I think the home theater industry is on the verge of significant growth, despite the current economic environment. This can probably be attributed to a number of factors, but perhaps the most significant is that people are choosing to travel less because of several recent world events and instead are investing in their homes and in forms of entertainment like home theater.

HomeToys Interview

Ben Jamison, Runco

HomeToys Interview
Ben Jamison - VP of Sales and Marketing, Runco

I think the home theater industry is on the verge of significant growth, despite the current economic environment. This can probably be attributed to a number of factors, but perhaps the most significant is that people are choosing to travel less because of several recent world events and instead are investing in their homes and in forms of entertainment like home theater.


www.runco.com/


Question #1: Runco has recently seen some exciting changes ? Please tell us about it.

Runco has always been a very forward thinking company, continuing to provide cutting edge products and innovations to the home theater market. In doing so, the company has grown from its origins as a small garage shop operation into a thriving multi-million dollar company offering a wide variety of products.

In order to continue to fuel this growth, Sam Runco acquired two additional brand names that have established brand recognition in the consumer electronics industry, Vidikron and Project-a-Vision. Runco has recently launched the rebirth of the Vidikron brand with the introduction of two new DLP projectors, the first in a series of products that will be launched under the Vidikron brand name this year.

Sam also recognized a need to focus on the company's internal infrastructure and processes in order to increase the company's efficiencies and to capitalize on the significant growth that Runco continues to enjoy. To achieve this goal, Sam decided to bolster an already seasoned management team by hiring Bob Hana, a long time consumer electronics industry veteran, as the new President at Runco and myself as the Vice President of Sales and Marketing, to assist in executing the necessary strategies needed to support the explosive growth expected for the company in the future.

Question #2: What are the launch plans for Vidikron?

As I mentioned a moment ago, the relaunch of new Vidikron brand has just been announced and the company will begin shipping its first products, the Vision Series Model 20 and Model 40 in June. Several other products will follow closely behind these initial products in order to fill out what will be a very full product line, including additional projector products as well as plasma displays, and others.

The Vidikron brand will have a distinctly different personality from the Runco brand, with models targeted at users wanting high performance products at aggressive price points as compared to other brands. An analogy might be drawn that if the Runco brand is the "Rolls Royce" of home theater products, then the Vidikron brand is more like the Mercedes or BMW.

These products will be distributed in much the same distribution model as the Runco brand, using qualified retail and custom installers, but will use a different dealer network.

Question #3: In this uncertain economy, what does the Home Theatre industry need to do to remain profitable and expand business?

I think the home theater industry is on the verge of significant growth, despite the current economic environment. This can probably be attributed to a number of factors, but perhaps the most significant is that people are choosing to travel less because of several recent world events and instead are investing in their homes and in forms of entertainment like home theater.

The companies that will enjoy the greatest success in this environment are those that continue to provide exciting and useful products, innovations and strive to provide products at competitive prices.

Also focusing on reducing overhead and maximizing efficiency and productivity within a company's organization is the best way to ensure profitability and cost competitiveness in a very competitive environment like the consumer electronics industry.

Question #4: When selecting a Plasma screen, what should a consumer be focused on ... what sets Runco apart from the rest?

When buying a plasma display, it is important to understand how the product compares to other technologies. The most obvious of course is the physical footprint of a plasma display. Very thin in comparison to other technologies, plasma is a very attractive technology not only for main home theater applications, but also in bedrooms and other areas of the home where space is at a premium. The most popular screen sizes for plasma displays are 42" to 61".

Another important consideration is at what altitude is the home where a plasma device will be used. In high altitude areas like the Rocky Mountains for instance, some plasmas may not perform well in homes at altitudes above say 7500 feet above sea level and above. Check with your dealer to be sure the plasma display you are considering is able to perform at these altitudes. Most Runco plasma products perform very well in these applications.

Finally, pay close attention to picture quality on plasma displays. This can vary widely among plasma units. Look closely at any pixel imperfections, like pixels that are constantly dark of white. Also judge the color reproduction. Many less expensive brands do not reproduce color very accurately and do not exhibit good black levels. These devices typically do not provide controls that allow the users to have good access to precise control over these parameters. Runco plasma products only use the best glass available few if any exhibit pixel imperfections. Runco plasma products also have very accurate color reproduction and also have very high performance processors that allow the user to adjust many different color and pictures very precisely. The result is a stunning picture quality that easily stands out among all other brands and products.

Question #5: When recommending a Home Theatre Display system, what should a dealer be focused on ... again what set's Runco apart from the rest?

The first decision is to decide which technology is right for each individual application. There are a number of different technologies available, each having specific advantages and disadvantages. These technologies include CRTs, for which there are direct view CRT displays as well as front and rear projection systems. Smaller displays usually employ direct view CRTs; while larger enclosed projection CRT units use rear screen implementations that achieve screen sizes up to say 72". For even larger screen sizes, two piece CRT projection systems can be used. By two piece it is meant that the projection unit is separated from the screen. Screen size is primarily dictated by the throw distance of the lens in the projector and the distance of the projector from the front of the screen.

Generally, DLP is a two piece front projection technology, although some companies have recently announced rear screen enclosed DLP based systems.

Other technologies, such as LCD projection are also available, but DLP and CRT are the two dominant projection technologies in use today for home theater applications.

Runco offers a very comprehensive line of CRT and DLP projection products for home theater applications, with prices ranging from $5,000 to over $250,000. Our products offer best-in-class performance and are sold only through a Runco authorized dealer network that can provide the best in customer service and support.

Question #6: Five or ten years down the road ... when everything is digital ... which technology do you think will become the mainstream television display system?

That is a very difficult question to answer. I don't believe that there will be any one technology that will necessarily dominate all others. It will depend on what your applications are. But certainly DLP and plasma have established strong momentum in the marketplace and they continue to innovate and improve, and CRTs continue to be a very popular technology and will be for quite a while because of the price/performance characteristics, especially in small screen applications.

Question #7: Looking ahead, what new video projection technologies are on the horizon?

There are a number of exciting new technologies on the horizon, including LCOS, next generation LCD, OLED, and many others. Time will tell what and how these products will take shape in the marketplace.


Ben Jamison
An industry veteran for over 22 years, Benąs career includes a diverse background and extensive management experience in the consumer electronics and professional video markets.

Before joining Runco, Jamison managed several worldwide sales and marketing organizations, including NEC Technologies where he oversaw businesses generating more than $600M in annual revenues and helped established the company as the leader in projection display and computer display products.

Throughout his career, Ben has worked with several well-known companies in the television broadcasting industry, including AMPEX and Abekas Video Systems.  He has also worked in the computer graphics and display technologies industry at Radius Inc.


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