Who Is Adrian Acoustics?
And Why is Ohm Selling Their Speakers?
The Early Years
Let me go all the way back to the beginning. Ohm was basically started and organized by Marty Gerstein, who had been the general designer and maybe even the president of Rectilinear Corporation in the Bronx. The owner there had declined to license the Walsh patent, so Marty went out and got some funders to help him do it, one of which was Gerardo Murillo’s cabinet shop, Gem Cabinets, where he made the Rectilinear cabinets. And he made a deal with Gerardo not only to invest some money, but to give him some space in his shop to assemble speakers. A very convenient thing. Gerardo would build the speakers and move them over to the next room, where Marty and the others would put them together.
This all happened before my involvement with the company, so the facts may be only partially true. The rest is lost in the fog of time.
Our current longest lasting employee was an employee of Gerardo Murillo. He got moved over to Ohm’s payroll because he was in charge of Ohm’s stuff in Gerardo’s shop. That was Antonio Rodriguez, who has been with the company for 50 years. And the cabinet foreman of Gerardo Murillo was Humberto Adrian.
Ohm grew very quickly, and in a matter of months we moved out of Gerardo’s shop, into a much bigger facility around the corner. Still pretty easy to get back and forth. We started looking for more cabinet production, and Humberto split off and started his own business one floor above us. Ohm was his very first client.
The Golden Age
So, Humberto was our primary cabinet vendor in the 1970s. I’m not exactly sure when Gerardo faded out of the picture. I think he was eventually bought out by Peter Aczel, who was another of Ohm’s early investors. I know that Gerardo stayed in business until at least this century, making cabinets for guitar amplifiers, among other things. Sadly, he passed away a few years ago.
In the new space there was a conveyor belt that ran from floor to floor. We always planned to use it to move things up and down, but we never actually did that. It would have taken too much coordination. We would just bring down pallets full of cabinets, model by model. We thought he conveyor belt would be very convenient, and dreamt about it.
So, Humberto would build the cabinets in the Adrian Cabinet shop upstairs. We grew and he grew, and he started to take on more clients. He ended up with a lot of well-known customers he was building cabinets for. He built the three-tube projection cabinets for Advent TV before they started making speakers. And when that happened, he made lots of speaker cabinets for them, too. When Advent eventually went out of business, Humberto was owed a great deal of money, as often happens.
This happened to coincide exactly with the launch of the Ohm Walsh 2. Since Humberto’s business was expanding to take on lots of other customers, we were considering starting our own cabinet shop, exclusively to build the Walsh 2 cabinets. And we hired a consultant to come in and study how Humberto was doing it and make recommendations for how our shop could do it. We went to a couple of auctions of cabinet makers who went out of business, and we bought as many machines as we needed to be able to produce our cabinets by ourselves. With the help of our consultant, we felt that we could produce the Walsh 2 more cost effectively than Humberto could.
When Humberto lost his big client Advent, we worked out a very low price, since he really needed the business and he knew that we had an alternative. Humberto ended up making all of the Walsh 2 cabinets, thousands and thousands of them, and we sold off all the equipment we had bought. At the same time as he was working on his contract for the Walsh 2’s, he also turned out much more modest quantities of C2s and D2s and Es and Fs. He made all the Gs and all the Is. There were no more As in those days, but he had made all of those, too.
Building off of his success with Ohm, Humberto started taking on more clients, and it wasn’t long until he started looking to expand beyond his space on the floor above us. He ended up taking a tax incentive from the local government in Bridgeport to open his business there to help stimulate the local economy there with lots of jobs. He moved there, and became more mechanized.
Around that same time, our national distribution network was falling apart, with hifi dealerships closing left and right in the 90’s. We stopped buying from Humberto and started selling in smaller quantities on a factory direct sales model. We got a fellow in the same building who was a door manufacturer to build the panels for us. He had this very expensive, very beautiful machine for building doors very accurately. He used it to build the panels, and we would bring them over and assemble them into cabinets. Later, we found another shop across the street who would both build the panels and assemble them. The door manufacturer didn’t mind losing our business, because we weren’t buying in very large quantities at that point. When we moved to our current location in 2001, we changed to building our cabinets totally in-house.
I happened to be reconnected with Humberto more recently. He mentioned to me in conversation that he had produced his own line of outdoor speakers, and was looking for an outlet to sell them. Since we already have a platform for making sales directly to consumers, I offered to help him sell them on our website. He makes five different models. They sound good, and they look beautiful. Humberto is one hell of a cabinetmaker, and a true master of his art. No doubt about it!
We’ve got several different models of Adrian Acoustics outdoor speakers in stock and ready to ship. You can even find some of the lovely Strata speakers on discount right now in our Outlet Store. And if you have any questions, or if you want some help deciding which speaker is best for your outdoor space, we’re only a phonecall away!
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John Strohbeen Author
John Strohbeen is the president of Ohm Speakers.