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Russound Plans Strategies To Cope With Housing Market

Newmarket, N.H. – 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

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.

Hirshkind was senior product manager of ADI,
a Honeywell International division that supplies security and low-voltage
products on a wholesale basis. Shimonishi, previously with NetStreams, has also
worked for Sonance, Kenwood and Pioneer.