View From The Top: Mark Kaltman, CEO/CFO, Kaltman Creations

CHICAGO IL—Mark Kaltman grew up in the heart of Chicago, with his early exposure coming on the artist side of the equation as a rock guitarist (“Wasn’t everyone a guitarist at some time in their life?” he quips).
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Mark KaltmanCHICAGO IL—Mark Kaltman grew up in the heart of Chicago, with his early exposure coming on the artist side of the equation as a rock guitarist (“Wasn’t everyone a guitarist at some time in their life?” he quips). “I had the opportunity to record at Gary Lowizo’s Pumpkin Recording Studio in a suburb of Chicago,” he recalls (where clients included Styx and Liza). “I view that as the point in my life where I fell in love with the pro-audio environment.

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“In the mid-70’s, I moved to Portland, Oregon, and opened a commercial recording studio that I managed and engineered for almost 10 years.” While in Portland, Kaltman landed the monitor engineering position for the then-breakout band, Quarterflash. “They had a few top-ten hits—remember ‘Harden My Heart’ in the early 80s? I fell in love with the touring experience,” he says, so he “turned the management of the studio over to my second engineer, and continued touring with national acts for several years.” When his last touring gig with Barbara Mandrell was cut short by the artist’s involvement in a car accident, Kaltman went back to school to get an EE degree with a focus in communications. Degree in hand, Kaltman went to work for Wheatstone/Audioarts Engineering as a National Sales Manager, selling large-format audio consoles to major radio and television broadcast networks. His career continued on with executive-level positions with Denon Electronics, Sabine, AETA Audio and Klotz Digital.

“Fast forward to 2006,” he says, “when I started Kaltman Creations LLC. As the ‘Creations’ part of the name implies, the original company concept was based on developing and creating products for the pro-audio community—not the manufacturing and marketing of goods, but the creation and selling of the product rights though licensing agreements.” The business model, “somewhat popular in the DJ equipment market heyday of the ’90’s,” was one where one a developer/manufacturer offered the same product electronics, packaged under different brand names, usually with minor cosmetic and feature changes. “When I identified the potential need and opportunity for solutions for pro-audio wireless,” says Kaltman, “and the ability to use my electronics communications skills, our business model took a turn back to traditional product development, manufacturing, sales and marketing.”

His “early touring and studio experiences laid the groundwork for the all-important skills and fundamentals of pro-audio,” Kaltman relates. “Nothing beats the in-the-trenches, first-hand experiences.” Further, he says his later positions in sales, marketing and management “expanded my general managerial, product development, and marketing skills. I was also a principle in several business start-ups and early-stage companies, which honed my business acumen and fine-tuned my ability to launch products and identify market needs.” Kaltman put some of that experience to paper in a book published in 2009 called Start-up Tactics for the Small Business, which is still in print and readily available through major bookstores and online.

In the early 2000s, Kaltman was employed by Sabine (now owned by ClearOne), “hired specifically to help launch their 2.4 GHz wireless microphone systems.” Due to FCC spectrum plans in conjunction with the original 2006 Digital Television mandatory migration target, Sabine identified a potential need for wireless mics in a band other than UHF. “Because of the FCC mandate extension delay to 2009 and difficult early-market acceptance of 2.4 GHz for wireless microphones,” Kaltman opines, “I would say Sabine was ‘ahead of its time.’ Even with that said, we had some success with the product line, which included what was then the world’s largest wireless mic system sale—over 700 Sabine transmitters—to Brigham Young University. Equally important, the position at Sabine put me in front of many actual wireless users and at the forefront of the wireless debate.”

Kaltman Creations, committed to providing “clear solutions to the exponential growth of wireless and RF spectrum squeeze,” is a “small, yet very profitable company, and we like it that way,” Kaltman states. “Having worked everywhere from billion-dollar corporate cultures down to the small garage start-up, I must say I really like the small business environment best.” With telecommuting RF and software engineers providing “hardcore engineering,” the company headquarters (final assembly, quality control, in-house sales and marketing, tech support, warranty service, product development and R&D) is located in Suwanee, GA, about 20 minutes north of Atlanta (often rated in Money Magazine’s top ten cities to live in). The company uses US-based contract manufacturing, so it can state “proudly” that its products are “Made in the USA.” A secondary product division called Aaronia USA (www.aaroniausa.com) focuses on offering high-end RF and EMI spectrum analyzers, precision-calibrated antennas and RF shielding materials for test and measurement applications. Aaronia USA customers include advanced research facilities, federal law-enforcement agencies, the military, utility companies and the like. The “challenging” RF disciplines for these market segments “sharpens our RF knowledge base, says Kaltman. “Plus, the daily variety of talking to a scientist at NASA or an engineer at MIT Plasma & Fusion Center during one telephone call, immediately followed by a call from the touring monitor engineer for Neil Diamond or head of audio with Cirque De Soleil, makes for a fun and interesting day.”

Kaltman himself oversees general management and direction of Kaltman Creations, as both CEO and CFO. His daily activities can find him “on the phone offering sales or tech support, or in the lab testing recent improvements or new products.” The company has “a casual yet productive environment. We practice Just-in-Time delivery and inventory concepts, and revel in being very responsive to our customers’ needs… We find great gratification in offering solutions for the challenging and ever-changing RF landscape.” The company’s products find application in “just about every aspect of wireless RF,” says Kaltman, with customers mostly involved in live sound production, including both touring and fixed installation.

At InfoComm 2015, Kaltman was showing off the latest Invisible Waves product, RF-ResQ—a product that he calls “truly a world first!” RF-ResQ, he explains, “uses military-grade, incredibly narrow bandpass filters along with trendsetting features. The primary function of the product is to allow more RF channels within a given RF spectrum and to actually eliminate interference, along with the ability to selectively increase the gain of each individual frequency. As of now, our new product development outlook is based around this technology, interfacing it with our existing products, and possibly licensing.”

As an innovation leader, Kaltman Creations is poised for continued success. Additional RF solution-based products are on the Kaltman Creations wish list, with a few on the drawing board, he says. “Aside from new product development, our immediate goals include increasing international awareness of the Invisible Waves brand and a few new internal hires.”

Mark Kaltman cites “providing an excellent customer experience” as the company’s number-one goal, and offers one recent experience as a heartening validation of that commitment: “At this last InfoComm show, and after my many years of exhibiting at trade shows, I experienced something I had never experienced before… a customer coming by the booth to shake my hand and thanking me for what we were doing for the industry—a rewarding moment that only motivates me more to continue revolutionizing wireless interference solutions.”

Kaltman Creations
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