Rumors have been circulating a bit since Savant sent out an email to dealers explaining the changes to the structure of its sales team across the U.S. Some have speculated that the return of founder and chairman of the board Bob Madonna to CEO and the departure of William Lynch from that role may be a reaction to the seemingly tepid sales of the consumer-oriented Savant Remote, and that the company might even close its massive experience center in New York City.
I spoke today to director of product marketing, Tim McInerney, who was clearly more comfortable discussing the company’s product plans than upper-level management machinations. But he clarified that the company was not shuttering its experience center and reiterated comments made to dealers that sales force changes were done to provide more efficiency in the way the brand is represented across the country.
Prior to the change, sales people were assigned a “channel” (retail, pro, or builder) and territory; now, the reduced sales force is no longer siloed into those categories, but can call on multiple types of clients within a territory. This, McInerney said, reduces travel inefficiencies and enables a more unified message to all customers.
McInerney dismissed the notion that sales were low for the company’s consumer remote, but speculated that some integrators that didn’t find that particular product a good fit for their installations, were the ones that did not view it as a success. On the contrary, McInerney said, the remote is selling well via Magnolia Design Centers, distributor partners, and Savant’s own retail website. The company, he said, stands by its initiative to address the DIY remote control category to help elevate the category and to drive business to the pro channel when DIY was still too challenging for certain end users.
Regarding the CEO change, McInerney would not offer many details behind the moves of the privately held company, but acknowledged that Madonna had not been involved in any of the day-to-day operations of Savant during Lynch’s two-year tenure. That was in contrast, he noted, to pre-Lynch years when Madonna could be seen testing circuit boards and tackling other hands-on roles. Lynch, the former Barnes & Noble CEO, was brought to the company with the specific goal of expanding Savant’s presence in the retail market. Madonna has made clear that he will focus more on the home tech pro channel.
Madonna’s renewed dedication to the CEDIA channel, McInerney said, will be on full display at a January dealer meeting, where several new pro-centric products will be revealed. Such dealer meetings have been an every-other-year staple for Savant, but this will be the first one in a year a half. The products introduced have been in development for a while, but were put on the backburner until Madonna returned and gave them the green light.
McInerney also noted that Savant’s big introduction at CEDIA further signified the company’s rededication to the dealer network. The Savant Pro Audio 4, which is the company’s first scalable, wired, all-in-one music solution exclusively for Savant pro integrators, features built-in streaming, distribution, and amplification, with a 50-watt amplifier, integrated audio processing, and four zones of high-quality audio that sync automatically between rooms, and allows users to play eight channels of immersive fidelity straight from the Savant Pro App or Pro Remote. The Pro Audio 4 includes a single stream of Savant Music and supports additional streaming through the Savant Smart Host to personalize music in individual rooms.
Compare that launch with the big news from the prior CEDIA show (the company’s consumer-facing Savant Remote), and it’s clear that pro integrators were top of mind again, even before the CEO sales team changes.