Furrion is a company on the move — not just in a business sense, but also in what they produce. Known primarily in the RV and marine space, Furrion creates products that make outdoor adventures more enjoyable — and that includes the backyard. While it has supplied priced-right outdoor televisions to the CI market for the past few years, Furrion is pushing further into the market with unique feature sets added to its televisions along with adding a complementary line of outdoor audio solutions.
Grant Olafson, VP of Furrion’s consumer division, gives a preview of what is to come and explains why dealers should get to know the company.
RESIDENTIAL SYSTEMS: What products are included in the Furrion outdoor AV product ecosystem?
GRANT OLAFSON: In the ecosystem, we have three different types of outdoor TVs — Full Shade, Partial Sun, and the Sun Series, which would address a full-Sun situation. The main difference between those are brightness levels for the screen and on the Partial Sun and Sun models we have tempered glass to be able to protect against balls being thrown around the backyard, hail, flying debris, and other things like that.
We also have a lineup of wireless soundbars that attach directly to the TV. We will soon be launching a soundbar plus external wireless sub bundle, as well as a lineup of landscape speakers. All those products can work in an ecosystem — basically backyard AV in a box.
Who do you see as the ideal Furrion customer?
From an end-user standpoint, certainly, it’s somebody that is looking at a TV for their backyard. Our strategy when we launched a few years ago was to fill in the gap that we saw between the price of an indoor TV and what the price was for an outdoor TV. At that time, outdoor TVs were $5000 up to $13,000, so we nestled into where we’re at today, which is $1399 up to $3699 retail.
What is the lead time between placing an order and delivery?
We have inventory readily available in our warehouse and our distributors’ warehouses, so I would say anywhere from three to seven days.
What do you look for in a residential integration company to work with?
We’re looking for those that are finding missed opportunities — meaning they may offer a high-priced option for outdoor TVs, but if their customer is not interested in spending that much money, their options are to either walk away or buy an indoor TV and use that outdoors, which we certainly want to stay away from.
Do you have any dealer programs?
We are consistently running promotions, which was not happening in the outdoor TV space when we entered. We had price promotions and value-add promotions. We also offer merchandising solutions for dealers, showrooms, and retailers that include fully functional working displays or fixtures, as well as pop-up banners and collateral for the store and handouts.
Does Furrion work with any buying groups?
We’ve been a part of Nationwide for almost four years now. We are at their PrimeTime events and participate in any other opportunities they have.
In your opinion, what sets your outdoor televisions apart from the competition?
The main difference is the affordable price point, but being affordable doesn’t mean that you can’t get quality and you can’t get the features you’re looking for — because you can with our TVs.
In terms of feature set, there are two big differences. One, we have impact-resistant glass on our TVs called Extreme Shield™, which has an IK rating of 8 where 10 is the maximum. What that means is you can take a 3-pound steel ball and drop it from 1 meter high and it will bounce off the screen without leaving a blemish. Plus, it stands up to the elements.
The second big difference is we integrate external antennas into our televisions, so these are smart TVs. When you go outdoors, you’re further away from the router, which is typically indoors and you’re going through at least one exterior wall and maybe even through an interior wall as well. Our built-in antenna will enhance the Wi-Fi by two times.
We take that antenna technology from one of our other products in another division. Our parent company is Lippert, a $5.2 billion company that historically has most of its businesses in the RV, marine, and automotive channels. We’re about 80 percent of the market for backup and observation cameras for RVs. So, when you have to shoot that signal from the wireless camera on the back of an RV that’s being towed, it has to make it wirelessly all the way up to the cab. We took that antenna technology and integrated it into the TV to help boost the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth signals.
What kind of warranty do you have on your televisions?
We now offer a two-year warranty.
Do you have an example of a CI dealer achieving success with Furrion?
Absolutely. We had a dealer that was running into price-point issues. He had another solution in his lineup, but a lot of customers just weren’t willing to pay that much money. Furrion gives him exactly what he needs and he fell in love with the tempered glass because it’s a huge selling point for him and gives the consumer some comfort. This one installer did about 50 TVs alone over the course of the summer.
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You mentioned several new products coming out soon. What plans do you have for the custom installation industry?
We are just about finished with our driver development for some of the different control platforms — including Control4, Savant, ELAN, and Crestron. And there are some others that are in the works.
Regarding the new products, we have one of the soundbars in our lineup today and we have another model with a few more connection options that’s launching in the spring. The soundbar/subwoofer combo will be available in late spring/early summer and then the landscape audio solution will be available in March or April. The landscape audio will be sold as a 4.1 system, all-in-one box. We’ll have two options — a 4-inch speaker with a 10-inch sub and a 3-inch speaker with an 8-inch sub. Those are expandable up to an 8.2 system, so you can purchase speakers in pairs along with an additional subwoofer.
Is there anything else that dealers should know about your products?
We do have a few other accessories that we offer as well. We have a lineup of outdoor-rated TV mounts — a flat/tilt mount, and a full-motion, articulating mount. We also have a ceiling mount that can be placed under decks or overhangs. We have a lineup of outdoor TV covers, but those are more for use as a dust cover — they’re not required for the TV, but they’re very useful to keep it clean.
What other kinds of outdoor products can we expect from Furrion?
Furrion hasn’t been a household name unless you have an RV. In the RV world, we do electronics and appliances, but what we always tell people is we are a true “outdoor on the go” company. We make products that can stand up to the elements, whether it’s our RV, marine, or automotive for towing and hitches, and the same applies to our outdoor AV products.
There are a lot of other products that we do and will continue to pull into this space from other areas. An example would be our iceless electric cooler that can go down to –8 degrees to freeze product. You can charge it or power it via 110- or 12-volt, but it also has a removable lithium-ion battery that gives you up to five days of cooling and freezing all while being unplugged.
Think about that when the power goes out — what happens first during a storm? The power goes out. What happens after that? The sun comes out, so you can plug in a solar panel and keep the battery topped off as well.
There are pieces like that that come in from other divisions that we can work with. Maybe it’s RV-grade, but with a little quarter turn we can turn it into a residential product.
What does a dealer need to do to get involved with Furrion?
The easiest way would be to go to the Furrion website and send an e-mail from there. That’ll make it to myself or one of my counterparts and then we can steer the dealer in the direction of the proper distributor in the proper channel. They will also be able to find us at many industry trade shows, including CEDIA Expo.
For more information, visit https://furrion.com/pages/home-commercial.