Giving every student a front row seat
FrontRow makes technology for effortless communication in any learning environment. And that helps you deliver a great education more efficiently. Although we think of it as a single platform, most users start out by focusing on one of four major FrontRow solutions:
Founded in 1963, FrontRow is headquartered in Sonoma County (California), and has offices in Toronto (Canada), Copenhagen (Denmark), Shenzhen (China), Brisbane (Australia), and Hamilton (United Kingdom). Our products are used in at least 25 countries around the world, including nearly 5,000 US K-12 districts. We are part of the US$1.4 billion William Demant Group, which comprises companies that develop, manufacture, and sell innovative and highly advanced technological solutions in the hearing healthcare and educational field.
What drives us
Every day, we put the skills of our great schooling to use, helping the schools that helped us. Thousands of elementary, secondary, and college campuses around the world use FrontRow technology to simplify, standardize, and improve the way they communicate with students, parents, teachers — and even other technology. They use our products to manage thousands of projectors. To start an intercom call with a simple voice command. Or to improve comprehension, student collaboration, and test scores. Our products help schools overcome very different communication challenges, yet they all have three things in common:
Our engineers based in California, Minnesota, and New Zealand live by a core design principle: “Strength inside, simplicity outside.” That means fewer buttons, more straightforward design, and easier installation. Our microphones, control panels, and software interfaces do the work, so you can do your job.
Long-term cost savings
Tight budgets don’t mean sacrificing quality. Our audio and control products are, by design, a much better return on investment over time. From world-class reliability testing, to dramatic energy savings, to smarter network architecture that saves thousands of dollars in infrastructure and maintenance costs, we’re thinking long-term.
Effectiveness and efficiency
School technology is worthwhile only if it makes technologists, teachers, and students successful. That’s why we devote ourselves to developing technologies like voice command of projectors and other devices, the patented OptiVoice™ speech clarification engine, or an open architecture to our control platform that lets you make the changes you want when you want. In ways large or small, FrontRow products just work better.
Jens Holstebro has immersed himself in consumer and educational technology for nearly two decades as an entrepreneur, salesperson, and senior executive. He has built his career upon setting strategic direction, growing global businesses and brands, and overcoming complex organizational challenges.
In his twenties, Jens spent some time in Massachusetts serving as interim General Manager of a Danish-American joint venture operating in the computer peripherals industry. He went on to co-found a consumer electronics trading company and took it from $0 to $50 million in sales within four years. In 1999, FrontRow (then Phonic Ear) invited Jens to manage its international business development. In this role, he built a successful marketing, sales, service, and product development operation based in Copenhagen to serve FrontRow’s customers outside North America. His accomplishments led to his appointment as the youngest President in FrontRow history in 2005.
Jens’ achievements at FrontRow include spearheading the company’s entrance into software solutions and the 2011 merger with Calypso Systems — both of which have dramatically expanded long-term opportunity for the company and deepened value for FrontRow customers. Jens has been cheerleader-in-chief for FrontRow’s customer-focused culture and for streamlining the processes that keep it efficiently delivering the world’s best school communication solutions. His innovations such as No Colleague Left Behind and an office environment that resembles our customers’ schools have helped ensure that employees at all levels are deeply invested in FrontRow’s mission and solutions.
Jens, however, considers his biggest achievement in life to be his teen son Mads. Natives of Denmark, the Holstebros enjoy exploring the Western Hemisphere together whenever Mads gives them a reprieve from playing soccer.
Jens holds a Graduate Diploma from the Copenhagen Business School.
Vice President, International Business Development
Andrew Exner drives the success of FrontRow solutions in markets outside the US, using his extensive background in educational technology marketing and business development. Prior to joining FrontRow in 2012, he worked for a venture capital funding agency in Canada as the Director of Commercialization Programs. Andrew’s nine years in SMART Technologies’ product management department grounded him in winning strategies for global product introduction and growth across hardware, software, and services.
Andrew spends his free time with his wife and two kids and enjoys staying active playing basketball, tennis and skiing.
Andrew graduated from Mount Royal University in Calgary, with his Bachelor of Applied Communications Degree. He holds certificates in Product Management, Business Law, Software Development and Sustainability & Environmental Management.
Vice President, US Sales
In his 15+ years in classroom sound and education technology, Mark has established a record of success marked by a series of promotions to positions of increased influence, authority, and responsibility—most recently at Lightspeed, where he started as Territory Manager and ascended to Vice president of U.S. Sales.
Mark is passionate about the difference voice amplification makes in the lives of students. His deep industry insight and knowledge make him a trusted advisor to school teachers, school and district administrators, education information technologists, and consultants ready to deploy top technologies within their campuses. He has the ability to translate client business requirements into technical specifications, building long-term, trusting client partnerships and delivering customized solutions narrowly tailored to meet the unique needs of each customer.
Mark and his wife Stacy have four children. An avid outdoorsman, he spends much of his free time in the woods or on the waters of his home state of Michigan.
Vice President, Marketing
John Merline brings over 20 years of consumer and technology marketing expertise to FrontRow. The son and sibling of teachers, his keen interest in learning and his career in educational technology probably have genetic roots. After joining Phonic Ear in 1998 as Marketing Communications Manager, John became instrumental in the company’s rebranding and internal transformation into FrontRow in 2005. He and his team produce strategic/tactical planning and execution, market research, direct marketing, price optimization, web tools and databases, award-winning exhibits, copywriting, and graphic design. He is particularly engaged in Marketing Ops and his projects have included building an automated (yet human-friendly) system to improve customer response time and nurturing.
Prior to joining FrontRow, John worked in advertising, PR, and consulting for a variety of firms and clients in the technology, consumer products, and real estate spaces.
John is a fan of Franco-Belgian comics, archaeology, and early 20th-century illustration. He can often be found whining on a bike about a kilometer behind his wife somewhere on the backroads of Sonoma County.
John holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of California at Berkeley, graduating with High Honors in English, and nominated to Phi Beta Kappa.
Vice President, Engineering
As FrontRow’s chief technologist, Leo Stearns helps propel the company’s mission with considerable cross-functional and cross-industry experience. Based on his success as creator of the Pix2o large-scale video display system (named 2010 Live Design International ‘Product of the Year’ and adopted by Cirque du Soleil and Disney), Leo has most recently provided business, design, and technology roadmap consulting to makers of industrial LED fixtures and high-end file servers. Earlier in his career, he led large engineering teams and entire business units at firms in the video display and telecommunications industries, including Calix and Alcatel — achieving significant improvements in production costs, lead times, and performance. And as lead designer at Allied-Signal Aerospace, he developed the first FAA-approved Microwave Landing System for commercial aviation.
When not shaping the future of educational technology, Leo enjoys winemaking and building custom cars.
He holds a degree in electrical engineering from Rochester Institute of Technology.