In what seems like an oxymoron, Jeff Goldstein is both new to Sony and a longtime company veteran. He joined Sony as its head of custom integration sales last month, after stints at smaller, more focused companies that included Turtle Beach, Carl Zeiss, and Bowers + Wilkins. And before those, he spent 24 years working at Sony, participating in the early days of the CI industry.
We sat down with Goldstein to find out why he came back and what plans he has in store for Sony and the custom installation marketplace.
RESI: Why did you decide to come back to Sony?
JEFF GOLDSTEIN: I have a really long history with the custom installation industry and, of course, with Sony. The reason I’ve come back now is because I’m very passionate about this part of the business. I was here in the earliest days —working closely with CEDIA at that time where I was a member of the manufacturer’s council at one point. I worked with many integrators then who were our first customers. I’m very pleased to be back doing something I really care about.
This time around, in addition to managing the business for Sony across the customer installation landscape, there’s also a heavy amount of product development that I’m going to be involved in to help drive new product specifically for this channel.
You have worked with smaller, focused companies since leaving Sony. What takeaways did you get from them?
Working for companies that are varying in size outside of Sony taught me some really important things about being a driver of whatever the goal is. In a large company, there’s somebody to go to for everything. In a small company, you have to be the one to make things happen and really dig down into the details. Building those things up became as much a part of the job as driving the business or creating a product. I think that’s the biggest takeaway: really having to drive on every angle.
What are the latest trends you see in the industry?
I think there is definitely a movement for more sophistication in terms of business managers and their business skills. And I’m happy to see that the buying groups are sharing best practices between dealers so they can all level up their game in terms of the business practice side of things. I think the level of craftsmanship is still there, but I feel there’s definitely a trend toward thinking bigger and becoming more focused on how to drive profitability.
What do you see as the biggest challenges facing integrators, and how do you think Sony will be able to help?
I look at the work the buying groups are doing and certainly Sony will continue to support them. Making Sony the best possible partner is something that’s very high on my radar, and if that means figuring out ways to help them do better business, then we’re all up for that. I think there’re a lot of areas that we can lend a hand to help advance the dealers and help them grow within their respective markets, whether that’s through sponsoring things, or creating content or classes — however we can engage them to be a better partner.
Sony is currently popular in TVs, projectors, and AVRs — any new areas to claim?
Putting my product development hat on for a moment, I think we have significant opportunity to improve and create new products in categories that we play in and that some of our competitors don’t. I’m looking to grow the entire pie. It’s not just about the TV, right? Sure, the TV is a very high priority and it’s probably the number one area driving revenue in the marketplace, but we play on many different aspects of the home, and I intend to drive additional focus and additional development in those areas where we can be strong.
Sony has been popular with CI dealers because they have shown to understand their needs and accommodated them. How will you continue these efforts?
I have many different ideas around how we continue to get closer to the dealer, but I think the biggest thing is to bring the voice of this industry back into Sony so that it’s clearly understood — not just here in the U.S., which has a very good understanding of what the CI market is about and what the ideal looks like, but also back to Japan and my counterparts there.
Some of them used to work here in the U.S. and now they’re back in Japan in different leadership roles. I still have a tremendous amount of contact and communication with the folks that are actually building the products. It is really important in this channel to make sure that you don’t develop products in a vacuum and to bring the voice of the customer into the process every step of the way. I’ve already made changes within our team to make sure that there is a pipeline for dealer feedback and regular communication so that we’re monitoring what’s going on in the industry and what the dealers are experiencing on a day-to-day basis.
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Any insights on what we can expect from Sony in 2020? What about 8K?
There’s going to be a continuation of focus on making sure the right feature sets are there. Of course, it’s about making a great picture and great audio, but also making sure that the product works reliably and that there is quick problem resolution — all the things that the dealers really need around the product.
Obviously, there is new product development, which is to be expected from Sony. As far as 8K goes, if you look at the history of all the developments in display technology, Sony has always led with the creation of the display device and followed with the communication and championing of it through the content industry and every place that touches the consumer. We’ve always been a leader in making sure that there’s content available for the technologies that we develop on the display side, so it’s just another natural progression for 8K — display devices will come and then the rest will follow.
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