Bruce Howze, fellow engineer at Biamp and president and founder of Community Professional Loudspeakers, was recently named the recipient of AVIXA's Adele De Berri Pioneers of AV Award. We sat down with him to hear more of his story.
AVN: How did you get your start in the pro AV industry?
BRUCE HOWZE: My entry into pro audio resulted from an interest in music, coupled with absolutely zero musical ability on my part.
I began by making lighting control systems for some local clubs in Philadelphia. One of those clubs was the Electric Factory, which was—and probably still is—the major venue in town; all of the major acts of the day played there. That was in the mid to late 1960’s, and in the very beginnings of the tour sound industry. A tour sound company developed around the Electric Factory, and I began doing some live sound engineering—pop festivals in Atlantic City and New Orleans, and a few tours with Jefferson Airplane.
At that time, tour sound was in its infancy; there were no speakers specifically made for touring use. The closest thing were cinema speakers fitted with higher power drivers: efficient and fairly loud, but never intended to be portable. After a period of time spent loading these non-portable speakers on and off trucks and setting them up on stages, I decided I would be better off spending my time designing and making speakers that were actually intended to be portable. Our market focus has shifted over the years, but basically I am still doing what I started doing 50 plus years ago. It has worked out very nicely.
AVN: What was the greatest obstacle you faced in creating Community Professional Loudspeakers and how did you overcome it?
BH: Actually, there was not any one great obstacle, just a long series of small steps, each requiring some amount of learning to master. I was very fortunate in having partners and associates to assist at each of those steps.
AVN: What is your leadership style and how do you influence your employees and others in the industry?
BH: My leadership style is largely just providing a general goal and direction for the company, and then letting people do their jobs.I have been extremely fortunate over the years in having talented, dedicated people—including my wife Christine—who were able to build the company while I spent most of my time designing speakers and figuring out how to manufacture them.
A few years ago, we sold partial interest in Community to 3D Investors, a Belgian private equity company that also owned an interest in Apart, a speaker and electronics company in Belgium. That connection turned out to be very good; both companies grew and prospered. Last year Community and Apart were purchased by Biamp ... providing a nice, strong future for both companies.
AVN: What innovations do you believe are currently driving the pro AV industry forward?
BH: In the speaker field, I see many good opportunities for innovation ... and I am busy working on some of them myself. Stay tuned to see what we come up with!
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