AV People: Len Dozier of Premier Mounts

dozier-flyfishing-0714Len Dozier, founder of Premier Mounts, is arguably one of the hardest working people in the AV industry. Starting from the ground up, getting experience any way he could, Len has made a name for himself, and his company, over the last four and a half decades.

It all started in 1967. Len was born and raised in California but spent a number of years in Montana while serving in the military. During his time in Montana, he quickly realized that it was a tough place to get a job and raise a family, so after five or six moves, he said the heck with it and ended up moving back to California to really get his life going.

He was a maintenance electrician at the time and when his union went on strike, a buddy of his went to work for Telaudio Centre, an FM radio station that doubled as a pro audio store selling one of the first industrial video tape recorders for companies like Sony, Panasonic, JVC, etc.

“Back then I had absolutely no knowledge of what videotape [and all that] was all about,” said Len. “Working at the radio station wasn’t an easy job because most of the radio salesmen were old timers and they thought I I was too young (at 24 years old) and had too much energy.

odetics-letter-sm-0714“I eventually got them to hire me and I was paid $100 a week plus 5 percent of what I could sell. I remember the very first videotape system I sold… it was open reel, black and white camera with a nine inch monitor and I sold it to a guy who had a steel business. He paid me $1,600 cash for the system and I made 5 percent of that and that’s what got me started.”

As Len got more experience, he left his job at Telaudio Centre to work at Odetics, a spacebound recorder manufacturer in California that invented the first GYYR timelapse video recorder for security systems. It was revolutionary at the time. “It was a simple thing that I had learned early on,” Len said. “The more you demonstrated the video tape recording products, the more you sold.”

During his tenure at Odetics, Len learned of a guy by the name of Joe Girard, a car salesman for a Chevrolet dealership in Detroit, Michigan. Joe wasn’t just any car salesman, he was the number one car salesman in the country, selling 1,300 to 1,400 cars a year. Len had read an article about Joe in an issue of Playboy about Joe’s innovative tricks to selling cars and how he’d produced a series of tapes teaching other salesmen how to sell cars.

Len had an idea.

“I was 34, I’d had a hell of a self-taught education, I wasn’t financially independent like I wanted to be, and I wanted to take a year off from what I was doing and clear my head. So, I called Joe up, told him I liked what he did, and I asked him if I could take the tapes that he produced and sell them to dealerships around the country,” Len explained. “Joe said yes, so I packed up my dogs into a motor home and toured the country for a year. And selling Joe’s tapes was how I financed my trip.”

After clearing his head and touring the country, Len ended up back in Northern California with his wife and went to work for a company called Alco Paramount in San Jose. The company hired him to train a good salesforce in its ProAV division primarily dealing with video tape equipment.

Alco Paramount also had a few retail stores and one day, Len just happened to be in one of the stores when a man by the name of Steve Jobs walked in the door. The year was approximately 1979.

apple-wire-wrap-0714“I was usually never in the retail stores, but I happened to be this one particular day,” Len said. “Steve Jobs came to him and needed to buy six Sony professional monitors in order to demonstrate his first, original “wire wrap” Apple computer.

“So, I sold him the TVs and told him I would deliver them to him. When I delivered the monitors to him in his first industrial building, he demonstrated the computer for me. I think Steve really just wanted the practice of demonstrating the computer to anyone who would watch and listen.”

While at Alco, Len was working on a government bid that involved TAS (television audio support) and part of the bid called for him to make a specific carrying case for portable recorders. Each case was built specifically to fit the product that was going to be housed in it. This was a totally new concept for AV.

The more that Len looked at the case and the overall growth of the industry he was working in, he was realizing more and more that there was a growing need. It was Anvil Cases that really gave Len his first product line to represent back then.

Much to the chagrin of Alco’s president, Len left the company to start Progressive Marketing Products, Incorporated (which is still the parent company name of Premier Mounts today).

Progressive Marketing Products started out as an industry rep company and at its largest carried six lines. Over the years, Progressive became a respected name in the industry and Len was known as a thought leader when it came to product sales and rep support.

“We dropped some lines,” said Len, “Which was unique in those days, but no one ever dropped us. I was always looking for more opportunities to grow the company and so I took more control over the marketing.”

In 1987, Progressive had about six or seven employees. Len was attending an NAB show and was sitting at a table at the Las Vegas Convention Center talking with Sony.

motorcycle-0714“Sony was having good success after they had introduced their first CRT three gun projector,” recalled Len. “It was a VPH 600 projector and they were selling very well through their dealers. I wholesaled a lot of support products and Sony needed help because they were having delay problems supplying the mounts for their projectors. So, I went to a local fabricator and set up a relationship and said that I needed them to build a product for me. So, we built our first PMM 722 Basic Projector Mount and the PMM 10 Drop Ceiling Suspension Support.

“I sold those to Sony AV dealers in the United States and I started making those mounts and that’s when the mount business really took off for us.”

The business grew so dramatically that by 1994, Len knew they had to go full force into the mount business. So, they dropped all their rep lines and became Premier Mounts.

“By that time, we were building mounts for Sony and most projectors from other manufacturers worldwide and doing a lot of unique designs,” said Len. “I truly believe that good things happen to people who do good things.

Outside of his work at Premier Mounts, Len is a family man who loves his wife Cheryl and his children Tiffany Dozier (EVP of Strategic Business Development at Premier Mounts), Adam Dozier (who also works at Premier) and his oldest daughter Kim, who works for Cox Cable.

Len is an avid fly fisherman who travels to Montana with his small, 30’ travel trailer to fish any chance he gets. And he also helped built and owns a number of custom made motorcycles.

This year has really been the first year since 1977 that Len has seriously turned over the “keys to the castle.”

“At the age of 72, I’m not done,” said Len. “I’m stepping back some and letting others take charge of a lot of the day to day things, but I’m not done. I specialize in hospitality so I enjoy working on that, but I’m looking towards more time on the water, both salt and fresh fly fishing.”