At CEDIA EXPO the parent company of Sonance and iPort launched a new brand called, TRUFIG, that had to be seen to be understood. In essence the company is taking Sonance’s innovative (and much copied) flangeless in-wall speaker design and applying it to residential fixtures of all kinds, such as light switches, electrical outlets, and audio/video wall plates. The result is a uniform industrial design, consistent color, and a mounting process to achieve a seamless installation into a wall or ceiling.
Rob Roland, General Manager, TRUFIG
We wanted TRUFIG’s general manager, Rob Roland, to answer a few questions about the concept and what he hopes to achieve with it. He answered them quite thoroughly so we cut down his comments for the December issue of Residential Systems’ print edition and are running them unabridged here.
How long did it take Dana Innovations realize that the concept behind the three-year old Sonance Architectural Series could apply to products now supported by TRUFIG?
To appreciate the concept behind TRUFIG you have to go back to 1982 with the genesis of Sonance. The main innovation behind the invention of the in-wall and in-ceiling speaker for Scott Struthers and Geoff Spencer was to improve the aesthetics of cabinet speakers in luxury homes and to develop a repeatable installation process.
Twenty-five years later, Scott and Geoff reflected on Sonance, and saw how their innovation had become an industry standard. There are now over 400 companies making in-wall and in-ceiling speakers. Looking back at the foundation of Sonance, Scott and Geoff determined that they needed to focus again on their roots in design innovation. As a result, Dana Innovations (the parent company of Sonance) acquired Sound Advance, inventors of hidden speakers designed for installation behind a wall. Sonance now had a portfolio including the perfect design aesthetic, completely invisible audio.
After many years of research and making a considerable investment in construction materials and installation techniques, Sonance developed its next breakthrough in innovative audio design solutions with the Sonance Architectural Series, which mount completely flush into a wall or ceiling. The flangeless grille and flush mounting system provide a seamless appearance to the design of the room. The solution paralleled advancements in the lighting industry and was quickly embraced by the architectural and design community. We immediately began to see top design firms specify Sonance products.
Through our involvement on job sites with our dealers, we noticed that installers continually commented that the Mounting Platform technology in the Architectural Series produced reliable and consistent results. The feedback from the drywall community was even more specific; the Mounting Platform was far easier to implement in the field than the metal appliqués from lighting companies used to achieve a flush installation for lighting fixtures.
As we looked at the rest of the walls and ceilings on a project and listened to the concerns of the designers, we realized that there was a tremendous opportunity to bring all the components in a space together to create a truly seamless design aesthetic throughout the room.
TRUFIG is the culmination of over 25 years of design innovations while incorporating a practical and repeatable installation process for new construction or remodeling projects that appeal to the design and specification community. It provides consistent color, texture, and industrial design to devices installed in the walls or ceilings of a room, creating a uniform look and feel to the designed space. The installation process also enables precise alignment of all devices on the walls and ceilings in a highly repeatable manner.
What kind of response has there been from members of the architectural community who have seen the concept?
I have worked closely with the architectural and design community for 11 years, and I have had the opportunity to introduce several new products and solutions such as lighting controls, quiet shading systems, automation systems, and energy management systems, all of which focused on functionality with an emphasis on design and aesthetics. In my experience, I have never seen a response from this audience like I have for TRUFIG.
TRUFIG addresses key concerns in design that no product, person, or company has previously addressed. Most devices (receptacles, data jacks, keypads, touch screens, etc.) are incorporated after the design phase of a project. Though devices like receptacles and light switches are necessary for functional reasons, or to meet construction codes, they often compromise the original design vision.
Architects are continually faced with managing these constraints on their projects and often settle for the compromise that these devices inherently bring to the project. With TRUFIG, they do not have to compromise their design.
What sorts of products and brands is TRUFIG currently compatible with and what’s the plan going forward? Are there any known limitations?
TRUFIG is currently offering solutions that will address a majority of the high-volume opportunities in luxury residential construction or remodeling projects. We currently are shipping solutions for several manufacturers, including Crestron, Leviton, Lutron, and Sonance. We are in discussions with other manufacturers in the electrical and automation categories. As far as our plans moving forward, it is only limited to what is on a wall or ceiling. Today our design is flush, seamless, and refined. We have plans for a much broader and deeper offering under the TRUFIG brand in the future.
What’s the distribution strategy for TRUFIG? Is it basically existing Sonance reps and dealers?
The distribution strategy for TRUFIG is to partner with the best-qualified people in each market. The profile of the TRUFIG customer is one that has strong relationships with the architectural and design (A&D) community, has outstanding project management skills, and has a reputation for delivering the highest quality standards of workmanship and satisfaction on extremely refined projects. As TRUFIG is a separate business within Dana Innovations, we have remained open in selecting the best partners in each market to help deliver our vision and create awareness and demand in the A&D community.
How does TRUFIG represent a new opportunity for the CEDIA electronic systems contractor?
TRUFIG presents new opportunities for the CEDIA Electronic Systems Contractor (ESC) in several ways. For the first time, I believe that the ESC finally has the right tools to approach the architect and designer with something that is relevant to the [client]. TRUFIG is the integration of technology into architecture. Through this relationship, there is the opportunity to establish the ESC or TRUFIG supplier as an important and integral member of the design team. We already have heard early success stories from where TRUFIG has enabled ESCs to open previously closed doors, resulting in newly contracted business. TRUFIG also represents an entirely new, incremental, revenue stream for the ESC.
Essentially, TRUFIG represents a completely new category of solutions an ESC can supply. Very rarely do opportunities come along that provide such a compelling and emotional response, providing the ability to generate significant incremental revenue dollars. Finally, TRUFIG has the potential to elevate the ESC within the construction team. By bringing various subcontractors together, TRUFIG provides a platform to coordinate all jobsite activity and elevate the ESC’s status on the project.
For years ESCs have been striving to reposition themselves from the status of “sub-contractor” on a project to the status of “Design Team Member.” TRUFIG is the concept that will solidify this position for the ESC dealer base. In fact, we believe this concept and opportunity is big enough that new companies will be created to service this need in the market. This has already proved to be true with new companies established to only sell TRUFIG in various markets.