A ‘Clear’ Picture
Every young manufacturer has growing pains. Five-year-old upstart Screen Research experienced one last year when it came to the decision that it was time to sever its relationship with StJohn Group, Inc., which was at the time the exclusive distributor of Screen Research products. But there are times when you need the support of industry veterans to establish your name on the market, and there are times when you need to step out on your own and reach out to your clients without a middleman.
The last couple years have been filled with moments like that for Screen Research, and it’s sure to face similar milestones as its products become among the most popular in the industry.
“StJohn did a great job, but in truth you had four distinct layers in the food chain,” explains Jim McGall, vice president of sales for Screen Research. The dealer had to go to its independent reps, which then contacted StJohn Group, which was then dependent on Screen Research to deliver the product. Once Screen Research had grown to the proportions where it could service a worldwide audience (including direct relationships in 27 countries), it became clear to McGall and others in the company that the United States needed its own attention, factory, personnel and support.
“[StJohn isn’t] happy about it and understandably so,” McGall says. “No one likes to change what seems to be a successful relationship, but it was necessary for the next phase of Screen Research.”
Today, the company can offer its U.S. customers a range of efficiencies it had difficulty offering before, such as speed-to-market and direct dealer support. Now out on its own, Screen Research has aggressive plans for American home theater dealers. Its target is to count nearly 50 percent of its sales in the U.S. in 2009.