January 27, 2021 I
Adam Hall on the New Gold
HQ: Neu-Anspach, Germany
Employees: 250 total across Germany, U.S., Spain, China and Singapore.
Best selling product: LD Systems Maui PA Speaker Series
Fun fact: Between manufacturing and distribution, Adam Hall Group oversees over 30 event technology and MI brands, including LD Systems, Cameo, Gravity, Palmer, Defender and Maton.
How do you start your day?
AP: I wake up early and normally prefer mornings because there’s a silence in the house. I can take time for myself and not have to rush. I often meditate, then make good coffee and bicycle to work, which I’m lucky to be able to do. When I come into the office, I want to have people time first before I go to the computer. I also try to take care of emails before I come to work, so once I’m in the office, I can have more time with colleagues.
GM: I also like to wake up early, I try to run in the mornings. Time in nature frees my mind, new ideas can come to me, and I sometimes plan what I’m going to do in the office that day. After I have breakfast with my wife and kids, I take the kids to school, then go to work. Once I’m in the office, I like to have a chat with my colleagues and work on normal tasks and email.
How would you describe your management style?
GM: Often people are annoyed because I ask them a lot of questions [laughs] but it’s my nature! I’m curious, and I also like to listen to people. I’ve learned that it’s much better to pick up the phone than just write an email. In general, we have a tendency to write fast and don’t always measure our words, or parts of the message we want to communicate are missing. Open and transparent communication creates a better team. I also try to learn something new every day.
AP: I see myself as a scrum master. That’s my way. I try to be a buffer between teams and any distractions from outside and inside. I coach the organization and bring new ideas to the table — even though many of those ideas will be rejected by people like Gabriel because they won’t work. If I bring 10 ideas and one or two are good, that’s enough. I also try to keep the organization agile because nothing is predictable. And I love encouraging people to make operational goals and choose good directions.
What’s most exciting for you at Adam Hall right now?
GM: I moved to the U.S. in 2019 to launch the brands in the U.S. market and basically establish and run a new company here. It’s been challenging, but it’s given me lots of energy and motivation. Adam Hall has big potential in the U.S. market with all of the brands we market and develop. I’m convinced that we can be successful, even though the U.S. market is so competitive. It may take a little time and hard work, but we have a good and passionate team to achieve our goals. And while the pandemic has made this not a good time for anybody, eventually events will continue and people will need to be together again. That’s what’s most exciting.
What do you see as the post-pandemic future for Adam Hall, and MI retailers?
AP: Every retailer has had a challenging time in the pandemic. Some categories of products are selling as well as before, some better, but also many with a decrease. It’s not an easy time because, as an industry, we love to be together. Culture is fundamental and now it’s a missing piece in our lives, and artists don’t have income from the main earning stream of live concerts. Even so, I really believe we will have a great comeback.
Can you explain?
AP: The findings of social studies in the last decades tell us that people need to come together with other people to be happy and healthy, and that human connections and gatherings lie at the heart of well-being. People like to go to physical stores and have conversations with salespeople, drink good coffee, try out instruments and get recommendations. I’ve spoken to some retailers — even though I can’t help make people feel safer coming into stores, maybe I can help by reducing logistics costs or combining shipments to bring margins up. When people start to feel safe, I believe that the industry, and music performances, will make a great comeback. Live will be the new gold in 2021. If we can just listen to music again together, without masks and social distancing, just to have a good beer and hear a good concert with good music, that will be the most exciting thing.
Can you describe your overall company structure?
GM: In Europe and the U.S., we generally have our own brands — LD Systems for pro audio, Cameo for lighting, Gravity for stands, Palmer audio tools, Defender cable protection and accessories, plus our famous Adam Hall flight case hardware and 19-inch parts. We handle those from development to production to marketing, sales and distribution worldwide. We also have distribution brands, some of which are only in the U.S. market and some are mostly in Europe. Our distribution brands in the U.S. are very focused on retail markets —mainly guitar effects and pedals. We distribute Hofner, which became very famous because Paul McCartney uses a Hofner violin bass. We also work with Maton acoustic guitars made in Australia, EBS pedals and cables from Sweden, and Mad Professor guitar effects from Finland. For us, it’s very important to have brands in a portfolio that we’ve built with acquisitions, especially for the U.S., since it’s helped us introduce our own fully owned brands to retailers. If they are already buying our distribution brands, we can leverage that to introduce our other brands as well.
How do you select companies to work with as a distributor?
AP: We only pick lines to distribute [that] are not in competition with each other, and we’ve built an interesting portfolio where every new brand is supplemental and builds on what we already work with. We recently started distribution in the U.S. and it’s one of the most competitive markets in the world. It’s tough but very interesting to be here, and it’s a win-win, because we are bringing great brands and engineering from Germany, Australia and elsewhere to U.S. dealers, stores and online retailers. It’s a winning situation to them. Logistics are a big issue to them, and if we can consolidate a wide portfolio, it’s helpful. I’m happy to say that all of our distribution brands have been happy with us and our performance in the last year.
It’s interesting that your best-selling product during a pandemic is a P.A. system. Why do you think that is?
GM: Maui portable column systems have been doing well for years. They’re on their third generation in Europe and the products implement well with retailers, installation companies, and small event companies. The whole range of Maui speakers has increased in sales during the pandemic, but particularly the Maui 5 Go, which is battery powered. During the pandemic, there have still been small events — DJ parties, home and garden installations. This kind of product fits that demand and has been very popular in Europe and U.S.
AP: We are certainly seeing a trend towards smaller venues and smaller gigs, and the Maui speakers handle that. Overall, studio equipment from our Gravity brand is also going quite well — small devices to help make your studio or even your home office more professional. At the same time, some parts of the market are, of course, decreasing.
What are some of the coolest ways you’ve seen Adam Hall products used?
GM: For Hofner guitars and Maton, Paul McCartney and Bruno Mars are some of the signature artists for the brand. On the audio side, I remember when we equipped an Airbus 320 from the European Space Agency as a flying nightclub and invited influencers and EDM DJs from around the world for a zero-gravity party — the plane would fly out over the Atlantic Ocean to a specific area designated for training flights, and then it would dive in a parabola and everyone on board would experience weightlessness. We had a whole product portfolio in that airplane and the installation was very challenging. And some people vomited due to this very special flight. But at the end it was a great project. We also sold the first Maui P900, which was designed by Porsche and looks like an art piece, to The Weeknd in his apartment in New York City. That was nice, because my kids told me he’s the coolest guy in the world at the moment.
What do you do for fun?
GM: I enjoy running on mountain trails, hiking and mountain biking with my kids
and friends. During the pandemic, it’s helped me and my family to stay active and get new energy.
AP: I love traveling to lots of exotic countries, though I’m not able to do that right now. I enjoy spending more time having fun with my kids, making music, DJing, producing and mixing. That’s one small good thing about the pandemic — after the initial health and economic risks were handled with the company, I had a quieter summer with more time to think about hobbies and have fun with them. Once the pandemic is over, it’ll be important to keep some of these things that we learned in the crisis, how to sometimes push the pause button, step back and really enjoy life. And the pandemic has reminded me how much I enjoy listening to live music. It’s always true in life that if something that you take for granted is taken away from you, you start to see that it has great value.
If not music, what would you be doing?
GM: Music has a healing power and makes people happier. I truly believe that working in the music industry, what we do, helps people in daily life. I love it and that’s why I’ve been here for more than twenty years. If not music, I would work in any other kind of industry that has an impact on human beings or protection of the planet.
AP: I love to be around people and I believe in the future of personal exchange, so I’m grateful to have been in this industry for twenty years. For me, there is no other one — in terms of creativity, this is right mixture for me, and if I found another industry more interesting, I’d probably be doing that already. Even in the middle of a pandemic, I still believe in the future of our industry.