After 15 years as a mostly behind-the-scenes ODM/OEM of audio products, Jade Designs stepped into the spotlight with the acquisition of Sherbourn Technologies last fall. Since then, Jade has repositioned itself under the Sherbourn name to move forward with an aggressive new product introduction and market position strategy.
At CES in January, Sherbourn introduced the PT-7020C4 media processor.
Jade founder Dan Laufman had already experienced considerable success with the direct-to-consumer audio supplier brand Emotiva, which Laufman describes as a home theater hobbyist line. As the Emotiva products grew popular from an organic following online, custom installers continually told Laufman, “You need to make a line for us.”
The idea eventually materialized into the Emotiva Professional brand, which made its debut to warm feedback at CEDIA. But within two weeks, the Pro name took a backseat to Sherbourn.
Right after CEDIA wrapped up in September, Laufman received a call from Sherbourn founder Ron Fone complimenting him on his move into the custom install market, but he told Laufman that he was doing it wrong, and that he needed to make his products under the Sherbourn name.
Laufman was shocked. He had originally been brand shopping for the CI line, but with CEDIA looming and no deal yet, he went with the Emotiva Pro banner. He was originally concerned about using the Emotiva name because the Pro line wasn’t available to existing customers since they weren’t custom installers.
Buying Sherbourn never occurred to Laufman because the home audio brand was very successful.
Fone was a longtime customer of Jade’s and was the only remaining customer since the ODM operations were wound down to focus on CI. Jade actually designed and built all of Sherbourn’s current product offerings.
What Laufman didn’t realize was that Fone had his eye on retirement, and he wanted someone to keep the Sherbourn name alive. After 13 years in CI, Fone knew that his company needed significant new capital investments in R&D to continue its success. He looked to his longtime design partner to take Sherbourn to the next level.
“It was just a natural fit,” Laufman said of the acquisition.
Laufman wasted no time tackling the immediate goal with Sherbourn “to increase the depth of the product offerings,” by introducing an HDMI processor and receiver, both featuring Control4 integration, at CES in January. Sherbourn also has more processors, receivers, and amplifiers set for release in May or June. A loudspeaker line is in development and set to roll out in the fourth quarter of 2011.
Aside from ambitious new product development, Sherbourn is busy solidifying its place in the CI market. With recent changes in the competitive landscape, Laufman sees an opening for Sherbourn between the big-name, mass-market players and the exotic, boutique firms for a more value-driven, yet still high-quality product line. “There’s sanity in our pricing,” Laufman said.
During CES, Fone commented that “One of the best aspects of our recent move is the way in which Jade Design is committed to not only continuing the Sherbourn high-end tradition, but they are equally committed to expanding our reach in the custom installation channel. Their understanding of and appreciation for the Sherbourn name ensures these new products will be the best performers in their price class.”
Another focus Sherbourn plans for the future is to “make a big push to be streaming content focused,” Laufman said.
In the next year or two Sherbourn’s products will reflect that trend, which Laufman sees as a big growth area for technology. An audio media server is already in development.
Amid all these new plans, Laufman has a sort of tortoise and the hare business approach. “We’re not in a hurry to make a big splash.”
Instead, he envisions a careful, patient growth model focused on expanding product offerings while retaining the emphasis on dealer service that is part of Sherbourn’s legacy.