Founded on the premise that amplifier technology has headroom for innovation, that design has a prominent place in the rack, and that dealers want the ease of one-click digital commerce coupled with old-school partnership, LEA Professional was born in January 2019.
AVNetwork sat down with LEA Professional’s founder and CEO Blake Augsburger to learn more about the company, its challenges, and his vision for the future.
AVN: What inspired you to create LEA Professional?
BLAKE AUGSBURGER: What inspired me initially was realizing there was a great opportunity to couple IoT technology with advanced amplifier technology and provide systems integrators and their customers with something truly unique. The idea crystallized, and as I began sharing it with investors, partners, potential employees and prospects, I was inspired by the feedback we received.
Our timing was optimal. There had been some consolidation and turmoil in the industry, and our approach was widely received as a breath of fresh air. Also, there were pockets of strong talent that we could immediately tap into—notably here in South Bend, IN—and so the confluence of inspiration and timing could not have worked out better!
Today, I am inspired by the team and the culture we have created. As LEA Professional evolves from a start-up to an established player in the global market, I think the combined impact of the core idea, team, and culture—and the community we have established—is inspiring!
AVN: What makes LEA Professional stand out amongst pro AV audio manufacturers?
BA: I think our dual approach to IoT connectivity and amplifier engineering is unique and compelling. It provides systems integrators with a technology platform they can count on for optimal performance, but also use to establish monthly recurring revenue models for system monitoring, management, and preventative maintenance.
Our approach to innovation is culturally innate, and I think that’s another differentiator. We look at every aspect of the product and each touchpoint with our brand and seek to challenge the status quo. We ask “Can we innovate here? Can we facilitate a better experience there?”
AVN: What has been your biggest challenge to date and how have you overcome that challenge?
BA: Start-ups face many challenges—capital, talent, technology—but LEA Professional didn’t face any of the typical issues. We were well-capitalized from the start. We have excellent partners, we have a great team, and we are located in a cradle of amplifier and audio innovation.
Instead, our challenge has been to steadily roll out the organization and manage our growth from start-up to established industry player, sustaining a culture of innovation and the commitment to systems integrators. That’s been grueling for the executive team—we’ve needed to be in several places at the same time— but it’s an enjoyable and rewarding challenge, and I would not change one bit of it.
AVN: What are LEA Professional's short- and long-term goals?
BA: LEA Professional’s near-term goals are to ship the orders we’ve been accumulating, provide a strong integrator/customer experience, and establish a loyal customer base.
Our longer-term goal is to establish LEA Professional as the preeminent provider of amplifier and connected infrastructure platforms. Cloud, networking, and software technologies are driving change at considerable pace, and we are uniquely positioned to address this change and provide ever-larger AV markets with high-performing, great-sounding, hyper-connected amplifiers—and maybe even some other devices on the signal chain!
I am determined to grow the company, but I also want us to stay as agile and hungry and resourceful as we are today.
AVN: How can systems contractors better position themselves to profit from products and/or services you have to offer?
BA: Monthly Recurring Revenue is a prevailing narrative in our industry, and now’s the time to deliver on that promise. LEA Professional facilitates this more comprehensively than any other provider on the market.
Integrators are also thinking about networking and connectivity in the context of AV and structured cabling, and LEA Professional comprehensively addresses this challenge/opportunity.
I would also say that systems integrators need a manufacturing partner that understands them and the challenge of professional-grade—not consumer or prosumer—systems integration. Our team has deep pedigree in professional-grade systems integration and a proven commitment to the channel.
AVN: Anything else our readers should know?
BA: I think it’s important for readers to understand the potential of AV to grow as a standalone discipline within the broader IT environment. AV enables retailers and hospitality professionals to create experiences, educators to teach, business professionals to communicate, and there’s nuance and specialized expertise required outside of the typical IT skillset.
As audio and video devices become less expensive and proliferate as gateways to IT and IoT ecosystems, AV systems and AV professionals become more important than ever. As this occurs, AV equipment needs to be hyper-connected, high-performing, and reliable—which takes us back to your original question and the genesis for LEA Professional!