When Martin Glasband founded Equi=Tech in 1992, balanced power technology was a new concept that promised to reduce ground noise and improve clarity in sound while protecting costly equipment. As the technology became more readily available, Equi=Tech expanded its range of products, moving from portable 15 to 20 amp rack unit models to a larger capacity of 30 to 100 amps, and eventually designing larger wall cabinet models ranging from 50a to 200+a, all of which conform to world power standards. The company also designed a three-phase transformer that could be sold as a standalone unit with landing terminals to be wired to an existing panel. When Equi=Tech added wall panels, the company finally had a product portfolio broad enough to address the needs of recording studios, churches, universities, government/military facilities and hospitals.
Over time, Martin became “the go-to guy for information and tech advice,” says his sister, Jan Glasband. “If anyone knows about balanced power, it’s Equi=Tech. Martin wrote the code for its practical use and presented it before the NEC [National Electrical Code] panel, twice accomplishing his goal of having the technology adapted into the NEC guidelines and enabling its commercial application and sales.”
While Martin was able to set the stage for balanced power technology entering the mainstream, actually making it happen took more than talking to the powers that be; it meant educating the technology’s potential users, and it was a task he took to like a fish to water.
“His enthusiasm and excitement about balanced power technology was contagious, and he affected everyone he came into contact with,” says Jan. “He could talk for hours about its virtues and benefits, how it could vastly improve the quality of sound, and what the future held for the entire electrical industry. Martin also had an uncanny ability to educate and could readily explain the complexities of symmetrical power to literally anyone he met. He had a great affinity and patience for people wanting to know more about electricity, especially young people with an eagerness to learn.”
View from the Top: Sara Elliott, COO, VUE Audiotechnik, by Clive Young, June 22, 2018
All of this helped Equi=Tech grow, but as it turns out, Martin wasn’t the only entrepreneur in the family. Jan has spent the last 30 years running a theatrical production company, Actors’ Repertory Theatre of Simi (www.actorsrepofsimi.org), operating a black box theater (ARTSpace) and producing numerous arts programs and large festival-type events in Simi Valley, CA. During that time, she was also peripherally involved with Equi=Tech when needed. “When the company was first starting out, I created graphics for several pieces of promo literature,” she says. “I’ve also been to trade shows and conventions at Martin’s invitation, where I got a first-hand glimpse at what the company was all about. I was excited to be witness to the beginnings of a new technology.”
In recent years, however, Jan had to become more involved in the company: “Martin’s increasing medical problems became a major factor contributing to me assisting him and taking on more responsibilities with the company, improving overall operations and customer support. I am currently director of operations and became CEO of Equi=Tech upon Martin’s passing in November of 2017.”
With many companies, the death of a founder is enough to capsize the ship; with Equi=Tech, the corporate turbulence was compounded by additional outside factors. “I’ve been focused on establishing a new norm for the past four years,” says Jan. “Because of changes in the market, a struggling economy in our home base of southern Oregon, where a once-thriving logging industry had all but disappeared, Martin’s health issues, et cetera. Needless to say, it has been challenging.”
That dark challenge ultimately became an opportunity to rethink how Equi=Tech operated, from top to bottom. Today, the company has relocated and expanded, having moved its manufacturing facility to Grants Pass, OR, a move that provided more accessibility to shipping and suppliers. There, the company is run by a dedicated group, with reps in L.A., Nashville, Florida and Europe. “Having a cohesive team with the same vision is critical to the success of any endeavor, and we have that in spades,” says Jan, pointing to the recent addition of national sales manager Terry Brent. “His idealism, zeal, sincerity and easy rapport with clients are refreshing and irreplaceable attributes. He is truly our brand ambassador.”
Much as Equi=Tech has been changing to meet its challenges head-on, so has its new CEO. Jan explains, “Because of my background as a graphic artist and my work in PR and marketing, I began creating a more streamlined and user-friendly website for Equi=Tech at the outset of my participation. Even though my technical knowledge is not at the level of our engineering team, I’ve fortunately managed to pick up a working understanding of our product line over the years thanks to Erik Praytor, our production supervisor. I’ve also been able to build relationships with dealers, suppliers, vendors and end users on a global basis. Communication, customer service, product integrity, honesty and ethical business practices, along with staying on top of technological trends, are key elements in growing any business. We’ve continued to get outstanding feedback from vendors and customers who seem to appreciate the strides we’ve made in improving the way Equi=Tech operates.” Some of those enthused customers include engineer/producer Michael Beinhorn, Blackbird Studios owner John McBride and producer No I.D., to name a few.
Part of the company’s success has been to ensure products work well, and do so for a long time. More than 90 percent of Equi=Tech’s parts are manufactured in the United States, and every unit is tested by Praytor (“our perfectionist production supervisor,” says Jan) prior to shipping.
“There are so many companies today who manufacture products with the idea that things will eventually break down and have to be replaced,” she says. “Equi=Tech, however, takes great pride in maintaining the longevity, quality and integrity of what comes out of our facility. Martin and I were raised during a time when ‘disposable’ and ‘consumerism’ were not conjoined ideas, and he designed everything that we build to last a lifetime.”
The company’s product development work didn’t end with Martin’s passing. “It is a challenge we willingly accept with curiosity and a sense of wonder,” says Jan. “We are always in R&D mode, working on specific design updates for our rack units, improved options and other cost-effective consumer products, including a soon-to-be-released designated Equi=Tech power strip.”
Part of Martin’s legacy was his ability to educate people about the virtues of simultaneous power, and that continues to be a passion for the company. “Those who understand the benefits of balanced power have always been our target audience; however, there is a much larger group of potential converts we hope to educate and enlighten,” says Jan. “The more information people have about balanced power, the better decisions they can make regarding their power conditioning options.”
That educational focus will come in handy as the company aims to broaden its range of customers, which already includes touring musicians, live sound companies, recording studios, planetariums, scientists communicating with robots on Mars, thousands upon thousands of high-end home audio system users and others. “We are hoping to integrate our larger wall panels into more major performance venues, hospitals, research facilities and military installments, and broaden our European market as well,” says Jan.
To that end, Equi=Tech is in the process of expanding its sales and rep forces throughout the country and in Europe. Beyond that, plans are shaping up for an aggressive rebranding program to further cement Equi=Tech’s place in the industry while simultaneously establishing a new presence in other markets. It’s an ambitious set of objectives, but having come through difficult times, the company is squarely focused on achieving them. “We remain hopeful,” says Jan, “and all of us share in the same goal: to continue the legacy of a really smart guy with tremendous vision.”
Equi=Tech • www.equitech.com