Following his appointment as CEO of Community Professional Loudspeakers last month, Steve Johnson spoke to SCN about his plans for continuing the company’s commitment to innovation within the pro audio channel. Johnson joins Community as it celebrates its 45th anniversary, and the company is expanding its engineering and Technical Applications Group to support continued growth.
SCN: In the news release about your appointment as CEO, there was much talk of growth potential for the company. As you take the helm, are there particular vertical markets or product innovations you feel will drive that growth? What is your strategic vision?
Steve Johnson: In the near term, my job is to ensure that the industry knows about the depth and breadth of Community's current product offerings. Unlike many companies in our industry, we focus only on two customer categories: systems integrators and consultants. We don't sell through music stores. We are dedicated to offering audio solutions to systems integrators and consultants that serve outdoor, distributed, and engineered applications.
For outdoor, our R-Series is the go-to loudspeaker for offering legendary durability and performance in the most challenging environments. We recently added several new models to the line, which feature outstanding musical performance and attractive, streamlined enclosures. These products offer better LF and flatter power response, no EQ required, providing very high broadband output and balanced performance for music as well as speech.
We also introduced our Wet X Series, which offers even higher musical performance to sports venues, outdoor amphitheaters, and cruise ships. With this family, we are focused on consultants' needs for large all-weather music systems with an impressive range of standard and configured-to-order options.
As for distributed, we now have a comprehensive range of ceiling, surface-mount, and pendant loudspeakers including the cost-effective Commercial Design Series and the higher performance Distributed Design Series that includes unique architectural solutions. These loudspeaker families feature similar components and uniform voicing throughout the series so that contractors can mix and match different loudspeakers types in the same installation without having to worry about voicing inconsistencies.
For engineered applications we have a variety of loudspeakers in the column form factor, from our original ENTASYS three-way line array to our recently introduced ENTASYS 200, a family of four compact column-array loudspeakers in attractive, easy-to-install, and cost-effective packages. We also recently updated our VERIS line with VERIS 2, designed for a wide variety of installed sound reinforcement and playback applications.
My strategic vision is a simple one: by focusing exclusively on the needs of systems integrators and consultants, Community will deliver superior performance audio solutions backed by exceptional support from the initial design phase through to after-sales service. We have made significant investments in measurement and modeling tools and we have a lot more exciting products in development. We're here to make things easier for our customers and to maintain a sound business partnership with them. I believe that by taking care of our customers and treating them fairly and with respect we can continue to grow this business together.
SCN: You're joining Community in its 45th anniversary year. How would you describe the company's place in the pro audio industry?
SJ: Community has earned a well-deserved reputation for innovation and integrity. Community has many firsts such as the first all horn-loaded, high-fidelity, weather-resistant R-Series, which created an entirely new market sector. Our focus on our customers’ needs combined with our engineering capability enables Community not only to create such product sectors, but to continue to lead in those categories, as exemplified by our recent expansion of the R-Series family. Community has always been known for products that offer superior performance and exceptional intelligibility and as the needs of our customers has changed, Community has responded.
There is a great overview of Community's history on the website. I would encourage anyone who has an interest in not only Community, but pro audio in general to check it out. It's a good read.
SCN: How does Community's business model benefit from the fact that Community founder Bruce Howze is still leading the company as president and chief engineer? How will you work with him to grow the company?
SJ: Having the opportunity to work with Bruce is really a pleasure and an honor. He's well known and highly respected within the industry, with an engineer's passion for learning and exploring. He's also a super nice guy who, unlike many living legends, is modest and approachable. As chief engineer, Bruce is responsible not only for charting the technology path but for developing the company's engineering capabilities. Within Community he has brought together an outstanding team and an attitude to consistently push the boundaries to achieve greater things. By the way, we're looking for more engineers to work with Bruce in our development team, so I would encourage interested parties to check out our website for the latest listing of job openings.
As a company focused on engineering, learning, exploring, and growing, this core ethos extends to the way we help our customers. Community has a talented group of engineers and technicians known as the Technical Applications Group, led by Dave Howden. This stellar team includes individuals with backgrounds in acoustics and real-life installation who can help customers with technical support using the latest modeling tools. We are also looking for new members to join TAG, so interested parties should check out our website for more info.