Industry News

Sumiko Audio now distributing ROTEL

Rotel has been a manufacturer of fine audio gear for decades now, always offering maximum value at a reasonable price. Today, they have joined forces with Sumiko Audio to strengthen their distribution channel. For those not familiar, they have also added a new, premium line – MICHI to their offerings.

Senior management at Sumiko, Rotel and McIntosh Group answered a few of my burning questions about the new partnership, which was announced at 10 a.m. EST today.

TA:  How did this new venture come about? Who approached who, or was this a mutual meeting of the minds?

R/S: Rotel and Sumiko came together because of people. Daren Orth, CTO Rotel, and Jeff Poggi, CEO Sumiko, got to know each other through industry friends. The idea of distributing Rotel by Sumiko emerged naturally as we got to know each other and realize that we shared a common vision. The products, dedication, culture and passion are perfectly aligned. The nearly 60 year of Rotel heritage supported with an array of Audio, Custom Installation and Home Theater products was a natural extension to the Sumiko offerings including Sonus faber, Pro-ject, Sumkio Cartridges and Bassocontinuo.

TA: Was this as a result of the general decline in what’s been happening with Bowers & Wilkins? (i.e. the huge layoffs there)? Rotel mentions an alliance with B&W that goes back decades, will this now be a new chapter in their history?

R/S:  The new Rotel / Sumkio relationship will indeed be a new chapter in the history of both businesses. Sumiko spent 2019 moving their office from Berkeley, CA to Maple Grove, MN and the warehouse to Buffalo, NY. Coming into 2020, the new Sumiko staff was running at full speed with a new ERP system, faster order processing, improved on-time delivery, and more engaging marketing communications. Sumiko was ready to take on a new brand and Rotel was a very complementary brand to add to our distribution portfolio. Rotel has long been recognized as a leader in the audio market for both build quality and value. Rotel is sold through Magnolia, select specialty retailers, and CI dealers. These are the three key channels for Sumiko today. So, it was a very nice fit. The timing of the Rotel / Sumiko venture allows both brands to execute on their collective visions extending service and support to the existing network of dealers and consumers.

TA: Is this partnership/association an attempt at making the Rotel lineup a way to expand the current offerings of McIntosh group to existing dealers? (I think it’s outstanding, because the current brands are at the higher end of the high end, so this is a great way to become “part of the family” so to speak)

R/S:  Rotel’s portfolio of hi-performance 2-channel and home theater products are a perfect complement to the McIntosh Group’s family of brands. For the most part, Rotel’s price points allow us to have a high quality, lower priced offering in all electronic categories – amplifiers, pre-amps, integrated amps, and home theater processors/AVRs. This is complementary to both McIntosh and Sonus faber. And, the addition of the new MICHI by Rotel product line allows us to give dealers a unique exclusive product offering to help them differentiate their assortment. We hope that our dealers will appreciate the increased selection that we have to offer.

TA:  Will that also be a way for dealers to dovetail with the current Sonus faber in-wall and custom offerings?

R/S:  Absolutely. Sonus faber and Rotel custom installation models are well aligned to support this growing category and perfectly matched with respect to price/performance. The acoustic innovations of the Sonus faber in-wall speakers connected with Rotel multi-room and home-theater installations will build on the value of both brands and products.

TA:  Will Rotel be sold on the same sales floors as McIntosh? Considering McIntosh offering some great gear that’s more affordable, the new Michi product is a stunning value in approachable, true high-end gear.

R/S:  Ultimately, we believe that the most successful Dealers love the brands that they sell. We want each dealer to be a strong brand ambassador for our brands. Our strategy is to work individually with each dealer to determine which brands are best for them. We will customize our approach to support the dealer’s strategy.  We will inherit a portfolio of existing Rotel dealers to start on June 1. Many of these dealers already sell McIntosh and/or Sonus faber. Others may sell Pro-ject and/or Sumiko Phono Cartridges. And, some of the dealers are new to Sumiko. So, we have nice mix to build from.

TA:  Will Michi dealers be an exclusive arrangement and sold in a different environment than standard Rotel gear?

R/S:  We are very excited to have the opportunity to build the Michi product line in the US. The Michi products offer a new performance/price position for Rotel and allows Dealers the ability to have a unique product offering to differentiate their business. We plan to sell the Michi products through an exclusive channel of specialty dealers within the Sumiko Rotel dealer network.

TA:  Are the Michi products built in Japan or China?

R/S:  Michi products are built in a dedicated factory-in-factory in the Rotel’s 100,000 sq. ft. manufacturing facility in Zhuhai, China. All Michi staff have been trained and certified for Michi assembly, testing and service ensuring the highest standards of build quality and performance.

This looks like a very exciting time for all parties concerned, stay tuned. We currently have the new Michi preamplifier and stereo power amplifier in for review, and if we’re going on first impressions, this pair is stunning. The S5 and P5 will grace the cover of issue 103 and be our feature story.