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Sunfire Fired Up As Elan Subsidiary

Snohomish, Wash. — Sunfire is expanding its dealer base and enjoying organic growth from current dealers now that its integration with Elan’s sales and support functions is complete, the company said.

Last summer, Sunfire was purchased from Bob Carver by Linear, the owner of such custom install brands as Niles and Elan. In the fall, Sunfire became an Elan subsidiary to share sales, support and engineering resources while retaining its brand identity, its chief designer and president Bob Carver, and its separate dealer-franchising arrangements.

Earlier this year the number of Sunfire’s inside regional sales managers dropped to six from two when Elan sales managers picked up responsibility for Sunfire sales. Sunfire also gained the use of Elan’s six regional technical advisers, enabling it to send technical representatives to job sites when necessary. In addition, Sunfire changed 75 percent of its rep force early this year so that Sunfire and Elan share almost all of the same rep firms. Because it now shares reps with Elan, “Sunfire gets more attention from its reps,” a spokesman said.

Also helping boost revenue are sales programs that give incentives to dealers to sell both brands, the spokesman added. Dealers selling both brands benefit from a “partnership program” under which dealers who purchase select dollar amounts of each brand are entitled to a percentage discount off any purchase order placed within the following six-month period. Other companies usually require that the percentage discount be taken on the next purchase order, no matter how small the order is, Sunfire said.

In the three-month period ending June, the brands’ shared sales managers were expected to expand Sunfire’s dealer/installer base by about 90 accounts to a total of about 400.

The company said its next step would be to boost visibility within blue-chip accounts to create a buzz.

With the Sunfire acquisition, Linear for the first time bought more traditional home audio supplier that offered component audio electronics and speakers but little in the way of dedicated custom products such as distributed audio systems, architectural speakers and IR repeater systems.

Sunfire’s product lines complement Elan’s, which lacked a presence in home theater components such as receivers, home theater processors, five- and seven-channel home theater amps and cabinet speakers. Elan does offer music servers; a DVD-management system; custom installed in-wall and in-ceiling speakers for home theater use; multiroom audio components; and two, six- and 12-channel amps for multiroom applications.

The latest Sunfire products include a trio of powered subwoofers, four home theater amplifiers and the fifth-generation Theater Grand tuner/preamp/processor. The $3,499-suggested two-zone TGP-5 processor adds HDMI switching, a Web server for control from PDAs and Web tablets, Ethernet port to join an RS-232 port for firmware upgrades and control by multiple home-control systems, and digital implementation of Carver’s Sonic Holography technology, which creates a wider, higher and deeper front sound stage. Like before, the processor has eight-channel inputs, phono stage and outputs for a 9.3-channel speaker system that includes side-axis speakers.

The four new Theater Grand amplifiers are five- and seven-channel models priced from $2,725 to $4,449. They feature Carver’s Tracking Down Converter power supplies, which double the output of a class A/B amp with each halving of impedance with no audio-quality loss and without requiring oversized power supplies and heat sinks, Carver said.

Also new are three compact but high-output powered subs that bring Sunfire’s opening price to a suggested $650 from $1,000. The D series tops out at a suggested $899.

Direct engineering support from Elan will help bring products to market faster in the future, the company added.