Inside INdiana Business

Audio company sees growth after COVID pivot

(photo courtesy of LEA Professional)

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (Inside INdiana Business) — A young South Bend-based company continues to grow after being forced to pivot during the pandemic. LEA Professional, which was founded in 2019, manufactures amplifiers for professional-grade sound systems found in stadiums, performing arts centers, and airports. However, Chief Executive Officer Blake Augsburger says when live performances ceased after the pandemic hit, the company found a new niche in the residential market.

In an interview with Inside INdiana Business, Augsburger said the company didn’t change its business plan as a result of the pandemic.

“It was unfortunate that right when we rolled our product to market is when COVID hit, so it delayed us,” said Augsburger. “But we continued with our development plans. We continued with our brand building and we were able to pivot in the marketplace to some degree because there was almost a surge in this residential smart home business because more people were working from home.”

Augsburger says including the residential space in the business plan has kept the company busy since the fall and he’s now seeing more business pick up as the recovery from the pandemic continues.

“We saw the pro business start to come back in January and our business has been basically doubling since then each month,” he said. “We’re doing a lot of residential, a lot of commercial – you know, commercial being airports and transportation-type jobs, big buildings – and then we’re also doing hotels and we’re seeing casinos come back. So, the business is coming back, particularly in the U.S.”

Augsburger is a former executive vice president of Harman International Industries Inc. (NYSE: HAR) and president of Crown International in Elkhart and retired in 2016. He founded LEA Professional after Harman decided to close the Crown facility and lay off dozens of employees, some of which were recruited to join LEA.

LEA Professional employs about 20 workers in Indiana with more sales representatives working internationally. The company’s its platform of products uses Cloud control and monitoring, which Augsburger says allows installers to address any issues remotely, which has also proven beneficial during the pandemic.

Augsburger says the company’s infrastructure is very scalable, but they are dealing with many of the same supply chain issues that businesses in other industries are facing.

“We have a part that we use in our product that’s used across the platform of most pro audio products called AKM and they had a fire in their factory in Japan; it completely burned down,” he said. “So everyone’s had to adjust to that. They’ve had to adjust to other semiconductor problems because of the automotive ramp up, and it’s been a bit of a challenge, but we got through that and that’s kind of our only day-to-day grind is, ‘Do you have the material to build product?'”

Augsburger says the beginning of the pandemic was stressful, as it was for many businesses at that time, but he is proud to be able to weather the storm and continue on an upward trend.

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