By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Sonance plans to leverage its purchase of Sound Advance Systems to expand the market for no-grille flat-panel speakers that disappear behind a coat of paint or wallpaper after installation in a wall or ceiling.
Santa Ana-based Sound Advance Systems is descended from high-end speaker company Bertagni Electroacoustic Systems (BES) and is the primary supplier of invisible grille-less in-wall and in-ceiling speakers.
The first-ever acquisition by Sonance will expand Sonance's product portfolio as well as increase penetration in the custom-install market of flat-panel technology, which was under-marketed by the previous owners, said Sonance's president Scott Struthers. "Sound Advance was growing very slowly," he said. Sonance has been "very interested" in acquiring Sound Advance for many years, but "the opportunity presented itself last year," he noted.
Invisible speakers represent one of the custom industry's "Holy Grails," added sales and marketing VP Mitch Witten.
Sonance bought the global commercial and residential rights to Sound Advance patents and trademarks not only because the technology had been under-marketed but because Sound Advance had been "very successful in patenting and protecting its technologies," Witten continued. Perhaps because of those patents, Sonance doesn't believe any other company in the United States is marketing flat-panel speakers intended to disappear after in-wall installation, he said.
Under the terms of the purchase, Sound Advance's previous owners will get royalties on sales for "a substantial period of time," said Struthers. In return, Sonance took control of Sound Advance's Santa Ana factory and operations and will leave them as is. Chief engineers Alex and Eduardo Bertagni, sons of late Sound Advance founder Jose Bertagni, will stay on and work closely with Sonance's engineering team.
The Sound Advance logo will continue to appear on products, but Sonance said it will "associate" its own brand with the Sound Advance brand. Although flat-panel speakers will not appear in products bearing only the Sonance brand, Sonance said it can use Sound Advance technologies to improve Sonance's traditional speakers.
Sound Advance's "pretty considerable" dealer base has been invited to stay on board, and Sonance dealers have been invited to take on the Sound Advance line, said Witten. Sound Advance dealers won't automatically become Sonance dealers, however, given that Sonance isn't too familiar with the large number of Sound Advance dealers that target commercial markets, he noted. About 30 percent of Sound Advance's volume is in commercial sales.
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