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Niles Restructures Product Development; Al Burdett Returns

Sets up product divisions of loudspeakers, installation solutions and home systems. Nortek bankruptcy has no effects on operations.


Al Burdett has returned to Niles Audio as vice president of products.
Jason Knott · November 24, 2009

Niles Audio is looking to 2010 with invigoration after restructuring its product marketing organization into what it calls its “3 Pillars” or product categories: installation solutions, loudspeakers, and home systems.

Each product category is now headed up by an experienced product manager or senior project manager and all three report to a familiar name to many in the industry: Al Burdett, who has returned to Niles as vice president of products.

Burdett previously served as vice president of marketing at Niles from 1992 to 2003, leaving to pursue other interests. During his previous stint at Niles, he also was involved deeply in product design and development, helping rollout the company’s keypads, loudspeakers, controls, amplifiers and receivers. In his new position, Burdett will oversee Niles’ product portfolio and roadmap.

Mike “Sparky” Detmer, vice president of sales and marketing at Niles, says the new structure will allow Niles to hone its product creation process with the goal of constantly making products that help homeowners have simple access to home entertainment that integrates with other low-voltage subsystems like lighting, Internet, HVAC and security.

Installation Solutions

Detmer says integrators are demanding products that require less programming time and less installation time. Therefore, Niles plans to roll out new in-wall interfaces, remote controls, a series of IR/RF widgets, and IP to IR switches, among others.

Robert Ridenour, owner of Connected Technologies in Colorado Springs, Colo., is selling his integration company, relocating to Florida and joining Niles to head up the installation solutions category. His new title will be senior product category manager, installation solutions.

Loudspeakers

Niles is revamping its loudspeaker lines with smaller bezels, environmentally-friendly packaging and rear-wave controls. The company will continue to offer in-ceiling and home theater models in good/better/best selections that will be easier to install while offering a designer look.

Other new offerings due out in the second quarter of 2010 include:

  • Tiny halogen-light-sized in-ceilings
  • Outdoor speakers and subwoofers with a unique mounting system for residential and light commercial installs
  • An elite speaker line for direct dealers only within the ICS line

“Not surprisingly, we see traditional in-wall speakers morphing to the ceiling for distributed audio,” says Detmer, pointing to trends that show the category greatly diminishing in favor of alternative locations. Another familiar face, Mike Strange, has rejoined Niles and will head up the loudspeaker category as the senior product category manager.

Home Systems

Niles is turning its attention to digital media. Recognizing the trend among consumers toward not owning physical media but instead streaming the content from the Web, the company will be launching at the end of the first quarter of 2010 a new digital bridge box designed to bridge the gap between legacy systems and audio content from iTunes, Sirius radio, NAS drives, Internet radio, Rhapsody, Pandora and others.

The company will also be developing Web-based and iPhone apps for controlling the product. Home Systems will also be unveiling new integrated controls, multizone receivers and interfaces. Mike Anderson, a 30-year industry veteran who has been with Niles for two years, has taken on the title of senior product category manager, home systems.

Nortek Bankruptcy Effects

Detmer says Nortek’s bankruptcy filing has had no practical effect on Niles or, to his knowledge, any other Nortek-owned company.

“Niles Audio remains profitable with positive cash flow,” he says. “Nortek has reached agreements with certain debt holders to improve the company’s balance sheet by significantly reducing debt. At the end of the process, we expect Nortek to be a stronger company that is well positioned for future growth.”



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  About the Author

Jason Knott is Chief Content Officer for Emerald Expositions Connected Brands. Jason has covered low-voltage electronics as an editor since 1990, serving as editor and publisher of Security Sales & Integration. He joined CE Pro in 2000 and serves as Editor-in-Chief of that brand. He served as chairman of the Security Industry Association’s Education Committee from 2000-2004 and sat on the board of that association from 1998-2002. He is also a former board member of the Alarm Industry Research and Educational Foundation. He has been a member of the CEDIA Business Working Group since 2010. Jason graduated from the University of Southern California. Have a suggestion or a topic you want to read more about? Email Jason at jason.knott@emeraldexpo.com

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