Q&A: Jade Design CEO Dan Laufman
Laufman discusses the Emotiva and Sherbourn brands and possible future acquisitions.
Dan Laufman, CEO of Jade Design, saw a gap in the market and he jumped in with both feet.
His company, an OEM manufacturer for many consumer electronics brands, is now trying to make a name for itself with its Emotiva and Sherbourn brands. Jade purchased Sherbourn in December 2010 and is working to broaden the product line for the custom channel.
Laufman recently sat down with CE Pro to discuss Emotiva, Sherbourn and more.
What is the relationship between Emotiva and Sherbourn?
Emotiva and Sherbourn are both owned by Jade Design. Jade for many years was an OEM house that designed turnkey electronic solutions for many companies in the custom install, consumer, professional and commercial sound channels.
Our staff and team in China are product guys. We are the engineers behind the development of the brands. We provided turnkey solutions for those manufacturer/customers. In some cases, manufacturers had us build to their designs. But in the vast majority of the cases, we did the complete design, development and manufacturing for the client. Then they branded it with their name.
What is Emotiva, and how is it different from Sherbourn?
Six or seven years ago I started Emotiva really as a therapy session for myself. I had some ideas about wanting to build some home theater products. The original business model was to target the CEDIA dealer base and sell the products through that channel. As I got into it, it became clear that because of my OEM relationships in that space it was going to create an apparent conflict because I was already building product aimed at the custom market, even though the designs were original. Our clients felt that being in the same distribution channel was a conflict.
So I looked into setting up a distribution agreement where I was at an arm’s length away, but that wasn’t going to work. So I decided to just go to the Internet with it and sell directly to hobbyists.
Soon, we had integrators trying to buy Emotiva. So I decided to expand the brand and make a line called Emotiva Pro that was targeted at the custom installation channel. But the brand names led to confusion when we brought it to the custom channel. We were already doing the engineering and manufacturing on behalf of Sherbourn. We knew their product lines intimately. So we bought the Sherbourn brand and converted Emotiva Pro products to that brand name. So that’s what we did, in addition to continuing to make the original Sherbourn products. We were already doing the engineering and manufacturing on behalf of Sherbourn. We knew their product lines intimately. So it was a painless acquisition for us.
How are you changing Sherbourn to make it more attractive for CE pros?
Sherbourn is very strong internationally. As I talk to dealers in the U.S., everyone likes the brand but the issue with Sherbourn is that it was never strong enough for an integrator to put aside another brand. It was never a “go-to brand.” There was no end-to-end product line. That has been a big hindrance. Sherbourn has been a respected brand in spite of itself.
My goal is to change that immediately. We already have multiple receiver platforms in development with one shipping. We have a lower-cost one and we have a Control4-enabled one that is a central part of our branding strategy. We have broadened the amplifier line significantly. We have a narrow, focused high-end line of cinema solution loudspeakers including powered subs.
Do you have plans for more acquisitions?
Our goal is not be another Harman or Nortek, but more than likely we will look to do another strategic acquisition in an area that is complementary. Ultimately we believe that certain levels of integration will be directly sold to consumers via the web.
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