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Getting to know Rashid Skaf, president and CEO, Biamp

Rashid Skaf talks business, changes to the industry and his love for the great outdoors and cattle

When did you first become involved with Biamp?

My direct involvement with Biamp began in December 2017 when Highlander Partners acquired the company from its prior owners and I assumed the President and CEO role. However, my awareness of Biamp and respect for its brand and products began more than a decade ago. I tried to acquire the company several times during that period. When I joined and began a search with Highlander Partners, a Dallas-based private equity company, to find a strong platform company in the technology sector, that I ultimately wanted to run, Biamp was the first company on our list to look at. I looked at over 150 candidates in my search to find the ideal company and am delighted that Biamp, my first and top choice, was ultimately the one I succeeded in closing. We now have an ideal platform we can build on.

How has the company evolved since the acquisition last year?

The last eight months has been dedicated to evaluating every aspect of each department with the company; listening, learning, and making sure we had the right processes and people in place in order to prepare for growth. We’ve made extensive enhancements to the company organisation, systems, and processes to enable the company to effectively support aggressive organic and acquisition driven growth.

More specifically, how has your portfolio evolved?We have been the worldwide leader in Digital Signal Processing for decades. As we are growing we are expanding from that position of strength. We are building from our traditional centres of product and market strength with the goal of offering increasingly complete solutions. Biamp has always listened closely to our customers and we work hard to address their needs while identifying market opportunities. An example of this is the launch our Tesira Beamtracking microphones earlier this year at ISE, which were received with overwhelming excitement. We also introduced an USB extender for Tesira which extends USB audio throughout a building and supports Bluetooth connectivity. This means people can continue a cell phone call while transitioning into a conference room. We also launched SageVue, our browser-based monitoring and management software for both Tesira and Devio devices. These are examples of the continuing innovation you’ll see as Biamp moves forward.

What products are proving the most popular at Biamp today?

Starting with our strength in Digital Signal Processing we are extending from the core to offer more complete solutions. Our Beamtracking microphones I mentioned are proving very popular. The unique technology in these microphones actively finds and follows people talking within the room while suppressing noise to ensure an extraordinary audio experience in the widest range of real-world scenarios. The difference our customers are hearing is that our Beamtracking microphone technology focuses on adapting to the people in the room where most technologies focus on the room and people having to adapt to it. People don’t want to be limited on where they have to sit or stand when on a call. Our technology frees people from the meeting chair and allows them to interact and collaborate naturally, whether that’s seated at a table or up at a whiteboard. They don’t need to worry about whether participants are missing what is said.

Why is that?

The behaviour of these microphones is just one example of our increasing focus on products that allow people to behave more naturally in meetings, calls, or presentations without comprising the quality of the experience for participants connected by the technology. Products that perform well day-after-day and nearly transparently to the participants is our measure of success.

What advice would you give to businesses investing in AV?

There are a lot of AV equipment options to choose from and it can be overwhelming and unproductive for a business owner to try to evaluate and understand them all. I recommend looking to how other companies have used AV effectively to solve problems similar to yours and engage integrators and equipment vendors that understand your needs and objectives. You’ll save time and aggravation and get a outcome you’ll by happy with.

Outside of work, how do you like to spend your time?

I’m an American who is originally half Swedish and half Lebanese, I’m married to a Texan with my home in Dallas and I work in Portland, Oregon. My family is spread around the world, so I like to spend my time combining two things I love – family and travel. Great food, great wine, and great company is always the trifecta I look for wherever I am in the world.

Finally, tell us something about yourself, which might surprise people?

Well, I don’t know how much of a surprise this is going to be given where I live, but not many people know that I’m also own a ranch, we have a bunch of cows, and I enjoy seeing things grow and expand. It’s fun and adds an interesting perspective to what I do.