Originally a musician and active audio engineer, John Krupa entered the pro audio industry via MI retail in the late 1980s. After a short period, he was already working his way up the chain into retail management before hopping over to a new role as a manufacturer’s rep, where he remained for nearly 15 years. Next, following a stint as another pro audio manufacturer’s director of Sales, Krupa arrived at his current position, president and majority owner of Italian Speaker Imports, Inc. (ISI), the exclusive US distributor of FBT, a high-end portable sound, touring/install and audio contractor loudspeaker manufacturer based in Italy.
John Krupa, president, Italian Speaker Imports “I love the music industry and have worked in many aspects of it,” Krupa offers in retrospect. “In my earlier days, I used to be a tape op guy at some famous New York studios; I’ve done live sound for some pretty well-known bands; and I’ve also played and sang with some great people over the years. I’ve been truly privileged to have such a diverse background. I believe that everything I’ve done has affected me [positively] and influenced [my career] in some way. I take something out of every experience. In the end though, I think success is equal parts where you’ve been, and who you are.”
Detailing his work at ISI, Krupa notes that as it is still a new company, it is important that he regularly reinforces its goals “to be the most friendly, righteous and helpful company in this industry. There are lots of great choices in loudspeakers out there, and my greatest desire is to have people looking forward to doing business with us. I can’t tell you how honored I am to be working with our partners. I use the word ‘partner’ where others may use ‘customer;’ a customer is someone who buys your products, whereas a partner is someone who invests in your company. We believe each sale we make is an investment into us and need not be a fleeting experience—or we’d prefer it not to be. Under this definition, people who make these purchases are our partners.”
In defining ISI to the industry, Krupa explains that he prefers to make his own path rather than following the trends and practices of his competitors. “It’s so easy to get bogged down with what other people are doing,” he reasons. “I prefer to focus on what we’re doing and how to do it the best we can. Someone once told me, ‘If you’re a race car driver and you spend your whole race drafting behind the leader, the best you’ll ever finish that race is in second place.’ I don’t do anything to finish second.”
Krupa is a fan of analogies and uses one in explaining ISI’s corporate structure. “Those who know me know that I’m more of an eighteenth-century farmer than a twenty first-century tech wiz,” he quips, “so it may come as a surprise that I have embraced twenty first-century technologies when establishing the structure of this company. All of my team operates out of remote offices and are tied into our system via some pretty cool VoIP phones and cloud-based software. We have offices throughout the country so as to better assist customers and make my employees happy. It’s working real well and I strongly recommend it. Italian Speaker Imports has seven full-time employees and numerous part-timers. We begin each day with an hour-long, company-wide conference call where we lay out the goals for the day. I preach [about] efficient and effective work, and I love to reward people for a job well done. We employ a number of excellent independent representative firms whose hard work I can’t speak highly enough about.”
Krupa’s role at ISI is to largely captain the ship, setting the tone under which its business is conducted, yet he still works as a direct salesperson, too. “Again, it is imperative that we are over-the-top helpful and friendly,” he emphasizes. “If a customer doesn’t hang up thinking, ‘I enjoyed that conversation; I look forward to the next time I call,’ then we’ve failed. I’m still a salesperson at heart and I strive to be out there, selling as much as possible. I strongly believe in leading by example out on the frontlines.”
ISI’s business is most easily divided into three distinct sections: live sound, retail and installation. “Today, we live mostly in the sound live/production world, but that’s not to say that the other segments have less significance to us,” tells Krupa. “2016 will see most of our new products fitting our core. I also hope to see great strides in the other segments. That said, I’ve never believed in changing who you are in order to find success in new markets.”
Krupa is happy to note his confidence in the FBT Loudspeakers he distributes via ISI. “Not only do I not fear competitors, but I welcome them and often try and help them,” he says, noting that his approach may be unique.
“I’ve always believed that this marketplace is big and strong enough for everyone and more. That said, there are over 2,000 different styles of shoelaces for sale in this great country! I have many friends who work for our competitors, but I have never seen them as anything less than dear friends, and I would do just about anything for my friends.”
Italian Speaker Imports