TFWM: What are some of the reasons that Full Compass has evolved since it’s creation in 1977?
Jonathan Lipp: Our primary focus back in 1977 was the broadcast industry, specifically focusing on radio broadcast, and that was really the only mass market for pro-audio equipment at the time. We eventually started selling sound reinforcement equipment because that market was also growing. We got into lighting equipment for both theatrical applications and television, and then we started selling video equipment… we had such loyal customers for the sound equipment we were selling that they wanted to buy all their media equipment from us so we started selling video. It took us a good decade to become as broad a source of equipment as we are today, but it happened organically over a period of time by finding out where our customers interests were and which particular markets had a lot of growth in them. The HoW market is one that we’ve always been into, and its sophistication has grown substantially in the last decade. It used to be that they had systems installed with the original construction with their buildings and simple voice reinforcement was sufficient until about a decade ago, and then people’s expectations started rising.
TFWM: Tell us about your donations as a company, such as to the Wisconsin Children’s Choir, and the Chorale Choir.
JL: Locally as a company we are very involved in not only donating but fund-raising for a wide variety of non-profits, including a number of Houses of Worship locally. We have a volunteer/general contributions committee that stages many fund-raisers during the year and we’ve typically raised in excess of $30-40,000 a year, including events for non-profits. The committee picks their own projects and the company matches money raised – and we encourage that – we have a very young staff and having people learn what they may or may not have learned as children – that there’s a lot of pleasure in giving back to the community is something that we’ve strongly cultivated over the years.
TFWM: What would you say would be the main tip or lesson that you could give to Houses of Worship?
JL: Typically in the HoW market, we’re dealing with volunteers and people who are not professionals; they are very dependent on the dealer to steer them in the right direction as far as what’s the best use of the funds they have available. The more time that they can research, so they understand what they’re buying, the happier they’re going to be. Clearly, I would like everybody to trust us, and not feel they have to do a lot of research. I’d rather have people make intelligent decisions and understand the technology.
Considering that contemporary worship is not only sound; it’s video and lighting and sometimes broadcast, the more you know, the more intelligent the decision you can make, and the more you can differentiate the quality of your vendors as well. The more they can educate themselves the more they can understand what they’re doing so that they’re confident they’re making the right decisions. It’s worth spending time and asking questions. If you don’t really understand what’s being presented to you, I encourage people not to be satisfied with that. Ask things like why is this better? Why is this more expensive product better than the less expensive one? Maybe it isn’t, maybe it’s just more expensive! Maybe it’s actually worth something different to you as a customer. Although it is our business to sell expensive, cooler stuff whenever people want it – sometimes simpler is better.