OnQ Tech adds missing link

Friday, August 1, 2003

HARRISBURG, Pa. - While already a successful home networking system supplier with rising revenues, OnQ Technologies has made an appointment to its executive team that provides the missing link in its business development process.

OnQ officials announced in June that Internet and e-commerce veteran Stephen Schoffstall was appointed the company’s vice president of business development, home networks and is guiding the company in how to more directly communicate and target the homeowner/end-user. Through that venue, OnQ is looking to develop upselling opportunities, increase consumer education of its products and drive demand for its installer network.

“We have distributors and installers across the nation and some do focus on retrofit jobs and aftermarket opportunities, but OnQ as a company may not have been marketing directly,” Schoffstall said. “We have the ability to use our brand and communicate and turn those conversations into opportunities to sell more stuff.”

While this strategic shift comes in the wake of a failed merger attempt with Leviton Manufacturing Co., it is not a direct result of that process, said Dave Hanchette, vice president of marketing for OnQ. The company has shifted its operational and sales structure somewhat and brought in-house sales territories that were being handled by third-party reps.

“We also learned how important it is to grab technology…and to communicate electronically with your (end-users),” Hanchette said.

To that end, through the use of electronic communication, aided by the use of new customer databases, OnQ will begin to develop CDs and other electronic literature for its installer base, as well as moving all outbound electronic communications to an HTML format with opt-in/opt-out capabilities for different product oriented pieces.

The new focus on consumers is expected to increase sales from OnQ’s builder partners upward of 20 percent, Schoffstall said.

Company officials also hope the new communication with end-users will be a two-way street, and that consumers will feel comfortable with contacting the company via phone or other electronic means.

“The homeowner, once these solutions are put into the home, are thinking in terms of applications, and what will work better, what needs to change,” Schoffstall said.

Combined with the company’s focus on the existing homes market, that feedback will mean changes in product development that will result in an increase of products being designed to be more friendly to a consumer installation.

“Less than 10 percent of our products have been designed around the existing home or aftermarket sale,” Hanchette said. “I see that increasing five to 10 percent a year.”

While the manufacturer stressed that it is not moving away from its professional installer network, the products geared for the new market will be existing professionally installed products, such as audio, telephone and lighting products that will be simplified for a consumer installation as an add-on to a system.

These products will be available sometime in the fourth quarter, officials said.