Name: Sam Malik
Title: Vice President/General Manager, ASK Proxima
SCN: What is your position, and what does it entail? What are your responsibilities?
Sam Malik: I am the vice president and general manager for ASK Proxima. I am responsible for sales and marketing of the brand into North and South America. My responsibilities include setting the product line, pricing, programs, advertising, and go-to-market strategies.
SCN: How long have you been at this position?
SM: I’ve been in this role for one year. However, I have more than 18 years of experience in the AV industry. I’m also the founder of the AV Industry Professionals Group on LinkedIn, which has 30,000 members worldwide and is one of the most active AV groups in social media.
SCN: How has your background prepared you for your new role?
SM: Initially I started out in the computer industry, which evolved into the PC/Mac industry. In the early ’80s, I was one of the first Apple and Compaq dealers in the country. I was looking for a new challenge, which led me into the emerging projector industry. I started out selling LCD display panels for nView and then progressed to help Toshiba launch its new projector business, which lasted 14 years. After leaving Toshiba, I joined Sanyo and helped it grow from a business of $65 million in revenue to more than $115 million in less than 18 months.
The great part about working with Toshiba and Sanyo was the ability to work directly with the factories and bring them the voice of the customer—to help develop new models and products to meet growing market demand. Sanyo was acquired by Panasonic in March 2012, so I helped to transition the business. Many of the former Sanyo employees moved on, and now work for ASK Proxima, and those professional relationships helped lead me to my current role.
SCN: What are your short-and long-term goals?
SM: Short-term we’re looking to launch this legacy name of projectors that everyone in the AV industry has used or sold over the years, and bring it back to greatness. So far, the acceptance of the brand, profit-making programs, and tremendous quality of the products has helped us gain a strong foothold in the projector marketplace.
For the long-term, my goals are to add higher-brightness models that are in high demand, and to introduce new technology products to the market. We’re currently developing Laser Hybrid projectors and solidstate LED lampless models 2015. The belief is that if ASK Proxima is the projector line of choice and offers products that meet the demands of the market, we can be one of the top five projector companies.
SCN: What is the greatest challenge that you face?
SM: The biggest challenge for any projector manufacturer is to be a good partner to its dealers and distributors. They are the ones who recommend and sell the products. Many brands seem to be in a hurry to reach the market and move big volume. They don’t take the time to really partner with the people who recommend, design, and build the projects that these products are used in. To overcome the obstacles of the industry, ASK Proxima limits distribution of our products, and focuses on meeting, and hopefully exceeding, the needs of the product from a market standpoint. We created programs for our partners that really matter and will help them be successful. Top quality products mean easier installations interface, and less support time after the sale to keep the installation up and running. All of these items are pretty big challenges to overcome; however, I feel we have the right products and programs to do exactly that.
SCN: Where do you see your market heading?
SM: Overall, market demand for projectors in classrooms, boardrooms, and large-venue environments remains strong. A number of companies have exited the projector business in the past year, so this has created a wide gap for ASK Proxima to step in and meet the needs and requirements of dealers and integrators.
SCN: Are there new initiatives we are likely to see from ASK Proxima?
SM: Currently, we have the right programs and relationships in place with 24 leading-edge projector models. We do see the future demand for new projection technologies such as solid state LED, laser, and higher resolutions as the big long-term opportunities in the market. We’ve already started to work on these, and plan to bring them to market in 2015.
SCN: How can systems contractors better position themselves to profit from products and/or services that ASK Proxima has to offer?
SM: Systems contractors need to make sure that they choose a technology partner that has the best programs in place to support their businesses and long-term viability. We meet a lot of integrators that are still selling the same brand they had 10 years ago. The market has evolved and changed, and yet they’re still selling the over-distributed “popular” brand with the same old programs.
The fact is that many projector companies are no longer in the business because they didn’t evolve with the market and keep the programs fresh and profitable. I’m making sure that ASK Proxima doesn’t fall into that. I created our programs to be supportive with extended warranties, support, and service. Our products have rock-solid engineering and reliability, and we have a brand name that people know and trust. We’ve taken parts of the old, including dependable products and profitable sales, but also made sure we look to the now and the future with flexibility in our programs, to ensure that all integrators/system contractors benefit.
Chuck Ansbacher is the managing editor of SCN.