Audio Impact’s original warehouse-style office, located in a San Diego, Calif., industrial park, served it well for nearly 18 years, but when it came time to move, founder Ryan Lipkovicius knew he wanted to go in a different direction. As a result, the company’s new space, still in San Diego, but now located in a design district alongside interior designers, is the complete opposite of everything Audio Impact had before.
“Our business has grown a lot and we started to have team members on top of each other,” says Lipkovicius. “We found this building in a good location and at a good price, so we acquired it. We were able to engage with an architect that specializes in hospitality, restaurants, and commercial buildings, and they helped us visualize this magnificent place for us.
“The vision was to have a place for our team members to work in a world-class space. We also wanted a place to bring our clients so that they could experience things beforehand and really touch and feel the technology. Finally, we wanted builders and architects to have a place that they could use to kick off projects and have discussions.”
As a result, the facility looks more like an office space than an experience center, but looks are deceiving.
“We’ve designed the showroom experience as an open environment,” says Lipkovicius. “The floors are connected and every little nook and cranny has some technology in it. With this place, our team members get to work in an office that is very techy and modern and our clients can visit an experience center that feels sophisticated and luxurious, but not where you feel uncomfortable or you’re afraid to make a mess or damage something.”
The First Floor
The subtle technology demos begin the moment a client walks through the front doors of Audio Impact’s windowed storefront, which features Lutron’s Pallidiom shades. Taking a step in, they see a large open space with a sizable conference room in front of them and glass offices along the walls. But there is still plenty to experience before they even get to those spaces.
“The first thing they notice is that the drywall has a high-level finish and that there are no drop-ceilings, so they see similarities with their own homes,” says Lipkovicius. “Then they start to look at the lighting and they see that it’s 4-inch square flush-mount fixtures and we talk to them about LED lighting and Ketra. Then we point out the small square 4-inch grille and show them the ceiling speaker as well as an invisible speaker behind the drywall. They can interact with the lighting and listen to these speakers.”
Over to the side, Audio Impact has an area called the “Display Hall” that includes numerous drawers that the team can use to show things such as the various remote controls they carry, along with the different metal finishes they offer on keypads. This space also has shade sample fabrics on the wall, and they are planning on adding touchscreens and door stations so clients can see how they can work in a connected home system.
Around the corner from the Display Hall is the Tech Lab, which is where clients can see Audio Impact’s quality control technicians testing actual equipment racks that are to be delivered to clients’ homes.
“This room has a bunch of flush, in-wall TVs that are distributing the video from the rack, and then we have small soundbars below all the TVs where we can test all the audio distribution,” says Lipkovicius. “The ceiling in the Tech Lab features Creston and Lutron lighting. We also have a bank of keypads and touchscreens installed in the walls. The clients get to see an entire system as it gets connected, tested, and wrapped up to be taken to a job site.”
And what about that giant conference room that commands your attention when you first step inside?
“We are still working on it, but the conference room is going to have these glass pocket doors that shut and seal the sound in,” says Lipkovicius. “It’s also going to have motorized blackout drapery and be a certified Lutron Ketra space. We have Ketra Lighting in the ceiling and LED shelf lighting already, and we’re going to add a Ketra bulb area, so they’ll be able to experience a full native Lutron Ketra experience in that space.
“That same room has other lighting fixtures in the ceilings, too, so they can compare a Savant system like DMX with Crestron and Control4 lighting. It also has an 85-inch Samsung QLED and The Frame TV so clients can see the difference and we can also pull up the plans of a project when we meet with the builders and architect and put them up on the dual screens. And we can physically bring over keypads, touch screens, or the thermostat so people can interact with them.
“Basically, it’s an interactive learning center that is located in a conference room.”
The Second Floor and Warehouse
The upstairs is mainly designed as an office, but that does not mean that clients and partners are not welcome there. The enticing staircase between the two open floors offers LED strip lighting that outlines the ceiling and music playing throughout.
At the top of the stairs is the “Collab Zone,” which features a long conference table that is used for group meetings, looking at prospective client plans, and team get-togethers. The space is surrounded by offices that each feature LED lighting and their own temperature control. There is a full kitchen there, and 85-inch televisions adorn the walls where the team can wirelessly share projects with co-workers, builders, and clients.
There is also an attached patio space on the second floor that offers benefits to both employees and clients. “We’re building an outside AV experience in that space,” says Lipkovicius. “We didn’t plan to have too much upstairs for clients, but we’re working on a new demo for the second floor because they just love it. Right now we have an Origin Acoustic in-wall sub, which has a small aperture and is just a little slit in the wall.”
The patio also offers employees a nice spot to work in. “The whole office is a flex space, so sometimes employees take their laptop and team members and they can work in the patio or the Collab Space — wherever they want to.”
At Audio Impact, no place is off limits to customers, and they get to see the full design and implementation process. “They get to meet the whole team,” says Lipkovicius. “We don’t hide anything. They see the monitors and they’ll see people doing drawings, scheduling, programming…and they like it because you won’t see that anywhere else.”
The attached warehouse is also able to be accessed by clients, and it is designed in a way that will excite them. “The warehouse is super-organized,” adds Lipkovicius. “We have some inventory in there, as well as the rack-building area and the staging area of gear that is shipping out. We also have a big-screen display that the technicians use to see what jobs are going out. The warehouse is also lit up like a spaceship — it’s got beautiful linear lining in the ceiling and is nice and bright. It’s clean and painted all white, so it feels like a lab, but it still looks like a warehouse. The whole thing is exciting.”
Great Space to Work and Learn
If it sounds like this would be a great place for training and bringing in new faces to the industry, Lipkovicius agrees. The company regularly invites builders and interior designers over to learn more about the custom installation business and the technology that is available to their clients. And Lipkovicius is attempting to bring the conversation to local schools.
“I reached out to San Diego State and am waiting to hear back from them,” he says. “We’re trying to give back. There is also an interior design school that’s just two blocks away, so we’ll be reaching out to invite them over and have a field trip.”
Another benefit of having a great workspace is attracting new talent to Audio Impact.
“At Audio Impact we value not only the work we do and our clients but especially our team,” concludes Lipkovicius. “We spend so much time working together daily that it was important to us that we provide a place where people wanted to be. We’re proud of the environment we’ve created and have been receiving great positive feedback as well.”
For more information, visit audioimpact.com.