In August, Guitar Center named veteran pro audio executive Mohit Parasher as its new president of Business Solutions. In his new role, Parasher will be responsible to help drive both top- and bottom-line growth and expand the scope of Guitar Center’s Business Solutions, the company’s business-to-business (B2B) arm that includes design and system integration firm AVDG and Guitar Center Professional (GC Pro).
For Parasher, this transition was not at all unfamiliar territory. Prior to Guitar Center, he spent four years as the president of Harman Professional Solutions, the home to many mainstay brands of the pro audio, video and lighting spaces. There, he oversaw roughly a dozen brands, including AMX, Martin Lighting, JBL, Crown and Lexicon among others, many of which are sold by Guitar Center.
Parasher has worked in the tech industry throughout his career in a variety of fields, working in consumer electronics, telecom, and then pro AV, where he was mainly on the technology and product manufacturing side. Today, that wide-ranging background informs much of what he does—and plans to do—at Guitar Center Business Solutions. “The consumer products business teaches you to be very obsessive about the customer constantly,” he said. “Customers are unique, and they can move very quickly [from one brand to another].” Keeping your company customer-centric goes hand-in-hand with another lesson learned, this time while he was CEO-Retail of Airtel, an Indian telecom company. While there, he ran roughly 1,500 stores and became “obsessed about data-oriented decision making,” using the insights gleaned from data to attract and keep customers, adjust the company’s price structures and more.
At Harman, Parasher says, the experience drove home the fact that in order to make a sale, it is important to put many things into place first—for a product to truly become successful, in a variety of ways, it has to both appeal to and benefit everyone involved in bringing that product to the customer.
“You design a product range, you have the system integrator/designer, then you have the installer, then you finally have the end-user, the operator,” he said. “If you sell a big system that somebody designed, somebody else installs and somebody else operates, you’ve got to make sure that you’re selling a solution that is easy [to incorporate into the system] and that resonates with all of these people in every step of the chain.”
Now presiding over Guitar Center Business Solutions will provide an opportunity to apply many of those lessons. One of Parasher’s first goals is to clear up marketplace confusion as to what “business solutions” is and how divisions he oversees fit into it, such as AVDG, a mainstay in the commercial/residential systems design and installation industry, and GC Pro, which, in addition to its long-standing reputation in recording studio design and installation, also works with houses of worship, schools, restaurants and bars.
“It’s actually quite simple—we have three kinds of operating markets,” said Parasher. The emerging markets—and opportunities—he sees are Smart Homes, since more people are staying home, an existing trend that has only been accelerated by the pandemic; Smart Enterprise, which focuses on the office space; and Smart Venue, which focuses on venues and hospitality. AVDG will focus on the first two verticals, while GC Pro will expand its presence in the third.
Parasher feels that each of those markets need to be a part of the evolution of how people interact with those spaces, whether we’re at home, work or out on the town. In fact, due to that eye towards evolution, he dismisses the casual pandemic sentiment that ‘the office is dead.’
“I think the office will be different,” he said. “It’s like when people said ‘retail is dead.’… Actually, retail didn’t die. What happened is retail had to evolve itself—and now that’s how the office space will have to evolve as well.”
AVDG will be a part of both that evolution and the simultaneous one going on in the Smart Home sector. “Residential and smart home—this market is getting enabled by technology and by a lot of devices that are coming to market,” he noted. “If you go to any CES Show now, you will see that it’s two markets: Autonomous Vehicle and Smart Home. These are the two massive changes that you can see happening. A lot of companies are putting engineering and brainpower behind [Smart Home], and we believe that this will create many new solutions where customers will need integrators like us, to help make sense of it and put all these things together into an experience.”
The evolution of that experience is part of why Parasher is intent on expanding AVDG’s role in the Smart Home business. He believes that the home will play a much larger role than it has in the past: “You know, some of the habits that we have acquired during this health crisis, obviously not all of them will stay, but some will stay on for a longer term. That trend existed; the crisis just exaggerated that. That’s the rationale for Smart Home.”
He believes it is the same idea when it comes to developing Smart Offices, too. “The office has to be rethought and the workspace has to be rethought. It’s not like everybody’s going to sit in an office all the time, but maybe it’s going to be three days a week, or maybe it’s a sharing space,” he said. “Maybe there are a lot of other [smart technologies] that come into play, which isn’t [just] using your air purification and sanitization. The technology experience—can you take it away with you when you go home? There are a lot of other [aspects to be considered], so I think that’s a very important growth market.”
Venues of the future are being reinvented to incorporate a variety of technologies, whether for our entertainment, safety or something else. “Smart Venue is the same way—venues have to be rethought as well,” he said. “Although this business has been around for decades, it’s the ground floor for all the new trends that are coming. We’re excited for Guitar Center Business Solutions to create leading edge, cutting edge, top of the range, best-in-class smart homes, smart offices and smart venues.”