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Richter, Kestenbaum Form CE Sourcing Firm

7/12/2005 12:15:00 PM Eastern

New York — Joe Richter, longtime president of Kenwood USA, has formally launched 3D Incorporated, based in Newport Coast, Calif., a global firm designed to source products and technologies for the U.S. consumer electronics market.

Richter, founder and president of 3D, said Esther Kestenbaum, has joined the firm as a partner with the title of chief sourcing officer. Kestenbaum was formerly an executive with the James Group, a brand strategy and marketing services firm, and Kay Associates, a consulting firm formerly headed by the late Jerry Kalov.

Richter said that the key problems in the CE industry today are “commoditization and declining profits” that are “having an adverse effect on getting great new technologies to the market.” He said most manufacturers and retailers “spend most of their time just keeping up with competition” rather than “looking for ways to truly stand out in the market.”

The primary objective of 3D is to “seek out breakthrough products and technologies being developed by exceptional companies throughout the world, particularly in Israel, and then introduce those companies to the right partners in this market.”

Richter, who visited TWICE offices today, said 3D will operate in three basic ways: represent foreign technology companies and introduce them to U.S. manufacturers for introduction into this market, introduce overseas CE suppliers with no U.S. presence to retailers for private-label deals, and help overseas CE manufacturers with no sales and marketing subsidiary here set up offices and hire the proper U.S. execs who have connections with top CE retailers.

“We wanted to avoid being thought of as a ‘consulting company’ and we did not want to be referred to as a ‘rep company,’” Richter said.

Richter formed the company last year, but only decided to make it operational early this year after a chance meeting with the late Jerry Kalov at the 90th birthday party for longtime Kenwood executive and CE Hall of Famer Bill Kasuga in February. “I talked to Jerry about what I was doing and he discussed his company, and we thought we might be able to work together.”

A couple of weeks later Kalov passed away and, “I felt sorrow and disappointment.” said Richter. “He was a great industry leader. About our conversation, I thought that was that.” But two weeks after that, “I got a call from Esther who said that Jerry talked to her about our conversation, and asked me if I wanted to continue,” and soon after than 3D became operational.

Richter noted that by next week “we will be announcing our first deals,” contracts for development programs with one or more Israeli companies.

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