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Sonance Co-Founders Return To Manage Company

2/09/2004 02:00:00 AM Eastern

Sonance founders and board members Scott Struthers and Geoff Spencer returned to day-to-day management positions with the intent to strengthen the brand and dealer relations, the company said.

CEO Chip Brown went on paid administrative leave.

The duo hired Brown in 1999 to leverage his management experience at Pepsico, Ford and other companies to take Sonance from an entrepreneurial company to the next level.

Under Brown's tenure, sales and profitability rose, Struthers told TWICE, but the co-founders "want to make sure Sonance and the market are synchronized to allow Sonance to take advantage of future opportunities in the market," the company said in a prepared statement. "We look forward," Struthers added in the prepared statement, "to focusing on strengthening our Sonance relationships and the Sonance brand."

In an interview, Struthers also said he and Spencer want "to focus more on branding" to "make sure the message is clear that we have the best, cutting-edge products and that we're not a commodity." The pair also wants to "shine more light on high-end products," he said.

Citing "confusion in the market," he said he and Spencer want to make sure that dealers are "excited" about the brand. "We have a good strong foundation, and we want to communicate that foundation and make sure everyone feels as best as possible" about the brand.

Major changes made under Brown's tenure are not in jeopardy, Struthers said, but he and Spencer will "look at them to make sure they are maximizing their goals."

Last year under Brown's tenure, Sonance continued to expand its product assortment and also launched a lower priced custom-install line targeted at tract-home builders. The tract-builder line is sold by Sonance's traditional dealers to the builders, but the line was open to nontraditional installers, such as security installers and electricians.

Late last year, the company also undertook a restructuring to move decision-making closer to the customer, the company said at the time. Four regional general managers would be given full profit and loss accountability for the Sonance and Architectural Audio brands in their regions. Each region would also get its own product specialist, doubling the number of product specialists in the field to help the company double the number of customer training sessions offered in the field in 2004.

"We are not walking away from our current customers or distribution strategies," sales and marketing VP Hal Hufford told TWICE.

Other recent changes included an expansion of the customer support staff so that each region has its own customer-service representative and accelerating response times to dealer requests for products needed for jobs in progress.

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