Why on Earth Did Mike Anderson Buy vNet?
Russound finally dumped Colorado vNet after the home automation company caused it so much grief. So why did former Russound exec Mike Anderson buy the cast-off and rename it 3vNet?
The saga of Colorado vNet is already so well chronicled, why dredge it up again? Because it’s somewhat amusing.
Founder Bill Beierwaltes closed the business after taking funds from the home town of Loveland, Colo., and promising to bring 200 new jobs to the area. Then Russound bought it to add home automation and a more custom-oriented brand to its multiroom audio line. Then Russound decided to drop the product line. Then Russound said it would move forward with the line. Then Russound got rid of it once and for all … all in the course of a few short years (see chronology below).
And now, the latest chapter: Mike Anderson, formerly the VP of sales and marketing for Russound, acquired Colorado vNet, renamed it 3vNet (as in the third iteration of the brand) and moved the business to Orlando, Fla.
Anderson is no slouch. Prior to Russound, he was senior category manager at Niles Audio. Before that, he was in the integration business for a decade.
So what was he thinking buying a company with so much baggage?
Frankly, he likes the product and thinks he can do a better job of selling it to the custom channel. On the other hand, Russound was made for the broader market.
“I think Russound didn’t realize how different their distribution model was,” Anderson says. “They’re so entrenched with distributors.”
But will dealers ever trust vNet again?
“That’s going to be a challenge, no doubt,” Anderson says. “It’s interesting how loyal the dealers are that we already have.”
The original vNet independent reps are staying on, he says, and the new company is hiring more resources for the custom channel.
Changing the products, building on commercial
Furthermore, 3vNet is “rationalizing” the product line (i.e., dropping the unprofitable stuff) so there will be more margin for dealers.
“Now when you design a system,” he explains, “the money is in the area that makes sense.”
Although he doesn’t come right out and say it, Anderson hints that one of the lines that will be “rationalized” is audio.
“Historically, we have been bigger in audio than in lighting and automation,” he says. “I think that will change going forward.”
To that end, 3vNet plans to be “more open” with third-party subsystem manufacturers, for example in lighting control.
Anderson explains, “Our future is as a lighting and automation company. For us to take position that you have to use our lighting is short-sighted.”
As for other changes, 3vNet is establishing new vendor relationships and instituting new processes for quality control.
“The quality has been good, but we need to be perfect,” Anderson says. “Our quality will go up and our costs will go down in some areas.”
Meanwhile, 3vNet is putting a heavy emphasis on commercial markets, which is why the company moved to Orlando. Anderson says the company has a “big customer” there.
“We’ll be focused more on that [commercial applications], especially in the hospitality industries,” he says. “We just reached an agreement with a big hospital and wellness center builder, so we’ll be doing a lot of patient rooms, energy management, resorts …. That will be a significantly bigger portion of our business.”
3vNet currently has 10 employees and is looking to fill eight positions, primarily in engineering.
THE vNET SAGA
Colorado vNet Packs 70-Watt Amp in Elegant Touchscreen for Multiroom Audio (9/10/06)
Colorado vNet Adds Security, Climate, Camera Control to Lighting & Audio System (8/25/07)
Colorado vNet Gets up to $705,000 to Stay in Loveland, Colo. (2/08/08)
Colorado vNet Retrenches, Despite ‘Record Orders’ (11/03/08)
Colorado vNet Secures Funding, Plans Expansion (5/26/09)
Who Would Buy Colorado vNet? (9/26/09)
Russound to Acquire Colorado vNet (10/05/09)
Colorado vNet Closes Again, Probably for Good (12/29/10)
Colorado vNet Here to Stay (2/18/11)
Russound Sells Colorado vNet (4/25/12)
Colorado vNet Renamed 3vNet (6/18/12)
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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 email@example.com
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