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Velodyne Appoints New Management Amid Changes

8/06/2012 12:01:00 AM Eastern

MORGAN HILL, CALIF. – Subwoofer supplier
Velodyne Acoustics appointed a new
executive team to shepherd the company’s
entry into new audio product categories, including
headphones, and launch a new channel
strategy.

The new executive lineup includes Stuart
Woods as executive VP/GM, George Manlove
as sales and channel marketing VP, Devon
Bergman as marketing and consumer sales VP,
and Jack Travis as key sales team leader, the
company said.

They join president Marta Hall and founder/CEO
David Hall.

“We’re resetting our audio business,” Manlove said
of the company’s plans.

Woods has 20 years of international technologybased
industry management experience. He has
worked previously for Coherent, SPI Lasers, Cisco
Systems and Pirelli Optical Systems.

In his role at Velodyne, he will oversee the general
management of the company and has responsibilities
in the company’s LiDAR and audio business units and
the advanced research group.

Bergman was product director at Gracenote, where
he spearheaded the development of Gracenote eyeQ,
an interactive program guide adopted by TV manufacturers.
He also worked at Dolby Laboratories.

At Velodyne, Bergman is responsible for defining
and executing Velodyne’s global marketing strategy
and developing a product roadmap as the company
expands into new markets.

Travis managed Monster Cable’s headphone business
and previously served as sales and marketing VP
for Harman’s consumer brands.

Manlove, former CEO of Montana-based A/V specialty
chain Vann’s, was with Vann’s for 26 years. His
focus includes the expansion of the company’s international
sales, which account for about 40 percent of
dollar volume.

Manlove said he came to Velodyne after getting a
graduate degree in marketing because of the company’s
small size, family ownership, and reputation for
innovation.

Velodyne was the first audio company to incorporate
servo technology in subwoofers, he said, but its engineering
innovation goes beyond audio. Through separate Velodyne divisions, company co-founder David Hall spearheaded
the development of LiDAR (Light Detection And
Ranging) technology for use in self-driving vehicles, and he
developed self-leveling technology that keeps marine vehicles
from jet skis to cruise ships from rocking.

Velodyne licensed the self-driving technology to Caterpillar
for mining equipment, and Google is testing it in selfdriving
cars that it is developing.

Shortly, Velodyne will announce a new channel strategy
to make sure Velodyne products “bring value and profitability
to us and our partners” in the U.S. and international markets,
Manlove told TWICE. The company will be “relentless
in protecting the value of its brand,” he said. Without
offering details, he also said the company values “narrow
and selective distribution” and that the company is “looking
for the right relationships.” He also noted that independent
retailers make up “the core of our customer base” but that
for such new product categories as headphones, it’s “important
to look at where customers are shopping.”

Woods said the company will enter “new categories of
personal audio” and that the product expansion “demands
an updated channel-marketing and distribution strategy.”

Velodyne’s distribution strategy changed radically last
year, when the company dropped independent reps and
began selling Velodyne-branded subwoofers to retailers
and distributors direct through in-house salespeople
and through its web site. Like before, dealers who bought
through distributors had to be preapproved by Velodyne.

In another change in 2011, the company began selling
its products direct to consumers via its website, though at
MAP prices. Manlove said direct sales to consumers, however,
are not a priority.

And some months ago Velodyne began to phase out the
Chrysalis brand to focus on building the Velodyne brand.

One channel strategy that won’t change is the use of
in-house sales, whose staff has been beefed up “dramatically,”
Manlove said. He called the inside sales team one of
the strongest in the industry.

As for whether the company will continue to sell through
distributors, Manlove called it “premature” to comment.

Manlove commented plenty about future product plans,
which include an expansion of the company’s headphone
selection. Late last year, the company introduced its first
headphones, an in-ear pair at a suggested $89. To that, Velodyne
will add three more headphone pairs at the CEDIA
Expo and Berlin’s IFA. They will consist of one reference
headphone and two Bluetooth models.

During International CES next year, Velodyne will expand
the selection again with a noise-canceling headphone and
a headphone pair incorporating a technology never before
used in headphones, Manlove said. “It will be a gamechanger
in performance and design,” he promised.

Then, in the spring, Velodyne will launch its first headphone
series for the sports and fitness market.

All headphones will incorporate the company’s “bass
DNA,” he said.

At CES other categories will be introduced, including its
first soundbar, which will be an active model.

In subwoofer-product changes, the company
plans to make running changes to its
existing subwoofers to add built-in wireless.
The changes will begin as soon as inventories
of existing subwoofers need to be replaced,
he said.

Meantime, the company plans at the CEDIA
Expo and IFA to launch three new subwoofers
with built-in wireless.

The company also markets a wireless transmitter
and companion receiver, which can be
added to any existing subwoofer.

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