My name is Terry Culhane, and I have owned and managed Tripod Audio since 1972. Originally this was in partnership with Tripod Camera Shop, (hence the name Tripod), and the shop was on the second floor across from the Northampton City Hall.
In 1976 we moved across the street to Crafts Avenue, where we stayed for the next twenty years. However by 1996 the audio industry, (and our city), had changed tremendously. Given the trends, it was time to choose between maintaining a traditional retail store, or changing to an alternative model of business, more like an architect or a contractor. At that point we closed the retail store and began operating out of a design showroom.
All of the manufacturers we were dealing with, even the big guns like Sony and Yamaha, encouraged and supported this move to a lower profile, more service oriented operation. These direct connections to the manufacturers are very important. It means we have full access to factory training, technical support, and all of the latest products. Also, since we're buying directly, our prices are very competitive. Everything Tripod Audio sells is factory fresh, and protected by the full manufacturers warranty.
Not long ago it would have been unthinkable to have a stereo store without row upon row of equipment. But as multi-room entertainment systems have become more customized, each system has also become more unique. Homeowners really need someone they can talk to, not a huge store full of look-a-like black boxes. Someone who can help them examine their options step by step, and then create a home entertainment system that will be reliable, simple to operate, and fun to use.
Although superstores may sell a lot of "stuff", manufacturers realize that the big stores will never be able to provide the specialized design, technical, and installation skills that customers need when they're planning a system. Chain stores are certainly not any cheaper, nor can you count on them to provide the timely coordination and follow through that your designers, contractors and cabinet makers need to stay on schedule.
Customer's need specialized assistance for custom installations, and the manufacturers have thrown their full support behind people like us who can provide this service.
Rick Hirt has been helping us for the past two years. He began his career working as a technician at Custom Electronics in 1966, and over the years he has seen the electronics industry from every angle. Rick has a Massachusetts Master Technicians licence, a degree in electronics, and 36 years of experience. And, as if that wasn't enough, his uncle was the trumpeter Al Hirt!
Entertainment systems are all about music and enjoyment. But behind the keypads and the remote controls, the underlying backbone of the system can be very technical. The installation work is frequently demanding and complex. I don't know if Rick's uncle gave him any special musical gifts, but his electronic experience has been very helpful on big installations. Rick has been a big asset, he's great with people and I'm pleased to bring him into our customer's homes.