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Polk Realigns Top Management

Baltimore – Polk Audio has realigned its top management team following the retirements of founder Matthew Polk, president and 16-year company veteran Jim Herd, and COO Gary Davis, who was a 25-year company veteran.

As part of the realignment, Jim Minarik will become Polk’s president, adding to his current responsibilities as Polk’s chairman/CEO and current responsibilities as president/CEO of DEI Holdings, which bought Polk in 2006.

In addition sales VP Ben Newhall, a 25-year Polk veteran, adds responsibilities for marketing and product-line management. Polk veteran Jeff Nemec becomes VP of new product development in charge of engineering, project management, and purchasing. And controller Joe Tristanti becomes COO responsible for operations and finance. The three report directly to Minarik, reducing the number of direct reports to the president’s office to three from five.

In another change, Mark Suskind was promoted to product line management VP from product line manager, reporting to Newhall.

The three retiring executives are leaving the company “because they can and want to,” said Minarik, who also noted that the founders and senior managers of an acquired company don’t usually stay on for more than a year.

“With the three of us stepping aside,” Herd added, “we’re turning back a lot of fixed-cost resources and creating an opportunity to advance other peoples’ careers.” He said he and Davis “guided the transition” and that “we set this up for continuity.

Added Minarik, “We are structuring our go-forward organization to take maximum advantage of the combined 200+ years of specific audio industry experience held by the top 10 members of Polk’s continuing management team.”

The career advancements, Herd said, “will put a lot of energy into Polk Audio.” Under current management, he added, things haven’t been bad at all. Sales in 2008 “are not down very much if at all” despite the economy and shrinking industrywide speaker sales, Herd noted.

Polk was founded in 1972 by Matthew Polk, George Klopfer, Sandy Gross and Craig Georgi just after graduating from Johns Hopkins University. Co-founder Matthew Polk, who has been employed as an adviser since the 2006 acquisition, “will be available to the engineering group when they want for specific projects,” Minarik noted. George Klopfer left Polk about a year ago.

Another Polk cofounder, Sandy Gross, went on in 1990 to start up Definitive Technology with Don Givogue. Definitive was acquired by DEI in 2004, and Gross remains Definitive president. Minarik is Definitive’s chairman and CEO.

DEI also owns vehicle-electronics maker Directed Electronics.