Today we’d like to introduce you to Scott Smith.
Scott, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
My career began at Georgia Tech in 1984 when I took an introductory physics course in acoustics. Little did I realize the professor teaching the course, Dr. E.T. Patronis, was a world-renowned nuclear physicist, acoustician, electroacoustics designer and author. I spent many days in “Dr. P’s” office and lab picking his brain, building circuits, speakers and devices. I took every course he offered and this experience proved instrumental in my development as a student, physicist and engineer. Dr. P. always helped students to think outside the box and his lectures were legendary at tech.
I had the honor of assembling forty of his prototype speakers while in graduate school and he has sent work my way throughout the years. After I graduated, I didn’t have a solid plan, but I knew my life would revolve around acoustics and music. Acoustics consulting is a “niche” market and Atlanta has only ever had four of five consulting firms which cover most of the work in the southeast. Unfortunately, none of these firms were hiring so I ended up rigging and running AV for corporate conventions for three or four staging firms.
I’m a firm believer in fate. Around that time my father was teaching stone faceting where one of the student’s father, John Ballentine, turned out to be an acoustical consultant needing a right-hand man. John and his wife Ruby operated a small “mom and pop” firm (J.R. Ballentine & Associates) which had been around since 1974. As it turns out, in 1974 they were the only acoustical consulting firm in Atlanta. We immediately bonded and I started working the day of my interview. John was a patient man and he taught me every aspect of his business. We spent countless hours talking acoustics, politics and life. It was like having a second set of parents.
Most importantly, I learned the art of consulting (yes, it is an art), some mechanical engineering, vibration control, and assisted in computerizing their business. I was made an associate in 1994. That same year John asked if I’d like to “continue the legacy” and BWS was formed from JRB. The rest is history.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Acoustical consulting relies heavily on the building industry. In the past 20 years, we’ve had two major downturns in our industry. After 9/11, most businesses struggled and the construction industry was hit hard. This impacted our clients and our work.
The housing bubble burst in 2008 left many architects and general contractors depleted and many went out of business. I saw firms that once had over 300 employees whittle down to less than 100. Some of our best construction companies went belly up. Some took major losses on jobs to stay afloat. Developers were reeling.
Fortunately, a major advantage of keeping a business small is weathering these types of storms. It was a struggle, but the business survived. Mr. Ballentine used to joke that when the economy is down people build churches. He was right as we designed a lot of churches during that time.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Ballentine Walker Smith – what should we know?
BWS Acoustics is a full-service consulting firm specializing in room acoustics design, noise and vibration control, environmental and community noise assessments, and industrial noise and vibration mitigation.
As a company, I am most proud of our jobs and clients. Mr. Ballentine instilled in me early on that our job is to provide cost-effective designs that are practical to implement. I believe I’ve accomplished this in over 25 years as a consultant. Repeat business suggests this approach works. We don’t shy away from smaller projects and I always try to make time for someone that cold calls asking for help and suggestions.
I’m most proud of keeping the business alive and staying true to Mr. Ballentine and his ethics. I’ve been blessed in my career with great mentors, peers and clients. I’ve done jobs spanning from movie studios for Tyler Perry to engine test cells housing mammoth, noise deafening turbines manufactured by General Electric.
I’ve had the pleasure of consulting for local, city, and state government, the U.S. armed forces, universities, and corporations including the Woodruff Arts Center, R!OT Studios, CBS, NBC, ACOG, Eli Lilly, Ford, Virgin, Marriott, Hilton, & Renaissance Hotels.
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
My mother and father who taught me work ethic and supported my education and helped finance the business. My wife for her patience, support, and assistance throughout the years.
Friends that have encouraged me along the way and lent a helping hand. Professors at Georgia Tech that provided me a solid background and allowed me access to high tech labs. There are many, but the main professors are Dr. Braden, Dr. Patronis, Dr. Tanner and Dr. Valk from the Physics department and Dr. Leach in Electrical Engineering.
Dr. Braden was my advisor. Dr. Valk was the department head. Dr. Patronis ran the electroacoustics lab. Dr. Tanner invited me to the School of Physics. Dr. Leach provided a different approach to loudspeaker design and taught audio and amplification circuitry that further peaked my interest in acoustics and electroacoustics.
- Address: 4659 Brazil Wood Drive, Kennesaw, Georgia, 30144
- Website: www.bwsacoustics.com
- Phone: 770.517.6464
- Email: email@example.com
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