Imagine starting a business in September 2008, at the beginning of the worst recession in 70 years. Eric Geer can. Eric Geer incorporated his business, GeerFab Acoustics September 25th 2008.

Eric Geer is an accomplished musician, has a bachelor’s degree in Music Composition and won a world prize for a classical composition. His interest in acoustics began in college. At music school, he explored how different rooms and halls affected the sound of the music. When he began working in the classical record business, it became part of his job to discern the acoustic signatures of recording venues and record labels.

Subsequent work as a multi-instrumentalist in numerous ensembles led to work with rehearsal and recording studio acoustics and years of independent study. His work as Sponsorship Director and Board member of the TEC Awards (www.TECfoundation.com) has afforded him ongoing dialogues with some of the best studio designers in the world, as well as executives from some of the world’s top pro audio equipment manufacturers.

In 2006, just before a move to California to pursue a music industry opportunity, a friend asked his help in quieting the restaurant and lounge in the Ambassador Hotel. It worked wonderfully and while in CA, he got a call from a Milwaukee company that had heard of the Ambassador project and during a few visits, Eric went in and solved another major acoustics problem. After two positive projects and a move back to Milwaukee, Eric decided this might be a great business and went to SCORE for help in starting it.

“Friends, relatives, and colleagues had been urging me for years to tackle restaurant acoustics. I was very clear about the aesthetics and the science, but not so clear about how to go about starting the business side.” He worked with two different SCORE counselors to take advantage of their different skills; Carole Kauss, and Bob Dude. Carole was helpful in the marketing collateral and even in helping him refine the name of the business. Bob with a business and financial background helped him validate the idea and business form and helped getting him ready to approach a bank for a loan. Eric periodically talks to his SCORE counselors for mentoring advice.

Eric was disappointed when banks turned him down for a loan at the height of the financial crisis, but determined enough to plow ahead without it. He made every personal sacrifice to conserve money and even borrowed the necessary test equipment to do the first consulting job. The jobs came in a “hand to mouth” fashion, “I was happy I had a project, but nervous about landing the next job.” But the jobs kept coming, the work was steadier and he clawed his way through the first year. Wearing all the hats of a fledgling business and balancing marketing with the work itself “has been like changing tires on a moving car.”

The majority of the GeerFab business is currently in restaurants. “Restaurants can become quieter without losing vibrancy and visually, you can hardly tell anything has been done – the acoustic solutions I employ are virtually invisible.” The restaurants are eager to apply this technology, because of customer complaints and even restaurant reviewers comment on the noise levels.

GeerFab Acoustics has also done work for hotels, universities, recording studios, and theaters. GeerFab offers everything from consulting to complete turnkey installations. And Bob Dude’s advice to “follow the money” is leading GeerFab into certain markets and industry segments Bob believes have big potential.

Ask Eric if it is an art or a science and he will say “yes.” He calls it “acoustic science meets aesthetic design.” Restaurant clients have told him that GeerFab “saved our business” and “it’s the best money I’ve ever spent.” Eric likes to say that as a competitive advantage for the restaurant, the acoustic work in which GeerFab Acoustics specializes is “the new air conditioning.”

How SCORE Helped: 

Eric Geer is an accomplished musician, has a bachelor’s degree in Music Composition and won a world prize for a classical composition. His interest in acoustics began in college. At music school, he explored how different rooms and halls affected the sound of the music. When he began working in the classical record business, it became part of his job to discern the acoustic signatures of recording venues and record labels. Just before a move to California to pursue a music industry opportunity, a friend asked his help in quieting the restaurant and lounge in the Ambassador Hotel. It worked wonderfully and while in CA, he got a call from a Milwaukee company that had heard of the Ambassador project and during a few visits, Eric went in and solved another major acoustics problem. After two positive projects and a move back to Milwaukee, Eric decided this might be a great business and went to SCORE for help in starting it.

Geerfab Acoustics