Years ago, when Pat Lavelle was coming up in the insurance industry, he asked one of company’s best salesmen for the secret to being in the right place at the right time. “You just have to be in a lot of places,” he answered.
Lavelle, who was named Audiovox CEO in 2005, took the lesson to heart, leading the company into many different places, greatly expanding its markets. The shear number of acquisitions and moves Audiovox has made under Lavelle’s leadership or that he helped orchestrate during his tenure would make the heads of most executives swim. Some of the most important acquisitions include: Technuity, owner of the Energizer brand; Thomson America’s CE and A/V business outside of Europe, including worldwide rights to RCA’s CE and A/V lines; Incaar, a Europe-based manufacturer of in-car multimedia systems; Oehlback Kabel, a high-end accessories company in Europe; Terk Technologies, a manufacturer of antennas; and the Jensen, Advent and Acoustic Research brands from Recoton. That doesn’t include the hundreds of successful licensing agreements and product launches Lavelle has helped execute during his 33-year career with the company.
Audiovox’s John Shalam sums up Lavelle’s skills in a few short sentences. “He has a keen sense of finding the right opportunity. He’s very good at executing and knows how to make things happen,” said the company’s founder and chairman.
Lavelle attributes his long career at the company to the fact that so many different things happen there. There has never been time nor reason for Lavelle to work anyplace else, he said. “Audiovox constantly has to reinvent itself, so I’ve always felt like I’ve worked for different companies,” he said, from the corporate headquarters in Hauppauge, N.Y. “I never felt blocked or stilted. There has always been a path for growth.”
Lavelle recognized that opportunity while he was working as a recruiter for Hartford Accident and Indemnity and his contact at Audiovox, a customer at the time, asked him to join the company. Lavelle worked as an audio salesman covering the Midwest and quickly moved into management. Despite all the subsequent acquisitions and product launches, Lavelle said his most important move in the company was to accept an offer to head up the Protector division, which provided aftermarket products like car burglar alarms and paint sealants. “It was a gamble because it wasn’t the primary focus of the company,” he said. The gamble paid off and soon the division was adding cruise control, power windows and other products to its portfolio.