, so they can be charged back to the job.

I may not sound glamorous, but it’s the type of business efficiency that can put more dollars in not only Capitol Sales pockets, but also yours.