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INTERVIEW: HHB MD Ian Jones on why new Studer deal is a ‘massive opportunity’

Inside HHB's Studer deal

HHB Communications was recently unveiled as a UK distributor of Swiss mixing console and routing systems specialist Studer. Daniel Gumble caught up with managing director, Ian Jones, to find out more about how the deal was struck, how Studer complements its current product line up, and what HHB has in store for the iconic brand…

For many years, Studer has been revered as one of the leading console manufacturers and routing systems specialists in the professional audio market.

Among the company’s impressive and extensive product range sit several acclaimed products. Large-scale consoles, such as the Vista and Infinity Series, are well-established leaders in their field, while its OnAir Series radio consoles and D23 and Infinity digital audio and I/O routing systems have been widely lauded across the professional audio industry.

Now, in a bid to ensure that the brand maintains its strong presence in the market, it has partnered with London-based distributor HHB Communications. According to Studer’s global head of broadcast sales, Mark Hosking, the ongoing expansion of the firm’s product range was a key factor behind the new partnership with HHB.

At the time of the announcement, he explained: “We recognise HHB’s unique position as an experienced supplier of audio technology to UK broadcasters and systems integrators, with a reputation built on decades of high-level customer service and technical support. We’re confident that HHB can demonstrate the significant benefits of our new mixing and media routing systems to a wider market.”

Hosking’s sentiments were echoed HHB’s director of sales Martin O’Donnell, who added: “We know just how highly our broadcast customers rate Studer’s large-format consoles, so we’re particularly excited to be involved at a time when Studer’s impressive technology is being applied to an ever-expanding range of products.”

Clearly, both companies share similar lofty aspirations to bolster the Studer name in the market and ensure its new products gain the furthest reach possible. But what exactly does its new UK distributor have in the pipeline for the brand? Here, HHB’s MD Ian Jones gives us the inside track on what promises to be a significant addition to its product portfolio…

How did the HHB deal with Studer come about?
We have always admired the Studer brand, having been involved with them as a reseller for many years. Following the recent relocation of their HQ and state of the art manufacturing facility to Hungary, they decided to move to a distribution model (as they do in all other erritories in the world apart from the US) in the UK, we were delighted to be considered as their distributor for the UK and Ireland. After a lot of discussion based around product road map and customer support requirements we reached an agreement to become their distributor, commencing in July 2017.

What makes the Studer brand such a good fit for the HHB roster?
For more than 25 years HHB has served the broadcast, post and system integrator market with their pro audio equipment needs. We have supplied a number of Studer On-air consoles during that time; it is always rewarding to specify and install these products as the customers really appreciate the build quality and intuitive operational aspects.

What will HHB be able to bring to the table for Studer?
A very high level of customer support, as we really understand and pride ourselves on offering solid and reliable pre-sale technical advice and post-sale technical support and service, we are fortunate to have one of the best tech support teams in the industry who will work with the existing Studer support team to maintain and exceed the already high level of aftersales support that existing customers have become used to. Actually, there can be no excuses for falling short with this – the show has to go on, no question!.

What kind of opportunities are there in the market for Studer?
Are there any trends in the market you will be able to capitalise on? Studer has an incredibly diverse product range from large-scale digital mixing consoles for live television production to compact digital mixing systems for radio. The console systems are respected worldwide for their superb sonic quality and Studer is renowned for designing innovative, intuitive and dependable technology. The product range is presently expanding, which will give Studer the opportunity to access new emerging broadcast and complementary markets, for which the new Studer Micro is exceptionally well suited. One key trend in the market at the moment is AoIP and Studer technology – it’s a perfect fit for customers wishing to deploy a networked-base infrastructure.

How big an acquisition is this for the company?
This is a huge and very exciting opportunity for HHB. It takes us firmly into the world of IP based studio infrastructure and networked audio, a very interesting and exciting place to be right now and in the future.

How does the Studer brand complement the rest of HHB’s product line-up?
The UK creative industries are showing steady growth at the moment, mainly driven by the increase in demand for multi-platform content.

To deliver content in a fast and cost efficient way, broadcasters and facility companies are always looking for flexible workflow solutions that are as futureproof as possible. Having access to Studer’s large and small format consoles, complemented by the other brands that we represent, allows us to offer our customers complete solutions.

Are there any particular areas of the market HHB is looking to develop or move into?
Yes absolutely. HHB has a very diverse customer base, particularly in the television, radio, outside broadcast, post-production, education and music recording sectors, and we see our customers increasingly investing in integrated audio technology systems and not simply individual products.

Over many years we have built up a knowledgeable, experienced and expert team who can propose, design, build, deliver, install, commission and train end users on these systems. The addition of Studer to our manufacturer portfolio will strengthen the work we do in television and radio, and give us the opportunity to elevate the awareness of the Studer brand and its ground-breaking technology to new markets.

What are the biggest challenges when it comes to taking on a brand like Studer? None really, it is a truly professional company to deal with. It designs and manufactures innovative and reliable products born out of years of design experience and frontline user feedback.

Product evolution has never been more important as the industry goes through a big change in the way content is produced, delivered and consumed.

What are your immediate plans for the brand?
As a company, we feel that the brand is strong enough to carve a steady path, so we are really there to facilitate that and maximise the opportunities. The new Glacier and Micro series products offer amazing features for its price points, which makes it possible for us to make Studer technology accessible to a number of new market sectors.