You know Origin Acoustics. Though relatively young — the company appeared on the CI scene in 2014 — they quickly made a name for themselves with their innovative architectural speakers, outdoor audio systems, and a playful attitude that makes their booths a must-see destination and their t-shirts collector’s items. But there is another side to Origin Acoustics that has been working in concert with their product-development side for years — and they are ready to highlight it at this year’s CEDIA Expo.
Not that they’ve been operating in secret: this…quieter side…of its operations where they form custom, specialized partnerships with select manufacturers in the residential installation space has been publicized with each deal made — including agreements with Bang & Olufsen, Crestron, Amina, and Ambisonic. Now the company is ready to push those relationships to the forefront with a presence for each partner brand at booth #16069.
A partnership with Origin Acoustics can mean many different things — including brand management, OEM production, and product development.
“Each agreement that we make is slightly different,” says Gordon Isaac, chief marketing and strategy officer, Origin Acoustics. “What we’re doing is unique, so it takes a little bit of time for potential partners to truly understand where we can fit into their business. For some, like Crestron, it is an OEM partnership where we manufacture products for them, we partner on development, and we have some other strategic initiatives. Bang & Olufsen is a unique one where we started off developing and manufacturing their architectural products and now we’re the brand managers for the U.S.”
When it comes to choosing companies to work with, it is safe to say that Origin Acoustics definitely has a “type.” “It’s a really big deal to us to have curated brands that are very focused on design,” says Nick Berry, CEO, Origin Acoustics. “Every one of the partners that we bring on board with us must be focused on creating what we have termed design-centric technology. It’s important that we can give our customers a turnkey solution that they can bring to their designers or architects.”
“We’re bringing together partnerships that are not just reseller agreements but are very strategic,” adds Isaac. “This is much bigger and more powerful than what other companies are doing by strictly distributing because these partners are aligned together around our design-centric technology concept. Our approach of bringing companies together helps to lift all boats, especially for our customers. That’s really what the difference is between what we’re doing and what everyone else does.”
Distribution deals are certainly not unusual in this industry, but Origin sees itself as more than just trying to stock shelves. “We look at ourselves as being able to build these brands,” says Berry. “A distributor approach looks at putting a box on a shelf and then surrounding it with other boxes because, if they don’t pick that one, they’re going to pick one of the others. For us, that’s not the case at all. We really want to build technology and expand these brands strategically to create true value for our partners. We’re also creating a great message around Origin Acoustics because we’re showing our partners, our dealers, and the industry that we’re a very important part of these brand’s stories.”
Bang & Olufsen is a good example of how Origin Acoustics partnerships can evolve over time. Announced back in 2017, B&O was one of Origin’s first brand partnerships that started with the development of a co-branded line of architectural speakers designed and built by Origin Acoustics. This was then sold by both Origin Acoustics and Bang & Olufsen worldwide through each company’s respective sales channels. Now their relationship has evolved, with Origin adding responsibilities for expanding the Bang & Olufsen Custom Technology Installers program by bringing on new resellers to grow the Bang & Olufsen presence in the U.S.
“We bring more value to the table than just selling product,” adds Berry. “Those are the relationships we’re looking for — companies that understand we can help them get their products placed with the right resellers because of our relationships and understanding of the market. Another example is Artnovion, which is now in most of the Bang & Olufsen stores worldwide because of the relationship that we have with Artnovion and how we were able to bring the companies together in a mutually beneficial way.”
While most of the Origin Acoustics partnerships do not involve fully acquiring the companies they work with, they are open to the possibilities, but it would have to fit into the cooperative culture they have created.
“We have some acquisition opportunities, but there is a difference between our approach from what we’ve typically seen in this industry,” adds Berry. “When companies get acquired, oftentimes there’s a very short window in which the original leadership team stays engaged and involved. Once they get that large payout, you see them disappear from the conversation and that often affects the brand’s legacy and innovation moving forward.
“What we’re looking for is a company that’s right-sized that needs the help and support that we have and the dedication to build the customer base. We have an acquisition formula that we’ve built up, with our first acquisition being Ambisonic systems, and that formula is different than what other people are doing. We want to make sure that the team stays with us forever and we don’t want it to be contractually ended and lose what made that company great.”
Matter of Trust
A partnership with Origin Acoustics involves a lot of transparency from all sides, which limits the pool of candidates but also truly reveals the ones who will have the best fit with the company. According to Isaac, “The value of these partnerships — showing that we can bring more than just a sales channel — is critical to the success of this model. And it’s probably the reason why no one else has done it because it does require you to be transparent, to share numbers that you probably wouldn’t share, and to be a consultant to companies that are in your same space. You have to be okay with trusting your partnerships and being transparent.”
“We want to make sure our curated partners know that we are all-in on their business,” adds Berry. “Every one of the brands that we’re bringing on will have a brand manager internally assigned at Origin Acoustics headquarters that will help manage that brand. Not only the purchasing of those brands, but the marketing of those brands, the training of those brands, and the relationships with architects and designers.
“So, each brand manager will have their own book of business that they’re responsible for which helps support the sales team and customers. Our goal is to help drive traffic and brand awareness to our dealers and make their phones ring because of the efforts that we’re doing.”
CEDIA Expo Expectations
Origin’s booth will have an assortment of new products that the company has just introduced for dealers to see and experience in person, but they will also have a section for each and every one of their partners — with the exception of Crestron, which has its own massive space at the show.
There, dealers can see how the brands interact and work together to form a greater sum than their parts. “Origin Acoustics is the company to partner with that’s not about ego and it’s not just about money,” says Isaac. “It’s about engineering, logistics, market intelligence, and strategy. We need to leverage our brand, our customer base, and our brand partners to all be successful.”
And, lest you think the company is leaving its playful side behind, Origin has set up a DJ booth — with the latest Ambisonic line arrays — outside the main entrance to the convention center, where busses will be dropping off attendees each morning. In addition to pumping out tunes, they will also be handing out free energy drinks to help set the mood and get the show floor thriving.
Now that sounds like Origin Acoustics! “We’re kind of like a mullet —business up front and a party in the back,” jokes Berry. “We will never lose the fun side of our company, we will always leave a little party back there.”
For more information, visit originacoustics.com.