The Company History of E.S.S., Inc. began in 1969 with the name Sound Engineering. Sound Engineering was founded by Alex Taylor as a division of EBM Inc. (Electric Business Machines). Sound Engineering was founded to sell the newly released 3M Sound Products line. This consisted of special tape players that were used to provide background music services to area businesses. Alex Taylor appointed his son-in-law, Lutz Braun, to run the new division. Sound Engineering also provided the sound systems to broadcast the music within the businesses. Soon, the 3M product line was expanded to include intercom systems for use in the very first drive-thru restaurants and convenience stores. These industries depended on quick repair service whenever it was needed, so Sound Engineering embarked on its QSR adventures. Throughout the 1970s, Sound Engineering persevered in spite of aggressive competition and earned a reputation for quality installations and repair services. They received considerable professional acclaim from 3M as year after year, Sound Engineering met or exceeded sales expectations.
In 1983, EBM was sold, and so Sound Engineering needed to become independent. On January 13th, 1984, Sound Engineering became Engineered Sound Systems (since Sound Engineering was already taken). This moniker was later shortened to E.S.S., Inc. As the years went by and technology evolved, E.S.S. moved from the old tape machines to music services delivered via satellite. They continued to be quite successful, especially when Pam Braun joined the company as a salesperson. Pam remained with the company into the early 90s.
In March of 1995, Ann Braun (daughter of Lutz & Pam) joined the company. This was originally intended to be a temporary arrangement, but it didn’t turn out that way. Ann began by helping in the office answering the phone and processing invoices. Her responsibilities grew to include payroll, accounts payable and accounts receivable. At the same time, she began to work in sales for the company. She brought in new product lines to diversify the business and add to the customer base. Sales grew dramatically. As the business grew, more employees came in and assumed some of Ann’s responsibilities so that she could focus more on sales and administration. By the end of 2002, the succession plan was clearly in place. Lutz Braun retired and Ann took over as of January 1st, 2003. In early 2004, ESS established a second office in Memphis Tennessee.
In more recent years, ESS has grown into a company with customers from coast to coast and many large chain accounts. The company is considered to a leader in the drive-thru communications and background music industry. In the field of drive-thru communications, ESS is particularly respected and has built a large ship-in repair business that continues to expand as new customers discover and enjoy the benefits of the high levels of customer service the company provides. ESS sells and rents two-way radios to businesses of all kinds, and the same high level of customer service is provided to those customers as well.
3M has awarded ESS multiple “Circle of Excellence” plaques and recognized ESS as one of the top 5 dealers in the nation for the sound products line. Phase Research, manufacturer of the Fast Track drive-thru timing system, has recognized ESS as a top ten dealer every year since 2002 and as Dealer of the Year in both 2004 and 2005. ESS became Phase Research’s first million dollar dealer in 2007. DMX Music lists ESS as one of their top six affiliates.
In 2006, ESS received the Future 50 award from the Nashville Chamber of Commerce. This award is normally given to much younger companies, but ESS earned the honor due to extraordinary sales growth in the previous three years.
In January of 2009, ESS relocated its Nashville headquarters to a new location – 203 McMillin Street in Nashville – only few blocks away from the old location. The much larger facility is enabling us to further expand our business and serve our customers better.
In May of 2009, ESS celebrated its 40th anniversary. In a special ceremony, 3M presented us with a special plaque to commemorate us as the oldest continuously operating 3M Communications Products dealers in the Nation. Once again in 2009, ESS received the Future 50 award from the Nashville Chamber.
In 2010, we continued to strive in our quest to further enhance our product offerings and services with exciting additions such as Dish Network services and digital signage. The year was filled with challenges as the economy put a strain on everyone in our industry, but we persevered and pursued additional opportunities that would enhance the future of the companies. In 2011, those efforts bore fruit as we finalized dealer agreements with HME and Crestron.
In 2019, PAR Technologies acquired the drive-thru equipment production and repair aspect of 3M, while RDM Electronics acquired the 3M Intercom division. ESS continues to work with both of these prestigious companies to provide installation and repair of their respective product lines.
We have assembled a “demo room” to show off our various products so that customers can see for themselves how those items can benefit them. Come and see us at our Nashville office and let us show you how we can help you enhance your business!