John Falcone, president and CEO of Sennheiser USA, discussed the company’s history during an event marking the company’s 20th anniversary in the U.S.OLD LYME, CT—Sennheiser USA marked its 20th anniversary on September 20, celebrating with staff, members of industry- and local media, and noted supporters. The day provided an opportunity to both nostalgically look back at the last two decades and likewise look forward, with an informal announcement of coming changes to the company.
The blowout was originally scheduled for August 29, but found it was blown out by Tropical Storm Irene, which hammered Old Lyme on the coast of Connecticut the day before the event. Nonetheless, Connecticut Governor Dannel P. Malloy declared August 29 to be Sennheiser Electronic Corporation Day in the state, noting, “This recognition celebrates Sennheiser’s vital role in the business community, as well as the talented and passionate employees who are essential to its success.”
While Sennheiser equipment has had a place in North American pro audio for decades, it wasn’t until 1991 that the Sennheiser Group opened its own U.S. distribution company. John Falcone, CEO and president, explained to the assembled crowd that previously, “Sennheiser products were sold by an independent distributor that was based in Manhattan. [When Sennheiser USA was founded], we came to Connecticut for a number of reasons. Obviously, it’s more affordable than being in midtown Manhattan, but we’re still close to many of our key customers. We’ve got ESPN down the road, Broadway is just a short train ride away, and there’s easy access to Boston. So we’re nearby a lot of our key customers, and as we look geographically around the country, the lion’s share of our revenue still comes out of the Northeast.”
That revenue has grown considerably since Sennheiser USA’s founding. Falcone noted that back in 1991, the company started with 27 employees and revenues of $11.3 million. In contrast, 2011 finds it with 119 employees and on track to hit $150 million this year—roughly 30 percent of Sennheiser’s global revenue.
“We’ve grown 10 percent or more every single year except for 1993, 2008 and 2009,” said Falcone. “We all know what happened in 2008 and 2009, but as of 2010, we’re back. We grew 16 percent in 2010, and this year we’re trending towards a double-digit increase again.”
In the last two decades, Sennheiser USA has also grown beyond its single outpost in Connecticut. Today, a warehouse in Chicago, IL ships most of Sennheiser’s products; a manufacturing facility based in Albuquerque, MN builds all the company’s evolution wireless microphone products, resulting in 30 percent of Sennheiser USA’s revenue being built in the U.S.; and a research center in Palo Alto, CA develops new technologies like digital noise cancellation, implemented in the company’s latest headsets for pilots.
Also speaking at the event were noted Sennheiser customers, including Lew Mead, owner of Autograph A2D and managing director for Syntonic Design Group; Curt Ramm, director of Audio Production for Power Station New England and Sonalysts Studios; Mark Elinson, technical analyst at ESPN; and sound designer Tony Meola, whose Broadway credits include Wicked, The Lion King, Guys and Dolls and many others. Each related his history of dealing with the company, highlighting certain products applied to individual projects and the support each had received over the years.
Closing out the proceedings, Falcone made an informal announcement that as of January 1, 2012, Greg Beebe will become president of Sennheiser USA, moving up from his current position as vice president of product marketing. Despite joking that he would be heading for the beach then, Falcone explained that in fact, he’s not going anywhere: “As of last October, I’ve assumed responsibility for Sennheiser business in all of the Americas, so Greg will be taking over the day-to-day operation here in the U.S.”