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Who is the Industry’s Oldest Supplier?

As distributor Volutone celebrates its 110th anniversary and ADT turns 138, it got me thinking about who are the oldest companies in the industry?


Volutone started as retailer in Los Angeles in 1902.

The average custom installation company is 15 years old, a veritable teenager with pimples. So who are the oldest suppliers and integrators in the industry?

Distributor Volutone just hit a big milestone of 110 years. Back in 1902, the Schireson brothers, Jack and Nathan, opened the original Schireson Brothers retail store for violins on South Broadway St. in Los Angeles.

According to Jack Schireson’s son, Stanley, his uncle Nathan was an “inventor” and a true mechanic of violins. His curiosity and ingenuity led to a chance meeting with a gentleman who had created a magnetic pickup. That led to Nathan soon creating his own electric guitars, which used the pickup to enhance the guitars’ volume and tone, thus the inception of the name “Volutone.”

The company transitioned in the 1950s from a retailer to a distributor. One quaint anecdote from the company is from 1957 when the Schiresons met with a Japanese gentleman who had patiently waited in their store to show them his briefcase with two transistor radios in it. Over a handshake at that meeting, Akio Morita, president of Sony, made a deal with Volutone to distribute Sony radios, which was a sensitive issue back then given that it was not long after World War II had ended.

More than a century later, Volutone, a member of the PowerHouse Alliance, is still cranking as a family-owned business. Gary Schireson, son of Stanley, and Neville Hansen, son-in-law of Stanley, are today the third-generation owners of the business. The company today is under the leadership of Trevor Hansen, Neville’s son. Throughout the years, customer service, competitive pricing and knowledgeable staff have been the guiding forces.

Volutone’s longevity got me to thinking: who are the oldest suppliers and integrators in the industry?

Security giant ADT, the No. 2 company on the CE Pro 100, is likely the methuselah of the business having been founded in 1874 (that’s 138 years old for those who don’t want to do the math). Considering the average custom installation company in the industry is about 15 years old, these milestones are quite impressive.

What other companies have been serving the industry for a long time? Let us know so they can be congratulated for their longevity.

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Article Topics

Blogs · Distributors · Events · CE Pro 100 · Adt · Volutone · All topics

About the Author

Jason Knott, Editor, CE Pro
Jason has covered low-voltage electronics as an editor since 1990. He joined EH Publishing in 2000, and before that served as publisher and editor of Security Sales, a leading magazine for the security industry. He served as chairman of the Security Industry Association’s Education Committee from 2000-2004 and sat on the board of that association from 1998-2002. He is also a former board member of the Alarm Industry Research and Educational Foundation. He is currently a member of the CEDIA Education Action Team for Electronic Systems Business. Jason graduated from the University of Southern California.

3 Comments (displayed in order by date/time)

Posted by Trivial Percy  on  11/28  at  01:16 PM

General Electric 1892
Leviton 1906
Bosch 1886 (mostly non profit too)

Posted by Rob Robinson  on  11/29  at  09:43 PM

Magnavox 1915 (as the world’s first loudspeaker manufacturer)

Posted by Rhen Taylor  on  12/07  at  12:53 PM

Da-Lite—1909 (world’s first projection screen manufacturer)

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