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Doug Green: Soul in the machine

Harman's new EMEA director of sales Doug Green has over 20 years of industry experience behind him. He spoke to Phil Ward about this role at Harman, keeping the end user in mind, and his hip-hop and punk credentials.

Doug Green is Harman Professional’s new director of sales for the group’s regional sales office that covers the time zone known as EMEA: Europe, the Middle East and Africa. Based out of Potters Bar, UK and Sweden, his brief extends to all of the famous brands from AKG, JBL Professional, BSS Audio and Crown to Lexicon, Soundcraft and Studer.

With over 20 years of industry experience behind him, Green comes to Harman from a spell as vice president of international sales for Installed Sound Products at TC Group International. Before this he was a product manager at Lab.gruppen, a regional sales manager for TOA Electronics, the owner of a pro-audio design and installation company and a front of house and recording engineer with some highly street-credible punk and hip-hop credentials. EMEA: that’s big…

“My life, Phil, is an intercontinental challenge! I live in Sweden, my offices are in Potters Bar, my mobile number is a UK number… so I’m back and forth a lot. But give or take an hour or two, EMEA is doing business during the same day.” Having grown up in the US, what first brought you to Europe?

“I was managing the Western US for TOA, and was contacted by Lab.gruppen. The appeal was my background in installed sound – both as a contractor and as an end user – which enabled me to be a fulcrum between sales, marketing and engineering. That led to joining the product management group, and developing completely new ranges of enhanced amplifier platforms.” Are there comparisons between TC and Harman that now stand you in good stead?

“The TC group structure had become much more of a functional business umbrella, under which the various brands were brought together. Once that happened it changed from being ‘brand-centric’ to being vertical-market orientated, along the lines of HD/broadcast, MI, installed sound and live sound. That’s when I was asked to take over the international sales position for installed sound products. So, yes: the recent restructuring of Harman, on many levels, is very similar to what happened at TC. But Harman is also structured regionally. Rather than brands, guys are now responsible for a geographical area. Within that region, they are responsible for all the brands. That’s a very different model.” What’s your agenda for getting closer to the end user?

“Interesting that you should ask that: end users are often given less prominence than they should in a big corporation. For us, the end user is in our minds all the time. If you’re watching the end user, you’re watching the distributor. And if you’re watching the distributor, you’re watching the region. This is very much the big picture.
“Having spent a lot of time as an end user myself, I’m very aware of where the buck stops! I feel that if we’re serving all of the different levels of our structure in the right way, the end user is taken care of. They’ll see us as the kind of partner that we want to be to them, regardless of whether they’re a contractor, a FOH touring engineer or a guitar player buying a Digitech pedal. We want them all to feel as though we know who they are, what they want and how we can help them.
“The EMEA sales structure is actually now coming into a whole new level of efficiency. We have plans to enhance our tour sound presence with a ‘tour sound champion’ product specialist, for example, which coincides with the introduction of JBL’s new VTX Line Array Series; the ongoing consolidation of Crown’s VRack concept: a pre-wired rack of HD amplifiers in various configurations; and the advent of Performance Manager, the latest HiQnet control software. We’re really at the point where we can offer the market a totally new level of product integration and support. This is very key: we’re part of a very large organisation but we can make this happen organically, spending time out on the road with our distributors to reinvigorate those relationships. There’ll be increased roadshows, training and exposure to a lot of amazing new products.” Does your live sound ‘champion’ reveal the need for that sector to keep a certain touring spirit alive?

“Absolutely. It’s as distinct from commercial installed sound as domestic installed sound is. Those are two worlds that people often think are the same, but they are different universes. As is live sound: those guys need very different services. It’s a world of credibility. If you have the right guy, as a manufacturer you become a much more valued partner. This role is not about sales; it’s 100% about support, of a unique kind, and a regional kind: European live sound has its own codes and customs. It’s a way of making us ‘real’ about our products, our capabilities and how they can help sound companies grow their businesses. Above all it’s out of respect for the reputation and culture of European live sound. It deserves this level of attention and understanding.” How was your first ever pre-NAMM Harman international mega-conference?

“I was absolutely blown away by the scale, the scope, the detail, the delivery mechanisms… and also by how meaningful it all was. You get full interaction with the whole structure all the way up to Blake Augsburger, an amazing feat following the rigours of the corporate changes that have only recently taken place. It really confirmed our renewed commitment to our distribution partners.” The last one I attended marked the launch of HiQnet, which has become a real glue between technical and business integration…

“It makes all of the management so much easier. The Holy Grail in a lot of these applications is the unified system – being able to deliver a truly integrated, real-world solution to individual conditions. Harman has achieved much already, but the next level of ‘glue’, as you call it, will be everything all of this has promised to be, and more. It will integrate specifying the system, measuring the system, commissioning the system and running the system. And then, on a sales level, it’s an opportunity for us to represent a holistic approach across the brands to anyone who has to design, implement, execute and own a system. As someone responsible for sales across various territories, I see it as a tremendously exciting prospect.” Those territories are tough right now. How do you read the economic and political situations?

“I’m constantly absorbing data. Part of it is nuts and bolts: keeping an eye on large, prestige projects and playing our part in them. But the only way to handle this chunk of the world is on a country-by-country basis. Each one has its strengths and weaknesses. But interestingly, even in places like Greece, Italy and Portugal our distribution channels are still finding very meaningful opportunities. I think the key is that we make so many products that can be used on so many levels, in so many different applications. There’s always a place where we can fit in.” Looking at your hip-hop and punk engineering credits, it kind of makes you a piece of authentic rock and roll on the inside of Harman…

“I take that as a compliment! But listen: I’m not the only one…”