I sat down with Savant CEO Bob Madonna nearly a year after he came back to Savant to retake the helm and steer the company back to its luxury market custom integration roots.
Maureen Jenson: Tell us about the first nine months back at the Savant helm.
Robert Madonna: Revitalizing! We’re excited, our dealers are excited and progress is being made. The first big thing was the Denver dealer conference in January [Around 600 Savant dealers attended; Savant’s largest integrator Summit – Ed]. It was a great reset for the company and new products. The dealers really wanted us back focusing on the luxury market. The CEDIA channel is what I love and I have never taken my eyes off the luxury market.
MJ: Some six months since the Summit how has your communication with your dealers improved and how are you delivering on some of your promises?
RM: Within the first several months we proved to the dealers how serious we are and now our dealer base is pumped and positive.
We hold quarterly dealer council meetings. We invite a set number of dealers and each time we invite new dealers; the goal is to find out what features they need to see in our upcoming products to stay competitive. The new touch panels are a case in point. Technology has changed so much and as pricing has come down, we can now provide our dealers with touchpanels that will give them a competitive edge.
Our dealers are also part of our beta programs and enthusiastic dealers get a chance to check out and test new systems in their own homes before they integrate it into their customers’ homes. This gives them the true hands-on experience to sell to their customers. We also have two of the best in the business on our team: JC Murphy is our EVP of Worldwide Sales and can help anyone looking to become a Savant integrator and Cliff Johnston is VP of Customer Care and can assist with any and all customer related issues.
MJ: Where are we with the product line?
RM: We are very excited about Wally that just started shipping in June. Wally is a family of dedicated touch screens for intuitive access to smart home features. The Wally lineup can easily control climate, lighting, entertainment and more from a small, in-wall form factor. It also incorporates the Savant Scenes technology that personalizes the smart home experience for each user.
We also have our ultra-high-performance pixel-perfect 4K/60 4:4:4 video distribution over IP switching platform; with 0 frame latency. This will give Savant integrators worldwide a distinct advantage delivering premium distributed A/V content to their residential and commercial clients. Premium switching has always been a hallmark of the Savant product lineup.
MJ: Tell us about the new Skill for Amazon Alexa?
RM: This represents the next step in voice command and gives users enhanced interaction with their Savant home. We pioneered the use of voice control as part of the connected home by introducing the Savant Pro Remote. Now with the unveiling of Alexa integration, we can deliver the best smart home user experience along with leading edge innovations that bring added value for our integrators.
MJ: What type of presence will Savant have at CEDIA EXPO?
RM: We have so many new products that will be debuting, including an automated shade line, a special lighting line, a touchpanel thermostat, a door entry system and a video over IP platform. There is so much more, you will just have to stop by booth 5129!