Sonance wants to be an "end-to-end" solution provider for multi-zone products, providing products from source components, to control/switching systems, to playback products likes amps and speakers.

HomeToys Interview

Chip Brown | Sonance

HomeToys Interview
Chip Brown, CEO Sonance

Sonance wants to be an "end-to-end" solution provider for multi-zone products, providing products from source components, to control/switching systems, to playback products likes amps and speakers.


1. What are the major trends in the custom installation market?

From the perspective of Sonance, we see digital audio servers/streaming audio (e.g. Conciérge) as a trend that will continue to gain a foothold as a 'must have' product for the custom install market. Demand for 'ready installed' multi-zone products in a greater range of application in new home construction, remodeling customers (not just high end), is also a very strong growth area. Another area with a bright future is in the outdoor audio category.

2. Sonance recently introduced its first component products, the Trio Triple Tuner and the Conciérge. Why is Sonance getting into the source component market?

Sonance wants to be an "end-to-end" solution provider for multi-zone products, providing products from source components, to control/switching systems, to playback products likes amps and speakers.

3. Sonance has recently come out with a three tuner component. Why would consumer want a product like this?

For years, owners of multi-zone systems have installed multiple, separate component tuners into their systems. Now they can install a single component in place of three, with the added benefit of RS232 control.

4. Sonance is known primarily as a speaker and amp company, but it has recently entered the control market. Is the company planning to expand further? If so, why?

Our goal is to supply products our customers need and want, and at the same time, to innovate in areas where we see room for improvement. We'll look into any product area we feel we need to play in, in order to satisfy our customers and improve consumer's entertainment experience.

5. With the introduction of new product lines comes a need for further education and training for dealers and installers. How is Sonance handling this?

We are adding to our factory and regional training programs, and also implementing new, online education programs.

6. What has been Sonance's most popular group of products for the past few years? Do you expect this to continue or will it change in the next few years?

We are the acknowledged leader in wall speaker for multi-zone audio and home theater, and while most people don't know it, we're now #2 in component audio amplifiers. We expect to maintain this position in these product areas, but will increase our prominence in control systems and outdoor audio.

7. What have you found to be the most effective way to market new products in the Consumer Electronics industry?

Nothing sells like first hand experience and the recommendation of a satisfied customer. In other words, when people walk into a Sonance-equipped home, like what they hear and see, and get a recommendation from the home owner…well, that's the best chance we have of getting a new customer.

8. There has been a lot of consolidation in the consumer electronics industry lately. What is your take on this?

As industries mature, there are cycles of consolidation and entrepreneurial expansion. Many companies, including some of our competitors, have decided not to go it alone anymore, either because the founders are cashing out, or because they're afraid they can't stay ahead of the competition by themselves. We think our best days as an independent company are still in our future. We see Sonance sustaining itself and growing as a major, independent brand for the foreseeable future. We believe that's the best way we have to support our dealers and consumers. We're very excited at what we see happening at Sonance over the next few years.

Chip Brown was appointed Chief Executive Officer of Sonance in September 2001 by company founders Scott Struthers and Geoff Spencer.

Brown, 41, joined Sonance in 1999 as Chief Operating Officer, with overall responsibility for day-to-day operations. During his first three years, the company doubled sales and tripled profits through focused efforts to increase product innovation, expand product lines, penetrate new markets, and integrate all aspects of operations, sales and marketing. Sonance has also maintained a strong leadership position - in sales, service, and image - despite aggressive and fast increasing industry competition.

Stressing teambuilding as a steppingstone to sustained business success and personal satisfaction, Chip emulates Jack Welch and Vince Lombardi for their ability to organize close-knit teams that consistently outperform competitors. He believes his success at Sonance has been in developing team leaders who create an environment that perpetuates personal and company growth.

Prior to joining Sonance, Brown served in numerous posts that provided the diverse experience to run a fast-growth, technology-based consumer products company.

Brown, who considers problem solving as well as team building among his key strengths, holds an MBA from Harvard Business School. He was born and raised in Ohio, and earned degrees in finance and marketing from the University of Cincinnati.

Chip, his wife and daughter live in San Clemente, Calif.


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