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5-Minute Interview: Mark Terry

Mark Terry, president, Harman Pro Group, Harman International Industries. Terry recently hosted Harman Pro's annual Business & Technology Conference where the group laid out a multi-brand integration strategy that included its new HiQnet networking protocol that integrates components among Harman brand products.

Mark Terry, president, Harman Pro Group, Harman International Industries.

Terry recently hosted Harman Pro's annual Business & Technology Conference where the group laid out a multi-brand integration strategy that included its new HiQnet networking protocol that integrates components among Harman brand products.

Pro AV:Other pro audio companies have tried multiple-brand integration, but have had mixed results. Why do you think Harman Pro Group is succeeding when others are struggling?

Terry: I believe our businesses are working successfully together because we've created an environment of respect that fosters co-development of technologies, products, and systems — in that order. All too often collective brand strategies or company roll-ups are done by accountants. As a result, all of the restructuring and head count issues as well as the delegation of day-to-day responsibilities are driven by financial considerations. To be sure, we're very prudent about finances, but our priority is always on creating an environment that allows each of our companies to focus on its core competency. After that, we do everything possible to ensure that our work environment is based on trust and mutual respect. We strive to maintain an overall Group corporate culture that unifies our nine companies while respecting each company's individual history, tradition, and culture. This commitment to core competencies and teamwork is leading us to some amazing new developments such as HiQnet.

Pro AV:In the past there appeared to be some competition between the Harman Pro Group companies. How have you worked to turn that around?

Terry: There was competition between the companies. Historically, the companies of the Harman Pro Group were independent entities before they became part of the Group. A history of competition was unavoidable and served its purpose to motivate people to go further. By creating Centers of Excellence within each company (where each brand focuses on its core competency), we took away the obvious competition on the same products. I think the multi-step program we put together over the past six years has created a dynamic environment of collaboration where we now all share a common objective. People work together at their best when they have a common goal, and by creating a unified product strategy, we've created a common goal that involves each of the nine companies in that quest, which is to deliver integrated solutions.

Pro AV:Harman Pro Group seems to be committed to this total solutions approach. But how does it address a customer's reluctance to commit to a single-source supplier?

Terry: The audio business has a lot of parallels with other industries. If you look at other industries, when they were in a “hobbyist” stage, people really liked to mix and match their components. Today when you go buy a computer system, you get one box from Compaq, you open the top, you pull the whole thing out, and it's done. The hobbyist aspect is the use of the system, and no longer the creating of the system. We truly believe that there is a trend going this way. The great thing about our Centers of Excellence program is that if you like everything we make, that's great. But if you've got a particular piece that you like from someone else — a crossover, an amplifier, or mixer, you can use it with our gear and be just fine. That extends to our HiQnet networking strategy. We can put all the Harman Pro products on the network, but if you want to use other products, it's possible. It's also CobraNet-compatible, so you can connect CobraNet products. You're not going to have the control and configuration aspects that you have with HiQnet and Harman Pro products, but you can still design a traditional sound system. We're happy that it works either way for our customers.



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