Boutique, bespoke, custom, tailor-made, those were words that defined Essential Communications long before everyone started "curating" everything. Founder and president David Schwartz is the real deal, born and raised in Brooklyn, he started out as a DJ and since his earliest days has been enhancing the atmosphere wherever he works or plays.
Essential Communications celebrated its 25th anniversary in March with an open house at its new AV design studio in East Hanover, NJ. The room was packed with new and old friends, business partners, vendors, reps, and a few of us press types. Schwartz's old DJ gear and records provided plenty of fodder for nostalgic conversation, and fun was had by all.
Essential Communications founder and president David Schwartz opened crates of records and a collection of media archives from his DJ career at his new AV design studio.
Like many others in our industry, Schwartz has always loved sound and sound gear, and he got his start in the business putting together sound systems for local bands in high school. Then he worked at his college radio station while studying (somewhat ironically) for a degree in video. But here's where he's got a cool twist on the story: "It was summer of 1977, and Saturday Night Fever hit. We were on the college radio station and we had all this access to all this vinyl, and I said, imagine if we could take records and play them at parties. The next thing you know we were playing gigs on the weekends. Then from that I went to playing in nightclubs."
Schwartz was a rare DJ who didn't break the gear, but actually fixed it. "That seemed to be lucrative," he noted. "Everywhere I went, club owners asked me to fix things. I started upgrading clubs, and Essential Communications was borne out of that necessity."
Back in the early days of the analog era, a lot of hardware didn't exist. "There were no distribution amplifiers, no matrices—if you thought of something and you needed it, you made it."
Schwartz and his Essential Communications crew were building better-sounding ceiling speakers from car speakers dropped into ceiling-tile-sized pieces of plexiglass. "It was like the wild, wild west," he laughed. "We used white plexiglass—even back then we were doing stuff that was very architectural. That hasn't changed. Architects didn't want to see anything. We just had these ideas and we had people that could implement them."
Schwartz has seen more than a few change evolve since those days, but Essential Communications has been there through it all. His love for audio and the ability to stay light on his feet through economic ups and downs has helped the business to thrive: "It's a personal interest. I've never thought of it as something I have to do. I've never woken up and thought, 'Oh, I've got to go to work.' It's something that I love to do and I look forward to."
Now Schwartz and his team are going to work at a brand-new AV design studio outfitted with a mix of materials and colors that reveal the design-savvy of the group.
"I've always held true to my beliefs, which are that quality above anything else is the most important thing, that I love what I do, and I deliver what I say I'm going to deliver, which is an extraordinary experience."
From the imperceptible to the tangible, Schwartz definitely does that with each Essential Communications project. Now that vinyl is making a resurgence, maybe Schwartz will dust off his records and set the decks spinning at one of the trendy hotels, bars, stores, and restaurants he outfits with top-notch sound.