In a deal several months in the making, B&B Theatres President Bob Bagby
announced today that he has sold all ownership stock in Sonic Equipment
Company which his family has owned since 1965 as well as its companion
business Kneisley Manufacturing effective December 1, 2018.
Sonic Equipment Company is an industry leader in the sale, installation, and
service of cinema equipment, providing services to major chains and independent
exhibitors on over 1,200 screens in 35 states. Their programs include
comprehensive equipping for new builds and remodels, onsite service and
preventative maintenance, online and call center troubleshooting, and personalized training for theater management teams. Kneisley Manufacturing produces
projector pedestals, self-service candy racks, and other cinema hardware.
Bagby was approached in early 2018 by an investment group led by industry
colleagues Stan Hays, Mike Clement and Keith Watanabe. As the conversations
progressed, it became clear that the change in ownership would open doors for the
service company due to the contacts in the marketplace of the members of the
investment group. The investment group plans to add several hundred new screens
to Sonic in the coming months and also add additional items for Kneisley to
manufacture. Stan Hays is the new President of Sonic and Kneisley.
The stipulations of the deal require that Sonic remain headquartered in Iola, Kansas
for a number of years, and significant efforts were taken to ensure that employees
of both organizations were retained. B&B Theatres has also entered into a long
term service contract with both companies.
Speaking of the sale, Bagby said, “I am very excited for the Sonic/Kneisley teams
as they move into this new phase of the business. I have not been able to give
Sonic and Kneisley the attention that they need as my time has been focused on
growing B&B Theatres. Sonic has the best service team in the industry and I’m so
happy that they will all be a part of this next phase of growth for both companies.”
Bagby will remain involved in a consultancy capacity for a time during the
transition, but looks forward to focusing his full attention on the continued and
measured growth of B&B as funds from the sale will help B&B expand in the
coming months and years.
Stan Hays has been in the industry for many years overseeing over 4,000 digital
installs in the early stages of the digital conversion. Hays said “Sonic has a
reputation in the industry as a premiere service provider and I am honored to help
it grow into an even larger company. Ron Hageman will remain as Executive
Director of Sonic and will continue to lead the company and its 65 employees. I
have no plans for any layoffs but instead plan to add seven new employees
immediately so we can aggressively grow the company.”
Mike Clement has spent his entire career in accounting and finance helping
businesses of all sizes run efficiently and successfully, including seven years with
AMC and its subsidiary National Cinema Network. Clement said of the
acquisition, "I'm well aware of Sonic's and Kneisley's strong position in the
industry and more importantly the outstanding employees responsible for making
that happen. This is an exciting opportunity for everyone involved."
Keith Watanabe’s career spans over 20 years in the motion picture industry with
assignments at Eastman Kodak, Christie projection, Harkness screens and
CinemaNext. Watanabe shares “Sonic provides complete equipment and service
solutions to cinemas and what I appreciate the most is the straightforward way they
accomplish this work; thoughtful, fair and done right. As the industry enters the
‘post VPF’ era, Sonic is ideally positioned to guide, partner and support cinemas
through these transition times.”
Sonic is located in Iola, Kansas but has technicians throughout the country and
currently services over 1,200 screens in 35 states.