New Linear Group: Harman de ja Vu?

Former Harman Pro president Mark Terry expects to realign products and channels in the new Xantech/Niles/Elan group, but keep the brands.

Julie Jacobson · April 29, 2010

If you take a look at Harman, you might get an inkling of where Linear is going with its new Audio/Video/Control group.

The group was announced earlier this week as a combination of Elan, Niles Audio and Xantech, as well as the Elan brand’s Aton and Sunfire. Former Harman Pro president Mark Terry is president of the new group.

So far, the new group has done little more than “lift their kimonos,” says Terry, who recently assembled the sales and marketing teams of the respective brands in Linear’s headquarters in Carlsbad, Calif.

“We wanted to see what the strategies were, what was under development, see if there’s any new opportunities,” he says.

Right now, Linear AVC is simply taking stock but the goal is to get the companies to cooperate in a way that hasn’t been done since they launched the Digi5 platform for distributing digital audio over Cat 5.

“The goals is to bring the brands together and work in a more logical and strategic way—try to make it more effective,” according to Terry.

And that’s what happened when he held a similar position at Harman.

“Harman started out with a couple of companies, and we proved it could operate more efficiently.”

Like Linear AVC and its parent company Nortek, Harman began gobbling up brands when times were good, and it wasn’t until the times were bad when any real strategic planning occurred across all of the brands, Terry explains.

Digi5 might be Harman’s equivalent of HiQnet, a communications platform for professional audio that was developed by all Harman companies – and implemented differently across the brands.

Terry also plans to take a good hard look at the products, pricing and distribution practices of the Linear brands to find overlaps, redundancies and opportunities. He makes it clear, though, that all of the brands will be maintained and strengthened.

“We’ll look at the data – where we compete, where we don’t compete,” Terry says. “I don’t believe the market wants to have every manufacturer making everything.”

He notes that, back in the day, JBL was spending more R&D on electronics than on speakers, when speakers were its core business: “We got them back focused, let other companies do the electronics.”

That’s not to say, however, that Niles will take a step back from electronics, but there is plenty of overlap among the brands, with all of them making speakers and control systems for the same types of customers.

Also on Mark Terry’s to-do list: Finding a replacement for Niles president Frank Sterns, who retired last week.

“I feel good for Frank, bad for me,” Terry says.

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  About the Author

Julie Jacobson is founding editor of CE Pro, the leading media brand for the home-technology channel. She has covered the smart-home industry since 1994, long before there was much of an Internet, let alone an Internet of things. Currently she studies, speaks, writes and rabble-rouses in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V, wellness-related technology, biophilic design, and the business of home technology. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, and earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a recipient of the annual CTA TechHome Leadership Award, and a CEDIA Fellows honoree. A washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player, Julie currently resides in San Antonio, Texas and sometimes St. Paul, Minn. Follow on Twitter: @juliejacobson Email Julie at

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  Article Topics

News · AVC Group · Elan · Linear · Mark Terry · Niles · Nortek · All Topics
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