CE Pro 100 Podcast: How Leon Speakers Led Retailer into Custom A/V
CE Pro chats with top 100 integrator Will Pisula of Encore A/V and Renaissance man Noah Kaplan of Leon Speakers about leopard-print bedrooms and ultra-custom speakers in one of the more hilarious audiocasts of the CE Pro 100 series.
Encore Audio/Video in Portland, Ore., was all retail when it opened its doors 32 years ago, continuing in that vein until about eight years ago when “we started getting more and more into custom installation,” says general manager Will Pisula in a CE Pro 100 podcast with editor Julie Jacobson.
“Three years ago, it [custom] became about 85 percent of our overall business,” he says.
Loudspeakers have always been an Encore staple – the specialty A/V shop now carries 13 different brands – but if they were to shed their reputation as a CE retailer, they needed to make a statement.
“We needed something that actually looked as good as it sounded and something that would fit a very specific custom niche that we needed to fill,” Pisula says.
So Encore brought in Leon Speakers, the ultra-custom speaker manufacturer based in the college town of Ann Arbor, Mich. Leon is the top-ranking soundbar vendor among CE Pro 100 dealers according to a just-released brand analysis.
Founded in 1995 by Noah Kaplan after he graduated from University of Michigan art school, Leon has always been “a true custom installation company,” the artist says. “We don’t really carry off-the-shelf products. We carry a line of products that is completely customizable, built to suit any need.”
Outside of falcon feather-coated speakers, Kaplan explains, “we’ve basically done everything. We’ve literally built speakers of bronze and silver.”
Audiocast: CE Pro’s Julie Jacobson with Encore’s Will Pisula and Leon’s Noah Kaplan
From that moment in the podcast, things get a little crazy with a long riff on Will’s supposed leopard-theme bedroom and Leon speakers to match.
In the end, Kaplan waxes philosophic about his mission to “mix art with audio and business with bohemia.”
He explains, “As an artist you always want to show your work. … As a speaker company the trends in the industry are really about hiding your speakers.”
Today, Kaplan and crew are seeking to “change the way speakers look forever.”
If you liked Leon’s dragon sound sculpture at CEDIA 2010 (the “Baddest Audio Demo at CEDIA Expo”), don’t miss the company’s even grander display at Infocomm 2013 and CEDIA Expo 2013.
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