THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
30 | GLENSOUND ELECTRONICS
Gavin Davis, managing director
Glensound equipment in
action
Glensound Electronics Ltd is a longstanding, family-owned
business that designs and manufactures audio broadcast
equipment. Their customers range from the world’s
largest international broadcasters to self-employed freelancers
from around the globe. The product range they offer is cutting-
edge, and it constantly evolves to provide state-of-the-art
solutions for customers, which are proudly manufactured from
their own factories in Maidstone, Kent. Managing director
Gavin Davis expands on their success and the essential factors
that have contributed to it.
A brief history
We were founded in 1966 by my father, Len, a design engineer who left the BBC
to develop a successful public address system company he had been running in
his spare time. The equipment he utilised was designed and manufactured by
himself in his garage. In 1969, ex-colleagues at the BBC, knowing about “Len’s
garage” and his expertise, commissioned him to design and manufacture a
broadcast distribution amplifier for use at Prince Charles’s investiture. Further
commissions quickly followed, and, within a few years, the design and manufacture
of specialised broadcast equipment became a full-time occupation. Demand for
his designs increased rapidly, his first staff members were employed and larger
premises were secured. My father’s passion was for designing and manufacturing
audio equipment, not for managing people, so expansion was kept to a minimum.
By the late 1980s, there was a staff team of ten people.
FACTS ABOUT
GLENSOUND ELECTRONICS
»Managing director: Gavin Davis
»Established in 1966
»Based in Maidstone, Kent
»Services: Design and
manufacture of quality audio
broadcast equipment
»No. of employees: 25
»Performed a large-scale
overhaul of all audio
equipment in both houses at
the Palace of Westminster in
2016 and 2017
»Annual sales in excess of
$5million
»www.glensound.com
Glensound Electronics
31GLENSOUND ELECTRONICS |
BEST PRACTICE REPRESENTATIVE 2018
A changing world
During the 1970s and 1980s,
there were very few companies
manufacturing high-quality audio
broadcast equipment, and even fewer
trading globally. Since that time,
the broadcast market has changed
dramatically, with a rapid expansion in
the number of new radio and television
channels;
this opened huge potential
opportunities for us in export and
global marketing.
The evolution from
analogue to digital audio technologies
drove changes in the marketplace
during the 1990s, further accelerating
the pace of change. During this time,
we continued to prosper, mainly
by providing tailored solutions and
manufacturing solely to order. By the
late 1990s, however, broadcasters
were beginning to change the way
they purchased their products. Long
lead times and specialised products
were no longer acceptable, and
it was clear that a new approach
wasrequired.
Evolution
I joined the company in 1985, and
later became managing director in
2005. The transition was deliberately
cautious to counteract the possibly
disconcerting effects of passing
control from one generation to
the next. Day-to-day operations
were shared for several years, while
I introduced changes to ensure
the continued viability of the
company within a rapidly changing
marketplace.
Export was the obvious area for
future growth and sustainability.
New exhibitor grants provided by
the Department for International
Trade helped to meet the costs of
attending overseas exhibitions, and
were instrumental in helping us grow
and develop our international trade.
Initially, exhibitions in Europe and the
Middle East were used to meet new
customers and, importantly, form
partnerships with new distributors.
Shortly afterwards, exhibitions in
the Far East facilitated exports to
customers in that area, followed in
2009 by our first appearance at an
exhibition in America, at the National
Association of Broadcasters’ show in
Las Vegas, Nevada. Traditionally, the
American broadcast market has been
difficult for UK manufacturers to break
into, largely as the US has different
technical standards that equipment
must comply with, and they have their
own home-grown suppliers. Within the
past couple of years, however, sales
to America have increased rapidly, as
a result of the advanced technological
solutions our products can provide.
We have been recognised within the
industry for our innovative products. In
Glensound commentary at
Anfield football stadium
The Glensound team
Within the
past couple of
years, sales to
America have
increased
rapidly as a
result of the
advanced
technological
solutions our
products can
provide
THE PARLIAMENTARY REVIEW
Highlighting best practice
32 | GLENSOUND ELECTRONICS
2012, we received the IABM Award for
Excellence in Design and Innovation for
the world’s first broadcast HD Voice
mobile phone range. Our commentary
boxes have won awards at exhibitions
in 2014, 2015, 2017 and 2018.
We are proud of our heritage, but
continue to be part of the vanguard
when it comes to audio equipment
design andinnovation.
Growth and investment
Traditionally, broadcasters would
plan purchases many months ahead,
but equipment is now purchased last
minute, and if it’s not in stock, it won’t
be purchased. We have developed over
400 products, and realised that, with
increasing demand, manufacturing
that many different product lines for
stock was not practical.
We overcame this challenge by
investing in more engineers to help
redesign, refine and streamline our
product range. More manufacturing
staff were employed, and a significant
investment was made in machinery;
with these changes, however, there
came the need for extra space. Rather
than search for alternative premises
and further use up valuable resources,
however, we were able to extend one
of our current factories and acquire
new office space next door. We now
operate out of four separate buildings,
each performing distinct functions:
metalwork and production; testing
and prefabrication; design studios; and
administration offices.
The future
Easy access to international markets
is absolutely key for our future. Our
international customers need to be
certain that they can quickly and easily
purchase equipment from our factory
in the UK. This is also of significance
when it comes to purchasing the raw
materials used in our manufacturing
processes, as many are imported with
no UK source available. If ease of trade
from within the UK is not preserved,
then relocation to Europe may become
necessary.
With annual sales in excess of
$5million, we are at the forefront of
innovative design and manufacture of
quality audio broadcast equipment.
Our healthy past and ability to
innovate gives us a solid foundation
on which to design, build and shape
the future of broadcasting. The past
13 years have seen many carefully
planned changes to the Glensound
company and its operations. Under
new leadership, we have evolved
from a very small company that
traditionally offered specialised
designs and niche products, and have
become the company we are today.
We employ 25 people producing
technologically advanced systems used
by broadcasters around the world;
we trade on a global scale and enjoy
strong distribution partnerships on
several continents. As we embark on
the next stage of our evolution, we
are undoubtedly focused on what the
future will hold.
Our healthy
past and
ability to
innovate gives
us a solid
foundation on
which to
design, build
and shape the
future of
broadcasting
The Glensound Beatrice
D4 at Australian cricket