Looks Good, Sounds Good

Paul Sabbah, Leon
(Image credit: Future)

SCN: How long have you been with this company, and what are your responsibilities?

Paul Sabbah: I joined Leon Speakers 10 years ago as an independent sales rep covering the international market. Over these 10 years, I was asked to take on more territory (a bit of the U.S., as well) and to also focus on the commercial side of our business, which is the fastest-growing portion of our sales portfolio.

Leon Logo

(Image credit: Leon)

SCN: You recently told me Leon had doubled its commercial sales in 2022. What’s the secret to your success?

PS: We have been riding a huge, global technology-refresh wave. Adoption of 4K videoconferencing cameras, digital technologies, and large displays is skyrocketing due new the emergence of post-COVID hybrid work environments. Leon had been a highly regarded manufacturer of design-friendly AV solutions before this wave, so we have been able to transition seamlessly as a valued resource for this growing market. 

[Viewpoint: What's Your Professional Mindset?]

SCN: You produce technology concealment solutions for several big-name partners. Why not just focus on a one-size-fits-all approach?

PS: One-size-fits-all does not apply to our customers, so it does not apply to us! Our customers come in all shapes and sizes, using different UC platforms, all manner of display technologies, and many of them have both client-facing rooms and “internal” rooms just for staff. Consequently, one single approach won’t meet all needs. 

SCN: People used to love to show off their AV components, so why is technology concealment becoming so popular?

PS: Leon is uniquely positioned to answer this question because we have both a residential business and a commercial business. On the residential side, people do love to show off their fancy speakers, high-end amps, and large televisions—and their jewelry and their cars. These are aspirational possessions that denote wealth and cultural refinement.

In the office, technology is more of a necessary evil—a lot more devices, more cabling, multiple screens, and cameras, which collectively are difficult to design around and take up large amounts of space. In the corporate world, that's expensive real estate. In these situations, tech concealment becomes not only a design issue but also a cost issue.

SCN: What was the inspiration for the Cove desktop workspace, and how has the response been from at-home workers and office personnel?

Leon Cove

Leon Cove (Image credit: Leon)

PS: Cove is a modern desktop designed for work, home, or co-working spaces. It features adjustable backlighting, a sound-dampening felt lining, and a sleek design. Our founder, Noah Kaplan, conceived of it when the pandemic started, thinking that workers at home were not being given the best chance to succeed with their tech and newfound “virtual” work life.

Response to the product has been excellent, and we are seeing opportunities to design versions of Cove for corporate spaces as well. Cove has also been a great way for us to leverage partnerships with Logitech and Shure by including their products in a bundle with Cove.

SCN: In-ceiling speakers used to be, shall we say, utilitarian in nature, but products like your Axis series have raised the bar considerably. What inspired the auditory upgrade?

PS: There are plenty of simple, low-cost in-ceiling products on the market. When we decided to offer this to our dealers, we took the “Leon approach” and made the product great, fully featured, and customizable. 

[Executive Q&A: A Piece of Cake]

SCN: What are the differentiators in a high-quality soundbar?

PS: First and foremost, sound quality has to be superb, but we go beyond that by offering flexible mounting options, customizable cabinet colors, literally hundreds of speaker grille designs and colors, and fast lead times for custom sizes. 

SCN: I need to ask about your LiquidView Window, which I saw at InfoComm last year. What makes it different from other displays, and are your sales coming more from residential or commercial customers?

Leon LiquidView

Leon LiquidView (Image credit: Leon)

PS: LiquidView is, in a word, amazing. The ability to create a digital window on a wall where none existed is one thing; it’s quite another to time-synchronize digital content on a 24-hour cycle and give the end users an app to select from many gorgeous views, all filmed in 8K. We assumed that the resi market would embrace it, but have discovered LiquidView Window also resonates with commercial clients for applications in hotels, hospitals, and corporate offices. 

SCN: Finally, the boss just told you to create a corporate conference demo room. What Leon speakers are you installing and why?

PS: Horizon Interactive is our flagship product—no room designed by me would be without it. To this product, I would add our Ultima drivers to boost audio intelligibility and enable Horizon Interactive to be used for more than conferencing, like music listening. The most important part of a meeting is audio, so the room I design will surely emphasize this capability.

Mark J. Pescatore
Content Director

Mark J. Pescatore, Ph.D., is the content director of Systems Contractor News. He has been writing about Pro AV industry for more than 25 years. Previously, he spent more than eight years as the editor of Government Video magazine. During his career, he's produced and hosted two podcasts focused on the professional video marketplace, taught more than a dozen college communication courses, co-authored the book "Working with HDV," and co-edited two editions of "The Guide to Digital Television."