AV Insider Spotlight :Doug Hall – CEO @ Whitlock

Every week, I am highlighting on some of the incredible people who are in the Audio Video Industry. As this blog is mostly about AV insiders, today we are profiling Doug Hall.

Here is a brief intro about him.

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Doug has 30 years of experience in leadership and global business management, 20 of which have been focused on AV and video collaboration at Whitlock. He joined the company in 1995, and has served as the company’s COO, CFO and now CEO for the past decade. Under his leadership, the company has grown from $12M to nearly $300M in annual revenues. Responsible for the overall business health and growth of Whitlock, Doug is involved in strategy, operations, sales and general oversight of the company culture and vision. He has served in advisory roles to industry leading manufacturers, including Crestron, Polycom and Sony. Under his leadership, Whitlock has maintained a solid financial position and reputation. Before joining Whitlock, Doug was a senior manager in the entrepreneurial services group at Ernst & Young, where he focused onbusiness advisory issues, domestic and international expansions, mergers & acquisitions, public and private equity offerings, debt financings, operational reviews and business turnarounds. Doug is a graduate of Virginia Tech and is a certified public accountant.

1.Describe your journey in the AV industry? How did it start?

Prior to joining Whitlock in 1995, I was a Senior Manager in the Entrepreneurial Services Group at Ernst & Young. I was initially hired by John Whitlock as a CFO to help grow our company through acquisitions. After joining Whitlock, we quickly changed our business strategy to an organic growth model. I soon transitioned to lead the audio visual side of our business, which at the time was equally split between broadcast and AV. When I joined Whitlock, we were the third largest AV integrator in Richmond, VA. Kevin Thompson and I spent the next several years attracting a very talented team of folks who agreed with our focus on company culture and commitment to building a customer focused business. Our business has evolved a great deal since those early years.

2.What do you think is the challenges that are facing a new person who wants to join the industry.

Although I have been at Whitlock for over 20 years, I can still recall how challenging it was to develop an understanding of the wide range of technologies that are critical to our business solutions, as well as attracting the skilled professionals to deliver those solutions. I also quickly learned that the AV manufacturer representatives and other solutions providers were a tight group. I fortunately had a passion for learning about the cool technologies and still enjoy being Wowed by our innovative solutions. This passion helped drive me to develop partnerships and friendships with other industry folks. I can’t imagine joining this industry without a passion for innovation and partnerships.

3.What are the positives of working in this industry

The biggest benefit of being in this industry is the people. I have been blessed to have built a number of friendships with industry folks. I have tremendous pride for the complexity of every role at Whitlock. Each member of our team is responsible for completing their functions that are individually and collectively critical to our success in consistently delivering a positive experience to our customers. Seeing the pride our team takes in delivering success drives me to become personally better as a leader.

Another benefit of our industry is the constantly evolving technologies. It has been awesome to be a part of the leading edge of AV technologies. When I began my career, our customers were blown away by portable LCD projectors and the early stage control systems. It is unbelievable to see how far technology has evolved over the years and impossible to limit where it will go.

4.What in your opinion would you change in the industry? What are the negatives that are prevalent ?

I’m not sure I would want to change our industry because many of the challenges are based on our competitive market which I believe is healthy in all businesses. We have had a variety of business obstacles over the years like everyone in our industry, but we have remained committed to our company culture, building a healthy business, and delivering our best to our customers. We’ve seen many other businesses grow quickly but fail because they were more focused on short term models. The disruption they have caused our Company has proven to be temporary. We just continue to stick to our plan.

av-insider-spotlight-doug-hall-4[RELATED] : If you have missed any of the previous interviews, please click here.
5.Describe your ideal client? What do you wish clients to know before hiring you.

An ideal client is someone that values great service and appreciates quality. It is important to build a solid trust between our company and our clients. In a world of evolving technology there will always be bumps in the road. It is important for our clients to understand no one can avoid every obstacle and that what is important is that you have a true partnership with your solution provider and a sense of trust.

6.If you were going to start over, what would you do differently ?

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When I first joined Whitlock in 1995, we were more of product solutions company. We enjoyed growing our business by an average of 40% per year with what we considered to be healthy profits. While my partner, Kevin Thompson, and I were celebrating our successes, our Chairman and shareholder, John Whitlock, challenged us to increase our focus on services. We listened to John but aimed pretty low in terms of what our perception of services was at the time. Still, we were pretty far ahead of where our industry and invested in intelligent industry people to help us develop a services oriented business. When our COO, Roger Patrick, joined Whitlock in 2000, he brought an in depth knowledge of Managed Services that has since steered our business focus and value to customers. Knowing what I know now, I would have embraced John’s suggestion, hired Roger sooner, and focused earlier on building a world class services company sooner.

7.Describe a typical work day for you. What are your daily disciplines?

I begin every day with an early morning run or workout. It helps clear my mind and allows me to start the day in full gear. I usually arrive in the office well before business hours to catch up on emails and prioritize my day. There are generally a handful of scheduled meetings, many of which are by video since our team is located in 21 cities around the US. I have an outstanding executive team that assumes primary leadership responsibility for our business areas. Much of my function today is to support and guide our executive leaders. I greatly enjoy staying in touch with our customers and our staff at Whitlock. In general, I serve three customers throughout the day. Those customers include the companies and organizations that have chosen Whitlock as their solutions provider, the critical vendor partners that have empowered Whitlock to represent their business offerings, and the talented folks at Whitlock. I take great pride and responsibility in serving each of those customers.

8.Describe the apps and gear that you use daily which makes you more productive?

Our Whitlock IT team has built an excellent business dashboard that I utilize to keep daily tabs on our customer and internal team activities. I can’t imagine how we operated before these tools were available.

9. Describe any high value projects that you were responsible for in your career?

I truly enjoy all customer facing activities, especially being engaged early to completion in any challenging or Wow projects. What is most amazing is how much larger and more complex the solutions are that we provide today compared to the last several years. Our Whitlock Team has worked hard to earn the trust of our customers to deliver all of their AV/UC requirements from the simple to most challenging. I also enjoy the diversity of our customer base from Fortune 500 Enterprise Customers to Universities to serving our Federal and Military Customers. It is incredibly gratifying to visit a recently completed project and see the pride our Customers and Whitlock Team Members have in their work.

10. With your experience of over 20 years in the industry, how do you stay relevant in terms of new technology and value to the customer ?

I’ve actually only been in the industry for 21 years though Whitlock just celebrated our 60th Anniversary. Although our business has been in an almost constant state of evolution since I’ve been at Whitlock, our founding principles have remained and will continue to steer us well into the future. In my first week at our Company, John Whitlock emphasized with me the need to invest in the most talented people we can find. I’ve continued to follow that guidance for over 20 years. Building and developing what I believe is a team of the best in our industry requires daily dedicated focus. Our Whitlock Team Members are the life blood of our company. Each person has a critical role to our success. The unique culture we have at Whitlock is key to developing and maintaining our team. By investing in the brightest industry minds, we’ve been able to embrace new technologies and serve our customers business requirements.

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Please drop your questions in the comments below and i will make sure that he sees them.

For more information about Doug Hall , please find a few links.

halld@whitlock.com
LinkedIn

About Whitlock
Whitlock is a video collaboration company that provides strategy, management, technologies and support to the world’s largest and most innovative businesses. We believe face-to-face collaboration creates stronger relationships and makes way for both business and personal success. What we give to a customer is the ability to connect, work together and share ideas with each other and the world, with a reliable video experience every time. Whitlock serves customers across the U.S. and provides multi-national solutions through the Global Presence Alliance. Follow us on social at: Facebook   |   LinkedIn   |   Twitter   |   YouTube

Next week we will be featuring another AV Insider so please stay tuned.

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Ajish Raju

About Ajish Raju

Ajish Raju is co-founder and Chief Evangelist of Favante. He loves traveling, trying new cuisines and gadgets. Reach him at ajish@ajishraju.me

  • Pat

    As a former Whitlocker I have to say, Doug is a neat guy and truly dedicated to his people, partners, and customers. I used to be right down the hall from him and if I wanted to barge into his office and chat about something he welcomed it. An exemplary CEO and the model by which I judge other leaders.

    • Thanks Pat for the feedback. I will tweet this as testimony to Doug’s leadership style.

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