Blake Augsburger’s entry into the professional AV industry was, as he admits outright, “purely accidental.” He began his career as a high voltage electrical engineer tasked with designing and manufacturing simulators and weapons for the U.S. and NATO. From there, he moved on to power infrastructure, running a global high voltage test equipment manufacturing business. But in 2001, with Harman’s purchase of Crown, he was recruited to restructure the business and grow its international base. Five years later, Sidney Harman enlisted Augsburger as president of the company’s professional division, and currently his responsibilities have expanded to include Harman’s executive management board and country management for Harman in the Americas.
AV has proved an enriching experience for Augsburger: “The global growth opportunity for audio, video and lights is what keeps me around in this industry, and very excited,” he said. “Just about everywhere you go today there is a speaker, a video screen or a light, and that’s opportunity.” Working in five different vertical markets––installation portable PA rental, touring, cinema and broadcast––provides stimulation and the chance to meet interesting people. “It’s never boring and each base of customers has their own cool and interesting vibe. There are great people in our business.”
On an industry level, Augsburger believes that networking and interoperability will continue to be top of mind. “Manufacturers must learn we cannot legislate the way forward, but need to listen to our integration partners and their customers, and offer choices,” he said. Most importantly, he added, industry members need to continue simplifying systems installation, tuning, operation and maintenance––all while focusing on customer solutions.
And it’s defining these customer solutions that continue to inspire Augsburger in his current position. “If I could spend all of my time in the field with the customer, it would be more of a party and not a job,” he said. “I solve more problems and learn more about the market by traveling and talking with our consultants, contractors and end users.”
Carolyn Heinze is a freelance writer/editor.
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