SCN: What technology and/or verticals were most successful in 2014?
John Sexton: The interest in Dante has been the technology innovation in 2014. Specifically, Ashly has implemented the Dante network interface across our network amplifiers, both with and without a built-in Protea DSP Processor. Ashly presently offers 26 different amplifier choices with a factory-installed Dante card. The width and breadth of our Dante product offering has been a big hit with the Consultant community. If I had to pick one vertical market that really stood-out in 2014, it would be K-12 Schools. This spring and summer were packed with high school renovation and new construction projects, primarily in the Southwest and the Plains States.
What customer or end-user demand surprised you the most and why?
JS: At the start of the year, we made a concerted effort to educate our dealers about the value of 25V output amplifiers in K-12 school sound systems. In many school districts, the 25V distributed audio systems don’t require conduit. Ashly has sixteen amplifier packages that offer 25V output in 1-, 2-, 4-, and 8-channel packages. This year, several education-focused integrators focused their sales efforts on specifying and selling multi-channel amps with 25V output in their cafeteria and school paging systems. This was a pleasant surprise for everyone except our manufacturing team.
Which vertical markets are on the rise, and which do you see declining?
JS: In addition to the aforementioned education market, we are also seeing strong growth in higher education facilities. The college and university environment is a networked universe, so our thirty networkable amplifiers are a natural fit into this infrastructure. Worship facilities remain a very strong component in Ashly’s North American sales, but the trend is moving away from the mega church and toward satellite churches that fit more of a ‘medium’ size performance and worship space. We also see a decline in large sports venues, which we hope will be offset by a growing high school sports facility market.
John Sexton is the Vice President of Sales for Ashly Audio.