Jon Hancock isn’t the new Electrosonic CEO solely because of his background as an executive at several IT companies, but that certainly didn’t hurt his cause.
Hancock officially took on his new role June 11, but he’s spent some time in Las Vegas at InfoComm 2018 the week before starting his new job getting to know some of Electrosonic’s key partners and learning as much as he could about the AV industry and Electrosonic’s place in it.
What he learned is the company has plenty of room to grow, even 54 years into its existence.
“Electrosonic has evolved over the last 54 years, but the pace of change has gone up and will continue to go up,” says Hancock, 47. “It’s about understanding who we are and knowing what we want to be.”
Electrosonic, which was CI’s 2014 Integrator of the Year, has become primarily known for its work in theme parks, museums, meeting rooms and board rooms.
It was almost star-crossed
Although Hancock had never heard of Electrosonic when a tech services head-hunting firm approached him about the job late last year, he learned that “I’d been on some of the rides they developed” and came away impressed without knowing it was his future employer who designed and installed the AV.
“The owners, the board of directors and the business leadership believe Jon has exactly the right profile and experience to take Electrosonic on the next phase of its 50-plus year journey,” said Steve Leyland, chairman of the Electrosonic Group.
“As we know, the AV industry is changing rapidly and the fields of IT and AV are merging. Jon’s experience in service-oriented IT firms will be critical here. Jon has spent much of his time with client executives, prospective clients and his teams on the frontline.
Hancock has been impressed by the “dynamism” and “go-get-it” attitude of employees at all levels of the company, saying it reminds him a lot of Axon, the company for which he worked at the start of the 2000s for several years as part of the leadership team that helped it grow from about $100 million to $700 million in that time.
His first time in AV
This is the first foray into the AV industry proper for the new Electrosonic CEO — and also his first time in that position.
The job appealed to him in part because it gives him the opportunity to “move into a broader technology landscape.” That said, he doesn’t expect to learn all the ins and outs of how the company’s engineers develop their increasingly impressive AV solutions.
“It feels like I’ve had three weeks of revolving-door conversations,” says Hancock. “In a leadership role, it’s much more about engaging and giving confidence to your clients than about knowing specifics about a particular job.
“Some of what I’ve heard [about AV before joining Electrosonic] has been amplified, such as the idea of commoditization of AV. Some of those themes come to the forefront when you talk to clients. The way you install and support devices is changing significantly. Engineering used to take screwdrivers on a job site. Now they’re bringing laptops,” he says.
Plans moving forward
Although Electrosonic is one of the largest companies in the AV integration world, Hancock sees plenty of growth potential, saying it “has a relatively small market share in global terms.”
He expects to see the company grow more in vertical markets that are adjacent to the corporate and theme park markets where it’s built its reputation, adding more in IT and security while also expanding to Asia, likely in the theme park vertical market.
Electrosonic leadership will meet this summer to craft a three-year strategic plan, and the new Electrosonic CEO expects it will mean a gradual change in how they do business.
The way you install and support devices is changing significantly. Engineering used to take screwdrivers on a job site. Now they’re bringing laptops
“What’s relevant today may not be relevant in the same way in 10 years,” he says.
“We want to do this in a structured way. I’m not keen on making a sharp right or left turn somewhere. There’s a deliberate intent of evolving how we work in the market. This is all about change management on a journey.”
Asia and Europe seem to offer the best potential for Electrosonic to expand beyond its U.K. and North American bases, says Hancock, in part because of its recent emphasis on building up its theme parks.
The company is also planning to build up its design consulting services before the installation and managed services offering after the installation to give it a longer connection with every client.
The Electrosonic CEO sees the potential to reverse the revenue splits from 30 percent of the overall numbers coming from design consulting, managed services and other recurring revenue streams to 70 percent over time.
“We’ve used our smart people to change how our clients think about their problems,” he says.