The painfully overused term "future proof" has lost some meaning at this point, but there remain plenty of sterling examples of what was once simply called "thinking ahead". Perhaps the previous decade's most pertinent example of this concept is the careful addition of new services and vertical markets undertaken by many systems integrators and consultants. Those companies which understood the realities behind other buzz words like "convergence" and "diversification" are finding themselves well-equipped to weather fluctuations in business.
JaffeHolden, headquartered in Norwalk, Connecticut, with an office in Santa Monica, California, evolved with market demand from the acoustical consulting practice founded by Christopher Jaffe 40 years ago to gradually include audio and video systems design. Now the firm finds itself in the right place at the right time once again with its late-2008 acquisition of Metropolitan Technologies, a Princeton, New Jersey-based information technology and security consulting firm. The move has proved a wise one in light of the current economic climate.
"We had been thinking about making this move since about January 2008," recalled David W. Robb, principal, audio and video systems group at JaffeHolden. "On the audio and video side we had seen the signs of convergence coming for some years now."
With Metropolitan Technologies, JaffeHolden acquired a backlog of IT and security work, a real boon in what Robb called the "post-stimulus time period". He elaborated, "If you check out the government websites and take a look at where money is going to be spent, internet infrastructure and security is in just about every one of those jobs. So it's certainly a potential for an additional revenue stream for us."
On the other side of that equation, Metropolitan Technologies was doing some basic AV work for its clients, and JaffeHolden has picked up on that work. Additionally, Metropolitan Technologies' IT expertise will bolster JaffeHolden's digital audio and video distribution design efforts.
The most significant change to JaffeHolden's business might be in the design offerings it presents to its clients, which include performing arts facilities and universities among many others. "These clients obviously all have internet, IT, and security portions of the projects that we were working on, but we never talked about it, because it wasn't a service that we offered," Robb said. "So now we can expand and make those services available to our regular client base and our future client base."
All those services under one contract is an attractive notion for clients. "We're getting some portion of our larger scale work now because it's incorporating these additional low-voltage services," Robb noted. "We have a few more mouths to feed now, but we also have a much broader target market, and we're ramping up for the obvious good times to come."
Having observed the business of sound, and now video, for the better part of 45 years, Robb anticipates a significant rebound from this latest dip in the economy. "Things always go back up -- the younger you are, the less you believe that, but I can tell you that it will come back," Robb said. "Some people aren't going to make it through this, but not only will we make it, but when we come out the other side of this stuff, everything is going to take off pretty quickly. I'm quite sure. I don't think it's going to be a slow ramp back up, because everybody's had it with this."
Robb did have a word of caution for those companies who trim themselves too lean in these times: "If you are in a position where you downsized yourself to the lowest level, by the time you realize that things are coming back, and you've got your people and your resources back together again, you're gonna miss a chunk of this stuff flying out of the gate. Just look at the history books, it's all a big sine wave, it goes down, it goes up again."