By Jason Knott
July 02, 2007
It was just about a year ago that Nortek purchased Panamax and then Furman Sound, bringing these two prominent players in the power conditioning/management space together. Coincidentally, both companies were already located in the same business park in Petaluma, Calif., so the physical move was not that traumatic. But often the most difficult part of merging is combining company cultures.
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After my visit to its offices, all is well on the company-culture front. Today, Panamax/Furman is one company with two brands, offering a mix of professional products and consumer electronics products, with a slant toward custom installation.
"The Furman and Panamax brands are separate, but in some cases the brands are sold to the same dealers and, in others, a dealer that sells the Panamax brand may not be selling the Furman brand or vice versa," says Dave Keller, vice president of sales and marketing for Panamax/Furman. "If we have dealers that carry both, we can reward them through benefits and incentives from Panamax. From the dealer's perspective, there is an advantage to carrying the two brands, both in terms of features and in profit margins."
Furman has recently introduced its new Elite and Reference i series of products featuring new industrial designs. Keller says the lessons from the rugged pro side of the business carry over well into the home side.
"Because Furman's been selling to the pro audio community for over 30 years, the products have been designed to withstand the harshest mission-critical environments. Whether it's a club, outdoor arena or auditorium, all of these environments have the potential to damage and severely limit the performance of critical electronic components. We carry over the same design philosophy and build quality into our consumer line of products, and we do not re-badge our Pro or MI series of products for the consumer market. The Furman Elite and Reference products have been re-engineered and optimized specifically for the demanding requirements of today's home theater," he says.
For complete details on the product mix and the power management category in general, check out CE Pro's Executive Q&A with Keller in the August issue.
The combination of the engineering departments has led to some new collaborations, according to my trio of hosts on my visit: Lori Bailey, marketing manager; Dave Dilitkanich, Furman marketing manager; and John Benz, longtime veteran of the graphic design staff who will soon be taking over as marketing manager for Furman.
The manufacturing and assembly of all the products are all done in China. The Petaluma office, along with a new facility in Charleston, S.C., acts as a distribution center. There is also internal quality assurance and testing taking place at the facility.
The harmony in the office is apparent when you walk in the door…either door. Indeed, the only remnant of separation is the entry doors to the facility itself. On one end of the building, the Panamax doors are clearly marked, while directly opposite on the other end of the building, the doors are labeled for Furman.
In the middle of the building is also a one-hole putting course. Every Friday, the entire company stops to try to sink a 25 footer, with a pot of $200 at stake. The pot is divided among everyone who sinks the putt. A chart on the wall tracks the status of the contest. Very cool! (No, I didn't risk embarrassing myself by taking a stroke.)