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D&M’s Weissburg Discusses Snell, Escient Moves

4/19/2010 12:01:00 AM Eastern

MAHWAH, N.J. — D&M Holdings
will close down its Snell Acoustics and
Escient operations, but the brands’ technologies
will be incorporated into D&M’s
other consumer brands, said Bob Weissburg,
sales and marketing president for
D&M North America.

D&M has already discontinued manufacturing
of Escient products but will
produce Snell speakers through May,
then sell out Snell’s inventory, he said.
D&M will maintain the two brand’s
customer service, technical support and
repair operations, and it will provide
promised updates no later than June for
Escient’s Vision A/V server, he said.

A poor economy took its toll on the
brands, but on top of that, D&M said in
a written statement, “The changing landscape
of the speaker industry has made
it extremely difficult for Snell to remain
a viable business.” The high-end speaker
brand did the majority of its business in
the custom-install market, which has been
hard hit by the collapse in new-home construction,
Weissburg told TWICE. And
in in-room speakers, “big speakers are not
the trend right now,” he added.

As for the future sales potential of
Escient’s media-management systems and
standard-definition video server systems,
he said, demand for “single-purpose products
could be diminished over time.”

The two brands are North American
brands, and their technologies can be put to
good use in some of D&M’s core residential
brands, which are globally marketed,
he noted. The core brands are Denon, Marantz,
Boston Acoustics and McIntosh.

D&M isn’t interested in using the Snell
technology to take the Boston Acoustics
brand to higher price points, Weissburg
said. Boston is positioned as delivering high
performance at great value, he explained.

Snell technology, however, could possibly
be used in future McIntosh speakers
or in Denon-brand speakers, which
are available in Japan where Denon is
positioned as a high-end speaker brand,
Weissburg said.

McIntosh and Snell are likewise positioned
in the high end of the speaker market,
although Snell’s selection starts at
lower price points. McIntosh offers custom-
install speakers priced from $2,500
to $12,000 per pair, and Snell custom speakers range from $650 to $10,000 a
pair. In in-room speakers, McIntosh offers
speakers from $12,000 to $100,000
per pair compared to Snell’s $4,000 to
$50,000 per pair, McIntosh said.

Weissburg also said D&M wouldn’t rebadge
current Escient products with the
brand names of core brands, but D&M
could embed some of Escient’s menu and
user-interface technologies into other
brands’ products to manage media.

Though D&M is shutting down the two
brands, the company nonetheless closed
out fiscal 2009, ending March, with what
it called “a significant improvement in profitability.”
Profi tability grew because of better
inventory management, a streamlining
of operations, and cost reductions, among
other changes, Weissburg said. The company,
owned by Bain Capital, operated in the
black in fiscal 2009 and 2008, he added.

Snell Acoustics was founded in 1976
and purchased in 1995 by Boston Acoustics,
which was founded in 1979. Boston
and Snell were then purchased by D&M
in 2005. Escient was founded in 1995
and purchased by D&M in 2003. Other
consumer brands purchased by D&M
in recent years and later closed down or
sold off are Replay TV and Rio.

D&M’s commercial and professional
brands are Allen and Heath, Calrec,
D&M Premium Sound Solutions (formerly
Philips Sound Solutions), Denon
DJ and D&M Professional.

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