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View From The Top: 40 Years And Counting Mark Wentling, President CEO Ashly Audio

In the past four decades, the Webster, NY-based audio innovator Ashly Audio has introduced an array of customized consoles, signal processors and power amplifiers to the market, keeping the company’s focus towards adapting live sound to the digital world.

After joining Ashly Audio in 2008, Mark Wentling was named president CEO in 2011. In the past four decades, the Webster, NY-based audio innovator Ashly Audio has introduced an array of customized consoles, signal processors and power amplifiers to the market, keeping the company’s focus towards adapting live sound to the digital world. With such an emphasis on innovation, Ashly Audio knew it needed a leader with an extensive research and development background within the company—which led to the promotion of its R&D manager, Mark Wentling, to president CEO in 2011.

While Wentling has only been with the company since 2008, he cites his experiences in the audio industry as an export distributor and engineer to his success since coming on as CEO.

“One of the best things about this industry is that it’s relatively small,” he explained. “If you stay in it long enough, you get to know most of the players. My export sales distribution experience gave me a broad experience with suppliers, and customers worldwide. My engineering design background helps me to better understand the manufacturing side.”

Growing up, Wentling always had interests in sound and lighting, whether he was performing in a rock band or working in A/V, and many times he would build sound equipment from parts he took from used gear. This interest led him to pursue a career in audio, earning an ASET and BSEE, and joining Rochester, NY’s MXR Innovations as a project engineer. From there, he moved around the industry, working for companies such as Music Man, Ernie Ball and Fender.

At the suggestion of his boss, Tom Walker, Wentling earned his MBA from Pepperdine University and became a partner at E & E Exports, an export distribution firm representing pro-audio lines and some MI lines.

“We set up initial export distribution for QSC, Rane, ProCo Sound, Galaxy Audio, Symetrix, PreSonus and many others,” he said. “E & E was a huge learning experience in that I was able to meet all kinds of industry people and I got to see a lot of different companies on both the supply- and customer sides.”

Wentling’s career took him all over the US before he decided to move back to his hometown in 2003, taking a job as director of R&D at Yorkville Sound’s ART division. “I also knew Ashly Audio from handling their export distribution for many years, and Ashly approached me to manage their R&D team. The company and its factory were about a mile from my home, so I made the move in 2008, and was promoted to President CEO in 2011,” Wentling said.

Coming into the new position, Wentling found that one of the biggest challenges was adapting to proaudio’s increasing reliance on IT technology to remotely monitor and control sound systems. “Pro audio companies tend to be staffed with well-experienced audio people, but they must now learn an entirely new field of technology—IT networking technology,” said Wentling. “This is not only in the design and development phase, but it’s a huge demand on the customer support and training side.”

Established in 1974, Ashly Audio started out designing and manufacturing analog gear before moving into the DSP algorithms used today. While the company still offers some handmade, US-built analog mixers, the biggest growth the company has seen is with its Class-D amplification.

“Our nX Series amplifiers have received accolades for sonic performance,” said Wentling. “These multichannel amplifiers range in power up to 12,000 Watts and can be set to simultaneously drive both Low-Z and Constant-Voltage systems. There are nX base models, as well as nXe Networkable and nXp Networkable with DSP models.”

With just under 50 employees at its factory and headquarters in Webster, NY, Ashly Audio places great emphasis on its dedication to creating great sound and offering strong customer support. The company uses a combination of independent reps and its Regional Sales Mangers for distribution, and has been a division of Jam Industries since 2008.

Ashly Audio’s biggest markets include China and other parts of Asia, Wentling said, while the market back home continues to expand. “We’re seeing growth in North America, in large part due to our highly dedicated sales team, and our current new product offering,” he said.

In terms of competition, Wentling said they try to focus more on the customer instead of competing companies, and provide strong customer services to its patrons.

“Ashly is a great family team,” said Wentling. “Many of the people here have been working for the company for 20- to 30-plus years. For me, I’ve always worked in small companies, even when Fender started over after CBS sold out back in 1985, so I’m very comfortable. I focus on helping others with daily problem solving, getting things done and future planning. We’ll continue growing our range of what we call Net-Work- Able audio processors and power amplifiers, working towards providing our customers with complete systems from input to output.”

Ashly Audio marks its fortieth anniversary this year, a moment that celebrates the reputation the company has created, along with its commitment to growing in the future.

“Because Ashly Audio is still relatively small, we have a great opportunity to grow just by doing what’s right by our customers. This is our fortieth year, and we maintain a reputation for backing everything we sell. Couple that with a great team of creative engineers, new products in the pipeline…the future looks bright!”
Ashly Audio