It is always interesting to meet the people behind a company. Seeing for oneself where a product comes from, how production is organised, soaking up the team’s atmosphere… We recently paid a visit to Neu-Anspach in Germany, where Adam Hall is based. Adam Hall started out as a manufacturer of flightcase parts, but has since developed to become a major player in the audio market. LD Systems PA equipment and Palmer guitar amps and cabinets are recognised for both their quality and their attractive, reasonable prices. Customers receive an excellent product and always get value for money. Adam Hall set up the company in his name in England in the mid-1970s. The German subsidiary opened its doors in 1980 under the management of Dave Kirby. The positioning of products in terms of price is of the same crucial importance as the logistics process, both for the manufacturer and the distributor. And what better place to serve the whole of the continent than Germany, which lies right in the heart of Europe?
The barn (it’s true!) in Oberlauken where Adam Hall was based was soon abandoned for a new building in Usingen, but due to the growth of the company it quickly became overcrowded. The company settled in Neu-Anspach in 1990 and remains there today, after moving to a new site. Dave Kirby was determined to remain in Neu-Anspach to allow his staff, most of whom are local, to continue to work close to home. This concern about the welfare of his staff is obvious, even from just one visit. The atmosphere is pleasant and friendly! The roots of the company therefore lie in manufacturing parts for flightcases and this remains one of the company’s most significant areas of business today. Many high-quality components are made in Taiwan. “Made in Taiwan” is no longer associated with the word “cheap” in the negative sense, and this has been the case for a long time now.
What’s more, Adam Hall insists on this production being supervised by its own personnel. In addition to parts for flightcases, the decision was quickly made to produce and distribute a wide range of products. Thus, in 1992, the company became a distributor of Eminence speakers. Speaker brands BMS and Faital Pro were introduced later, as was the brand Audac, a specialist in the audio equipment market. In 1993, Dave Kirby bought out his partner Adam Hall, thus transforming the German subsidiary into the headquarters and the base from which production in Taiwan and China is coordinated. In 1997, local offices were opened to serve the local markets. Thus, there is an office in the Netherlands for the Benelux market and others in Denmark, Spain, Poland and Sweden.
In 1998, Adam Hall took over the Palmer brand, which was headed up by Martin Schmitz. The company’s own guitar amplifiers were thus added to the range. In October 2008, the company moved to its new premises in Neu-Anspach, Germany. The modern warehouse covers around 8000 square metres. Add to this the 1000 m² of production space for Palmer amps and the 2500 m² of office and showroom space spread over three floors, and it is clear that Adam Hall is no longer a small business. The Neu-Anspach site in the federal state of Hessen employs around 100 people. Adam Hall also employs another thirty or so people in various other areas of the world.
Pioneer in online selling with 4000 products
The LD Systems PA equipment and Palmer guitar amplifiers and loudspeaker systems immediately spring to mind, but we will come back to them later. The other product ranges include wireless audio solutions, speakers, connectors and cables, stands, cases etc. All of this totals around 4000 products, whose specifications and prices can all be viewed online at the Adam Hall B2B webshop created specifically for Adam Hall partners and customers. All dealers can therefore make their purchases online. As the company started up its B2B webshop in 1998, it could be considered a pioneer. Adam Hall therefore has plenty of experience in this area. This is shown in the presentation of the B2B site, which is just as attractive as a B2C site. Retailers can thus search for products on a well-presented site, with videos and a lot more… This contrasts sharply with the quasi-industrial environments of most other B2B sites. In addition to the Adam Hall and brand-specific websites (LD Systems, LD Premium, Palmer and Defender), a young team is up-to-date with social networks and is responsible for the content on Facebook, YouTube and the Adam Hall blog.
LD Systems: quality PA systems at a reasonable price
In terms of PA systems that bear the LD Systems name, the company does not consider itself to be an innovator. “We do not dream up new ideas for the audio market. We study the latest trends and then develop a good quality alternative at a very attractive price”, says LD Systems. The Adam Hall R & D Department starts off with a market study. We search for the best products available, or even better, we look for the positive features in the products currently being produced. But first and foremost, we try to find out what the customer wants. We then come up with a product that contains as many of these positive features as possible. This is done in collaboration with our production partners. We search for the least costly alternative for each component, regardless of its size, but without any compromise in terms of basic quality. LD may not be a trendsetter, but users benefit from an excellent product, without any unnecessary functions, and more importantly, without the inevitable teething problems that new products often encounter. In order to maintain attractive prices, production is assigned to partners abroad, but it remains under the supervision of Adam Hall employees. In short, we aim to offer quality that teeters towards the top of the range but at a price bordering that of low-cost brands. In fact, each of the tests we run on these products leaves us equally astounded when we look at price/quality ratio.
Palmer: affordable custom-made amps
Palmer is another story, but clearly in line with the Adam Hall philosophy. Martin Schmitz made Palmer amps as custom-made amps in the early 1980s. The amplifiers were the highest quality, but Schmitz did not have the resources to produce them on a large scale. During the 1990s, he approached his good friend Dave Kirby to help Palmer expand. All the design work and the manufacturing of the main components responsible for the quality of the amp is carried out at the headquarters in Anspach. Other less critical components, such as the cabinets, for example, are mass-produced, which is less expensive. This results in an excellent amp that has all the qualities of a custom-made amplifier but a moderate price. Adam Hall has the know-how and is able to detect and solve any potential problems. The company also employs technicians in Asia. Many high-quality components are made in Taiwan. “Made in Taiwan” is no longer associated with the word “cheap” in the negative sense, and this has been the case for a long time now. This approach offers customers the benefits of a real custom-made amp that they can rely on without having to spend more than for a “run of the mill” amp. The Palmer Drei, a small 5/10-watt head, received a very good rating in our December issue, which is also partly down to its originality. Therefore, where Systems is good at following the market, Palmer is innovative and daring.
And then there was light
When asked, “What are your plans for the immediate future?”, the response was that above and beyond all else, they want to maintain their current course. Adam Hall also wants to extend the LED lighting division with the CAMEO brand. The same philosophy is being applied again: a good product at a competitive price, without aiming to be the absolute best or the cheapest. Standing out will not be easy because a lot of their business associates are marketing excellent products. However, if you ask a German lighting technician where he prefers to buy his equipment, he will answer right away, “at Adam Hall”. According to the company this is due to “soft skills”: “Customers trust us. Whenever a problem arises, we take care of it and we ensure that the customer can get back to work right away without any worries. A problem only becomes one if it is not solved or it is not solved correctly. We see a problem as an opportunity to prove, both to ourselves and to our customers, that we can find the solution quickly, that we know what we are doing. In this way, we are satisfied and so are our customers.” This creates trust and good relations. We have had a lovely day at Adam Hall, and we would particularly like to thank Johan Gunsing (Sales Manager for Benelux) and Alexander Pietschmann (Marketing Manager) for their warm welcome. What particularly impressed us during this visit was how Adam Hall, under the management of Dave Kirby, really cares about its staff. On the way home I told myself that this also goes for their customers, because it is only by having this approach that the company philosophy (high quality, low budget, no excess) takes on its full meaning. Good work. (translated by Michel Noach)
To see the latest range of Adam Hall products, please visit: www.adamhall.com