Who is the industry's Oldest Supplier

By Jason Knott
Source: www.cepro.com/article/who_is_the_industrys_oldest_supplier

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.