It all began modestly in 1996 as "two guys in a green truck." Since then, Clark ProMedia of Cumming, Ga., has grown to become one the Southeast's leading design/build firms for performance technology systems. By any standard, the pace of recent expansion has been remarkable. In 2001, for example, Clark ProMedia completed seven projects; by early 2003, more than 25 booked projects were up on the board – mostly in the worship market – with additional proposals out for consideration.
On the surface, it looks like a case of explosive growth. But it was all part of a strategic plan, according to Matt Card, the company's vice president of business development and marketing.
"Our company founder, George Clark, dedicated the first five years to honing his craft," says Card. "He learned how to design and build world-class systems that also offered the robustness and ease of use that are critical for the church market. While George was taking care of the technical side, his brother, Houston, was working on a future business model. Then, when the time was right, they brought me on board to help scale up the business rapidly. It happened fast, but we had a plan to accommodate it."
Another factor contributing to Clark ProMedia's remarkable success has been the fostering of key relationships with like-minded vendors – among them, Meyer Sound.
"Without a doubt, Meyer Sound is one of the class vendors in the industry," says Card. "Their professionalism, their attention to detail, and their responsive support for us as a partner is extraordinary. When we approach our customers, it's not only a technology decision, it's a relationship decision. I know I can approach any customer and, with a clear conscience, tell them that Meyer is a choice that will never fail you. Their product quality and support infrastructure will always stand behind you."
Clark ProMedia has installed Meyer Sound loudspeakers in a number of high-profile worship facilities in the past year, including North Point Community Church (Alpharetta, Ga.), Davis Islands Baptist Church (Tampa, Fla.), Peachtree City United Methodist Church (Atlanta), and the Buckhead Church (Atlanta).
The relationship with Meyer Sound began when George Clark, now the company's chief engineering officer, first heard Meyer loudspeakers from behind the FOH board. "I was mixing for a band using a rental system with CQs as the main speakers," he says, "and I was struck by the sound of them. They were balanced, with everything in proper proportion, and never harsh or overbearing. I was immediately impressed."
After designing and supervising the installation of five Meyer Sound systems, Clark confesses that he always looks forward to the moment when the system is first turned on. "It never ceases to amaze me every time we fire up a system," he confesses. "We had just turned it on when one of the ministers walked up and said, 'Hey, that sounds great!' We hadn't even touched the EQ at that point."
As for product support, Clark relates an incident, which to him illustrates the unique relationship between Clark ProMedia and Meyer Sound. "We had a new system that was to go online for the Vineyard church, and one of the 650-P subwoofers came in with a cosmetic ding on the side. Meyer offered to ship out a replacement to us next day air, even though it was already afternoon when I called. Essentially, they have the same philosophy as our company. You get the problem fixed right away, and then work out the financial details on a reasonable basis. But make sure the client is happy first. Those are the kind of business relationships we want to be part of."
George's older brother, Houston, freely admits minimal knowledge of the technology behind Meyer Sound products, but he respects the Meyer approach to doing business. "We are always very careful not to over-promise or under-deliver," he notes. "One of the things I never have to worry about in that regard is the quality of the Meyer product. We know it will never negatively impact our long-term relationships with our clients – which is the foundation of our business."
Building outward from its core business of audio systems for worship, Clark ProMedia is expanding its horizons in terms of technologies, markets and geographic scope. In addition to audio, the company supplies turnkey video projection and production systems, performance lighting packages, and most recently "immersive environments" that incorporate elements from theater and theme park design to create strong visual and physical environments that help create the image a client desires for their space. Chuck Dowd, formerly with Sonic Associates and a principal designer of many IMAX theaters has joined the company as a senior design engineer to work alongside George Clark on audio projects. The company now has a full time staff of twelve, supplemented by part-time and contract installation technicians.
Clark ProMedia's rapid growth has been fueled principally by success in the expanding market for high-quality systems in houses of worship. Although about 90 percent of the company business is focused in that market, Card sees a natural progression into the market for secular performance systems. "Our relationship with Meyer Sound is introducing us to the market for 1,000 to 3,000 seat secular performance spaces. We expect to do well in that market, because many customers – universities, for example – will benefit from our experience in building bulletproof systems that work well with minimally trained staff."
Currently the company is based out of one office in metropolitan Atlanta, but, according to Card, two or three branch offices are now under consideration to accommodate the firm's wider geographic scope. Clark ProMedia now has projects underway, or under active consideration, in fourteen states spread through the eastern half of the United States, as well as in Guatemala.