A sea change occurred at the Bose Professional Division of Framingham, MA-based Bose Corporation. In April 2023, the company announced the sale of the Bose Professional Division to private equity firm Transom Capital Group. In early May, Transom announced the appointment of John Maier as CEO of Bose Professional.
AV Technology's content director, Cindy Davis, sat down with Maier to learn more about the decision to make Bose Professional a standalone entity, what changes are in store for its integrator, consultant, and end user customers, and when he is going to have time to play his drums.
Cindy Davis: What went into your decision to join Bose Professional?
John Maier: Having been in the industry for so long, I've been a huge Bose fan from the early days of my dad bringing home a little bookshelf speaker for the living room to me using 802s and 402s with bands and rental in the 80s, all the way to what the business does now. So, to have Bose Corporation separate from something that was basically part of the business almost from the beginning, I mean, Bose Professional is 50 years now as a company. It's one of those once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. When I was helping Transom with its companies, we jumped at the chance and dove in and we're excited to be the last company and that was offered exclusivity and able to close the deal.
Davis: What changes are ahead for the Bose Professional, and what are your plans for driving the company?
Maier: The biggest change is going to be, instead of being part of an overall Bose consumer strategy, to be able to be an independent, standalone, Pro AV business and focus 100 percent on that business, the customer, and the solutions for that customer. That's absolutely huge because you're sort of beholden [to Bose Corporate]—and no ill will toward Bose Corporate because it has its own priorities, as it should; it's a big business handling consumer and aviation and automotive. But Bose Professional was a smaller part of its business, and I don't think it necessarily had the focus or the attention that it really needed to flourish. But even in that setting, the business has been growing and has a really strong global business. I'm excited to be able to really focus in and hone in on that customer. And, Transoms has been a hundred percent supportive about going after where the business comes from—the middle market of AV installation and commercial.
Davis: What are the most significant changes that integrators and users can expect?
Maier: Well, the good news is they won't see a lot of change in the day-to-day. We were under a transition services agreement with Bose Corporate, so the flow of business, how they place orders, and how things get shipped through the system, nothing will change on day one. And that was an important part of this was to make sure there was no interruption, no disruption to the business.
What they'll see on the other side of that is this renewed focus. I'm already kicking off a listening tour, both for our internal team to learn about what our strengths are, what our weaknesses are, but maybe more importantly, for our customers, our end users, and consultants—understanding what's really working for both professionals out there now and where we've got room to grow and get better, and also, where the opportunities are.
Davis: Is there an area where you expect Bose Professional to grow the most?
Maier: But we also want to take the opportunity to really look at the offering across these solutions. What is the education market, the house of worship market, and the hospitality market—what are we offering that's really working? And where are the opportunities to expand our portfolio and offer more complete systems? We've gotten into the conferencing space with VBS and VB1, which have been received really well and has really interesting technologically. We think there's an opportunity to offer a fuller line of solutions around it.
It's doubling down on that middle market. We have a really strong position, but we don't want to lose focus on that. And because there's a lot of great products out there and there's a lot of competition—a lot of friends of mine are my competitors now. I have to make sure we don't lose the core. We're seeing growth, but we'll double down there and make sure that that's a foothold that we don't lose. I think we'll see double-digit growth and potentially triple-digit growth in conferencing because, again, it's new for us. There are some interesting areas; we're hearing a lot about immersive audio and other things. We're obviously an engineering-based company with a lot of interesting innovations. We're looking at those things as to what possibly could be done down the road, and potential partnerships.
We've partnered and continued to partner with Sennheiser and a few others, and we're talking with more. That will be a part of the strategy going forward. I'm a strong believer in focusing on your strengths and being the experts in the areas that the brand has the brand equity and focusing with partners on the things that they're the experts at, and it would take you decades to get to where they've gotten. And so, we can work together.
Watch the Full Video Interview with New Bose Professional CEO, John Maier
Davis: What can we expect to see at InfoComm?
Maier: It definitely fits into the space of availability. When we started calling customers to understand the business, the thing we heard over and over again was; if there's a top five features of a product, number one right now is availability. "If someone doesn't have it, I've got to move on because I can't wait, and I've got to get product." So, we've made some moves. There are some really interesting products coming that both expand our offering, the technology, and the flexibility, but also are in an area where we've had availability issues. So, I'm excited to show that.
We're spending a lot of time on the product roadmap. There are some really exciting things already coming this year. There'll be some announcements at InfoComm, and some longer-term, more structural upgrades and updates coming down the road.
Davis: Are you saying what you'll be showing at InfoComm is available?
Maier: Yep, absolutely.
Davis: What changes are being made at Bose Professional internally?
Maier: We're excited to separate out and build Bose Professional's own culture. I've had this analogy that, in my mind, it has been a bit of a pirate ship to the greater Bose. So, we can take that and move it over. Of course, we've got to build up whole functional areas of the business, and we're doing a lot of that now. We're building the team. We've just added a CFO and a head of People and Culture, and promoted some folks from within to key positions. There's a lot of getting prepped for pulling out of the functional, structural support that we're getting from Bose Corporation right now.
Regarding the market, that's the discovery mode we're in right now. We want to continue some of the work that the team's doing on some bigger overall projects that are coming down the road.
I'm the new guy only once, and that's a perspective I want to take advantage of, and that's why I want to do this listening tour and really dig in and get both the good feedback and the bad feedback and, and then take that back to the team and start to process that and see where we can take it.
What you'll see in the first six months is consistency and more of the same lack of disruption. But you'll also see responsiveness to the market and the channel, what is going on out there, and what is needed from us. Things that we can move fast on, we'll move fast on. We'll also move fast on things that are in the product development cycle longer, but we won't see that until a little bit further down the road. So yeah, I'm excited to dig in, learn, and come back and be the dumb new guy and say, "Here's what we should be doing and start to process that internally."
Davis: Do you have plans to change where Bose Professional products will be manufactured?
Maier: Absolutely no changes initially. Again, it's all about consistency. There's only one Bose factory and maybe one partner factory where there's a combination of consumer and pro products made. So that actually makes that part simpler. We don't have to pull full product lines and manufacturing lines out of a Bose factory and move them to a third-party factory or create our own factory because all that separation was already built in.
Obviously, we'll work with our vendor partners on availability. We've had a lot of improvement, and in fact, we're down to one or two areas that we're still pushing, and we think we'll have a full recovery by the fall. Generally, the supply chain setup doesn't change much. It's more like handing off contracts and us signing on with that partnership. Then, of course, we'll dig in, and we'll find out where there are opportunities to get more efficient, with potentially better results, faster, and cheaper shipping. We're going look for all those efficiencies as we shift over.
Davis: A final question. You've been in the music industry for quite a long time, and you're a musician. What instrument or instruments do you play?
Maier: Drums are the main thing. I dabble in a bunch of other stuff, but drums are the thing that I was as a kid was going to be a rockstar. I met my wife through music, and here we are, 27 years later, in LA, and we still play and still enjoy music, but it's more of a fun side thing at this point.