“LEA Professional is inspired by many conversations with members of the professional audio and integrator communities,” says Blake Augsburger, the company's founder and Chief Executive Officer, and former president of Crown International, and President of Harman's Professional Division for 15 years. “We listened closely and looked carefully at amplifier performance, networking, UX and built a range of products and a new company that respects the way things get done today but offers a bold new approach capitalizing on new technologies from outside the AV domain.”
During the company's presentation at NAMM 2019, Blake Augsburger described the strategic vision for the company, based on his view that a stratification has occurred in the market. "For amplifiers there is a complex high-end, and a commoditized low-end. At the high-end you see expensive, highly sophisticated, networked professional audio technology and at the low-end, inexpensive, undifferentiated prosumer-grade audio technology. We see an opportunity in the middle: to provide channel partners and integrators with high-performing, cloud configurable and yet affordable and easy-to-use audio technology that rocks."
Based in Northern Indiana, a traditional hub of amplifier and AV innovation and former home base for Harman's Crown, LEA is "a startup with deep pedigree," as Augsburger described it. The engineering, sales/marketing, and executive teams feature most of Crown's experts in their fields, all with considerable accomplishments in terms of product innovation and business transformation and growth. "LEA Professional was founded to provide dealer/integrators in the professional AV market with the highest-performing, best-connected amplifier technology possible," the company states.
“We have a start-up mentality in that we’re lean, agile and ambitious but we do not suffer from the challenges that afflict many start-ups because we’ve all worked together and with our dealers and distributors for a considerable time. We have a clear mission and we have strong unique technology,” Augsburger continued. He also confirmed that the new company is "well capitalized to invest in the future, both by investing in products and marketing and through potential acquisitions."
The first physical manifestations of Augsburger’s strategy is a series of professional grade two-channel and four-channel amplifiers for small to medium scale installations. Featuring DSP, wired or Wi-Fi connectivity, webpage configuration and control, the LEA Connect Series will be "the very first "IoT enabled" professional-grade amplifiers and will provide end-users with best in class sonic performance, ease of use and bulletproof reliability. The LEA Connect Series also underscores the company-wide commitment to the dealer/integrator community: easily and cost-effectively installed and maintained and with the capacity to support monthly recurring revenue (MRR) business models, the line was engineered with the needs and expectations of contractors in mind," he adds.
Joining Augsburger at the helm of the new venture is Jeremy Bules, Vice President of Engineering & Operations and Scott Robbins, Vice President of Sales & Marketing. Like Augsburger, Bules and Robbins each have more than twenty years’ experience in professional audio.
Commenting, Bules explained the unique positioning of LEA at the intersection of advanced amplifier technology with IoT. “We’re approaching connectivity and control with a fresh perspective and no legacy commitments. This enables LEA to cost-efficiently capitalize upon proven IoT innovations from global brands like Intel, Cisco and Microsoft while also bringing our unique amplifier technology to the equation.”
Scott Robbins, whose deep experience in the pro AV channel provides LEA with a considerable edge notes, “We are all passionate about the audio industry so it’s very exciting to be part of LEA where we can create something from the ground up that is truly inspirational. Not only will our products be technically advanced, we will also focus heavily on the dealer experience. At LEA we are not confused about who the customer is; our customer is the dealer/integrator. Our products and support structure will be designed to make the dealer/integrator successful. Ease of doing business, timely and efficient pre and post-sales support, customer inspired product features, and advanced technology are the foundational elements upon which our company is built.”
LEA also confirmed a six-year warranty with advanced replacement to provide the assurance that professionals require from a new brand but also underscore the LEA team’s confidence in the product. Loyalty rebates and advanced service and support are also foundational to the LEA brand commitment. A powerful yet easy-to-use dealer “one-click” digital commerce portal for order management is in development and will soon be featured on the Leaprofessional.com site.
Augsburger notes that LEA is empowered to innovate on pricing as well as technology and the dealer platform. “We want to be known for having the very best performing, best connected and best looking amplifiers in the market but we’re also determined to win on price. We can do that because our capabilities are of a twenty-year-old company but our overhead is that of a startup!”