Breaking the Barriers
Pinnacle Speakers represents the creative side of the CEDIA channel. From their corner-positioned subs to their on-ceiling, yes, on-ceiling, speakers, the family-run business constantly eliminates what we once thought were limitations to a challenging install. And they aren’t finished. Before the Brothers Rothenberg prepped for another trip to CEDIA EXPO—where they plan to tackle another installation limitation—Mickey (vice president of national sales) took a time out to discuss with CustomRetailer the newest products, customer service and why Pinnacle’s unique distribution model keeps it positioned for future success, no matter the economy.
CR: Pinnacle Speakers is a unique speaker company. How do you position yourself among the other brands? How do you stand out from the crowd?
Mickey Rothenberg: We make upscale product for the CEDIA market and sell through distributors primarily. That’s unusual. We have a 10-year relationship with Capitol Sales; DBL for eight years. Petra. We just started with DSI. We sell to every member of The Advantage Group. Then we’ve got about a dozen regional distributors. About 95 percent of our business is through distributors. And about five percent is selling direct. That’s an anomaly for upscale speaker companies. We consider ourselves number one through distribution.
CR: How did your business model come to be that way?
MR: In the custom install market, the consumers get our product through the recommendation of an installer. And a knowledgeable installer would put our product in a house over a naive consumer’s opinion and the best way to market to installers was with distribution. Also, we have almost 100 products. When you sell retail, you’re limited with how many products they can represent. Distributors don’t have that problem.
CR: How did the company get started?
MR: My brother Rich was a rock ’n’ roll drummer and he used to design his own speakers because he couldn’t afford to buy ones that were good enough for him. He started the company in 1976 and when I got out of college two years later, he says to me, ‘I have this fledging speaker company. Would you want to work with me?’ I decided to do that for six months until I found a “real” job. My brother set up the structure. My other brother, Marc, joined soon after. Once all three of us were involved, we divided up the responsibilities. Rich is the president, Marc is in charge of finance and vendor relations, and I take care of sales and marketing.