By Clive Young
New York (March 7, 2007)--Loud Technologies (Woodinville, WA) has purchased UK loudspeaker manufacturer Martin Audio. The 35-year-old company is distributed internationally to 50 territories and employs about 60 people at its head office in High Wycombe, UK. Loud is the corporate parent of pro audio companies such as EAW, Mackie and SIA, as well as numerous MI brands, including Alvarez, Ampeg, Crate and St. Louis Music.
"Our view is everything is just 'business as usual,"' said Rob Hofkamp, Director North American Operations for Martin Audio. "Our relationships are still the same; we are still 100 percent owned by Martin Audio in the UK, which is now 100 percent owned by Loud--we report to David Bissett-Powell and the management team in the UK, and they, in turn, are part of the Loud Group of companies."
The sale of Martin Audio to Loud is the second sale of a British loudspeaker manufacturer announced in recent weeks, the first being the purchase of Turbosound by Italian manufacturer Proel spa. "It's always a time for speculation when these buyouts occur," said Hofkamp. "There's a few buyouts at the moment but it'll make for an interesting time and I think you'll see some benefits for the companies and their customers as well. I really believe that this is a positive thing with Martin being in the UK; there's a history to the name, a pedigree in it and they have a good business model that we will continue to build upon. What it comes down to is that Martin needs access to more resources in order to continue to grow at the rate enjoyed over that last 10 years and becoming part of LOUD will allow that to happen. Martin also has some unique engineering and market skills that can strongly benefit other parts of the LOUD organization."
While Loud has moved much of its manufacturing to Asia in recent times, reportedly Martin's product will continue to be produced in the UK, and its management likewise will remain there as well.
Loud CEO Jamie Engen said in a statement, "[Martin Audio's] core strengths will be a great asset to the further developments of our existing brands. It is envisaged that Martin Audio will remain an independent brand within the group; however, we expect there to be synergies that can be exploited to the mutual benefit of all our customers and our newly expanded group."
With the sale, Martin Audio becomes the fourth brand of loudspeakers under the Loud umbrella, joining the likes of Mackie and Tapco, but what does this mean for EAW, which was, at the beginning of the week, a direct competitor? Apparently nothing."
Hofkamp explained, "In the same way that car manufacturers have multiple lines of cars, LOUD now has multiple lines of loudspeaker manufacturers, and it's a healthy, competitive environment to bring different product to different levels of the market. Does anyone buy EAW simply because it's part of LOUD? No, they buy because of EAW--and it's the same thing with Martin Audio"
In the UK, Martin Audio's marketing director Rob Lingfield said that, despite an inevitable clash of product lines with EAW, Loud currently had no plans to dispose of its incumbent loudspeaker brand.
Explaining the sale in a company statement, Bissett-Powell noted, "to be a small independent is becoming tougher on the world stage. Customers are seeking more of an integrated approach, and the merging of technologies is inevitable. We recognize the need for multiple disciplines, and by becoming part of Loud, we immediately have access to further resources, both technical and financial, to assist our team in reaching their goals."
Hobkamp added, "We're trying to get the word out here about the purchase--this is not a secret and we're not trying to hide it. It may have an impact on the way some people view our company, but those who know us, know the relationships and the business and the service we provide, won't see us any differently. We're owned by LOUD and I'm excited to see what this brings us all. Everyone in the pro audio domain today is in a position where their clients are looking for solution providers who can answer all their needs and those of their clients. You need a broad range of resources to do that, and I think that in this kind of climate, it's harder for independents to survive, particularly if you don't have the resources to meet customers' expectations.
"This industry's development is an evolutionary process, and it's obvious that LOUD has looked at Martin Audio carefully and has decided this is a good company to own. Similarly, the company has looked at where it should align itself for the future and has chosen LOUD."
By Clive Young