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Behind the Business: Bullish of the Future

A Conversation With Russound Ceo Charlie Porritt

While some notable companies are contracting their presence at CEDIA EXPO this year,Russound is bullish on the show, enhancing its booth presence and fine-tuning its message.Part of the fun comes from the company’s excitement abou its new Powerline Carrier audio distribution product, called Collage, and some is just plain veteran leadership. Here’s how CEO Charlie Porritt explained it to me and how his company views the future of AV integration.

“We look forward to CEDIA, because it gives us a chance to show and talk about the products we feel make the greatest impact on the market” —CHARLIE PORRITT, CEO, RUSSOUND

How do you explain your refreshingly aggressive approach to CEDIA EXPO, and in what ways will it be evident to attendees?
While our “bullish” stance on CEDIA EXPO 2009 may be described as refreshingly aggressive in today’s economic climate, Russound has always steered a course of sensibility. Russound’s presence this year is based on the philosophy that guides our company, standing behind our customers with products and service they can rely on. Our dealers and distributors know we deliver technologically advanced, rock solid equipment, and unlike many companies that are relatively recent entries to the CI game, we have a deep catalog of products that facilitate integration at every level. We look forward to CEDIA, because it gives us a chance to show and talk about the products we feel make the greatest impact on the market.

Russound considers Powerline Carrier is the single most important development to come along in the CI market since A-BUS.

Please explain a little bit about your new approach to product presentation in your booth, covering your entire catalog instead of smaller vignettes.
Tradeshows have always been venues where companies display their “latest and greatest” offerings while sometimes offering a glimpse at some new technology they are developing, but let’s not kid ourselves—times have changed. Sales and revenue are down, the construction and remodeling boom has busted, and our industry is at a crossroads. The opportunity to pull cable isn’t where it was three years ago, and everyone is waiting to see in what direction the CI industry is headed. Instead of just heralding the features of new and upcoming systems, we’re also focusing on solutions that make the most sense to our dealers. We’re highlighting a wide range of products that solve common problems on various levels, from system control via an iPhone, to simple amplifiers and volume controls. It’s our biggest CEDIA display to date.

Talk about the company’s (or specifically Sr. dir of research and technology, Michael Stein’s) perspective as it relates to generational shifts and the way they relate to changes in media management and “content consumption.”
Since the advent of recorded media, collectors have built vast libraries of content, while enthusiasts accumulated thousands or tens of thousands of 45s, LPs, and CDs. These collectors relish the physical media and the ritual surrounding its acquisition and consumption. Trips to the record store, balancing the tone arm, cleaning the LP, or examining the cover art are part of the experience of enjoying music for these collectors. But times are changing, and they’re changing fast. Unlike previous generations, today’s music fans are quickly turning to options like Rhapsody and other means for accessing content, instead of collecting it. Even when purchasing music, consumers are now more likely to buy content from iTunes or another download service without ever picking up a physical disc or other recorded medium. As an industry, it’s time to focus our energies on developing products that give our consumers greater access to digital entertainment the way they are most likely to access it—now and in the years ahead.