Interview: Joe Roberts Set to Reinvigorate Core Brands Lines

HiddenWires caught up with Core Brands’ new President, Joe Roberts, for a brief chat as he begins his new role and preps for ISE 2015.

HW: You are stepping into the role of President; what is in store for Core Brands led by Joe Roberts?
Joe Roberts: Our mission is to delight our customers with exceptional service, innovative products and best-in-class programs. Everything we do in 2015 and beyond will be to fulfill that mission. 2014 was a transition year for us as we turned this business around and renewed our vigor. We’re bringing a new energy and excitement to all our brands, which became apparent with our new launches from SpeakerCraft, ELAN, and Niles. I’ve spent 20 years developing and building innovative products that go to millions of customers. I come from the software industry where the user experience is absolutely imperative to get right in order to create truly novel products that delight and sell. The user experience will increasingly differentiate the offerings of all our brands, whether it’s the elegant interface of our ELAN control products, the wizard-based configuration of the Niles Auriel multi-room audio controller, or BlueBOLT network management with our Furman power conditioners.

HW: You’ve been with Core Brands for a little over a year. What insights from customers have impressed you?
JR: I’ve been able to meet with many customers, dealers, reps and distributors to learn what they want and what they need from Core Brands. It was clear that they all want to have a great experience with us and with our brands. They know our brands, they know our products, and most importantly they trust these brands and products. Our job is to build from there and keep delivering innovation and solutions.

HW: Speaking of products, you have recently had major launches from some of your brands.
JR: We have passion for our brands and the products we make for each. My role is to help us focus on what’s really important. Re-crafting the SpeakerCraft brand has been a top priority. We listened to our customers around the world and their input has definitely informed our direction for the brand. For example, our new AIM Series 2 line includes a number of really important innovations, while honoring the legacy of earlier SpeakerCraft advances, from the “aim-able” woofers and tweeters to making the installation easier. The new speakers sound great and look amazing. They’re the best-looking speakers that you won’t see. We’ve also recently launched five new amplifiers and a new multi-room audio controller with keypads and touchscreens. Since consumers are showing a preference to use their mobile phones and tablets in their entertainment systems, we’ve incorporated those devices into the multi-room ecosystem with apps. Again, we’re striving for a great user experience.

I said coming out of CEDIA last September that if all we did was re-invent SpeakerCraft, then I would have considered 2014 a win. However, we have a hardworking, passionate team behind Core Brands, and were able to work simultaneously on the control side of our business to completely update the entire ELAN platform as well. We’ve launched a new operating system and three new controllers, plus the related ecosystem items. It’s been an amazingly successful year; we have great momentum going into ISE.

HW: Anything from the other brands?
JR: We turned the design team loose on the Niles brand and developed the new Auriel multi-room audio control platform, which began shipping in Q3 and has received a great response. Furman, Panamax, Sunfire and Xantech also have exciting recent or upcoming launches that will be showcased at ISE.

HW: What are the challenges ahead?
JR: With a mission that includes delighting customers with exceptional service, we will never really be satisfied with our performance. There’s always something we can do better; there are always more revolutionary products we can make. I see a lot of innovation in our future, 2015 and beyond; I’m really looking forward to hearing the response to our new products at ISE.

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