When Noah Kaplan and Jeff Gordon founded Leon Speakers
in 1998, they had no idea that, not only would they make careers out of it, but said careers would be thriving.
Leon's niche is the design and manufacture of custom-built on-wall speakers for flat plasma screen televisions. What really sets them apart, however, is the invisibility of the speakers. Kaplan, who is the company's president, says, "We make each cabinet to exact size and color of any TV, in three to five days." That one-of-a-kind craftsmanship coupled with a quick turnaround gives their dealers around the country good reason to recommend Leon to their audiophile clients -- they are currently able to produce 3,000 to 5,000 custom boxes a year.
Leon speakers are so on the 'down low' that there is no logo identifying them. As for their sound, Kaplan describes it as "high fidelity, with clarity -- vocal clarity and directional clarity. It's like a speaker on steroids, it's night and day from what we're used to hearing coming out of television."
While the company typically built systems for high-end plasma TVs --they don't come with speakers-- they are also able to "do Leons" for those that do come with speakers built in.
Kaplan says the speakers are distributed through 500 dealers nationwide, with about 100 that he characterizes as "really super active." There are 18 Leon dealers in Michigan, including Paragon Sight and Sound
in Ann Arbor and Audio Video Alternatives
in Royal Oak.
Leon is in the process of moving from a 5,000-square foot building in Whitmore Lake to an 11,000-square foot one in Pittsfield Township. "We're more than doubling the joint," says Kaplan.
The expansion will also provide room for employee growth; the company plans to add 15 to 35 to its current roster of 15. Kaplan: "We're going to increase a lot craftsman and bring on interns in marketing and promotions, sound engineer guys and ramp up our manufacturing here in Ann Arbor."
The company chose to stay in Southeast Michigan for multiple reasons. Kaplan says, "Detroit is an amazing manufacturing city, with a ton of amazing machine shops and mills. The supply chain is amazing and the rents are far superior to any big major cities. We love the talent pool, with so many skilled people." He hopes for the move to be complete by the end of the month.
Source: Noah Kaplan, Leon SpeakersWriter: Kelli B. Kavanuagh