Audioprof CEO speaks out on Community deal

AUTHOR: Inavate

The CEO of Audioprof Group International has said there will be ‘no change’ to business structures after the company acquired a majority share in Community Professional Loudspeakers.

“We are doing this in a very different way than other companies,” explained Koen Claerbout, CEO of the Audioprof Group, which also owns a majority stake in Apart Audio. “ This is not about integrating the businesses and it’s not about a merger. For the customers it means that nothing changes. Every brand will continue developing its existing customer base and distribution channel.”

Apart - a European loudspeaker and electronics manufacturer founded in 1992 - offers products aimed at the fixed install market for small to medium sized installations. US firm Community’s product range is aimed medium to large installations. Claerbout said the two brands would not be pushed through the same channel as what is good for one might not be good for both.

“We will keep both organisations focused on their own brands with their own priorities, making sure the distribution partner is the best one for each brand,” he said. “So in a specific region both brands will probably be available through different partners.”

Claerbout stated there would be no consolidation of staff or operations, saying the focus would be on sharing market intelligence to enhance the development of products across both brands.

“Each organisation will keep its own sales force dedicated to the brand, each will keep its own marketing department so brand identity will remain the same - there will be no group identity introduced into both of the brands,” he said. “What will be the case is as we increase the market intelligence both brands can help each other when they go into new regions, such as identifying good distributors and good partners for developing the business.
“Apart’s focus is on expanding within Europe, Middle East and Asia Pacific and that will continue to be the case. We still have a lot of work to do in a couple of the larger Asia Pacific countries such as China, Singapore, Malaysia and The Phillipines, so that’s the geographical expansion aim for the next couple of years.”

Community, which designs and manufactures high-performance indoor and outdoor loudspeakers, was founded in 1968 by Bruce Howze. Audioprof Group International is the holding company established to develop and build strong audio companies with a focus on specific niches in the audio industry.

Earlier in the week the leaders of Audioprof and Community commented on the deal.

Hans Swinnen, chairman of Audioprof Group International, said: “Both companies will be developed as standalone entities under the same umbrella respecting their market focus, customer base, culture and heritage. They will enjoy ‘best practice sharing’ from both sides. With a strong base in Europe and the USA we will strengthen our worldwide position in Installed Sound. We are very pleased that Bruce Howze stays on board as an important shareholder, President and R&D Director and that Christine Howze will continue to help us grow the business. Leadership positions at Community will remain the same with Steve Johnson as CEO."

Bruce Howze, founder of Community, said: “It has been a wonderful and enjoyable journey since the company’s beginning and I’m very glad to have found a shareholder and partner with the same entrepreneurial background and spirit that drives Community. The relationship with Audioprof ensures continuity of the Community brand for our employees and customers, and I’m confident that we are positioning the company with the right partner for continued growth in the future.”