Audio Design Associates Warns of Imminent Company Shutdown

Audio Design Associates logo

In a letter to the media early Tuesday evening, Richard Stoerger announced the likely impending closure of Audio Design Associates (ADA), a company that was a founding member of CEDIA and a significant driving force in the early days of the “CEDIA channel.” The letter itself never explicitly explains the reasons for the possible closure, only offering vague allusions to: difficulty to “defeat the noise generated on a public level”… and … that they “just ran out of time and money”… and … a failure to “reckon with” how “difficult and expensive” it is to tell one’s story.

This news tolls the end of an era…

Starting all the way back in 1977, ADA grew out of a local Westchester County, NY two-store retailer – a “TV/radio/repair-shop” (ADA website) that transformed into an installing dealer. They quickly discovered that there was a ready market for the customized boards and solutions they had to create to serve their clients’ demand for multi-room, distributed audio and home theater systems. As a founding member of CEDIA, ADA was uniquely positioned as both a local installation company…AND a national manufacturer.

ADA embraced CEDIA, and the association embraced them – helping to power their growth as a manufacturer with a global market for their custom manufactured installation-savvy solutions. While traditional manufacturers were slow to embrace the installation marketplace, ADA rushed to fill the void – filling the desperate need for many custom board- and product-level solutions to a burgeoning industry.

Facing Its Mortality

Now, the organization is apparently facing its mortality – as more and more competitors jumped into the fray splitting the market, and consumer preferences began to change in ways not favorable for specialty electronics manufacturers like ADA.

Photo of Richard Stoerger receiving a volunteer of the year award from CEDIA
ADA’s Richard Stoerger (left) receiving a “Volunteer of the Year” Award from CEDIA

“It is with the heaviest of hearts that I have to announce the likely closure of a company that I have devoted my adult life to (hire date: January 18, 1988). When you so believe in an ideal, a series of products, and the belief that your brand has maintained its promise as ‘the brand of excellence’, it is terribly difficult to announce that while the brand will survive our industry’s history, the dream may not.”

Richard Stoerger, Audio Design Associates, in letter to the media

An Undeniably Significant Contribution to the Industry

The at-times rambling letter goes on to extol some of the company’s achievements over the years, naming specific products and reminding the reader that they have won many awards over the years. Adopting the tagline “The Brand of Excellence,” ADA has had an undeniably significant influence on the custom integration business. But the letter is forced to come back several times to the more morose reality of what Stoerger appears to be struggling to announce. “In a terribly short time our operations will most likely have to close.”

That’s very sad news. They were a real pioneer of custom installation. They were very inspiring to me as a young man because I had no idea that stuff like that even existed back then. They were one of the first manufacturers to put RS-232 connectors on the back of equipment so you could control it with an automation system – with early AMX and early Crestron systems.

They were early…and all the top dealers across the country were ADA dealers. Richard really made a heck of a contribution to the industry and hopefully we’ll see him again – because he brought a lot of energy to the industry. A really important guy…

Tom Doherty, HTSA, upon learning of ADA’s closing

Running Out of Time, But Holding Out Hope for a Savior

Interestingly, Stoerger seems to be holding out some hope that perhaps a knight in shining armor will gallop up on his white stallion to save the company. Saying at one point, “Barring someone savvy enough to take a quick look and early similarly quick action, the likelihood of the continuation as the ‘The [sic] Brand of Excellence’ will fade into history…”

Later in the letter, after ruminating that the company was on the verge of launching several new products “capable of changing our industry,” Stoerger adds, “For anyone that might read this letter with the means and/or connections to work with me, the time is now.”

Learn about all things ADA by visiting: www.ada.net.


Comments

Audio Design Associates Warns of Imminent Company Shutdown — 4 Comments

  1. It is upsetting to read this. It is hard for small entrepreurs to succeed in business when their pioneering work is so open to competition by larger and better funded firms. I hope this turns out better than expected as ADA is certainly a notable firm and has made important contributions.

  2. Hi Ted and Robert too. Just for the record, there is no ambiguity regarding my announcement the other night. It took me days to write the letter that Ted mentions and others to edit it to be as concise as possible. I am including it in my remarks for anyone interested in reading an un-edited version.

    The facts are simple. When I bought out my partners back in the spring of 2016, things were simpler. While I would like nothing more than to rewind that clock, I cannot.

    What has so dramatically changed since then? A whole lot and I believe that many of your avid readers would agree. “Custom Installation” doesn’t really warrant “custom” anymore. We are now an industry of plumbers and electricians although we might be more worthy of our hourly rate than the aforementioned trades.

    No doubt, there will be customers that have either homes too large to be automated by anyone other than a professional or home systems too complex for themselves to get up an running. But suffice it to say that integration has taken over the concept of what great multi-room sound required.

    And that is where I choose to leave you. Music throughout your home was at one time “art”. Just hanging a picture your kids painted in grade school wasn’t just good enough. Rather, you weren’t just satisfied to have music playing in your bathroom as guests passed some time, you yourself took enjoyment from listening to music each and everyday that you lived in that home. That IS an ADA System.

    My failure is not being able to make that dream come true.

    “Dear industry friends (some long-time ADA family members dating back over 40 years):

    It is with the heaviest of hearts that I have to announce the likely closure of a company that I have devoted my adult life to (hire date: January 18, 1988). When you so believe in an ideal, a series of products, and the belief that your brand has maintained its promise as “the brand of excellence”, it is terribly difficult to announce that while the brand will survive our industry’s history, the dream may not.

    In a terribly short time our operations will most likely have to close. Barring someone savvy enough to take a quick look and nearly similarly quick action, the likelihood of the continuation as the “The Brand of Excellence” will fade into history where our customers become the pyramids of what it meant to not just experience, but to live with an ADA Multi-Room and/or Home-Theater System.

    Often owning an ADA system means that the components are older than your kids, older than the last four cars you owned, and way far older than any appliance or computing device you are now using. And unlike the evolution of architectural speakers where quality continues to exceed, the quality of the overall audio experience has decreased at near the same rate due to the electronics that are typically employed.

    In our dream, we were convinced that we could use “aspiration” as our driving factor. Our failure was a lack of imagination of how difficult on an industry level it would be to defeat the noise generated on a public level. This is not to say that we didn’t recognize the massive influences on audio through innovations (music servers as well as terrestrial and streaming music services) as well as invention (iPod, iPhone, & Sonos). We did!

    We were the first to introduce bi-directionally controlled multi-room, home theater and multi-channel amplifiers. We were the first to introduce bi-directionally controlled satellite and HD Radio tuners as well as iPod docks and an iTunes based music server.

    We are the first to introduce a Sonos based 8-Zone Power Amp (the PTM-1645-SNS – “SNS” for “sensing” and not just “SONOS” without the “O”s ;-).

    And the first to introduce an Atmos capable amplifier, the SAK-16×150 Swiss Army Knife 16-Channel Amp that in addition to 16 channel cinema sound can be configured in other combinations (like a 4-zone amp plus 7.1 home cinema @ 150 W/Ch. or two 7.1 home cinemas).

    Most of these inventions are not just viable today they are also still killing it (the ADA way). As our rich history confirms via a convincing number of awards for a company of our size, we always imagined and embraced future technology, albeit from our own standards.

    And we connected to the future while envisioning how to harvest its fruits. This is what ADA has been about and who we still are. We just ran out of time and money.

    What a company our size simply failed to reckon with, is that in such a busy world, it is far more difficult and expensive to tell one’s story than it once was a generation ago.

    Our problems are those that money can actually solve, but to date, I have been unable to secure the financing that can alter the future. That is not to say that there isn’t value in our story, our history, our factory, our inventory and our designs. We have been prepared to introduce Dante based multi-room solutions and next-generation home cinema components that make the most out of the new way our customers consume media via binge watching. We have a great amplifier line-up and a couple of other custom-installation solutions that, like many of our earlier innovations, are capable of changing our industry. But it needs to be said that the clock is ticking. For anyone that might read this letter with the means and/or connections to work with me, the time is now.

    In closing, in addition to lessons that might be derived from our story, I hope that this helps as both an explanation and apology. I reflect on the moments when a manufacturer of our size was able to revolutionize and guide an industry we helped birth. While our mission and passion is tied in those efforts, our voices have fallen short.

    I am in the process of making arrangements to provide both technical support and repair services in the event we are not able to move forward on our own. For the time being, any such request can be forwarded directly to me ideally via email. Rest assured that while our operations may cease, the ability to provide these services will continue.

    My one hope in all this is that although we may not survive today, that there are elements still relevant in our industry that will continue to push the envelopes of our field of expertise. I still do dream of a better day for audio experiences and hope that, if we are no longer there to make that promise, that others will continue to lead this charge”.

    • As of right now, I have no information on any kind of “going out of business” sale. So stay tuned. If I get any such info, I’ll post it. -Ted

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