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Russound Has Plans To Cope With Housing Mkt.

Russound plans multiple initiatives to cope with the struggling housing market, including a streamlined management structure to speed up decision making, an expansion into new distribution niches, and more emphasis on video-distribution products, company CEO Charlie Porritt told TWICE.

As part of its strategy, the multi-room-audio company hired R.J. Hirshkind to the new position of sales and marketing VP and Petro Shimonishi to the new position of VP of new business development. Both report directly to Porritt.

Shimonishi will develop new business opportunities and focus on “new products, services and integration partnerships that generate new revenue streams for Russound,” the company said.

In his position, Hirshkind combines sales and marketing responsibilities previously divided between two people. In addition, product management will report to Hirshkind instead of directly to Porritt. The new management structure, Porritt said, will speed up internal decision making.

To expand business, the company will investigate opening up sales to commercial installers, perhaps with existing residential products that could be used in light commercial installs, Porritt said.

He pointed out that in her previous job at NetStreams, Shimonishi was commercial sales VP as well as marketing and product management VP.

Likewise, Russound plans to market its Collage powerline-based multi-room-audio system to low-voltage and electrical contractors, not just to residential A/V installers, via custom distributors who themselves are targeting low-voltage and electrical contractors to help offset the eroding base of residential installers. Collage is designed for easy installation into existing homes to make up for the dramatic decline in new-home construction.

Porritt emphasized the company isn’t looking to add “a ton of new distribution” and it approves all of the installers who buy through its distributors.

The previously announced Collage system, shipping in October, “will open different markets for us and installers,” Porritt said. Collage, he added, “will find niches we haven’t thought of.”

In another sales-building effort, Russound will expand its video-distribution effort. “We are evaluating the video distribution space to determine which products best fit our strategic plan and where Russound can add the most value for our customer base,” Porritt said. The company already markets a CAT-5e system that distributes HD component video around the house. HDMI-video distribution is one possibility for future products, the company said. The company also plans second-quarter 2010 shipments of a Collage-system source bridge that will enable connected security cameras to send video over powerlines to the LCD displays of amplified in-wall keypads. The source bridge will also connect IR-controlled legacy music sources to a Collage network, which is designed mainly for such new media sources as Internet radio, a networked iPod dock due in the second quarter of 2010, and digital music stored on a networked PC or network-attached storage device.

In other initiatives, the company plans to go green by launching EnergyStar-certified products and products that meet European energy-consumption standards, Porritt said.