Polk, on Courting the Custom Community
Polk Audio, which built its industry reputation within the traditional home loudspeaker market, is cementing its commitment to the custom business segment.
It plans to do so with what product line manager Al Baron says is a “continuing investment of company resources and intellectual capital” that began well before most entrenched brand names – and before many specialty dealers – recognized the potential in the category.
“We’re seriously committed to custom,” Baron said. “We’ve had custom speakers since 1988 that established a product standard for the built-in category. We set the bar that proved built-in needn’t sound like anything less than floorstanding speakers. And we were the first company to make a high-performance IP-addressable speaker, and also the first to achieve THX Ultra2 certification in a ceiling speaker.”
But Baron adds that Polk is not resting on its laurels. He says that part of the brand strategy going forward will be to develop products that branch into the commercial speaker space – paralleling the business strategies of custom integrators who are exploring other profit avenues in the challenging economy.
“Lots of our dealers already into commercial have used some of our in-ceiling products for those applications for years,” he says, adding that the company expects to have application-specific commercial speaker prototypes by CEDIA Expo time this fall.
Baron says the company’s SurroundBar products have also resonated with custom integrators even though they don’t require the installation expertise of the discipline. “They’re the ideal solution for the custom client who changes his mind about built-in at the last minute. Custom guys, when they saw them, ‘got it’ immediately. They saw the SurroundBar as a problem-solver,” he says.
The category, he adds, will be “an integral part of our go-forward product strategy. We’re waiting to see what happens with Blu-ray and streaming video before adding to the line.”
Look for Polk to release an array of outdoor speakers in 2010, he said.