While competing in the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, Spain sixteen years ago, Pasadena resident and philanthropist Rob Shepherd never imagined the significant role he would play, today, as president of Hoffman Video Systems. Then, a member of the University of Washington’s prized rowing team, his eye was on making history for the U.S. And while his team placed just shy of an Olympic medal, coming in fourth out of the eighteen teams competing, his hard work and discipline is now paying off at Hoffman Video, one of the nation’s leading integrators of audio and video systems for corporate facilities and custom, residential home theaters.
Rob joined the company as a vice president in 1999 during a time of a transition in its leadership. A managing partner had announced his semi-retirement and Chief Executive Officer J. Kris Popovich invited his son – in –law, Rob, the opportunity to buy into the company. In Rob, he saw a young man with a background in finance but more than that, a passion for keeping Hoffman on track with the changes in the marketplace. For Rob, it was an opportunity he could not refuse. Through his wife’s family, he had become familiar with the fascinating legacy of Hoffman Video Systems whose founder, H. Leslie Hoffman, started this L.A. – based company in 1941 and went from a humble, fluorescent light salesman to one of the foremost technologies innovation companies in the nation. Known then as the H. L. Hoffman company, it earned its place in history over the next 36 years by constant innovations in technology, introducing the American public to the transistor radio and color television.
Many significant advances followed. In 1960, Hoffman Electronics developed solar cells for the Vangard Satellite, in 1965, they worked with Montgomery Ward for the branding of the color TV, and in 1977, Hoffman provided an airborne navigation system for the space shuttle Enterprise. Through Hoffman Electronics’s contributions, America’s technology grew stronger.
But to stay strong, the company has had to keep changing. In 1977, Hoffman Electronics sold their major divisions to Gould Electronics, a worldwide corporation and leading manufacturer of circuit boards and military products. By then, Hoffman was a diversified, national corporation with seven divisions in multiple states.
In 1978, the spin – off company, Hoffman Video Systems, was born with its focus to provide technological expertise in the installation and integration of sophisticated audio/video equipment to corporate facilities.
In the last three decades, the company has branched out to complete large-scale projects in 33 states, as well as international projects, worldwide.
Hoffman Video’s patented Four-Wall-In (4WISM) service is part of what sets them apart from their competition. Their approach on every project involves not only the electronics themselves, but taking into consideration the surrounding environment and the human factors involved. On the whole, they bring to each project expert consultation, design, custom fabrication, installation, training and ongoing service.
Fast forward to the year 1999 when Rob joined the company. At the time, he was working for a Glendale financial company where he had been building a line of business setting up pension plans and mutual funds for mid to large size companies. When asked by Kris Popovich to join the family business, he jumped at the challenge it provided.
He recalls, “At the time, I didn’t know a tremendous amount about the audio – video business but I did know a lot about selling and marketing. I was also thrilled to be a part of this family legacy contributing ‘new blood’ to the operations and leadership.”
In just two, short years, Rob rose to president of the company where he became involved in the strategic planning of Hoffman’s corporate projects.
With pride he recalls three of their top installations: the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades – a two year project, LAPD’s new Manchester training center and headquarters, and most notably, USC’s Galen Center. The high-impact audio/video system for the Galen Center included a partnership with JBL Professional loudspeakers, providing the most sophisticated sound – and visuals – for the 255,000 square foot, $147 million facility, home to the Trojan’s men’s and women’s basketball teams.
“All of these projects ranged from $1.5 million to $2 million dollars,” notes Rob, “and our clients were extremely savvy end – users with high expectations for the performance of their video and sound systems.”
He adds, “We won these contracts because Hoffman Video has the ability to provide the ‘band-width:’ the installers, project managers, engineers, and on staff resources needed to get the job done. We are second to none in that regard.”
In January, the company launched a brand new custom, residential theater division aimed at providing the same level of expertise and premier services to the consumer market that Hoffman’s corporate clients have enjoyed for the past several decades.
Over the past couple of years, Rob says the requests for high – end home theaters have been increasing, due in part to the affordability of the technology. “We’ve never really focused our expertise on the consumer home theater market but with the sophistication of our clients in the L.A. area – a considerable amount of those entertainment and sports figures – we are now creating a new division to serve their needs.”
Typically, custom home theaters can run from $10,000 on the low end for a Plasma TV system to as much as $500,000 for an entire, home automation system. In the last year, Hoffman Video earned about $1.5 million in revenue from these projects, alone, with actor/director Sylvester Stallone one of their premium clients.
After nearly seven decades of leadership in the electronics industry, Rob says it’s important to stay focused on what has continued to make this company strong. He credits CEO Kris Popovich with keeping the company on its course.
“Kris provides the strong moral compass that maintains the legacy of Hoffman Video and he’s been doing that for over 30 years. Service is one of the company’s core values and that will always be the case as we move into the future.
“Overall, Kris believes in people – the people who make up the company and those whom we serve. He believes in giving back to the community, providing funding for local schools, the L.A.P.D., the L.A. Zoo, Children’s Hospital, and specifically, Kids Space Museum in Pasadena, which Jane Hoffman Popovich helped establish.
As an independent L.A. company, Hoffman Video remains proud of its roots.
Says Rob, “Our clients know that we will always be here to provide the service they need because we are involved in our community and this connection has helped us to prevail all these years.”