Text:/ Christopher Holder
Hills’ AV and security divisions are very much alive and ready to do business: that’s the overriding message to be taken from its Technology Solutions Expo in Sydney this week.
It’s been a tumultuous 12 months for Hills. The purchase of Audio Product Group (APG) in 2014 resulted in some internal upheavals. But while Hills’ management decided how best to structure the business, it’s fair to say that many customers got the jitters. Staff churn hasn’t helped confidence either. But this event will serve to demonstrate that Hills has, at last, got its AV ducks in a row.
APG, as most in the industry predicted, has been completely subsumed into Hills. Inevitably this has meant some attrition and restructuring. Notably the attrition is only in some of the brands APG brings to Hills and not the staff — almost all the APG staff will be relocating to Silverwater.
APG stalwart Richard Neale now heads up the Hills AV division and he outlined to AV APAC the nature of some of the product shakedowns: the big news which dropped last week was Crestron striking out on its own. The timing of the Crestron announcement was “coincidental” and, almost as a shrine to the goodwill in the departure, a small corner of the Tech Expo is reserved for Crestron products — ‘no acrimony’, is the message.
Hearing augmentation specialists, Univox, had to go in preference to Hills’ long-standing relationship with Ampetronic (which, incidentally, has a rather neat new app that turns your iPad into a field strength measurement device when used with the Ampetronic dongle). AKG and Beyerdynamic (mics, wireless and headphones) will apparently happily co-exist under the one roof.
Elsewhere at the Hills expo the focus was on Hitachi (with its excellent ultra short throw range of projectors), Tannoy (taking its dual concentric tech up another notch with its latest generation of CMS series in-ceiling speakers), Biamp (going back to the future with its full range of Vocia Cobranet-based paging units, and forward-looking new AVB-based Tesira products), Lab.gruppen (more Lake integration, more power, including some innovative power sharing between channels), WyreStorm (HD-Base-T pioneers), and Revolabs (more than just wireless lipstick mics).
Along with the likes of Australian Monitor, Vision, and more, it’s a large AV product stable. And ‘stable’ is the word Hills would dearly like to be on our lips. Hills is tooled up, manned up and mobilised. Well worth the visit.
The Hills Technology Solutions Expo runs on March 11 and 12 at the Sydney Hilton. More details here: hills.com.au/techexpo