Harman’s Asia Pacific VP Interview: Amar Subash
AV’s editor, Christopher Holder spoke with Harman’s new Asia Pacific Vice President & General Manager, Amar Subash, at the Integrate show in Sydney.
AV: What’s your Harman story, Amar?
Amar Subash: I’ve been with Harman for six years now. I started in finance and transitioned to sales. I was doing channel sales, managing the audio portfolio, prior to my appointment to the regional job. I come into the role knowing the markets and knowing the partners, so I’ve found the transition quite smooth.
AV: How would you ‘nutshell’ where Harman is at, coming out of covid?
Amar Subash: Harman’s been on an investment trajectory for the past three years or so. We’ve seen a big part of the portfolio being refreshed. We started with the lighting range, which has been entirely refreshed — we launched the Martin MAC Ultra, which is now our flagship fixture.
Then we had a major refresh of the audio retail portfolio. We refreshed the EON One, we launched the EON 700, and the PRX. That refresh is continuing — we’re soon to launch another product. So retail’s been a large part of the refresh.
Now we’re entering a refresh cycle of the install business. You’ve seen the new JBL Control Contractor products and that’s just the beginning of a series of refreshes on the Control Contractor side.
AMX is next. You’ll see quite a bit of new product coming out of the AMX side before the end of the year.
Next year, we’ll have some announcements on the DSP side.
AV: A full dance card then?
Amar Subash: Yes, we’ve got a very full calendar. And it’s an investment in what we call the ‘core’ — building the portfolio, refreshing the portfolio and take it to the next gen.
It’s worth noting, that all the products we’ve launched in the last two years have been extremely successful — the lighting range and the retail audio portfolio have been well received, as has the touring portfolio with the launch of the JBL SRX900 and the A6 completing the JBL VTX A Series. It’s an amazing global success and we have a very strong order book.
In terms of product launches and innovation, Harman has never looked better.
AV: Has the promise of Harman brand synergies been made good?
Amar Subash: The lighting business is probably a bit more standalone, but even there, there are still opportunities on the install side, with integrators requesting a large AVL package. That’s something we can capitalise on at the integration level.
From an audio and video perspective, there are a lot more opportunities there. You’ll see as our next road map unfolds that there will be a lot more integration between the audio and the video side.
AV: Harman used to roll its own AV-over-IP protocol. Where’s that landing?
Amar Subash: We are committed to go with the industry standards as we roll out the next gen — open architecture with loads of interoperability. That’s the philosophy.
AV: Dante then?
Amar Subash: Dante would be our preferred platform.
AV: How has Harman coped with component shortages?
Amar Subash: It’s an industry-wide challenge. Harman has been at the forefront of trying to solve supply chain challenges. We’ve been investing a lot in spot buys and making sure we have the ability to airfreight chips and raw materials to our production facility. Our supply chain has been relatively okay. That said, we’re still hit by shortages on the electronics side.
AV: Any learnings about being more resilient to future global shocks?
Amar Subash: On the engineering side, I think we are a lot more cognisant regarding choices we have in the markets when we are developing a product, and in terms of the supply chain we are working a lot more closely with our suppliers. Also having Samsung as a parent helps in these situations.
AV: Has Harman’s big footprint in the automotive sector helped?
Amar Subash: Put Samsung and Harman together and we are indeed a very large customer for chips. We’ve been quite fortunate to have a parent like Samsung, it affords us the chance to have a better conversation with our supply chain. Not to say that it’s not a challenge, but it puts us in a better position, for sure.
AV: Harman seriously shook up its Australian presence back in early 2019. How are things travelling?
Amar Subash: It’s been extremely successful. It’s been a great experience working with Madison —they’re now a very established AV business and a great partner for us. CMI on the retail side is very strong and very established. The two years of the pandemic has allowed us to build capabilities and refined the model. We’re now in a strong position.