While still new to the pro audio world, Core Brands vice president of products Joe Roberts has helped establish the company as a leader in the market, contributing his 20-plus years in the consumer software industry. Appointed to his vice president position back in September 2013, Roberts’ role requires him to oversee the marketing of Core brand’s 11 companies, including Furman Sound, a brand that specializes in designing pro audio installation products.
“Furman Sound is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year—it was founded in 1974 and our roots are in the pro audio and music industries. These roots go very deep, and we’re very proud of the reputation we’ve garnered,” said Roberts. “This reputation stems from a proven history of delivering great products to market, and I believe our primary product category—power protection and conditioning—helps cement this reputation.”
Furman is only one of 11 brands under the Core Brands name; others under this umbrella include ELAN, a home control and automation manufacturer; Speakercraft and Sunfire, designing premium architectural and theater speakers; Xantech for connectivity solutions; and Niles, for home audio entertainment.
“I was really attracted to this great mix of brands, each with its own history and market-leading legacy,” Roberts explained. “We’re leveraging these brand strengths and technologies into a common platform that will provide increasing value to all channels of our business.”
Roberts’ career has mainly focused on leading product development with companies in the customer software industry, where he fostered product solutions to meet the market’s needs. He explained that this experience gave him an understanding of the customers’ needs and how to cater to them through product development, a skill he brings to Core Brands.
“For software or software-enabled hardware, the goal is the same—create products that solve customer problems and exceed customer expectations. Furman has a long history of doing just that, and it continues to our mantra moving forward,” he said. “We focus on the customer and customer needs, both from a product perspective as well as a delivery perspective. Our goal is to delight our customers with products solutions and by making it increasingly easy to do business with us.”
As vice president of products and marketing, Roberts said he is most excited about strengthening this relationship between the product design and the customer. “I really enjoy being part of an organization that brings out new technologies and innovations that delight our customers,” Roberts said. “With Core Brands, we have a unique opportunity to augment great products with great support and programs across a multitude of brands and vertical markets.”
Of course, Roberts still faces a number of challenges when working to develop new products under the Core Brands umbrella. “We’re still working on our order delivery systems to make them as responsive to dealers and retailers as possible,” said Roberts. “This is vitally important, but what I really love is creating new products. We have incredible talent in our product management and engineering teams, and it’s a thrill each day to work with them creating products that solve customer problems.”
The Core Brands mission, according to Roberts, is to create and deliver innovative audio, power and control products to the entertainment and smart home markets. “The ‘innovative products’ certainly extends to our efforts in the Pro Audio market,” added Roberts.
Within the Furman brand, the pro audio branch has independent sales representatives across the country, all reporting to the director of pro division sales. A total of eight technical support staff are based in the Petaluma, CA, headquarters. “This team gets overflow support from our other technical support centers,” Roberts said. “The culture of the company is all about working as a team fully focused on the customers’ needs, whether that’s our dealers, retailers and channel partners, and of course, the end user of our products. We focus on the tenets of mutual respect, trust and accountability at all levels, and we practice this throughout our organization and expect the same from our partners.”
In terms of product development, Roberts said he was particularly proud of Furman’s power conditioners, attributing the preservation of many customers’ equipment racks to the products.
“It’s an emotional connection that people have with us as being the heroes. We are very proud to own and honor this legacy as well as expand it with innovative new technologies,” said Roberts. “Our latest innovation, BlueBOLT technology, allows customers to monitor and manage our power conditioners remotely using cloud-based software, as well as monitor equipment on the IP network and reboot devices that run into problems. For installing contractors, system integrators and facility managers, this is a huge benefit as it means they are able to service their customer or system immediately and remotely.”
Geographically, Core Brands’ largest market is the United States, but international markets are growing substantially for the company. “We’ve seen growth in all our main product categories,” said Roberts.
For future endeavors, Roberts noted Core Brands is working on a number of new initiatives, and expects to make a few announcements in the next couple of months, but couldn’t go into details, only allowing, “It’s going to be an exciting year ahead!”