Sound Concepts Finds Niche Installing High-End Electronics

by Mark Hengel  on Monday, Jun. 22, 2009 12:00 am  

In college, Ryan Heringer of Jonesboro fed his electronics habit by installing electronics systems for his friends.

More than seven years after graduating from the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, Heringer's livelihood stems from the skill he once spent odd hours practicing.

The 30-year-old opened Sound Concepts Inc. of Jonesboro shortly after graduation and is now one of the go-to guys in the region for the installation of home and commercial electronics systems. The systems range in price from $20,000 to well into six figures and can be as small as a home theater setup to a system that controls almost all electronics in a client's home - air conditioning, lights, home theater, stereo, even window blinds.

The systems even allow an owner to control everything from his cell phone.

And despite the economic slowdown, business has remained busy for Heringer, he said, with his 13 employees and three contractors working on more than 60 projects currently. For those considering Sound Concept's assistance in installing an electronic system, cost is usually not a sticking point, he said.

The industry as a whole has not weathered the economy as well as Sound Concepts has. In its annual list of the nation's top 100 installation companies, CE Pro, a trade magazine, found 2008 revenue fell about 12 percent. Sound Concepts' 2008 revenue grew by about 25 percent year over year.

Making (Sound) Waves

Heringer has earned national recognition for services he provides. CE Pro ranked Sound Concepts among the nation's top 100 "integrators," an industry term for those selling and installing home electronics.

The company ranked No. 54 in the nation, with $4.3 million in 2008 revenue, according to CE Pro's list. The company worked on 156 installations in 2008, with the average revenue from an installation topping out at about $28,000. Heringer expects 2009 revenue of about $4.5 million. Sound Concepts is the only Arkansas company on the list.

Heringer is one of the lucky people who has turned his passion into his livelihood. "When I was up in school, that was kind of my passion," he said. "I would go buy all the latest and greatest electronics."

During Heringer's final years at the UA, installing electronics for others helped pay for his own habit, he said. Heringer's skill also landed him work for northwest Arkansas residents like Don Tyson, the former chairman of Tyson Foods of Springdale.

It didn't become clear that installing electronics might become Heringer's trade until he returned to Jonesboro and began working for his family's petroleum distribution business, Star Cos. Inc. While working for his father, Al, young Ryan continued installing on the side.



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