Eighteen years ago, Jim Bowie hired Bryan Hinckley as a project engineer at Electrosonic, starting Hinckley down a road he never expected, one that has now landed him as president of CI’s 2014 Integrator of the Year.
Hinckley, 41, officially grabbed the leadership baton from Bowie on July 1, a few months after being named president by company owners, in large part based on a recommendation from Bowie himself. It’s no surprise Hinckley calls Bowie “a fantastic mentor and a fantastic leader.”
Still, that doesn’t mean Hinckley ever though he’d be in this position. In fact, when Bowie urged him to shift from the engineering side of the business to sales, Hinckley was reluctant but learned that Bowie was right that he could be successful in that arena too.
Hinckley led Electrosonic’s digital signage initiative in the early 2000s and headed the AV Design Consulting Division in the middle of the decade. He became general manager of the U.S. product division in 2009 until Electrosonic sold that division to Extron in 2011 and was later promoted to business development manager in the entertainment division then to VP of sales until his role as president.
“Part of being president is being prepared for anything,” says Hinckley. “I’m trying to work with our existing employees and encouraging them to step up and go for it if there’s something they want.
“We’re using high-end tech to tell stories,” says Electrosonic president Bryan Hinckley. “We have smart people working on these difficult challenges who understand the show must go on.”
“I’ve always liked the opportunity to grow my career and I’m incredibly fortunate to have this opportunity. I didn’t expect Jim to be ready to retire when he did, so that was a bit of a surprise, but the opportunity is now and I’m not one to shy away from an opportunity.”
Hinckley credits his wife Daryll with her willingness to let him advance in his career and take on a more demanding role, especially with two young children at home: Hayden, 6, and Brady, 2 ½.
Perhaps out of humility, Hinckley never considered himself the long-term successor to Bowie when he joined Electrosonic in 1999.
“My intent was three to five years, work on some cool projects and see what’s next,” he says.
Hinckley was a theater and engineering major and Vanderbilt University and says that combination was an ideal match to Electrosonic’s emphasis on museums, theme parks and even corporate lobbies.
“We’re using high-end tech to tell stories,” says Hinckley. “We have smart people working on these difficult challenges who understand the show must go on.”
Before coming to Electrosonic, Hinckley was technical director for Landmark Entertainment Group, where Electrosonic was a vendor.
Hinckley highlighted the apprenticeship program launched by Bowie as one aspect of the company he has no plans to change and one he’s always embraced. That doesn’t mean he’ll do everything the same way as Bowie, although he’s keeping the company’s plans close to the vest for now.
“I feel like this is the next chapter and we’ve got a lot of good things in the works,” says Hinckley. “I’m excited to put my touch and my style on Electrosonic. We’ve been successful, so I don’t want to screw that up.
“One of the biggest things I’ve learned is I can’t do everything. I have to really depend on the team. It comes down to pride and passion for what we’re doing,” he says.
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