Community Loudspeakers- How a world class speaker company became world class pricks by selling out to the corporate man, insulting my small business and dropping my dealership status.
It’s a corporate big fish eats small fish swallow scenario –ubiquitous to our times: The 1% wins again.
Ugh, where to begin…
Audio Video Services was a Community Pro Loudspeaker dealer for a little over 12 years. I think I became a dealer in 2006 or something. For most of that time I bought directly from Community and for another chunk of time I bought from an authorized wholesaler.
Also for most of that time it was business as usual- a few times a year I’d order a small number of speakers for a local church installation. I loved their products. They sounded awesome. They never blew or failed. They came in the color white ( a small, but often over-looked detail in the world of church pa speakers- 99% of all churches interiors are white – so white speakers hide better. ) I digress. My order numbers were nothing huge or bank busting but a small steady flow. I was maybe ordering 3K to 5K a year worth of product.
I know. I know. Small potatoes. But allow me to offer some perspective about my business and how it operates. First of all, my company is located in central Virginia.(Charlottesville) When I moved here in 2007 I knew it would difficult doing just one AV thing- I was the new guy in town. I had zero connections. I had zero start-up money. So I advertised as a Jack-of-All Trades AV company and survived…and then thrived. By 2011 my small company was grossing about 1/2 million a year- in three areas: residential, commercial and churches.
BUT – I think it was 2012 that my company peaked in sales and then a combination of three things slowly killed my rising business:
1. Changes to Google SEO search engine algorithms weakened my online web presence (I’ve since fixed this but it’s a whack-a-mole situation- I have to watch google like a hawk or my business gets no online attention)
2. An increase in local AV competition- Charlottesville and Albemarle County now has about 13 AV companies. Yes- 13! The population here is about 108,000. That’s 8307 people per AV company. You do the math.
3. The recession of 2008/2009 finally caught up to my business- oh and the IRAQ war ended in 2011. No more fat AV government jobs for defense contractors.
So all in all I went from: 2012 – 1/2 a million a year with 3 steady employees with a dedicated AV van and little shop to 2019– just me, my truck and my garage. Every year since about 2012 my income has halved. In 2018 I grossed a little over 100K. My net last year was just enough to pay the bills and rent some redbox standard DVDs (Blurays- hell no!- too damn expensive)
Yes my Community sales have sucked, BUT guess what?
In the last few years my sales orders for Community speakers have been in the toilet, but that’s no surprise given the 3 things stated above. But guess what !? I ended 2018 with nearly 250K worth of quotes to numerous churches, businesses and residences. AND included in these quotes were you guessed it: Lots of Community Loudspeakers.
Which brings us to the Community PRICK prize winning moment:
So while my company was slowly going down the tubes I guess Community Loudspeakers was busy doing exactly the same – only in a different way.
Like most companies in trouble I can only surmise that Community thought that being eaten by a larger company-parent-savior-devil in disguise would make all their problems go away. (Whatever those problems were) So they sold out. Community Loudspeakers is now owned (or in corporate speak- acquired by majority share) by Audioprof Group International, which is owned and operated by (Big fish eats little fish again) .. 3D Investors- a Belgium Investment Firm which invests in hoses, plastics, security, cookware and software for public procurement management. Ohhh Yeah- lots of speaker sound system experience here.
So the bottom line is this: Community Loudspeakers went from being owned by this cool guy:
To being owned by this not-cool guy:
And during this Big fish eats small fish 1% nightmare debacle- Community in my opinion (based on their recent behavior which I’m about to reveal) lost its soul, way and good name.
Here’s Why I’m Pissed Off:
Shortly after celebrating the end of 2018 with record quote numbers (with church and corporate clients that are currently in the paperwork process of signing my contracts and paying deposits) I received this letter from Community – canceling my dealer status:
In other words- this was just a condescending and vaguely veiled way of saying: YOU SUCK. BYE. BYE. Don’t call us. We’ll call you.
The 4-Alarm stress sirens in my head immediately went off and are still going off as I write this blog post: Specifically here’s why: I had about four churches who were very close to sending checks that I was being trusted with, to buy products- Community Loudspeaker products- for their church. Additionally I had another church that wanted (and still wants) a 3D acoustic analysis (which Community had been providing me with – FOR FREE- for years. And now I can get neither easily.
In the last week I have been on the phone and sending emails every single day trying to get out of this hole: The hole of not being able to purchase Community speakers and the hole of not having access to someone who can provide an Ease 3D assessment of a very complicated church sound design.
To date, I have resolved the issue of purchasing Community speakers: Community in their corporate infantile rude wisdom did not bother to tell me that there are a number of alternatives which allow me to purchase their product at slightly higher wholesale prices. (ie The Music People / On Stage Stands- and probably others I’m not aware of) Nope not a peep about this from Community. Just F%$# off and good luck. Hey Community- NOT COOL.
More NOT COOL- To date I have not resolved the Ease 3D sound modeling problem. Long ago Community used to provide this and the images looked like this:
But today it seems that no-one on the planet offers this service now and especially not Community or any direct wholesaler of Community. I’ve been offered the Ease Focus version- which is like the Samsung smartphone angry birds app version or something. Let me ask you- how’d you like to design and model the sound for the church in the pic below using a fucking angry birds phone app? Hey Community- NOT COOL.
What’s the moral of the story here?
The moral of our little story here is this:
First and foremost FUCK YOU Donald Trump and all the 1%-ers like Community Loudspeakers and 3D Investors and all psychotics who think that a BIG fish eats small fish corporate economy is okay and sustainable. It is not. 20-30 Years ago companies like mine used to be the middle class. A healthy middle class is vital for a strong and prosperous country and world. The 1% and their corporate cannibalism are ruining this country and planet.
The 1% need to pay their fair and representative portion of taxes in this country- which will make companies like Community think twice about selling out to the man for profits instead of pivoting innovation, creativity or legitimate down-sizing (Gasp! You don’t need to increase your profit size by 200% every year in order to thrive)
Secondly – When you treat companies my size like dirt, you’ll get that same dirt back- maybe not in size- but definitely in numbers. There are more of us than there are of you- and we are connected. Let me see?- I think this blog post would look awesome on AVFORUMS, or how about CEDIA website or how about AVNetwork.com or Sound and Communications magazine? There must be hundreds of AV bloggers out there? Whatdya think? So many possibilities…
Lastly- AVS will no longer be selling or quoting Community Loudspeakers after this year. I’ll sell the needed speakers for the quotes I have out and then I’ll have to move on to some other shitty PA speaker company- probably JBL, (>owned by Harman> owned by Samsung> owned by Satan) which doesn’t look a whole lot better. And so…
Lastly-lastly. Companies like Community and the old-school 1980’s traditional wholesalers who serve them could learn a thing or two from a company called SnapAV. SnapAV is a modern big company with a big heart that is making a big AV impact in the industry with small folks like me. I called SnapAV today and told my rep about all the hassle and BS I was going through. He understood. I told them to start making PA speakers.
SnapAV understands that a good high quality business is not based on huge bloated profits, big box store mentality or corporate big fish eats small fish mentality. A good business serves one single end-user person at a time through its products or services- with respect, care and love.
This is how I treat my customers and this is how I expect to be treated by those I do business with. If more individuals and companies would do this the middle class would flourish, and indeed- America would return to being great again.
Thanks for taking the time to read this lengthy blog post.
Jeff Dixon / Owner Charlottesville Audio Visual Services, LLC
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