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A Billion Connectors Later: Neutrik At 40

Founded by Bernhard Weingartner in 1974, beginning humbly with two employees working out of a barn in Schaan, Liechtenstein, Neutrik AG is marking 40 years of business, market leadership and global reach.

Founded by Bernhard Weingartner in 1974, beginning humbly with two employees working out of a barn in Schaan, Liechtenstein, Neutrik AG is marking 40 years of business, market leadership and global reach. The Neutrik group now has eleven subsidiaries worldwide and a distribution network with tentacles reaching almost everywhere in the world. Neutrik expects to ship its one-billionth connector in 2015.

Neutrik CEO Werner Bachmann cites “innovation, continuity and quality” as the keys to his company’s success. develop test instruments, according to Neutrik CEO Werner Bachmann. “The first product on the mechanical side was the chuck-type XLR strain relief female connector to connect electrical signals; the first product on the electrical side was a mechanical recorder for frequency response recording.”

In its early years, the Neutrik product line was fairly evenly split between connectors and audio test equipment. That changed in 1985, says Bachmann, when “Neutrik saw a tremendous increase on the connector side which grew even more with the introduction of the screwless XLR connector, Neutrik’s X-series.” That trend swelled further beginning in 1987, with the launch of Neutrik’s loudspeaker connector, the speakON series.

Innovation was only part of the impetus for the company’s growth in its second decade, the other major factor being a deliberate initiative to grow its worldwide presence. “As a consequence,” says Bachmann, “subsidiaries in the USA [1986], in the UK, as well as in the People’s Republic of China and Hong Kong were established.”

In 2000, Neutrik sold off its test equipment business, and began entering into new connectivity categories such as fiber optics and wireless. As evidenced by the ubiquity of its connector products across multiple existing formats as well as in categories that it pioneered (as with the speakON), “Neutrik is proud to emphasize that several Neutrik products are recognized as ‘standards’ in the audio industry,” Bachmann elaborates. “‘Setting standards’ is not only a Neutrik slogan, it is especially true for the XLR cable connector, the D-shell housing, speak- ON, powerCON, etherCON and opticalCON.”

Neutrik’s growth suggests a market-savvy business approach. “As Neutrik is working in a niche market,” explains Bachmann, “there was no doubt that success could only develop on a worldwide basis. The first consignment was shipped to the USA. This proves that Neutrik has endeavored to take an international approach to its business from the very start.”

Dominated by the USA, the Americas represent a third of Neutrik’s current revenues, with near-equal business slices in Europe and Asia. From the two-man start, the company’s employee count is now close to 1,000. Roughly 250 are based at the Liechtenstein headquarters, with additional personnel working in distribution for subsidiaries in Switzerland, the USA, the UK, France, Germany (two companies), India, Hong Kong, China and Japan. In addition to Liechtenstein, manufacturing is done in the UK and China.

The MI industry and cable assembly sectors are Neutrik’s primary customers, with the Live/Rental, audio OEM and Broadcast sectors following up. “Since all these markets are linked to each other,” says Bachmann, a clear differentiation of business percentages by sector is difficult. He does note that “the vertical markets are different in each area—while cable assemblers, OEM and contractors are our key customers in the USA, OEM plays an important role for Neutrik in Asia.”

Bachmann cites “innovation, continuity and quality” as the keys to Neutrik’s success. “When it comes to innovation, it is not only the product to be mentioned but also other aspects are very important from an innovative point of view, such as engineering, organization, logistics, etc. In addition, we use one software application worldwide—SAP—which helps us to track customer information and to detect trends. Continuity plays a decisive role with respect to our customer base, but is not less important on the supplier side and for our motivated and loyal staff. Quality is to be seen as elementary in our daily business: Whatever Neutrik is doing, quality has first priority.”

Customer-centric innovation is also seen as critical to Neutrik’s continued health, coupled with being “a reliable partner for our employees,” says Bachmann, who suggests that the company’s base locale is an additional positive force, economically, socially and aesthetically. “We are still manufacturing the majority of our products in Liechtenstein, a high-wage country, due to the fact that we have excellent business conditions in Liechtenstein. In addition, we bear social responsibility in the sense of offering jobs for the people living in this area. Last, but not least, we are absolutely convinced that Neutrik’s highly motivated engineers and staff in general are supported to have innovative ideas, to create best-quality products, and to perform at a high level in perfect surroundings like the one Liechtenstein is able to offer in the midst of the Alps.”

There is 40 years of success and a billion connectors out there to offer ample evidence of the validity of Neutrik’s business model and vision.