On Jeremy Burkhardt’s Comeback: Origin Acoustics Looks Promising
A handful of dealers attended a three-day summit for Burkhardt's new company Origin Acoustics to help shape the business. Most were impressed with new technological advances.
Some prominent dealers attended a briefing recently on Origin Acoustics, the new speaker company founded by Jeremy Burkhardt.
There isn’t too much detail I can share about the meeting so I’ll pose some questions instead.
Can the former chief of SpeakerCraft pull off an epic resurrection?
Most of the dozen-or-so dealers in attendance seemed to think so. They were invited to a three-day affair in the San Diego area to learn about the new business, and none of them committed in advance to actually buying the line – and I mean “line” on many levels.
Burkhardt hosted the meeting with partner Ed Haase, who founded SpeakerCraft in 1976, and marketing director Dave Donald. The other Origin founder, SpeakerCraft co-founder Ken Humphreys, could not attend.
The timing of the event was strategic. Origin had just enough product and plans in place to gain credibility, but with plenty of wiggle room left before the official launch.
Let’s get this out of the way first: Is there actually anything interesting in the product department or is this just a blustery company with a storied past?
Yes indeed, there is some serious new technology in Origin’s speakers. After all, the company had the luxury of developing products from scratch, with all new tooling that did not have to accommodate legacy product.
Burkhardt told the group that Origin looked at every tiny little detail of a speaker down to the screws: “Are they stainless? What should the thread-size be?”
Nothing was beyond scrutiny, he said. The company spent $600,000, for example, on a punch tool.
“It’s a [expletive] grille,” he said. “But there’s a big difference. It looks a lot whiter.”
For his part, the normally shy engineer Haase showed a hint of giddiness when he explained, “We did look at every single thing. It’s one of the funnest things we’ve ever done.”
Not being an audio person myself, I didn’t really grasp the nuances of the tech talk, but what seemed to resonate with the dealers (and a couple of reps) in the crowd is some engineering that makes the speakers sound “way better off axis,” in Burkhardt’s words.
There is also a tool-free install design that is, in fact, more toolless than the other guys’ with some clever mechanisms to ensure the speakers lock hard onto the drywall.
There were some other zingers that will be revealed in the coming months.
Meanwhile, Origin looked to the invited guests to help the company hone its business model. Should there be independent reps? Should Internet (MAP-only pricing) sales be allowed? Should the company do side-by-side comparisons at CEDIA?
Origin promises the same exceptional customer service that the principals pioneered at SpeakerCraft. Many dealers said they would support Burkhardt because he helped them through tough times and always had their interests at heart.
Others acknowledged Burkhardt’s unparalleled customer service but noted that the industry followed his lead and other vendors have upped their games, winning and keeping loyal dealers.
Most of the attendees who weren’t there for the golf, simply wanted to see if the new organization had legs, which undoubtedly it does.
“We’re betting our retirement on it,” says Burkhardt, who gave numbers to back up the claim.
In the end, it seems the attendees agreed that Origin could achieve its goal of “being the best custom installation business in the world.”
Burkhardt tells me, “Every dealer that attended committed to supporting us.”
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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