Tarik Solangi, RCF USA EDISON, NJ—“I have a passion for audio.” Simply stated, that is how Tarik Solangi has evolved to become national sales manager for RCF USA. Solangi is new to the position, put in place the first of the year, but his tenure with RCF goes back years— “an incubation period,” as he calls it.
Three years ago, Solangi was hired by RCF USA on a contract service basis to provide technical support and product demonstrations of its touring and line array products. Over that period of time, RCF USA President Roni Nevo came to recognize Solangi’s skills beyond just his engineering expertise. “Tarik met the parameters of my philosophy of what a sales manager should be like,” says Nevo. “Selling skills are not enough… professionalism, product knowledge, along with engineering and implementation skills, are all required.”
The metamorphosis of Solangi to his current position actually dates back decades. His involvement with RCF comes from having been a user, a dealer and both a studio and live sound engineer, the experience from all of which he brings to his role as product specialist. He has owned a production company and recording studio for over 20 years. He’s worked with a variety of national acts and regional bands on tour. With his work in the studio, he has more than 500 album credits as a recording engineer.
“My general knowledge of all aspects of audio, my passion for audio to provide the right sound and proper solution, and the people skills I have developed dealing with the personalities of musicians in both the studio and concert arenas have helped shape me,” says Solangi. Because of that, “people trust my suggestions and recommendations. It’s not a sales pitch; it’s a solution.” At RCF USA, he continues, “we don’t have any dealers; we have partners.” That is the overriding, relationship-oriented philosophy of the company.
RCF USA is the wholly owned American distribution arm of the Italian-based RCF Group, a company that comprises RCF S.p.A. and AEB Industriale s.r.l., which owns the dB Technologies brand. RCF was founded in 1949 by a group of Italian electro-acoustic engineers manufacturing ribbon microphones, amplifiers and related products. Over the next few decades, RCF became a worldwide leader in transducer technology. It’s often said the live sound market knows RCF “from the inside out,” as pros can find RCF transducers used in many of the most prestigious loudspeaker brands in the world.
In parallel with its transducer technology, the company continued to expand its range of public address electronics and audio system solutions. In 1995, it created one of the first composite powered speakers, which became the flagship of the speaker-on-a-stick category. Some ownership transitions took place in the late Nineties that ultimately impacted the company’s growth. In 2004, original ownership returned to the helm with a fresh investment in research and development and a renewed commitment to maintain manufacturing in Italy.
Part of the 21st Century RCF strategy was to increase brand awareness worldwide, to grow beyond transducer technology to building full line, finished cabinets. It was during that period that RCF USA was formed to handle sales and marketing in the U.S. of both the RCF and dB Technologies brands. The U.S. headquarters is in Edison, New Jersey, which handles business management, warehousing, shipping and service from that location.
“Bringing on Tarik is part of the progress of that growth and structure of our company,” says Nevo, alluding to growth that has been exponential in the U.S. market across the last four years. That growth comes from the company’s strength in the production and mid-size line array market. Between the two brands, RCF and dB Technologies offer 10 different line array products that fit their partners’ needs—whether it’s a house of worship, performing arts center, or for rental and staging or touring and production.
Solangi beams when sharing his pride at being included in RCF’s management, stating his goal to “strike a balance of distribution in the different vertical markets of the audio industry.” He cites the company’s strength in the live sound market and the need to bring more brand awareness in the retail, corporate and house of worship vertical market segments.
While the U.S. arm of the RCF Group has been in place nearly 10 years and the company is one of the largest loudspeaker manufacturers in the world, it has taken some time to establish brand awareness in the USA. Retail, Solangi says, is the most difficult market. With the Italian-based culture in the pride of quality and craftsmanship of the product, “We don’t try to participate in the ‘battle to zero’ of low-margin products that have become the rule in that arena. We are the exception.”
One area of focus for this year will be to bring more recognition to the variety of products RCF and dB Technologies bring to the market. While most recognize the two companies as loudspeaker manufacturers, they also offer a selection of signal processing products. L-Pad mixers, amplifiers, speaker processors, mixeramps and automixers are offerings that are largely overlooked.
Another emphasis is to bring more brand awareness to dB Technologies. “We re-branded the company RCF USA two years ago,” noted Nevo. Previously, partners would look at the RCF website and not find any of the dB Technologies products. By becoming RCF USA, there are now distinctive denotations on the company website and letterhead. Still, it’s recognized more needs to be done to differentiate the two brands.
Today, the RCF Group is one of the largest loudspeaker manufacturers in the world, covering all aspects of the audio marketplace from small to large. “Many of our competitors cover selective niches of our product offerings, but there are very few worldwide that offer the vast array of solutions that we do,” says Solangi. Line arrays, passive and active integration products, live sound products, steerable columns, commercial audio and ceiling speakers, mixers, power amplifiers and signal processing products are all part of the RCF Group family of products.
Whether at the office, or on the road with the RCF USA field sales representatives or partner dealers, Solangi feels they are all members of his family, and the family is always growing.