Sun. Sand. 1080p. Yes it’s the annual Runco Mexico Getaway in Cabo San Lucas, a unique forum for fun and knowledge starring the industry’s top-selling dealers, reps, and the worldwide press. The Runco retreat is a highlight for many custom integration professionals and perhaps even more significant this year as it is the first event after Planar’s acquisition of the business in 2007.
How the acquisition would shake out was on everyone’s minds leading up to this event. A merger of two company cultures is never easy, and because Runco is synonymous with a niche, family-oriented, luxury brand, there was trepidation about new corporate DNA. Also challenging are the tedious (and sometimes heartbreaking) housekeeping measures like staff reductions and Runco’s move to parent company headquarters in Oregon.
Scott Hix, Planar home theater display products group VP, is confident that the transition has been successful, and that the systems are firmly in place for enhanced innovation and improved product availability. Sam Runco, founder of Runco and industry luminary (inventor of myriad industry firsts such as the internal line-doubler and aspect-ratio controller) also shared his enthusiasm about Planar’s new muscle about his enduring commitment to customer satisfaction and the ultimate “home theater experience,” he said.
As for the 2008 forecasts, Hix admitted that the economic headwinds were not promising. Consumer confidence is down and the sub prime mortgage crisis is still a reality. Regardless, real potential exists for new sales opportunities. Why? For one, 70 percent of Runco’s run rate business, which is traditionally $10,000 on up, has gone unchanged, according to Hix.
“The above-$10,000 space has been unaffected over the past decade,” Hix said. He, however, discouraged resting on the high-end alone. “Affordable luxury” is a new area of investment for Runco, he explained, and he urged dealers to tap into their existing client bases for high-def upgrades. “Selling solutions versus selling hardware” should be the priority, he believes.
Hix also allayed concerns about the brand identity of the Planar, Runco, and Vidikron lines. “We’re keeping the integrity of the brands…keeping and building,” he said. “It’s mission critical.”
Other 2008 product initiatives involve the transition of all plasmas to 1080p and developing the market for high-resolution, high-perfomance outdoor displays. New innovations like the Runco PD8130 and PD 8150 epitomize Hix’s new mantra, “Same Runco…More Muscle.”