NHT’s SuperZero 2.0 mini bookshelf speaker, soon to be released to the market, is an update of one of the brand’s most popular models. Its issue, perhaps fittingly, occurs under the umbrella of an updated NHT – a company that has adopted a two-pronged business model that lets it simultaneously sell directly to integrators and to consumers.
Co-owners Chris Byrne and John Johnsen bought back the company in 2008 just before the financial crisis hit. Then, after some rethinking about how to present to the market, “we decided to attempt a web store with a different twist. We decided on two ways: B to B, and direct to consumer.” The site lets consumers see retail pricing and dealers alone see wholesale pricing. “Dealers pay freight, and pay us when the product ships. They let us be their warehouse; they needn’t hold any inventory,” explained Byrne. “And we don’t need programs to get dealers to pay; they simply pay when they buy.”
The owners have built an active integrator base of 250 as of the conclusion of September’s CEDIA Expo, but nearly 35 percent of their business is direct to consumer – and that segment is “growing incrementally,” he said. Further, the site hosts products on sale from complementary brands such as Sherwood and AudioQuest. “Our numbers with peripheral suppliers aren’t huge, but they’re building. We’re not acting as a distributor; the third-party products on the site are only sold direct to the consumer.”
Said Byrne of NHT’s go-to-market approach, “It’s a unique model – a model for our time. For a small specialty company, we think it’s a viable pathway. It’s in its nascence, but we believe we may have lighted on a business strategy that can save a lot of smaller specialty manufacturers.”
The re-issued SuperZero 2.0 is priced at $99 per channel, and offers design improvements over the original, first released in 1994. Its powered companion piece, the new Super 8, at $349, has a footprint small enough to suit it for use as part of a desktop audio/PC system. The sub is outfitted with a USB connection to ready it for an NHT wireless audio adapter slated to reach market in the second quarter of 2011. Also on the product introduction roadmap for late fall are two other subs – 10-inch and 12-inch of acoustic-suspension design – with Class D BASH amplifiers; the B-10d and B-12d will carry pricetags of $499 and $699, respectively.