In Their Own Words: Joe Roberts, President, Core Brands
On the philosophy behind Core Brands:
We always talk here about what our compass is: We’re always “customer first.” Our customers, as an example, always reference our brands’ heritage. They will talk about how great ELAN is, and how ELAN would always do the right thing, that they could get anything resolved, that ELAN would always go above and beyond. We hear the same story about SpeakerCraft, about Panamax, etc. It’s always about customer service and the sales team leadership. With Core Brands, this is who we are, and we’re leveraging that DNA—that “customer first” mentality, and doing the right thing. That’s where we believe we need to be. Our mission statement is that we delight our customers with exceptional service, innovative product and best-in-class programs.
At the 2014 CEDIA EXPO, we put those brands out front—the brands we’re known for and that people have had relationships with, some going all the way back to 1968 when Xantech first started. It was there that we started launching the new Core Brands brand. That is what [Director, Marketing Communications] Bill Hensley and I, and the new leadership team, are doing—putting our signature on it—onto the customer centricity. We had a barista there making coffee, and a coat check, and a lounge—trying to remove all the strife of being at a trade show. Everyone on our team felt good going into that show. Most of our team has had years of experience in this business at one of the companies, and everyone feels as though we’re “back home”—we’re going back to where we need to be.
It’s how we hope to differentiate ourselves, with that level of service. What does “customer first” mean? When we talk about our 2015 message, I like to think of Top 10 dining experiences. If you take a moment to think about what those are, during how many of those have you had bad service? If the service is fantastic, it makes the experience delightful. That’s what we’re looking to do here, across the board—for everyone to be the best “waiter” or “waitress” they can be. It’s about the heritage brands, but really, when we talk about the Core Brands, that’s what we are. I see a spring in everyone’s step here. We’re right back to where we need to be. We’ve come home.
On marketing support for
Core Brands products:
We’re continuing to support our dealers. One thing we’ve heard from them is, “give us support on the pricing out in the field.” So we have signed an agreement with Vision Werks for a UMAP (universal minimal advertised pricing) policy to improve margins to our dealers. We’ve started discussing this with our dealers and distributors, and it’s being rolled out throughout 2015 so we can fully protect our brand in the market.
On synergies with Nortek
Security & Control:
In the last year, our organizational changes have ended in a very positive place. Those changes always add some level of uncertainty for folks both inside and outside the company, but where we’ve ended is absolutely fantastic. We are reporting in to the CEO just like the other groups are—no middle layer. And we’re now finding that we’re working organically together. At CES, Bill stood in the Nortek booth for 75 hours, and we’re absolutely working together with the Nortek Security & Control team. We’re co-developing product, leveraging cross brands. We’re not being told, “You have to do this.” It just makes sense.
We certainly have all the entertainment, audio and control expertise. The Nortek team has all of the Z-Wave and sensor expertise, and Broan and NuTone have their expertise. We’re taking each’s expertise and customer relationships and looking at how we can grow this business. And [Nortek President and CEO] Michael Clarke is encouraging it. We have been down to the Nortek Security & Control office and they come here, and we’re working really closely. We’re sharing people and working together. In 2015, we’ll see a bunch of new products come out that show a tighter connection among the groups.
On expanding into new
We want to be true to ourselves and our customers. And we’re continually looking at the categories we are in right now. We will continue to grow from there, for sure. Core Brands is a significant company and our individual brands are significant in their own right. We are continuing to develop categories, but not looking to enter into something outside our wheelhouse. Our business is so centered on what our customers are asking for. There are some adjacencies we’ll talk about later this year—extensions to what we’re already doing. But we’re not rolling out any new brands. TI