New EFJohnson CEO Suzuki Outlines Company’s P25 Portfolio, Sales Plans
Tuesday, May 19, 2015 | Comments

John Suzuki last week took the helm of EF Johnson Technologies as president and CEO, 15 months following its acquisition by JVCKenwood. In an interview with MissionCritical Communications magazine, Suzuki offers insights into the company’s future plans, including moving Project 25 (P25) subscriber manufacturing to Japan and taking advantage of JVCKenwood’s global sales channel.

MCC: What is the status of the integration of EFJohnson into JVCKenwood following the acquisition?

Suzuki: It’s been about a year since the acquisition; it was a very good fit between the two companies. JVCKenwood is more focused on the enterprise space — airlines, railroads, manufacturing and the oil industry — and it has a good product for that space in NEXEDGE, based on the NXDN protocol. EFJohnson’s Atlas P25 infrastructure products round out the portfolio. If you look at the landscape of the LMR industry, you have the enterprise space covered and the P25 space covered. As we integrate the two companies, EFJ will be the center of excellence for P25 public safety. All the strategic planning and product development will be run out of Irving, Texas.

JVCKenwood has some P25 subscriber units, which will now all fall under EFJohnson’s portfolio management. Viking is our subscriber portfolio, and we will integrate the Kenwood products into that portfolio, and they will be phased out eventually. They are on the back end of the product lifecycle. For 30 years we have worked in public safety on trunked systems, and the market is really trunked systems for P25.

If you look at the strengths of the two companies and JVCKenwood as a global supplier, it can source components around the world and has scale for lower cost and production. That’s a value proposition. We have moved manufacturing for the subscriber line to factories in Japan. The P25 devices will be manufactured by JVCKenwood in Japan for higher yield and quality. JVCKenwood is a global supplier with quality standards unmatched in our industry. The company has scale and experience. Atlas infrastructure manufacturing will stay in Irving. Our software development for the radios remains in our research and development (R&D) center with about 30 software engineers in Lincoln, Nebraska.

MCC: What are EFJohnson’s priorities for the coming year and looking ahead five years?

Suzuki: Short term, within the next year, I want to leverage the global JVCKenwood sales channel. They operate in numerous countries, and they have a large presence globally. EFJ has customers throughout Latin America and the Middle East, but we’re not in all 45 countries with P25 systems. That’s where Kenwood can help us. It’s a path to market we can leverage.

In the longer term, it’s how can we leverage both companies’ roadmaps in R&D and how to provide broader and deeper solutions to public safety. There are things we couldn’t do on our own that we can now that we’re part of a $3 billion company. For example, JVCKenwood has a division that focuses on cameras. During the past year, there has been a lot of press around policing activities and being able to capture that for real-time command and control or for after-action reports. Kenwood is a company with solutions in that space that they haven’t sold to public safety, but we have the opportunity to leverage that technology.

MCC: Where do you see the company’s short- and long-term growth?

Suzuki: The largest market for P25 products is North America. If I look at my own backyard, the opportunity is tremendous. JVCKenwood has 500 dealers, five times more than EFJohnson had as a stand-alone company. I think there’s a lot of potential. The market is dominated by Motorola and Harris. We have a small market share but we have an opportunity to steal more market share. With five times as many dealers, if customers are presented with a good, value-proposition product, I have to believe we will increase sales.

MCC: Does EFJohnson have plans to launch technologies or products outside of the P25 standard?

Suzuki:EFJohnson was one of the first companies that introduced a multiprotocol radio, SmartZone/SmartNet and P25. More recently, we were one of the first companies that introduced a multiband P25 radio. As I look forward, I see the concept of a multitechnology radio for P25 and Long Term Evolution (LTE). EFJohnson is primarily focused on P25, but supporting that are other technologies used by our customer base. We are looking forward to LTE and other technologies, but it will be centered on P25.

MCC: Will EFJohnson work more closely with Zetron, another wholly owned JVCKenwood company?

Suzuki: Zetron is a premier console provider, and we have done work to integrate their console into our Atlas line, using the P25 Console Subsystem Interface (CSSI). Where it makes sense, we do joint sales calls, and we cooperate. However, Zetron operates as an independent company. They work with a number of different radio manufacturers. Their presence is their relationship with all those radio manufacturers, and that’s something we have to preserve and protect.

MCC: Are you looking forward to being back at EFJohnson?

Suzuki: Yes, I’m excited to be back. I most recently worked for Avtec, but I previously led the sales team at EFJohnson for seven years. We have a number of customers I am excited to re-engage with. We have a first-rate product portfolio, and I am excited to promote it. I think you will see some real growth out of this company.

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