Q&A: Mike Levi, President of Digital Projection
Levi discusses active 3D technologies, the introduction of the M-Vision Cine 230, and potentially profitable trends for installers in the video market.
Since its entry into the residential video category several years ago, Atlanta-based manufacturer Digital Projection, (DP) has aggressively sought to gain market share. Symbolic of its successful growth, DP has more than doubled among dealers in the CE Pro 100 that carry its product line over the past three years. Heading into 2011, Mike Levi, president of Digital Projection, details how the company is further intensifying its growth efforts.
Looking back at 2010, how would you characterize the year for Digital Projection?
From a residential perspective, I think we’ll look back on 2010 as the year that we truly realized our potential. Almost 15 years ago, Digital Projection International was created. Since then, we’ve applied equal parts hard work and engineering expertise in order to gradually expand. 2010 revealed many of the benefits to this hard work. What is most exciting to us is that we’ve only just begun to implement a huge array of investments in service and support positions as well as expansions of the product line.
We made our reputation with our flagship displays, the Titan and Lightning lines … both lines saw the same steady growth. Where 2010 really stood out was in our mid-level offerings, as well as our new entry-level product lines. The mid-level projector lines, including our new HIGHlite 3-chip, as well as our elite single-chip dVision options, saw a healthy surge.
Another defining aspect of 2010 has been introducing the precision of the DP brand to a new and plentiful number of dealers and home entertainment enthusiasts. Thanks both to our reputation and the accessibility of the new high-value products, many dealers that have seen success in the sub-$10,000 display market now see DP as a viable resource. While other manufacturers were cutting their customer and technical support teams, we were able to roll out upgrades and investments that we’d planned for years — 2010 saw us invest at just the right time, and we’ve been rewarded with significant gains in market share.
How does the move into a new facility help the company in 2011?
The expansion of our U.S. headquarters is tied directly to our product line expansion. The facility will more than double our current square footage, taking us to over 30,000 square feet. This means more streamlined shipping methods, more dedicated demonstration and training spaces, more technical and QC [quality control] facilities, and more room to accommodate our future growth plans — all of which translate into better support and service for our partners.
Our dealers depend on our reliability and responsiveness as a key to their success, and we take that trust very seriously. So, in addition to key service personnel we’ve added this year, there are many more announcements to come in early 2011. In fact, 90 percent of the new hires on our horizon for 2011 pertain directly to customer service and support.
At the CEDIA Expo last September, DP introduced the M-Vision Cine 230, which is priced well below $10K. How does this product help the company to meet its market goals?
The M-Vision 230 was introduced primarily in response to dealer feedback. Our dealers wanted to bring the DP brand to a much wider base of their clients, but the cost was often prohibitive. Even among our most elite dealers that would prefer to exclusively sell $80,000 Titans, they were getting 10 times the opportunity to sell in the $5,000 to $10,000 range. They didn’t want to have to sacrifice our quality and support by using another manufacturer, but were being forced to due to DP having no products in that range.
Here’s the important part — the M-Vision 230, as well as the similar future products in that range, are being introduced specifically to deliver better solutions than what currently exist at those price points. We didn’t introduce them to emulate what already exists there. We simply analyzed the products in that range and then identified ways to create competitive products that carry the same precision and advanced engineering that exist in our higher-end products. Those already familiar with our elite displays will not be disappointed. And those unfamiliar with our brand will now have a robust alternative to what is currently available.
Will the release of the M-Vision Cine 230 help installers capture more sales in an area of the market that’s been dominated by flat-panel displays?
Of all the things that the M-Vision 230 delivers, the 230 is not an ideal solution for rooms with high ambient light. It excels in theatrically dark environments on screens up to 11-feet wide, where [its] 1,000 lumens can really dazzle. In ambient light venues, you need lumens to fight the light. With that in mind, our 3,500-lumen M-Vision Cine 260, 5,500-lumen M-Vision Cine 400 and 7,500-lumen dVision 30-1080p are much better solutions for multimedia and entertainment rooms.
DP has been a strong supporter of 3D video in the home. Can installers expect to see new 3D products this year?
DP introduced and displayed the singlechip M-Vision Cine 400-3D, a brand-new 3D projector, at CEDIA 2010. It’s got the same DLP image performance as in our 3-chip 3D powerhouses [Titan and Lightning], but it’s priced in the $18,000 range.
Between our 3D projector lines and our Dimension 3D server, we have nothing but confidence that the demand for 3D will continue to grow. We certainly have more 3D-related announcements coming out in early 2011.
Can you explain why the company uses active 3D technologies?
The active 3D method is the preferred solution for home theaters, as the picture quality and perceived depth is much higher. Syncing is simple in a controlled theater, and the overall wow factor, which is what 3D is essentially all about, is much more pronounced than in a passive experience. Customers spending $80,000 on a projector solution should get the full benefits of what they’re purchasing and only active solutions deliver the full intensity.
Are there any areas of the video market that DP feels could either break out and/or become trendy and profitable for installers?
Many of our dealers are winning more and more projects, but sacrificing client services to take on the volume. This includes educating their existing clients on new, exciting technology. Advances like LED-driven displays, as well as expanded capabilities like 3D-enabled projectors that deliver even more of the wow factor, give dealers a reason to check back on previous clients. The more opportunities a dealer takes to re-educate or refresh the client, the higher the chances to create a client for life versus a one-time sale.
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