Sanyo changes its channel

New leadership focuses on messaging, IP, planet Earth
Monday, May 4, 2009

CHATSWORTH, Calif.—While the details of Panasonic’s acquisition of Sanyo continue to be hashed out in Japan, the Sanyo Fisher company, which sells security equipment in North America, has new leadership, a new outlook on the channel, and a new focus on innovative IP products.

Bill Lawrence, who came to the company as VP and general manager of the security products division in November, said he came in knowing he had “a company with an amazing pedigree, but without a lot of buzz or recognition. It’s the best kept secret in the business.”

For example, he said, long-time customers loved the company for its analog imaging expertise, but didn’t seem to get the message that all of its Pan Focus cameras could be made into IP cameras with a simple board switch, something that could be done right in the field.

To get that message out better, said Lawrence, Sanyo will move away from manufacturer’s reps entirely and move to a direct channel. “We’re going to engage directly with high-value creating integrators,” he said. “Companies like Johnson Controls, Red Hawk, Convergint, guys with a large footprint. We’re going to make them business development partners. We’ll ask them what vertical markets they’re in, what they’re working on, and then give them products that fit.”

“We’ll go to the wall with them in helping them close business, sell, write proposals, help them differentiate themselves,” Lawrence said. “In this economy, everybody’s looking for ways to differentiate themselves, and it’s not about whiz-bang products. If you continue to rely on that as a key differentiator, you’re in trouble. You have to maintain a relationship and add value in every single piece of the relationship. That’s how we’re going to tackle the market, by focusing on where we’ll be able to develop longer-term and more-powerful relationships with customers.”

Lawrence is supported in this change by new Sanyo Fisher president Isaac Levy, who says the Panasonic deal and channel switch shouldn’t disturb long-time partners. “We’ve been in business for 30 years, and we’ve been there for them for 30 years, and we’ll be here for another 30 years,” Levy said. “I think if we were in business for five years and there was a big change, people would worry, but we’re among the stabilizing influences in these rocky economic times.”

With nine new IP-centric products at ISC West, Lawrence emphasized Sanyo’s commitment to being first to market with innovative products, but also said, “we’re not abandoning anybody—We have a large following and we’ll continue to support them, but as we look forward we think the technology has to evolve. We’re a $25 billion corporation and we have some great core capabilities, so we’re going to leverage those. DVRs are becoming very commoditized, so why fight there where there’s margin erosion, when we can innovate? We want to not necessarily be on the bleeding edge, but we want to pull people into new things for the industry.”