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Russound Plans Commercial Products; Rajeev Agarwal Returns As Engineering VP

Custom-audio supplier Russound is expanding into light-commercial products and building up its engineering capabilities on the eve of its 50th year in business.

The privately held company, founded in 1967, is also taking step to expand its international presence, said CEO Charlie Porritt.

A complete 70-volt light-commercial solution due in the fourth quarter will be unveiled at the Sept. 13-17 2016 CEDIA Expo in Dallas, and additional products will be unveiled at a later date, Porritt said. The company plans 70-volt streaming source units, amps, volume controls, and indoor and outdoor speakers.

The expansion into light commercial will help the company build sales in the segment after having supplied only 70-volt volume controls. Typical Russound dealers derive about 30 percent of their revenues from commercial installs in doctor’s offices, coffee shops, bars, yoga studios, and the like, Porritt said.

Some of Russound’s dealers press the company’s residential products into service in light-commercial applications, and others use 70-volt products from other suppliers, Porritt said.

In commercial applications, dedicated commercial solutions are easier to wire up than systems designed for residential use, thus reducing installation time, said Colin Clark, who has been promoted from product development director to product development VP. Commercial solutions are also easier to maintain in commercial applications than residential solutions, he noted.

The product launch will also encourage some Russound dealers to expand into commercial once they see that dedicated products speed install time, Clark said.

Some of Russound’s commercial products, however, are also likely to make their way into residential installs. Commercial 70-volt outdoor speakers and amplifiers, for example, are more appropriate than traditional 8-ohm speakers and amps for use in large backyards, he noted.

Engineering resources: In another change, Russound expanded its engineering resources with the return of Rajeev Agarwal to his previous position as engineering VP after a four-year absence. He held positions with Bose and ran his own wireless development company, Nitro Networks, before returning to Russound.

With Agarwal’s hiring, Clark will focus on finding and developing new products, while Agarwal will develop strategies to continue making quality improvements, manage costs, and accelerate time to market, Porritt said. “It’s all about speed,” Porritt said. “You have to be fast and nimble.”

Clark will make efforts to expand the availability of Apple AirPlay and popular streaming services in Russound’s product selection, the company added.

In another personnel move, the company contracted with Pete Baker of The Big Corp. to take on the role of EMEA and APAC sales manager, filling a position vacant for about three years. He also represents about six other companies in foreign markets, mostly in the residential and commercial install fields.

Baker has 25 years of experience in the custom-install market, having been a custom integrator and RTI sales and marketing VP.