ANAHEIM, CA-Len Dozier is the kind of guy who can't be defined by the simplicity of a title. Although he founded Progressive Marketing Products, the parent company of Premier Mounts, in 1977, Dozier omitted "president" from his business cards until the designation became obligatory for doing business with Japanese companies in the early 1990s.
Premier Mounts president/founder, Len Dozier
Equally at ease prowling the back aisles of the local hardware store or talking with his sales staff in Premier's new Las Vegas showroom, Dozier has an amazing recall of industry products, and once donated his collected literature to Sony for its library. The son of an auto mechanic, and a self-confessed tinkerer, he delights in the small revelations that can lead to product development.
In 2003, as plasma screens were coming onto the retail market, Dozier was hanging a mirror at his home when he noticed it had tilted toward him. Intrigued by its mechanics, he wondered what would happen if the standard mount design was altered to accommodate a variety of plasma display designs, and the idea for Premier's Clevis was born.
"I'm an electrician by trade but my job has always been sales," Dozier said. "I knew I had found a home the day I sold my first black and white videotape recorder, a Sony CB 2000 system, for a dealership in 1967. Nobody realized the magic of it back then. I would also install everything I sold; there were no installers per se back then."
Dozier worked for a several companies until 1976, when he left Videodetics after touring the country with sales training seminars, stopping to check in on various large systems that he had sold and installed.
"It was a great year and taught me a lot," he said, "but I wanted to clean my sails, so I quit my job and I cut those strings. I was 34, and it was the best thing I ever did. I needed to go to the next notch, to start my own company."
Enter Progressive Marketing Products, an independent rep company with lines that included Anvil Cases, Barco Electronics, Prime Image and Winsted Corporation, never more than six or seven lines so that PMO could do justice to them all, Dozier said.
"We did well as a small rep company but I wanted more profitability so I bought and took title to accessory products," Dozier said. "We took on warehousing for AV tables and carts, buying in bulk, and making Midwestern products available from the West Coast."
Premier Mounts will showcase its new Rotary Series line of rotating 360-degree mounts with portrait to landscape presentation at InfoComm. The three-product series is ideally suited for
In the early 1980s, as Sony introduced its first three-gun CRT projector, the VPH 722, another light went off in Dozier's head. "A friend at Sony mentioned that he wished someone produced the mounts locally, in the U.S.," Dozier said. "I looked and I emulated what they had. I built a comparable unit, a basic ceiling mount and an adjustable suspension support system. I designed, contracted, packaged it in California, and shot all the manuals. Most of the visible arms and legs in the original manual were mine."
Those dealers already buying carts and stands from Dozier picked up on the mounts, and the company began manufacturing comparable mounts for Barco, Electrohome, and Panasonic. "I built mounts as an alternative for anybody who built projectors," Dozier said. "By 1984 we had a six-page catalogue; we were still small in that area."
The transition to a company dedicated to mounting solutions was gradual, he said, involving reducing rep lines and non-Premier branded distribution lines. A strong infrastructure provided a nice market niche, enhanced by mounting accessories based on scenarios from customers such as the necessity to mount to an I-beam or on a false ceiling.
When the first plasmas showed up for the commercial side, about 1994, Dozier saw the natural fit. "I said, 'Wow, it's got the same problem as projectors because no two models have the same set of holes,'" he said. "In those days, installations often were application driven, and I changed the design to mount flat from the walls."
When Sony Japan called, Dozier's OEM business grew, hitting its stride in the mid-90s in projectors and plasmas and Dozier incorporated Progessive, adding the Premier Mounts name in 1999. "We were building for Mitsubishi, Sony, InFocus, Pioneer, and NEC, and as they introduced the flat panel, we were in a good position to be a confidante on mounting," Dozier said. "The Clevis brought is to the retail market and entrenched us in OEM for flat panels."
Despite its U.S. staff of 100, Dozier is still a hands-on executive, said Premier's product manager Eric Mancini. "He's actively involved in product development and often he blows us away with something our team hadn't thought of."
"We've evolved because I always look at products from the installer's perspective," Dozier said. "I enjoy trade shows, and if you want to know if your products work, try putting them together at a show where you need innovative ways to hang things. That way you can also see how well your manuals read and how your packaging functions."
His career thus far has been thoroughly enjoyable, Dozier said. "Still, I never know what the next phone call will give us. There's always that question: 'Is there a way you can make this do that?' It's been a ball."