Success Is Amplified in Family Business
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“It is true of the nation, as of the individual, that the greatest doer must also be a great dreamer.”—Theodore Roosevelt
What do amusement parks, movie theaters, convention centers, casinos, rock bands, and clubs have in common? They’re all part of the entertainment industry and rely on large and expensive speaker equipment. When those speakers need repairs, the Sunda family’s Orange County Speaker in Garden Grove, California, is ready to fix them.
Gary Sunda started his company in 1968 building customized guitar amplifiers and repairing speakers in Westminster, California. Less than two years after starting his company in a tiny 200-square-foot office, Sunda was presented with a business offer from music legend Don Randall. Randall was a former partner of Leo Fender, an inventor of amplifiers and guitars, including the Stratocaster. In 1970, Randall Amplifiers was founded, and Gary Sunda became vice president of engineering until the company was sold in 1990.
The decision to work with Randall meant that Gary’s wife, Sharon, would need to take over the amplifier and speaker repair shop. “They went back and forth on the decision for weeks,” says Gary and Sharon’s son Bryan. “Fender was the biggest guitar maker, and Randall was the god of amplifiers back then. My parents had a house payment, and they wanted to make money, so they just did it.”
The family business struggled after Gary left. “For the first 10 years after mom took over, they didn’t take a paycheck. They barely made enough to keep it open,” Bryan says. “Mom was doing everything by herself. She was doing all the speaker repairs, the books, the billing, the receiving, the shipping, everything.”
Sharon sustained the business until her two sons, Bryan and Eric, were old enough to take over. “My mom didn’t let the business run her life; she ran it the way she wanted to,” according to Bryan. “It was hard to grow, but she’s the reason it’s still around.”
With three dedicated owners on site every day, the company finally grew. Eric focused on advertising, customer service, and quality control. Bryan zeroed in on new technologies, including building a customized computer program to handle orders and billing. “Just getting us onto a computerized system helped a lot. Today, you wouldn’t even blink at that. But 25 years ago, there wasn’t anything in our industry to deal with invoices and billing electronically. You had to build it.”
The stability and sustained growth over the last 15 years has enabled the Sundas to start a second business selling microphones, audio cables, connectors, and jacks and plugs under the GLS Audio Brand. GLS sales have taken off owing to a strategic partnership with Amazon.com. “About four years ago, Amazon came to us and told us they had researched the company, liked what we were doing, how we dealt with customer service, and wanted to sell our products on their website,” Bryan says. “It’s amazing. We’ve been incredibly lucky.”