By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Bob Hana, formerly NEC Technologies' Visual Systems Division VP, was named president of high-end custom home theater display manufacturer Runco International.
Hana will oversee the day-to-day operations, reporting to Sam Runco, who retains his role as CEO. At NEC, Hana had been responsible for the overall division management. NEC produces and sells large-screen professional multimedia presentation products including LCD and DLP-based projection systems and large screen plasma display monitors in North America. Runco is one of NEC's major customers, purchasing components and video systems from the commercial products manufacturer.
Joining Hana at Runco will be Ben Jamison, a one-time NEC worldwide sales and marketing manager and longtime industry veteran, who will be the new sales and marketing VP. Jamison replaces Chuck Turigliatto, who left Runco "to pursue opportunities within the audio industry."
Jamison has held key positions in several leading technology companies, and has "extensive experience in consumer electronics and professional video sales and marketing."
Jamison is said to have considerable experience in strategic marketing and business development at such professional broadcast equipment companies as AMPEX and Abekas Video Systems.
TWICE recently interviewed Hana about his plans coming into Runco International:
TWICE: You've had a long career at NEC, why are joining Runco now?
Hana: The reason Sam and I talked about this was the desire to take Runco International to the next level. It's a company that has been doing a phenomenal job and has a great reputation. It has been growing with a family-style entrepreneurial spirit. But as a company grows there is also a lot of weight in the infrastructure and systems that needs to be reinforced as it heads into its next stage.
One of the objectives I have coming in is to prepare the company for its next level of growth internally and externally. The other aspect is to continue to grow the strength in the Runco brand as we take the Vidikron and Projectavision brands to market.
TWICE: Runco announced the acquisition of the Vidikron and Projectavision brands last year. But the launch of Vidikron's first products have been pushed back from March until May, and no plans have been announced for Projectavision. What do you envision as the role for these new lines?
Hana: Vidikron and Projectavision will mark a new direction for Runco to some degree. But on the other hand, the marketplace and how to deal with home theater is not new. Our initial positioning for Vidikron will continue to be a high-caliber, high-performance product. We will use it to move into another dealer network tier that is a little bit different. The reputation and the equity in the marketplace for the Vidikron brand is still there, and to know that the back-end of it is supported by a company like Runco is a great combination that should be accepted very well. The business plan for Projectavision has yet to be honed out, so I can't really speak to that yet.
TWICE: As you begin to enter the market with the Vidikron and Projectavision brands, do you expect to change at all the way you position Runco?
Hana: No. Runco will continue to be a full line for the custom installed marketplace. Vidikron will be positioned as a somewhat more affordable line for a broader retail marketplace. The reach is a little different, and the selling and go-to-market strategy will be a little bit different.
TWICE: At NEC, you had worked with Runco, selling components and products manufactured to its specs, for some time. How did that start?
Hana: When I started with NEC, my charter was on the consumer side. NEC Home Electronics was moving out of an OEM relationship with Curtis Mathes and JCPenney, and putting the NEC brand in for the first time. For the first seven years, I was responsible for directing the marketing efforts for the consumer brand of NEC in the U.S.
At the end of that lifecycle, NEC manufactured improved-definition rear-projection television, and other advanced pre-digital rear-projection systems. When NEC elected to exit the consumer electronics business, we were given the opportunity to move into the commercial side. It was in 1991 when Sam and I were first introduced. Sam purchased the first products of that commercial business, which were essentially the carryover improved definition sets NEC had sold on the consumer side.
From there was started the whole home theater initiative, with the development of aspect ratio controllers and so on that helped Runco become well known in the industry. Essentially, we were building CRT projectors that were modified or specially made for [Sam Runco].
TWICE: NEC is a commercial business today, but more and more the NEC brand is popping up in home theater sales. Were you competing with Runco while you were selling to them?
Hana: The arrangement for many years was, and for the most part continues to be, a commercial [video display] business. In the last couple of years there has been so much crossover among, not only in NEC but also among many of the commercial manufacturers, that anywhere from between 10 to 20 percent of their business is crossover [into high-end home theater].
TWICE: Will Runco's relationship with NEC change now?
Hana: As I've told Sam many times, the relationship shouldn't be dependent on Bob Hana staying at NEC, and it's not. It's really a relationship that is in other elements of the NEC organization. It is in understanding the technologies that might be developing there and in knowing which of those technologies may be appropriate to slot into Runco International, as well as any other sources.
TWICE: What are your primary goals at Runco?
Hana: From the revenue side, with the combination of brands, we will be looking at doubling the business base.
TWICE: What can dealers expect to see in Runco now that you are on board?
Hana: One of Runco's issues has been in addressing how fast product lifecycles have come and the time-to-market of products. Where I think dealers will see an improvement is in the information and communication, improvement in the timing to market as well as greater ease in doing business with Runco.
In support, I would like to ratchet up our dealer satisfaction levels. Imagine the company as it grew — it was put together in sort of a patchwork fashion. The experience I bring is the ability to organize that in a fashion so that it becomes much more systematic.
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.