As an 18-year-old working for his father’s audio installation service, Henry Jordan Sound, Chris Jordan learned a lesson he’ll never forget about taking responsibility for every job he worked on.
While installing an intercom system at a customer’s office, Jordan miscalculated the location of the support pin and drilled a hole that left the support exposed. The customer said he (the customer) would cover the hole with rock slabs under a stipulation: Chris Jordan must sign his name in the exposed wall.
In the client’s words, “You have to own every piece of work you do, and that includes your mistakes. Let this become a lesson for you.
That humbling moment gave Jordan a degree in professionalism and commitment: taking responsibility for every job.
That “degree” would become quite significant in his pursuit of excellence.
As a senior at Castleberry High School, Jordan’s English teacher shared a challenge: If you don’t pass this class, you won’t graduate.
Inspired by the challenge, the young student gave in and graduated fourth in his class, fourth from the bottom. Yet he graduated.
He noticed the joy his brother, Gary, took in skydiving, so Jordan took up the sport. The two brothers performed skydiving demonstrations at everything from barbecues to county fairs. He had completed a milestone of 250 jumps when something went wrong.
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“I was on a routine jump, and everything was going well. Then, 400 feet above the ground, my chute suddenly collapsed. I rolled myself into a ball to prepare for what was probably my last impact.
Inexplicably, the parachute suddenly reopened a second before impact. He had a hard landing, but walked away without a scratch.
“That’s when I felt God’s presence. I knew it wasn’t luck. It was a gift and I was given the opportunity to make a difference.
At the age of 20 he began attending church, where he gained a mentor in David Bertch, who took him under his wing and fed him books. Jordan became a voracious reader of electronics and sound. He taught himself advanced concepts which also benefited his skills from working for his father’s solid company.
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Chris Jordan recognized that churches in the 1980s lacked quality sound, so he started calling architects whenever he saw a church under construction. He learned that sound quality was not a priority at the time, so the architects worked with the general contractor, and church management selected the audio contractor.
Jordan’s first project was at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Fort Worth. “I thought this $10,000 budget was all the money in the world!” Over time, he would learn to broaden the scope of his definition of “great.”
He and his wife Sue sold their Pontiac Grand Prix and bought tools and a used white van. Electro Acoustics was in business. First year volume was $143,000 in 1984.
At the time, the furthest thing from Jordan’s mind was that almost 40 years later, Systems Contractors News – the audiovisual industry’s prestigious publication – would induct him into its SCN Hall of Fame.
Jordan’s reputation for outstanding work has grown his business from its humble beginning to grander projects, first with more churches and then offices and schools.
In the company’s second year of operation, Electro Acoustics’ largest project was priced at $25,000. So, in biblical terms, Jonah swallowed the whale as Jordan submitted the winning bid for Groesbeck High School’s Center for the Performing Arts. At $250,000, the project was 10 times the size of its largest previous project.
“To meet the bond requirements, we put our house and cars as collateral,” says Jordan. “We were all in.”
Eight years later, the Texas Rangers’ new home, The Ballpark in Arlington, offered another milestone 10 times the size: $2,500,000. Electro Acoustics partnered with two other local firms to earn the job over national firms.
Working from dusk till dawn, the Electro Acoustics team completed not only their responsibilities of designing and installing the racks, but also designing, fabricating and installing the large speaker horns when either of the other two partners failed to deliver.
“We built our two in-house teams and raced to see who could install the most speakers by the end of each day,” Jordan says. “At closing time, the losing team bought beer for the winning team.
“That project provided the largest control system in the world at the time, a revolutionary design that changed large venues.”
Arlington’s Ballpark opened its doors to TCU, where Chris and his team designed and installed systems at Amon G. Carter Stadium during its many upgrades, Schollmaier Arena and Van Cliburn Performance Hall, among many others.
The Van Cliburn project almost never came to fruition. A Houston company won the initial bid and failed to deliver on its promises, so Chris got the call from TCU asking him to replace that company and save the project.
“These things happen from time to time,” Jordan says. “A client receives a quote on a project that is simply too tempting to pass up. It usually ends up that the other company doesn’t bid to specification, so it can’t fulfill the contract. Because TCU trusted us, we earned their trust even deeper by saving the project and delivering it ahead of schedule.”
What would Jordan consider Electro Acoustics’ defining project?
“While we’ve been honored to elevate the audience experience through our design and installations at such notable venues as Bass Hall, the Kimbell Piano Pavilion, Christ Chapel Church, and the Levitt Pavilion in Arlington, our crowning glory is the Dickies Arena,” Jordan says. “I love how legendary rodeo announcer Bob Tallman calls Dickies Arena ‘Bass Hall with dirt in it.’ I’d really rather he called Bass Hall ‘Dickies Arena with no dirt.’”
Dickies Arena presented the ultimate challenge, Jordan says, because big venues tend to focus on what he calls “page-quality” sound that’s good enough for watching a football or basketball game or enjoying a rodeo. but the sound quality was never going to be up to par. an uplifting and enjoyable experience for a concert, where the quality of the instrumentation and the clarity of the voice are essential.
“We recommended a change to the initial sound system design at Dickies Arena because the concert experience would be pretty good, but not great,” Jordan recalls. “With the changes we’ve made, Dickies Arena is among the premier multi-purpose venues in all of North America.
“Besides Bob Tallman’s commentary, the biggest compliment we received was from George Strait’s sound engineer, who came to Dickies Arena a couple of months before his performance and said the facility was so perfect that he couldn’t they would have needed to bring any auxiliary audio equipment support”.
It just seems like Chris Jordan has led his company to achieve its mission to entertain, educate and uplift.
Along the way, Electro Acoustics has become known locally, regionally and nationally for innovation and creative solutions.
“Over the years, we’ve worked directly with manufacturers to provide custom solutions that aren’t commercially available,” says Jordan. “We were the first to design loudspeakers with the large horn at the top and cone driver at the bottom in one unit. That design has become the industry standard today.”
With all that innovation, it seems fair to assume that Jordan owns a lot of patents. How many does he have?
“Nobody,” he says. “I just wanted to create custom solutions and we never wanted to go into manufacturing. We’ve been so busy customizing audio/visual projects and installations that we’ve never taken the time to explore patents.”
In January, Chris and Sue Jordan were on vacation in Colorado when she received a text to call back. Upon the returned call, Jordan learned that he had been inducted into the Systems Contractors News (SCN) Hall of Fame.
SCN had named Electro Acoustics’ installation at Dickies Arena as their 2019 Installation of the Year and also cited Jordan’s leadership role with major manufacturers such as Electro-Voice and JBL in creating designs now used throughout the industry.
Electro Acoustics’ designs and installations can be seen throughout Fort Worth-Dallas and beyond – and that very first client, Westminster Presbyterian Church, remains a showcase. Westminster recently commissioned the firm to design and upgrade the church’s sound system.
As part of a five-year plan, December 31 marked 66-year-old Chris Jordan’s last day as owner of Electro Acoustics. He completed the sale of the company to his two sons, CEO Luke and COO Sam, who have been the principal operators of the company for the past two years. Luke joined the company 12 years ago and Sam six years ago.
Electro Acoustics is a family business which is successfully passed on to the second generation. The company was named Fort Worth Small Business of the Year 2020, Texas Institute for Family Business Best Managed Family Business 2019, Top Family Business 2017 in Tarrant County, and Entrepreneur of Excellence 2017.
“I haven’t attended a single management meeting in the last year because I’ve totally freed myself from day-to-day management,” says Jordan. “Sue hers and I are so proud to see our children being such close friends and thriving in their personal and work lives. We enjoy a weekly dinner gathering with the whole family, something we will cherish forever.
“This transition in roles has allowed me to pursue some of my passions, such as helping create the Rotary Minority Business Awards program that recognizes and provides opportunities for minority-owned businesses in the Fort Worth area. It means a lot to me that I’m helping open up new opportunities for people who need them.
A prime example of his legacy of working with others to bring about change is the expansion of the Fort Worth Rotary Club of Fort Worth from seven minority business owners or managers as members three years ago to 55 minority business owners or managers Today.
More than 40 Rotary clubs across the country have expressed interest in replicating the Rotary Minority Business Awards program.
Things have changed for Chris Jordan and Electro Acoustics. Speakers who were once small are now taller than him; $10,000 is no longer a career defining project.
Yet things are the same even with the focus on innovation and leadership. This second generation continues to follow the first generation: they are not only willing but eager to proudly sign their name on the quality of their work.
A hall-of-famer’s vision and innovation got them where they are and will continue to focus on electro-acoustics to entertain, educate and edify.
By the way, that $143,000 total volume from 1984 is roughly the volume today’s Electro Acoustics achieves in just four days.