Bose has been making noise in the audio products business for some time. The company is one of the world's leading makers of speakers for the home entertainment, automotive, and pro audio markets. It manufactures a variety of consumer models for stereo systems and home theaters, including its compact Wave radio system. For sound professionals, Bose offers loudspeakers and amplifiers, as well as products designed for musicians. Bose sells its products through nearly 145 factory and showcase stores and through affiliated retailers. It's using its expertise to branch out into other markets. Founder Amar Bose, a former professor of electrical engineering at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, owns the company.
Bose has built a reputation for making high-quality products through its commitment to research in electronics and acoustical engineering. The expertise of its engineers proved invaluable to the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, which brought in Bose to revamp its public address system. The audio company's research focus has taken it into new fields in recent years. Through its Bose Automotive Systems Division, it was chosen as the audio-components company to provide products for fuel-efficient and luxury cars alike. Bose makes the Energy Efficient Series Sound System for the Chevy Volt, as well as the custom-engineered 5.1 surround sound system for the Porsche Panamera four-door sedan. Since 2010, the company has concentrated on providing a sound system specifically for truck drivers with its The Bose Ride system, which replaces conventional air-ride truck seats to provide over-the-road drivers.
Mergers & Acquisitions
Bose's commitment to product development is what enables the company to pump out new products for several niches of the industry. Bose has been developing an electromagnetic suspension system for automobiles since the 1980s and its acquisition of testing equipment maker EnduraTEC has built on that foundation. To this end, Bose has been nimble enough to take advantage of popular trends its sees, such as the debut of its SoundDock digital music system that was launched based on the continued success of Apple's iPod.
The company boasts 12 manufacturing plants and 16 international subsidiaries. One subsidiary, ElectroForce Systems Group, offers advanced test instruments for materials research and product development. Leaning toward Malaysia over the US for the country's safeguards on intellectual property, Bose in early 2012 announced plans to build a Malaysian manufacturing facility located in Batu Kawan, Penang, to produce products for the growing Asia-Pacific region. As part of the move, the company plans to shutter an existing US plant. Scheduled to open in mid-2013, the 600,000-sq.-ft. Penang plant will produce and distribute products for markets in Australia, China, India, Japan, the United Arab Emirates, and Southeast Asia.
Fueling R&D, however, makes the company vulnerable to the ebb and flow of the economy. Stung by the recession and the downturn in spending on high-end products, Bose was forced to cut 1,000 jobs, or about 10% of its workforce in 2009. The layoffs were in select areas, including manufacturing and at its Massachusetts headquarters. – less