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View from the Top: Bryan Bradley, JBL Professional

What first attracted Bryan Bradley to JBL Professional was the company's legacy within the industry—not just from a technology standpoint, but also for its participation in some of the most historic moments in the past 100 years.

What first attracted Bryan Bradley to JBL Professional was the company’s legacy within the industry—not just from a technology standpoint, but also for its participation in some of the most historic moments in the past 100 years.

“No loudspeaker manufacturer has as rich and storied a history as JBL,” Bradley commented. “James B. Lansing helped develop the first loudspeaker for motion picture use; JBL developed the first two-way studio monitor; we were used for the sound reinforcement system at Woodstock, when the concept of live sound was still in its infancy. It goes on and on.”

Bradley currently runs the Loudspeaker, Microphone and Headphone Strategic Business unit, a position he’s held since January 2013. In July 2014, AKG’s microphone and headphone brands were folded into the same group, placing them under Bradley’s leadership.

Before joining the Harman team, Bradley was COO of Alfred Music for four years, and spent eight years prior to that climbing the ladder at Guitar Center. “I believe my experience in retail gives me a unique point of view on how brands are perceived in the marketplace, and I’ve tried to use this perspective to effectively identify our strengths and weaknesses and develop programs accordingly,” he said.

Bradley also pointed out that his retail experience has helped him see the company’s image from the buyer’s perspective, and he brought that into his marketing strategy within JBL. “I felt the market perception of JBL was not a true reflection of the company,” Bradley explained. “From Day One, I saw an opportunity to tell our unique stories, to take advantage of the tremendous people that comprise JBL, and truly humanize the brand—not only through effective marketing, but also through a return to our commitment of building and preserving relationships through dedicated service and support.”

Customer support also plays a key role in Bradley’s strategy. “I think over the past two years, we’ve greatly improved our support for end users and dealers, as well as our sales reps and distributors. That said, I still see opportunity for improvement. I firmly believe we’re the leaders in the industry when it comes to technology innovation; there’s no reason why we can’t be the best when it comes to support as well.”

Internally, Bradley said what makes working with JBL great is the people. “We have a dedicated sales team filled with people who eat, sleep and drink loudspeakers. They’re directly responsible for working with customers to ensure they have the very best loudspeakers to suit each application and/ or budget,” he said. “We’re strong believers in the pro audio, systems integration and MI channels, and we work hard to ensure our customers get the support they need.”

When Bradley started at JBL, he said the company had recently developed the M2 Master Reference Monitor, which incorporates JBL’s D2 driver. But because the high-end speaker costs around $20,000, Bradley challenged JBL to try and create a similar product that could deliver the same technology to a larger consumer market.

“This is how the JBL 3 Series was born,” he explained. “We then leveraged some of the same technology in our new EON PA speakers. And you’ll see more products in 2015 based on this same technology, so while I’m proud of what our team has already accomplished, I’m even more excited about the possibilities that lie ahead of us.”

Bradley also recognizes the importance of listening to the customer, and to build off of end users’ needs to create a good product. “We pay attention to their feedback in the market and let that shape our product development, rather than forcing products into the market and expecting them to sell simply because they have the JBL or AKG logo on them. And of course, that philosophy extends to within the company, where the team here embraces a collaborative culture that is crucial in a time where so many technologies are being shared across product lines.”

JBL’s biggest markets include education, house of worship, retail, transportation, nightclubs, restaurants and similar sectors. “This involves providing real solutions for these customers in the form of specialized products and dedicated service. And of course, we will maintain and improve our focus in the recording/broadcast, live sound, portable PA and cinema markets,” Bradley said.

There’s plenty of competition within those markets, of course, but Bradley says he’s all for it: “The word ‘competition’ comes from the Latin root ‘competere,’ which means strive together, not against each other. There are a lot of great competitors in our industry and I am grateful to have such strong competitors that really push us to succeed. It’s one of the main reasons innovation thrives in industries like ours. When you compete against someone that is good at what they do, you may not always win, but you never lose.”

Bradley said the company continues to build its reputation as a company committed to its customers. “Our future initiatives will all tie into our commitment to sharing technology across product lines, providing market-specific solutions to our existing and potential customers, and always maintaining dialogues with those customers,” he said.

JBL Professional •