By Frank Wells
Iisalmi, Finland (July 24, 2008)–In the mid 1970s, two young Finnish engineers, only shortly out of college, accepted a challenge from the Finnish Broadcasting Company (YLE) to create an active monitoring system. Regardless of having to first ask what the then novel idea would entail, Ilpo Martikainen and Topi Partanen, armed with education and a passion for sound and music, created a promising prototype in just two weeks. In 1978, after two additional years of research and development, Genelec Oy was formally founded with the S30 as the first model offered. With an initial order to Italy and a second order of 340 units to YLE, the four-person company had work for a year.
Over its history, Genelec has been variously involved in sound reinforcement contracting, developing production lines for other audio manufacturers and even in the development of corrosion prevention systems for natural gas and other pipelines (including the seawater cooling system for the Loviisa nuclear power plant).
By 1989, Genelec determined its future would be exclusively focused on loudspeaker manufacturing. The company can be fairly credited with creating the now ubiquitous category of professional powered studio monitors. Its legacy of continual refinement and innovation continues, as evidenced by the radical redesign of its 8000 series of monitors and the 7000 series LSE subwoofers as well as the sophisticated and groundbreaking, onboard, self-calibration system in the DSP series and the powerful while diminutive combination of the new 5040A sub and 6010A monitors for desktop applications.
For its 30th anniversary, Genelec brought distributors and dealers from around the world to its tiny, remote hometown of Iisalmi, Finland for a day of celebration, preceded by two days of planning and information sharing. Dignitaries and guests gathered at the Iisalmi cultural center for a formal presentation, in multiple languages, that commemorated the company’s legacy.
Martikainen, who remains as Chairman of the Board, used the occasion of the anniversary to laud Genelec founding employees R&D manager Partanen, and financial manager Ritva Leinonen, who, while still involved with the company, have recently retired from daily involvement, along with eventual chief acoustician Ari Varla who joined the company in 1980 as a trainee, as well as presenting longevity and achievement awards to other company employees (Genelec now employs some 80 individuals).
“Today, we have a good reason to be proud, happy and thankful,” said Martikainen, who also emphasized the company’s efforts in making its products and processes more environmentally friendly.
Mauro Severoni of RAI (Radiotelevisione Italiana), one of featured speakers for the celebration, said the “well established and close relationship between RAI and Genelec represents an example of how a manufacturer and a user can grow together.” Praise of Genelec as a working partner was echoed by Norwegian distributor Nina Benum of Benum Nordic AS and Japanese importer Otaritec, represented by Satoshi Nishihara, with Nishihara lauding Genelec’s consistent attention and follow-through to customer feedback.
Will Eggleston, the marketing director for Genelec Inc., the company’s U.S. distribution arm, related the history of studio monitoring in the U.S., and Genelec’s role. Eggleston noted his own education when joining Genelec, when Martikainen and Varla insisted he learn the acoustics and physics behind the company’s products as a precursor to marketing those products, telling Eggleston, “You cannot represent our needs and be successful without understanding what motivates our thinking.” For the future, said Eggleston, “the pioneering and refinement methodology so prevalent over the last three decades remains in place, right here, today,” in what he called this “little center of the speaker universe.”
Dr. Yrjö Neuvo, researcher, academician and former Nokia senior VP, provided the keynote address, outlining the progression of modern technology and Genelec’s own technological leadership. Dr. Neuvo said that if a visual were drawn “based on the know-how in studio class loudspeaker technology, one would probably see the highest peak in the world in Iisalmi. It has been born thanks to unprejudiced entrepreneurship, continuous renewal and fulfilling the needs of international customers.”
For photos from Genelec’s 30th Anniversary, see Web Bonus at http://www.prosoundnews.com/publish/web/Genelec_s_30th_Anniversary_Celebration.shtml