CHESTER, PA-Industry veteran Chris Foreman has decided to turn his "retirement" from systems integration upside-down, and has accepted the title of vice president, chief operating officer at Community Professional Loudspeakers. Foreman will work with Community's owners, Bruce and Christine Howze, and John Wiggins, to grow the business and propel it into the future.
Foreman's transition to his new position began a little over a year ago when he returned to Community, the manufacturer for which he was director of marketing in the early 1980s, to handle technical writing and assist with product development. Working with the Community team was a real homecoming for Foreman, and like many in the AV business, he soon found his dedication to the industry calling him back to greater involvement in progress.
"The company is one that I've had a great amount of respect for over the years," Foreman said. "This is Community's 40th anniversary year, and if you look back at the legacy, we've had 40 years of innovative loudspeakers-products like Leviathan and M4, and the advanced fiberglass production methods for the R-Series and the WET Series."
The innovations of "the next 40 years," Foreman said, will be previewed at InfoComm 08, where Community will launch several new products. "Some of the announcements will be a departure for Community," Foreman hinted. "Reps, dealers, and our competitors will be amazed at the great new products we have."
As he works to move Community forward and expand its business, Foreman will have the flagging economy and rising materials costs to contend with. "We are facing those challenges, and finding ways to deal with them in a responsible way, so we can improve our products in spite of rising commodities and shipping costs."
Foreman stated that Community will be agile in its approach to growth, "ready to pounce on opportunities when we see them" in any of the vertical markets that the manufacturer serves. It's a reliable strategy, he explained, as in the commercial audio business there will always be some vertical markets which grow and some that stagnate.
Seeing that integrators must have a similarly adaptable plan, Foreman will rely on his years of experience on the contracting side of the business for guidance in assisting Community dealers. "That experience will give me perspective on the directions in which Community should go, in terms of being able to serve the customer better," Foreman said. "It's not just about the products, though they are the foundation. There is a lot more, and understanding the contracting side of the business helps."
Foreman is enthusiastic about what lays ahead at Community, and he describes an approach that will weather any economy: "The whole thing comes down to building good relationships with your suppliers, dealers, reps, consultants, electrical contractors, engineers, architects, overseas suppliers, end-users of your products, and your own employees."
Foreman's 40 years of experience in professional audio have included roles as a writer and journalist. Foreman is a columnist at SCN and served as editor of Sound & Communications Magazine in the 1980s. He is co-author of Audio Engineering for Sound Reinforcement, written with the late John Eargle. He has also held prominent positions with audio industry manufacturers, including JBL, Panasonic, and Altec Lansing, and with major low-voltage contractors including Stanal Sound, Pierce-Phelps and, most recently, as vice president of marketing for Lincoln, NE-based Electronic Contracting.
"I don't think I'm retired anymore," Foreman joked, "but I don't know that I would ever want to do the kind of retirement where you play golf every day or go fishing. I can't imagine that, especially when an opportunity as exciting as building a truly innovative business is at hand. I feel very, very privileged."