Melville, NY (May 9, 2006)–Korg USA president Michael “Mike” Kovins passed away on May 2, 2006 at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital in Manhattan, New York after a long battle with leukemia. Kovins is survived by his wife of 29 years, Katherine. A private service was held today on Long Island and the family has requested that, in lieu of flowers, a donation in Mike’s memory be made to The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society (www.leukemia.org).
Mike KovinsKovins joined Unicord, the predecessor of Korg USA, in 1980 and first served as product marketing manager. In 1984 he was promoted to vice president marketing. When Korg USA was founded in 1985, he then assumed responsibilities as executive vice president. In 1994 he was promoted to president, a position he held until his passing.
Kovins was born on July 25, 1948 in Queens, New York and grew up on Long Island in New Hyde Park where one of his proudest achievements was earning first chair/trumpet in the school orchestra. He graduated from the University of Miami in 1970 with a Bachelors Degree in business and music and went on to receive his M.B.A. in marketing from Long Island University, C. W. Post campus in 1980.
Upon graduating from the University of Miami, Mike began his career in the music industry at Sam Ash, first in their educational department and then in their Hempstead, Long Island store. In 1973 he joined Tolchin Instruments where he was involved in setting up the first nationally distributed catalog for music educators. Upon leaving Tolchin in 1976, Kovins went to work at M. Hohner, Inc., hired by then vice president sales, Joe Bredau (Korg USA’s current vice president marketing & sales), to run their Orff-Schulwerk Division. When Hohner decided to move to Richmond, Virginia, Mike went to work at Unicord.
At Unicord, Kovins was instrumental in launching groundbreaking products like the Korg Polysix, Mono/Poly, GT-6 Tuner and Marshall JCM800 Series. He later went on to become one of the founding members of Korg USA, and as executive vice president led the introduction of the industry’s largest selling music workstation, the Korg M1. As president he oversaw the successful introduction of a succession of products, such as the Korg TRITON and most recently, the Korg OASYS.
Always a strong advocate and supporter of music education, Mike was instrumental in creating Korg USA’s SoundTree educational division and was the founder and an executive committee member of TI:ME, Technology Institute for Music Educators. He was a recipient of Berklee College of Music’s Golden Clef award for Lifetime Commitment to Music Education, the Julia E. Crane International Medallion for Lifetime Achievement in the Music Products Industry, and the Distinguished Alumnus Award 2006 of the Frost School of Music at the University of Miami for his outstanding achievement in the music industry. Kovins was also on the Board of Directors of Five Towns College and was a past Board Member of NAMM. At the time of his passing Mike was the President of IAEKM, International Association of Electronic Keyboard Manufacturers, and on the Board of Directors of AMC, the American Music Conference.
In his personal life, Kovins was a devoted Los Angeles Dodger’s fan, an avid golfer and an active member of the Indian Hills Country Club, in Northport, New York. He could regularly be found participating in music industry golf events where his natural athleticism and talent at the game always made him a contender for top honors. One memorable occasion was Korg USA’s 2000 summer golf outing in Nashville when he got a hole in one!
Few knew of Kovins’ nine year battle with leukemia. Whether attending a NAMM Show, visiting a dealer, chairing a company meeting or out on the golf course, he fought the disease privately and with great dignity. With a complete absence of self-pity, he never let his illness affect anything he did for Korg USA and was always a motivating and driving force to everyone around him.
Exemplifying a true leader, Kovins would always take time out of his busy day to walk the halls of Korg USA, stopping to talk to everyone from the newest employee to managers who had worked with him for years. They were all part of his extended family, and Mike always treated them as such.
Korg USA executive vice president and CFO Joseph Castronovo stated, “Mike Kovins, Mitch Colby (senior vice president product development and support), Joe Bredau (vice president marketing & sales) and I have been part of one of the longest lasting management teams in M.I. We’ve worked together since 1989, and throughout all that time Mike’s focus on growing the music industry was unwavering. He was evangelical in his commitment to music and music education, and in his desire to grow the market. Everyone at Korg USA will miss Mike, but our loss is also shared by the entire music industry, because as a group, with Mike’s passing, we have surely lost one of our leading and most impassioned voices.”