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AudioControl Charts Future, Walker Reminisces

Mountlake Terrace, Wash.– AudioControl won’t stray from its commitment to the home and car custom-installation channels or to U.S. manufacturing under new owner Alex Camara, but the company will look at expanding its audio focus to the light commercial and light professional markets.

Camara, hired as CEO for the home and car audio supplier in June 2011, recently purchased ownership of the company from Tom Walker, who has owned the company since January 1985. The company was founded in 1977.

Walker told TWICE that he sold the company because “it was the right time for me to do things that the intensity of AudioControl tends to crowd out and time for new folks to get their chance.”

Because of past experience managing growth companies, Camara was hired almost three years ago as CEO to accelerate the company’s growth. He had been president of NCR Entertainment, which built Blockbuster’s DVD kiosk business, and president of Coinstar.

Under Camara’s tenure, AudioControl has developed the marketing side of its business “to give reps more tools to go to market with,” expanded staff, reorganized manufacturing, developed new products more quickly, and “increased the bench strength of our rep network,” Camara told TWICE. Most recently, the company hired a new engineering head, Robert Riggs. The company is in the process of developing a new web site.

In the past three years, sales have grown at double-digit percentage rates, and new products became “more relevant” to the market, he said.

In the future, the company will continue to focus on its core strengths: “making good sound great,” engineering expertise, U.S. manufacturing, build quality, and 5-year warranties. Another core strength is the ability to design new products quickly because of close contact with customers and ability to respond quickly because the company doesn’t have to contend with a Far East supply chain, said Camara.

“We will continue to bring in resources and develop the team,” he added.

In diversifying its product line, the company won’t stray from its core mission of making good sound great, Camara vowed. “We’ve been asked to look at the light pro and lite-commercial audio markets,” Camara said. AudioControl dealers already install the company’s residential products in bars, restaurants doctors’ offices, and the like, he noted.

In addition, with new-home starts picking up again, dealers have asked for more products designed for new-home construction, Camara said.

Company revenues are about evenly split between home and car audio.

Looking back on his 29-year ownership of AudioControl, Walker reminisced about the pace of industry change. “Over the 29 years that I have been fortunate to lead AudioControl, the change and improvements are staggering. Stuff we only dreamed about now we accomplish daily in software and amazing high-resolution displays on smartphones and the like. We used to agonize over where to place buttons, and still do on the physical product. However, now with an app, we can move, change and update constantly.

“Software has become an almost invisible part of the product, adding features and convenience,” he continued. The computing power is just not a limitation any more. This is a very exciting time to be designing products.”

As for the CE industry itself, Walker said, “This is an industry populated by wonderful people who get to deal with music and movies. In the midst of the focusing on the next new feature, we sometimes forget that fundamentally we are in the business of delivering pleasure to our customer.”

Before he entered the CE industry, Walker worked in the Nixon administration in 1970 and 1971 on the staff of a White House advisory council on executive branch organization, also known as the Ash Council for council head Roy Ash. The council’s work led to the launch of the EPA, NOAA and the Office of Management and Budget, Walker said.

AudioControl designs, manufactures, and sells not only home and car audio gear but also equipment to measure of sound in professional systems. Car audio products include signal processors such as equalizers and crossovers. For the home, the company offers audio components for custom home theaters and multi-room audio systems, including multichannel amplifiers, A/V receivers, preamplifier/surround processors,

AudioControl sells more than 50 products in 26 countries.