I recently sat down with Jim McGall, Director of Sales, Wolf Cinema, about some of the industry misconceptions about Wolf Cinema, distribution and how integrator/dealers can increase their two-piece projection system sales. Part 2 (Part 1 here)
Maureen Jenson: I have heard you say, that you think there are some misconceptions about Wolf projectors in the marketplace…what are they?
Jim McGall: There are a couple. Some folks think that all we make are ultra expensive projectors. That might have been true back during our launch phase: 10 years ago our least expensive projector was in the $50K+ range.
However, about 6 years ago we began to release a number of solutions at more competitive price points. The SDC-15 has been one of our top selling units for years, and the rich feature content and UHD/4K imaging continues to justify its $15,000 North American retail selling price. Today our line-up is quite extensive, with great imaging solutions that fit just about every budget. Currently our assortment starts at just $2,995 and a number of our most popular units are sold in the $5-10K price range. Our partners consider such solutions to be ‘best in class’.
I think the second general misconception about our company is that we are wedded to one technology, only one OEM partner. We are far more diverse than that. We work with the engineering folks at JVC, Kenwood, Coretronics/Optoma, Lumagen, Christie Digital, Chi-lin, and many more. We think we have some of the best engineering resources in the world behind our offerings, and our continued success is in part based on those relationships.
MJ: Do you have any offerings for the commercial space? Are you contemplating any?
JM: Sure – as we’ve mentioned, our PRO series offers solutions for small to medium sized commercial projects. One of our dealers in Australia recently completed a very elaborate House of Worship installation using two of our PRO-series ultra-short-throw projectors. The video screen, projector and sound reinforcement gear were all pre-assembled in their facility onto a custom framework, tested thoroughly, then carried into the church for final installation.
MJ: Distribution is so important for projectors such as Wolf. What changes and or additions to distribution have you made?
JM: For years we only sold products direct to the CI specialist. That business model has been proven to work successfully for us, and our dealers appreciate the service we provide, and the market exclusivity that comes with our brand.
Today our PRO series can be sold through authorized regional distribution partners. It’s a win-win when a dealer can walk into their local stocking distributor, and walk out with a Wolf Cinema projector to install for their clients that very same day.
MJ: I believe you have said that integrators have to pay more attention to the business and sales side and not get too technical with their customers…can you explain where you think integrators go wrong?
JM: I don’t necessarily think integrators “go wrong” in their business approaches, but I do think there is room to improve how we as an industry communicate the amazing benefits of two-piece systems.
One part of this is something that I’ve been concerned with for some time: Projector professionals know their respective products, the various screen sales gurus know theirs. But it’s rare that one person or group knows both technologies in depth. How to take a projector and match it up to a specific screen type, in a given environment, and achieve what I call the “OMG Video” – imagery that consistently knock your socks off. Very few people understand the complexity and nuances of a high performance video system in total.
Audio specialists get it – they understand how to match excellent speakers, high performance cabling, amplification, processing and more. They work diligently to make their audio system sound its very best. I can count on one hand those dealers that are ‘expert’ at taking the same approach to their video system integrations. In comparison, scant attention is paid to how the video components might interact with each other – the source gear, video cabling and display.
The other concern I have – well, let’s simply call it the “art” of selling. Too many times I hear of dealers/integrators taking the path of least resistance. Their customer wanted projector Brand X, let’s give them Brand X – even though there might be a significantly better performing Wolf Cinema solution available, or an option from our company that contributes significantly more to their bottom line.
As marketing has proven, a BMW is a great car that gets its occupants from point A to point B. But an M-Series makes the A to B trip breathtaking. This same comparison can be made between an inexpensive projector and a Wolf Cinema projector. Do you think the integrators are adept at making these types of comparisons to their customers succinctly?
That’s the precise analogy for what we do – our CI partners use very similar descriptions when discussing our company and our product offerings: Wolf Cinema is a specialist company that brings deep video knowledge to the table, taking leading technologies to the very limits of the possible. We know how to modify a wide range of parameters in any given projector and achieve a superior image. We solve the thermal challenges – often, that enables us to drive the units a bit harder and thus increase the system’s overall dynamic range, achieving finer and more accurate color fidelity, on and on.
Folks are amazed at our picture fidelity, and have even set up side-by-side comparison tests with similar type engines from the given OEM manufacturer. We win those shoot-outs every time.
Lastly, we service what we sell. That also gives us an advantage, since we can determine where the failure points occurred, and adjust our processes so that similar issues won’t manifest in the future.
MJ: How is your European and Asian business? Any areas globally surprising you? And if so why?
JM: We’re doing very well in the UK, Canada, Brazil and starting to see some significant growth in China, Russia and parts of Eastern Europe.
MJ: While the trend seems to be away from dedicated theater rooms, how do you see the future of Wolf Cinema? Where do you see the future?
JM: These are indeed exciting times to be in the specialty video business, and from our vantage point the two-piece projector and screen system will be around for many years to come.
UHD/4K is driving strong consumer interest, and folks are now upgrading from say an earlier digital unit or even an HD projector from a few years ago – everyone is now making the leap to 4K.
Very large flat panel displays are important as larger screens influence our client’s satisfaction levels. But there is nothing like a 10-12 ft. wide screen to provide that truly immersive home theater experience.
These days a new projector investment is a lot more reasonable, especially with the laser/phosphor illumination technologies that basically eliminate periodic lamp changes and associated re-calibration requirements.
In the future, we’ll see more modular display technologies come into play – for example, high density interconnected LED modules. You’ll build a custom screen out of smaller panels, with UHD or higher resolution, bright and color accurate images. But currently such solutions are in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, so our offerings will remain a great value and provide those fabulous Wolf Cinema performances for years to come.