Back in July of 2012 I wrote a story for this blog about a small Spanish company no one had ever heard of. It was run by a guy with a German last name, who happened to be Dutch: Guillermo Jungbauer.
Guillermo was a saxophone player in need of a space in which he could practice his instrument without driving everyone around him mad.
He came up with up with the idea of building a small booth made out of what looked like Lego blocks. He called them Studiobricks. Almost nine years later these vocal booths have become a household name, and not only in the voice over community.
This week, I caught up with Guillermo to see how things are going. I asked him to think back to our first interview. This is what he said:
“I will always remember the time we began to sell in the US. We did send out a lot of offers, but in the end, customers didn’t make a purchase. It was your idea to promote the first sale in the US with a follow-up story. The very first participant responding was Jonathan Tilley and…… he was US citizen, living in Germany. So we ended up promoting TWO Projects. One in New York City, and one in Stuttgart.
“This booth is soooo sexxxyyy” was the first thing Jonathan said.
The follow-up story was very successful, and very soon we got the first orders. Especially the Studiobricks ONE and ONE Plus did sell very well from the beginning, because of the size, price, and performance.”
How many Studiobricks cabins have you delivered since the start of your company?
“After twelve years we reached our 10,000 units milestone. I never thought it would be possible!”
What were some of the hurdles you had to overcome to get to this point?
“The first big hurdle was me. I had to to answer tons of emails during the day, and handle phone calls from the US at 2 AM in the morning.
We also needed to strengthen our production line and get more people involved. The change from a ONE MAN show to a company was very important, and now we have the ISO, CE Certification, industrial software, etc.”
Are you still working out of the same facility as in 2012, or did you have to expand? How many people do you employ?
“We started in a small shop and now work in a 5000 m2 plant. We have 40 people working in Spain and we have a Studiobricks Team in the USA.”
Are voice overs a niche market for your company, or are they the bulk of your business?
“As you know I am a Saxophone player and I did create the Studiobricks booth originally for musicians. But very quickly I noticed that the main market was Voice Over and Recording Studios.
After being in business for a couple of years we got a chance to create a soundproof phone booth for Coworking companies, and this was the start of Studiobricks Office Solutions, which together with the VO community is now our most important market.”
What adjustments did you have to make to make your cabins more suitable for voice overs?
“We listened carefully to our VO Customers and did improve these products over the years. The result was the VO Edition upgrade. It is an additional package designed with the needs of VO, narrators, and podcasters in mind. We offer this package of high quality complimentary accessories so VO actors can put in their booth and simply install their mics and start working right away.”
Here’s voice over Tom Brooks, unpacking, installing, and testing his new Studiobricks booth.
Because of COVID, more and more people are now working from home. Has this influenced your sales at all?
Jungbauer: “Our last Trade show was the NAMM show in LA, January 2020. We wanted to be present at about ten other shows, but everything stopped and I was very concerned. Very quickly we got a lot more orders for the home recording market. We also received new orders for our Video Conference Phonebooth. Since we did not spend money on shows, we decided to invest in our new web page and SEO, and in the development of new products.”
The big question most people in the USA have is about shipping and the added cost. Why would they order a heavy booth from Spain, if they can buy a Made-in-America product that gets delivered to their door for less?
“Miguel Donoso-Cortes moved from Spain to New York to handle our US sales, and founded Studiobricks USA. Over these years Miguel has partnered with local logistics companies to facilitate the import process. In the last year we have also started maintaining an inventory of our most popular products, Studiobricks One and Studiobricks One Plus in stock in the US. This has resulted in a significant reduction in shipping costs and in faster delivery times. Because of the stock we have, the shipping costs were reduced by 25% to 30%.”
Tell me about the level of customization of your booths. Can you literally make a cabin that would fit in almost any space?
“With Studiobricks you can build your recording space in 1ft steps. It is like LEGO, and you can make your booth taller if your ceiling allows it.”
What’s the most ambitious Studiobricks project you have ever done?
“There have been really a lot projects. But to work with the Fraunhofer Institut in Germany was amazing. Fraunhofer is an expert in sound and the creator of MP3’s. Studiobricks built their showroom booth for the NAB Show in Las Vegas. I’m also very proud that Netflix is now one of our regular customers.”
Innovation is key to the future of every company. You posted a few intriguing pictures on social media about a new product you have developed. Tell me about it!
“We continuously improved the brick and the sound absorption of our acoustic panels during the last years. At the same time we wanted to produce in a more eco-friendly way. Since the last four years we heat our plant with zero emissions and in the next weeks we will launch our brand new ECO Absorbers, mostly made from recycled PET bottles.
PET (or Polyethylene terephthalate) is a strong, stiff synthetic fibre from the family of polymers. Almost every plastic water bottle on earth is made of PET.
In general, PET absorber material is not so effective, because of the flat structure. For this reason we invested a lot of money in special tooling, specialists and machinery, in order to obtain more acoustic superficies on each panel. With the manipulation of the material we have now been able to improve the absorption significantly! As far as I know there is no other manufacturer who is able to manipulate the 45mm PET material in this way. So this is definitely unique!
An independent laboratory has tested our new panels and they did perform significantly better than other panels currently on the market. These panels can be used in recording studios, offices, and in every space that needs acoustic treatment. They will be sold separately and sales will start very soon.”
Do they come in different colors?
“Yes, we offer blue, grey and orange, (I am Dutch, don´t forget ;.-).”
You’ve been running this business for more than ten years. Looking at what lies ahead, what are you most excited about?
“We want to make eco-friendly products with a reasonable price tag. Let me give you one more example. The foam we use in between the Studiobricks, is going to be made from shredded jeans. The acoustic specs will be the same, the design is amazing, and the materials are mostly recycled. These seemingly small changes have a big impact on the environment. That’s what I am excited about!”
Many thanks to Studiobricks CEO Guillermo Jungbauer.
Before you leave this blog, I want you to take one last look at this website because it’s not going to be there, next week. I mean, nethervoice.com will still be here, but it will undergo a complete transformation.
Together with the team at voiceactorwebsites.com, I’ve been building a new site from the ground up. It will launch in the next few days, and it doesn’t look like any VO website I have ever seen.
I can’t wait to show it to you!
Paul Strikwerda ®nethervoice