15 Minutes With:: Ryan Gustafson, Screen Innovations President and Co-Founder Part 2
CustomRetailer: Update our readership on new SI product releases that build upon prior introductions and answer specific needs for the custom integrator.
RG: We’ve been on an aggressive development cycle for some time, and are excited to announce that we will soon begin shipping the much-anticipated Black Diamond Motorized projection screen. A new and truly unique motorized design utilizing our award-winning Black Diamond ambient light rejection screen technology, Black Diamond Motorized is a sleek and sexy flat-panel alternative that actually disappears when not in use, ideal for virtually any environment or application. The mechanical part is pretty cool, but it can be a little confusing when describing how it works because it’s so different from anything else out there. Come see us at CEDIA EXPO (booth 2555) and we’ll show you. We also recently released a new Solar 4K 1.3 screen, which is made of traditional white material and uses a revolutionary new emboss pattern to achieve the first 1.3 gain projection screen that features perfect color reproduction and zero sparkle. There’s a new Lunar gray 4K.85 screen that also uses an improved emboss pattern to achieve perfect uniformity and enhanced contrast. In fact, several industry- leading projector manufacturers are using our Lunar screens with great success during tradeshows, proving them invaluable under demanding conditions. These might surprise many people, as we’re best known for Black Diamond. But we also make traditional white and gray screens to round out our product offering. There’s more to the SI line than many may know, and that’s why we our tagline is “Seeing is Believing.”
CR: What support programs to add efficiency and profitability for the custom integrator do you offer?
RG: Custom integrators need manufacturer partners who make the specification and purchasing processes simple, provide excellent service every step of the way, and deliver the best products for the markets they serve. We cater to this and further support our dealers with ample margins, appealing free freight programs, and prompt order turnaround. We custom build each order, so dealers also have a great deal of design flexibility. Our online screen and distance calculators provide all the information one needs to select the right SI screen for any application. It’s a quick and easy tool for integrators to use, allowing them to get in, get out and get on with their day. Everything SI does is done for the benefit of our dealers.
CR: Are there any other areas of your business you’d care to comment on as we move into the 4th Quarter of 2012?
RG: As you’ve noted in the pages of CR, I can’t stress enough that the commercial convergence is upon us, and it is real. There is an extraordinary opportunity for residential integrators to expand into commercial. It’s a natural progression, and from our view, we see nothing but upside potential for two-piece projection in the commercial domain. In fact, Black Diamond was designed to perform beautifully in either application, and it does. All of which further proves our commitment to providing versatile screen solutions for an ever-changing marketplace. There is a natural crossover; business owners need entertainment technology at home, too, which provides additional sales opportunities.
CR: In a series of strategic staff additions, you recently hired Jay Biedermann, Dan Poirier and Brandon Holmes, as well as your wife Shannon’s return to the company, how does this help?
RG: Jay and Shannon join Blake Vackar in managing our sales efforts. Jay’s background in the commercial field lends beautifully to our marketing strategies. He has already expanded our commercial footprint significantly, which is exciting. Shannon’s return marks a very proud moment for me, not only as her husband, but also as her peer. She came back fully engaged and just nailed the international scene for us. Blake is an industry vet who has an entertaining way of educating his audience on the virtually limitless opportunity two-piece projection provides. He’s the category’s best advocate, in my opinion. Dan and Brandon are improving our designs and providing us new product opportunities, providing us the technical advantage we need to take our designs—and our dealer’s business—to the next level. They’re all insanely talented, and they make an awesome team.
CR: What have been the company’s biggest challenges since it was founded in 2004?
RG: Honestly, the biggest challenge stems from a general lack of understanding about how easy it is to sell two-piece projection, and the advantages the various solutions can provide to both the end-user and the systems integrator. There’s a common misperception, especially in retail, that it’s reserved for the higher-end, and only for traditional or dedicated theater spaces. That’s just not true anymore. Projector prices at the consumer level have dropped steadily over the last seven years, while the technology they provide has dramatically improved to where it legitimately has a place in nearly all video-based installations. It’s gaining momentum, and in my opinion, the next two years will result in phenomenal growth. If we can raise the level of awareness and understanding, the category will grow exponentially, and likely will displace traditional displays. CR