Athena Hits the Big Time

Having a great product at a fair price is mandatory practice in the ever-competitive audio business. But getting the word out and placing those products in front of the customer is just as critical—some might argue, even more important. If this is true, then Canadian speaker company Athena has just made the score of a lifetime.

Last week, Athena Technologies announced that it has entered into an agreement with Best Buy Stores to market the Athena Audition and Point 5 speaker systems through Best Buy's more than 500 retail stores in the United States starting in April. Athena adds that all of its products, including the SCT series, will also be available through Best Buy's online store, BestBuy.com.

Athena is the newest division of Audio Products International (API), which was founded in 1975 and has also sired the Mirage, Energy, and Sound Dynamics brands. API currently sports a 165,000-square-foot research, development, and manufacturing facility in Toronto, Canada and considers itself one of the largest speaker manufacturers in the world, distributing products to over 70 countries. Robert J. Reina enthusiastically reviewed the Athena Technologies AS-F2 loudspeaker, part of the company's Audition line, in August of last year.

Athena's Kevin Gabriel says it is a significant step for a Canadian speaker manufacturer to strike a deal with the largest electronics retailer in the world. "We sell in over 70 countries but North America represents over 70% of our business. Best Buy recently opened in Canada and bought our largest electronics dealer Future Shop who carry Athena speakers so the fit is perfect."

Gabriel adds that Athena is barely two years old, compared to the well-established Energy and Mirage brands, "and with the addition of a great advertiser like Best Buy, Athena will be a household name very shortly. The power of advertising from this big a retailer accelerates any effort we make in branding tremendously."

Explaining how the deal came together, Gabriel says that, over an 18 month period, Athena's sales department had several meetings with Best Buy that included everyone from the company president and owner on down. "They had visited our manufacturing facility and we had visited their new stores as well as head office in that time span."

Best Buy's John Maskel adds, "We feel Athena's contemporary styling and outstanding value are exactly what our customers are looking for."

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