EOC Audio’s new 2400-square-foot showroom, more than a year and a half in the making, is finally done. Well, they want to do more acoustics work in the home theater, so…mostly done. And they are almost finished adding a brand-new golf simulator room…. Okay, how about sort of done?
“We have redesigned everything three times during the process and changed it a million times, just like everybody does,” says David Wexler, senior director at the Lisle, IL-based integrator, which, despite the name that it has had since it opened in 2007 by the owner James Galla, offers full technology services for the home, including lighting, motorized shades, and outdoor AV. “EOC is founded on the principle of making people happy. So, it is all about making sure customers are not just okay, but totally satisfied with their experience. We are a ‘yes’ company — it’s saying ‘yes’ to almost anything.”
To demonstrate the company’s amenability to almost anything, its new showroom showcases a host of smart home and AV technologies from supportive vendors such as ELAN, McIntosh, Origin Acoustics, Sony, Sonance, Draper, Séura, Vantage, and many more. And to assist the sales team with the walkthroughs, EOC created an automated sales scene for each area.
“There’s an all-off button in the conference room, where the tour starts, so the whole showroom goes dark,” says Wexler. “Then you walk down the hallway to the showroom’s front door and, as you’re approaching the door, the lights come on. Then as you ring the doorbell some lights flash and change color inside and the whole showroom lights up. We have a specific demo, and the salespeople have to get certified as showroom specialists to use it.”
The first stop is the kitchen/dining room area, which purposely does not feature a ton of gadgets, but gives a quick glimpse of the possibilities. Amazon Alexa offers up a good-morning scene with a Samsung Frame television, a top-seller for EOC, hanging above the stove and Sonance mini-architectural speakers in the ceiling.
The guests experience the outdoor area next, which, for now, is not actually outdoors, but is still able to showcase outdoor televisions from Samsung and Séura, as well as different speaker combinations from James Loudspeaker and Origin Acoustics. It also features outdoor shades from Progressive Screens. “That room is not quite complete yet because we haven’t decided what we’re going to do with one section of the ceiling,” says Wexler. “We want to make it a skyscape where we could turn the lights on and demonstrate why the TVs need to be as bright as they are.”
Related: The Showroom as a Destination
The tour then enters the bar area, which activates the TVs and music as the guests arrive. That room features a Sony 8K television with the ELAN Tiler on it that can show up to four different channels. Future ideas for this space include adding pendant speakers and an eventual video wall, which would help show EOC’s talents to their commercial clients.
“When we’re in the bar, we hit the Entertain button, which shows clients how, with one simple button push, everything goes to the same source on all the TVs that they can see from that space,” says Wexler. “All the music switches to the same music throughout the entire space, too, just to give them a concept of the power of automation.”
The automation lesson continues in the next space, as well. “In the living room we hit a button and the blinds and lights go down, the MantelMount automatically lowers itself into position, and we have a ‘fireplace’ turn on,” says Wexler. “The fireplace is also a television, so we have a fireplace video running on the fireplace TV.”
The main television in the room is a Sony OLED, and there are two independent surround systems — a passive soundbar from Leon featured up front in one and a complete in-ceiling option from Origin Acoustics for the other, both are powered by Sony ES receivers. There is a 2-channel demo area, as well, and the main speakers are…a bit of a misdirection. “We tell people that we want them to hear some of our absolute favorite speakers,” explains Wexler, “and we have a pair of bookshelf GoldenEars sitting on stands that aren’t hooked up. We play them some audio and they’re blown away by how good they sound. Then we explain that what they’re actually hearing are the built-in Sonance invisibles in the wall. They’re totally amazed — especially the designers and the builders who we bring through.”
Those disappointed in not getting to hear the GoldenEars will be satisfied in the next space — the home theater — which features the company’s Triton speakers in the front, as well as JL Audio subwoofers. On the video side, the room features a Sony 4K projector and a screen from Draper. Seating is from several manufacturers, including Salamander Designs. The Dolby Atmos room includes amplification and processing from McIntosh.
“It’s a mid-level theater and we did that on purpose,” says Wexler. “We could have built a palace-type theater, but we felt it was the right price point to not intimidate somebody. Otherwise, they just say, ‘Of course, that sounds good — it’s $200,000.’”
The final stop on the tour is the master bathroom, which features a Séura Vanity TV Mirror above the sink and a second television in an unusual place. “We put a TV in the shower,” says Wexler. “That freaks people out, and they ask, ‘Why would anybody watch TV in the shower?’ But once they see we can do it, then they want to do it.”
However, like the closing credits in a Marvel movie, the tour still has one surprise left. Walking a path through the warehouse takes clients to the so-brand-new-it’s-unpictured golf simulator room. “We just got it up and running, and we’re playing with the video wall and plan to add a bar in there, too,” says Wexler. “We felt having this technology was important because our clients are doing it and so many of our other clients are asking for it.”
Related: Showrooms – Selling the Experience
Now that it is (mostly) complete, EOC has been working to get the word out to their builder and end-user clientele, as well as reaching out to new customers. “In the last six months we have started advertising on the radio a lot,” says Wexler. “We’re building a presence on the local sports station called The Score. We are getting people who just stop in. And we do have a sign out front that invites them into our experience center — no appointment necessary.”
Of course, one of the main concerns in investing so heavily in a space such as this is that you will get people “showrooming,” where they see what it can do in your space but then buy from someone else. Wexler, however, is not at all phased by that.
“It’s about creating passion for what we provide. It’s about getting people excited about what you’re doing,” he says. “If we let somebody come to our showroom for a demo and they go buy something somewhere else, then we didn’t do our job correctly. When we’re done, if they don’t believe in EOC and they don’t believe we’re the right place, then something’s wrong.”
Showroom Showcase: EOC Audio
Location: Lisle, IL
Showroom Dimensions (square feet): 2400
Brands Featured: Bowers Wilkins, Coastal Source, ELAN, Furman Power, GoldenEar, Panamax, QMotion, Samsung, Sonos, Sony, SurgeX, Vantage
Fun Fact: Design-style showroom with ELAN control, Vantage lighting, outdoor display, kitchen, bar area, golf simulator, theater, master bathroom, board room, and living room.
Anthony Savona is the content director for Residential Systems and the VP/Content Creation for Future plc’s B2B — AV Tech Group, which includes industry-leading brands such as Systems Contractor News, Sound & Video Contractor, AV Technology, AV Network, Mix, and TWICE.