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View from the Top: Blake Augsburger, Founder/CEO, LEA Professional

LEA Professional founder Blake Augsburger shares how he envisioned both the company and its products to take a future-driven approach.

LEA Professional founder Blake Augsburger
LEA Professional founder Blake Augsburger

When LEA Professional debuted at the NAMM Show in January, 2019, the company introduced its vision of what a power amplifier could be, evolving a familiar pro-audio product into something new through the addition of cutting-edge capabilities. Leading the company’s charge was CEO and founder, Blake Augsburger, whose own career has evolved in a similar fashion, continually gaining new abilities over time as he continues to look forward.

Initially starting his career as an electrical engineer working in the defense industry, Augsburger migrated into program management and business unit management—an experience that brought together his real-world engineering background with executive leadership knowledge. After moving into the pro-audio industry in 2000, when HARMAN acquired Crown Audio, in 2006, he was appointed to lead the HARMAN Professional Solutions division, where he was tasked with adding businesses to the portfolio and taking on additional leadership roles until he left the company in 2016.

When Augsburger introduced LEA Professional, he publicly detailed an ambitious 18-month timeline that mapped out how and when the company would debut a slew of products and services—and then it proceeded to hit each milestone as promised, even during the pandemic. Now, with products being integrated into projects around the world, the company is making its mark.

“We have created a fast-moving organization with all of the agility of a start-up, and the strength, depth and capitalization of a global player,” Augsburger says. “We have a talented team committed to shared goals versus a place on an organizational chart. I think that’s very important in today’s dynamic economy and the AV marketplace.”

Even though LEA began as a start-up, it has quickly built momentum despite the economy. “We have not had to significantly react to the ebb and flow of the economy because we have no legacy infrastructure; we’re also more open and have no commitments to proprietary technologies or protocols,” says Augsburger. “Our company is a lean and agile organization, which gives us a huge edge against other manufacturers in the industry.”

That agility, he feels, has allowed the company to quickly implement digital training and customer support. Internally, it has also allowed LEA to place greater emphasis on the culture and accountability of employees, instead of just having an organizational hierarchy—something that Augsburger believes has been a great asset during the pandemic.

“Culture is critical to our success,” he says. “We started with an idea and that became a mission, and then a shared mission of our team and partner community. The core idea that amplifier and IoT technology could be foundational to connected infrastructure but also those new MRR models that your readers—the dealers, contractors and engineers on the front lines of systems integration and pro audio—[use] is at the root of our mission, our culture and our success.”

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Augsburger says that LEA’s rep network domestically and international distributor network has been a crucial part of the company’s efforts. “Regionally, we have the dual strength of excellent technologies and excellent partners in APAC with David McKinney’s Generational AV and EMEA with David Budge’s new organization, Blue5 Technology, and Berenice Gutierrez, Pro Active Latin America,” he says. “In this current climate, some domestic verticals will be much stronger than others. Certain verticals need AV to enforce social distancing; others need it to communicate health protocols, so opportunities exist and we’ll focus on serving those needs and also come up with clever ideas and solutions that will enable stronger business in those weaker verticals.”

That ability for companies to pivot is vital to planning new initiatives, Augsburger says, adding that every business needs to shorten planning periods and improve agility in the current economic climate:  “The data, phases, guidelines and rules all change on a monthly basis, so businesses like ours and those of our channel partners need to be informed and prepared for change. For instance, in June and July this year, there was a heightened need for AV technologies to support social distancing in higher education and outdoor dining in hospitality. In September, the emphasis shifted back to conferencing for corporate and government. In October, the AV market was thinking about ways to support Holiday pageants and celebrations.”

While LEA Professional has been able to take proactive measures during the pandemic to keep moving forward, Augsburger is all too aware of how 2020 has treated the live sound, installation and integration sectors—but he also has strong expectations for 2021. “I think it’s important to acknowledge the tough times that live sound professionals are going through. I have spent a lot of time in the live production market and have many friends in that community,” he says. “I do believe there are better times ahead and that live sound can support socially-distanced gatherings that are important to our community.”