EMBA Alumni Update: Nick Berry - Cohort 11, CEO, Origin Acoustics
Taking a recent, well-deserved break from his hectic schedule as CEO of Origin Acoustics, UNLV EMBA alumnus Nick Berry (Cohort 11) parked his RV back-stage at 2018 Coachella and kicked back at the invitation of his best friend and owner of the legendary music festival. Seems spot on for someone whose company’s tag line is “it’s all about the music.”
The weekend respite was a rare occurrence for this talented entrepreneur, father of three, industry trailblazer, community leader and avid reader.
Berry is a founder of Origin Acoustics, industry innovators in architectural speakers. But, having a vested interest in the business didn’t mean the chief executive position was handed to him on a silver platter. When the company was launched in 2014, Berry took on the role of vice president of business development.
A re-imagining of SpeakerCraft, whose founders hold numerous patents and are considered the inventors of architectural speakers, Origin Acoustics was originally based in Southern California. In 2017, Berry and the partners, including the founders of SpeakerCraft, were searching for a new headquarters’ location where the company could launch expansion plans and create an innovative showroom.
A native Las Vegan with a UNLV undergraduate degree in entrepreneurship, Berry was very aware of the advantages of doing business in Las Vegas. “Aside from the obvious business- and tax-friendly environment of Las Vegas, especially compared to other regions of the country, the city offers a continuous flow of conventions and convention attendees,” said Berry. “With a showroom in Las Vegas, our current and prospective dealers and customers literally come to us.”
The company’s showroom, or as they prefer to call it – experience center – is located at Decatur and 215 where its neighbor is the global technology company Switch. Origin Acoustics also has offices in the UK, and warehouses in California, Texas and future plans for a warehouse in North Carolina.
The rapid growth was cause for celebration and the impetus for recruiting a new CEO who was skilled in managing growth, corporate governance and budget management, while still exemplifying the passion for R&D and innovation that is the company’s mantra. “The timing was right to continue reinvesting profits in the company, but also to begin providing the partners with a return on their investment,” said Berry.
Berry served on the search committee for a CEO. “But, the more I reviewed the candidates’ qualifications, the more I realized that my EMBA, combined with years of experience, made me better qualified for the job than many of the applicants.” And, the partners agreed.
Berry has put a new spin on customer engagement that has resulted in increased sales and rave customer reviews. Since early 2018, Origin Acoustics has hosted more than 100 current and prospective dealers and customers at business education conferences conducted at the company’s showroom facility. “We never discuss our products or services during these programs,” said Berry. “The content is designed solely to provide business-focused insights that are of value to our guests. For example, Nikki Liesse, UNLV EMBA’s director, was kind enough to conduct a class on brand marketing.” Other seminars include keeping and motivating employees and managing a business in chaotic times. The company plans on hosting 300 more invited guests by year’s end.
The conferences are a hit with customers, soliciting comments such as: “Origin Acoustics went above and beyond what any other manufacturer has done to provide a wholesome experience, not only as an integrator but as a business owner as well;” and “Origin Acoustics has put in a lot of time and effort into being a cutting-edge company and keeping a pulse on the industry. The Origin Gig was truly an enlightening experience.”
Entrepreneurship is in Berry’s DNA. His dad owned and operated a successful chain of collision repair centers, was a manufacturer of golf carts and now in retirement breeds champion pit bulls. Berry’s mother is a caterer whose products are available at Sam’s Club. “My entire life has been a fun and adventurous learning experience. That entrepreneurial spirit is something I looked for and found in the UNLV EMBA program,” said Berry.
"Jeremy Burkhardt, a former partner at SpeakerCraft and founder of Origin Acoustics, has a favorite saying that could also sum up my UNLV EMBA experience - 'The current you is obsolete! Grow, evolve, and succeed daily.' I am so grateful daily to be able to get up and do what makes me happy."