15 Minutes With:: Kevin Duffy, President of Polk Audio, Definitive Technology and DEI Holdings
CustomRetailer: You’ve now taken the reins as president of both Polk Audio and Definitive Technology, and are also retaining the responsibilities you took on over a year ago, as president of DEI Holdings. How are you planning to divvy up your time, and how much of it will be devoted to managing the Polk and Definitive brands, and building them further as profit centers for custom retailers and integrators?
Kevin Duffy: My immediate focus is on our core audio brands—Polk Audio, Definitive Technology and BOOM. Under normal circumstances, I’d say a 48-hour workday would be needed to handle these responsibilities along with my position as president of DEI Holdings, but I am very lucky to have an experienced team of audio professionals that is sharp, creative and quick to follow direction. They allow me to manage and grow the individual brands to the benefit of our dealers and end-users.
Both Polk and Definitive are unveiling a steady stream of new products that, among other accomplishments, offer tremendous opportunities for custom specialists. Our product road maps are populated with introductions that will help installers and integrators expand their portfolios with selections that expand offerings rather than simply add more of the same.
CR: Describe the differentiation you maintain between the two brands—both in your marketing and in your presentation to dealers. How much dealer overlap is there—and will there be more or less as we move forward in 2013?
Duffy: Polk Audio and Definitive Technology are both known for best-in-class performance, but that’s where the similarity ends. Though I could spend an hour discussing what makes each brand unique, suffice to say that for 40 years, Polk has been a favorite among music-lovers and home theater fans who simply want to enjoy their favorite media with the best sound at a reasonable price, while Definitive is more squarely focused on audiophiles who demand a completely natural rendering of well-recorded music and movie soundtracks.
DEI employed ethnographic research to dig deep into each brand’s core identity. Unlike more traditional focus groups, our investment in ethnographic research relies on up-close, personal experience with forward-leaning power users. [It also relies on] spending time with our end-users—observing listening habits, discussing preferences and immersing ourselves in their use of our products. The insights we gain from this process help us to tailor our product development and marketing to reflect their very specific interests. Our dealers will no doubt find this to be a demonstrable benefit in the coming weeks and months.