CHESTER, PA—Belgium-based Audioprof Group has purchased a majority stake in Community Professional Loudspeakers. Long a fixture of the U.S. pro audio market, Community manufactures speaker systems for indoor and outdoor installations, ranging from stadiums to houses of worship and more.
Audioprof ’s other major holding is Apart Audio, but the two manufacturers will remain separate. Community CEO Steve Johnson told Pro Sound News, “We’ll talk and certainly try to increase the knowledge base of both sides, but at the end of the day, especially from the channel perspective and our customers’ perspective, we’ll continue to be very independent companies. Our brands will continue to respect the DNA of what got us here in the first place.”
Community was founded in 1968 by Bruce Howze, and moved to its present 100,000-square-foot location in Chester, Pennsylvania, in 1981. No changes to that arrangement are expected—Bruce Howze will continue with the company as a shareholder, president and R&D director, and likewise, Christine Howze will continue as vice president and general manager. Johnson explained, “That’s the beauty of it. It really doesn’t change the situation for our employees; we’ll stay in Chester for the foreseeable future, we’ll continue to manufacture here and also we have a contract manufacturer in China that we’ll continue to work with. I don’t think that there’ll be a change felt by anyone outside of the company, other than the knowledge that there’s continuity in this brand that they’ve known and trusted for many years—but inside the company, we get to know there’s a path to the future that’s assured.”
Audioprof Group International is a holding company that has owned a majority stake in Apart Audio since 2009. Apart, founded in 1992, is a European-based loudspeaker and audio electronics manufacturer which deals in the small-and medium-sized commercial fixed installation marketplace. While Community picks up where Apart leaves off, mostly dealing with mid-sized to large-scale installations, Johnson noted specifically, “This is not going to be a merger or integration of two brands. We’re two separate brands and two separate companies, but being under the same brand portfolio is really exciting. It strengthens both of us and now we’ll have an opportunity to address even more installed sound applications across the globe.”
Community will continue to chart its own course as it edges towards its 50th anniversary in three years, but meanwhile, selling the stake to Audioprof fulfills a major goal—to map out the manufacturer’s future. “Most of us have worked at companies where it wasn’t really clear what would happen when certain people were no longer there for whatever reason,” said Johnson, “and we don’t have to worry about that now. We have a solid foundation—the AudioProf people are genuinely good people, they’re smart, they’ve been successful with the Apart brand—and I’m trusting that we’ll be successful in the same way with the Community brand. This is the opportunity, bringing on a partner, to know that everything we do is going to have the financial backing and the strength that comes with that.”
The move could be seen as part of laying the foundation for the company’s next stage; Johnson noted that “impressive new engineering talent” had joined Community in recent times as well. Johnson reported that the new presence of Audioprof was greeted with excitement within the company, too: “We made our announcement today to staff, and you could see the enthusiasm. The people who really think about these things, this gave them a feeling that this is good—we’re going to good places and we’re all along for the same ride.”
Community Professional Loudspeakers
Audioprof Group International NV