By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
LOS ANGELES – As 2012 ends, Volutone Distributing, a member of the PowerHouse Alliance, marks its 110th year in business.
In a message to TWICE, Volutone said it wanted to “thank our loyal customers and vendors for their continued support as we celebrate 110 years in business.” The distributor that started as a retailer explained the story of the Schireson Brothers whose business “survived and thrived in the American economy of the 20th century.”
Founding brothers Jack and Nathan Schireson opened the doors of the original Schireson Brothers retail store on South Broadway Street, here, in 1902.
As Volutone put it, “It is stunning to think about all that has changed and advanced in the world in over a century. Next think about how much has changed and advanced within business and technology in that same time span. This really puts into context the amazing history of the Schireson Brothers and their upstart company, which would evolve into what we know today as Volutone Distributing.”
The Schireson Brothers maintained their presence in an industry “that was barely in existence at the turn of the century but a part of our daily lives almost constantly today, the field of technology … [technologies] so advanced and deeply embedded within our daily lives the possibilities of which neither brother could have imagined. Yet they always saw a futureA in adapting and staying upon the edge of it.”
The company entered the business with musical instruments. According to Jack Schireson’s son Stanley, his uncle Nathan was an “inventor” and a true mechanic of violins.
The company explained that Nathan’s “curiosity and ingenuity led to a chance meeting with a gentleman who had created a magnetic pick-up,” and he was “instrumental in the creation of his own electric guitars. The magnetic pick-up was slid under the steel strings of a guitar, creating music with both volume and tone, hence the inception of the operating name ‘Volutone.’ ”
His brother Jack is described by the company as “a born salesman and businessman, and under his leadership Schireson Brothers grew in the sale of musical instruments to the public.”
Stanley Schireson succeeded his father Jack and continued the family tradition of “personal and friendly customer service before there ever was such a term.”
The transistor revolutionized the electronics business in the 1950s, and, as the company said, “Stanley also had ambitions, and his vision was to take the company from retail to distribution. By 1957, a Japanese gentleman came calling … and patiently waited to catch Stanley’s eye and ear” to see if they would take a look at the product he brought him.”
In his briefcase, this Japanese visitor had two radios: an eight-transistor and a six-transistor. Stanley was impressed and with a handshake deal Akio Morita , co-founder of Sony, had Schireson Brothers as a Sony distributor.
As Volutone explained, in the 1950s, the label “Made In Japan” did not mean quality, and since it was little more than a decade after World War II, “marketing [these] Japanese products to some people could be a sensitive issue. Stanley explained to potential customers who needed convincing that Sony stood for ‘Standard Oil of New York,’ ” and sales flowed.
Volutone is a fourth-generation familyowned and operated company today. Gary Schireson, son of Stanley, and Neville Hansen, son-in-law of Stanley, became the third generation of the Schireson Brothers. Much like their predecessors had done, Gary and Neville focused on maintaining the business while challenged with growth, development and expansion of electronic sales through the distribution channel.
Volutone is now the distributor the industry knows today and is currently under the leadership of Trevor Hansen, the son of Neville and grandson of Stanley Schireson.
Today Volutone carries commercial and residential audio/video, security, home-automation and home-networking products at six facilities in Southern California and Nevada.
Volutone carriers more than 65 of the top leading manufacturers and, according to its website, has been a strategic partner of Pioneer for more than 38 years and Russound for more than 25 years, as well as such lines as Yamaha, Pioneer, LG, Jamo, JVC and RTI.
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.