How Apart Audio became a top-notch global audio expert
What started out as a project between friends quickly grew into an international success story. Driven by the desire to offer the market’s best audio products, Tom Gheysens and his friends founded Apart Audio in 1992. A handful of years later, their ambitions proved undiminished – and with the help of 3d investors, they rapidly professionalized and embarked on a successful growth strategy that included acquisitions in the US. The result is parent company Audioprof Group International, composed of two subdivisions: Apart Audio and Community.
Structural transformation and strategic focus
2009 saw the birth of the ambition to put the Apart brand on the global map. However, the company knew that support from a knowledgeable partner would be indispensable in the process. Together, 3d investors and Apart Audio focussed on professionalization in view of future geographic expansion.
Koen Claerbout, CEO of Audioprof Group International: “In those early years, Apart Audio was a typical starting SME. Operations were very informal, there was little corporate structure. Everyone did what they could to get the work done. It was a great atmosphere but failed to offer a well-constructed foundation for growth and expansion. This is where the added value of a partner like 3d investors came in: they brought in structure, strategic focus and an influx of new management – including myself, in 2013. Three years later, upon the acquisition of American audio company Community, we repeated the exercise.”
Community: a new door opens
October 2015 marked the crowning glory of Apart Audio’s new international strategy: the successful acquisition of Community in the United States. With this strategic move, the Audioprof group expanded both its geographical market and its product market in one feel swoop. Before the takeover, they had little clout in the American market – but with the contacts and reputation that came with Community, doors opened wide. Sound systems for large stages and medium-sized public spaces were added to the company’s offering.
“Thanks to the acquisition of Community, we’ve made enormous progress in the technical field of high-performance loudspeakers. This enabled us to further innovate our projects and adapt them to the needs of the market”, explains Koen Claerbout. “Community and Apart Audio are complementary brands in terms of knowledge as well as application and geographical location. As a result, the acquisition was a clever strategic move. However, without the support and experience offered by 3d investors, we would have never dared to make that move.”
A respectful partnership
In Apart Audio’s search for a business partner, 3d investors was not the only option. Why were they selected above other potential partners? “The unique thing about 3d investors is that they think alongside your business – in contrast to most private equity players, which are almost exclusively financially driven.”
“They also excel in respect – for the business, the knowledge and the customers. They never throw the baby out with the bathwater; they build on existing foundations within a company. Thanks to this approach, the acquisition of Community has proceeded even more smoothly. We were able to transform the company in an intuitive, pleasant way and integrate it into the group in collaboration with the American team. As a result, we’ve also quickly built up a great deal of credibility with Community’s partners.”