Genelec Inc., the North American subsidiary of Genelec Oy, was created in 1996 as a two-person distribution center in Natick, MA, with Lisa Kaufmann, managing director, and Will Eggleston, marketing director. Today, the subsidiary has offices in Florida and California and a large warehouse facility in Natick to house the growing demand for Genelec product in the Americas, all of which is still designed and manufactured at Genelec Oy headquarters located on the shore of Lake Porovesi in Iisalmi, Finland. Eggleston and Kaufmann say that their combined years of experience at Lexicon more than prepared them to run the US distribution arm of Genelec.
Starting as a country music DJ in 1974, Eggleston also had his first-class radio telephone operator’s license and subsequently moved into high-end audio sales after years of working primarily as a recording studio engineer at various facilities in Atlanta, including Turner Broadcasting. “I made a difficult choice not to go to L.A., Nashville, or New York, where I had grown up,” reflects Eggleston. “If I had, I probably wouldn’t be here today.”
Instead, in 1985, Eggleston had an opportunity to join the Lexicon team. “It was a great learning ground in terms of getting some business chops together,” he reflects. “I had good mentors and learned a lot from some of the people there. It was a good tenure—a good 10 years. Working for Lexicon, I was fairly deep in product marketing and product development.”
Meanwhile, Kaufmann entered Lexicon’s finance department in 1983, yet she was destined for a future in sales. Approaching Ron Noonan, president of Lexicon at the time, Kaufmann shared her ideas about ways to grow international sales. Noonan liked what he heard, and Kaufmann moved quickly from managing one client to working and expanding the distribution network throughout Europe, South America and Canada.
Soon after—and as luck would have it—Ilpo Martikainen, one of the co-founders of Genelec Oy, approached Eggleston and Kaufmann at a trade show. “Ilpo basically said, ‘I have a problem,’” recalls Kaufmann. “And the answer from Will and me was, ‘We have a solution.’” The creation of Genelec, Inc. was at hand.
Eggleston was no stranger to the brand, having bought his first pair of the company’s speakers back in the late ’80s. “It was one of those jawdropping experiences that you have from time to time in the audio business,” he recalls, reminiscing about the first time he heard what Genelec had to offer the pro audio marketplace. “Every once in a while, you get to something that literally makes you think twice about what it is you’re hearing. That was certainly one of those situations.”
Today, the team’s day-to-day activities revolve around fulfilling dealer requests and orders while interfacing with U.S. product reps. “At the same time, we offer a tremendous amount of product knowledge and application support and, of course, we have the capability to repair older product when they get tired or simply misused,” Kaufmann says. “We are conveniently located next to a major seaport, so all our container deliveries come from Finland directly to our modern, 10,000-square-foot warehouse.” Even though they are many miles from the factory and are not formally involved in every aspect of product development, Kaufmann notes that Genelec Oy is influenced by the subsidiary’s knowledge of its customer base.
“Genelec Oy is heavily vested in acoustics research, visionary product development and quality manufacturing,” shares Eggleston. “My experience in product development has been used quite a bit with the engineers back in Finland, especially during the early development of our dsp/SAM monitor line, back in the early 2000s. As marketing director in the U.S., my attention is focused at maintaining clear lines of information to our users, reps and dealers. Fortunately, the people in Finland have been operating for the past almost 40 years with the same goals ahead of them every day.
“When I think of Genelec, the phrase ‘You Buy Nice, You Have Nice,’ comes to mind,” states Kaufmann. “Outside of the pristine audio quality that Genelecs are known for, we are truly providing our customers with an investment in a high-quality, high-value product. We have 1030 and 1031 customers who have been with us for 25-plus years. And when a driver finally gets tired, they send their product back to us to have it refurbished, as they don’t want to part with it. They are also the same customers who, when they are building a new room or facility, look at our SAM monitors as part of their equipment needs. Our customers are extremely loyal.”
Eggleston says that there is a phrase that Kaufmann is not afraid to use with any of their customers, and it’s one that could be applied to the company’s entire operation: “What’s it gonna take to make you happy?”
“For the guy who calls up looking for an argument, we don’t argue,” says Kaufmann. “Maybe he’s bent out of shape because he just bought something and he’s having a problem, or something fails two years out of warranty. We don’t like to be taken advantage of, but my time is worth a lot and our good will for the brand is worth even more. And so, what’s the cost of a driver? Yeah, it’s expensive, but what’s the cost of that guy hanging up and being ticked off? So usually, I cut them off and say, ‘You know what? You didn’t call to have an argument with me about whether or not we’re going to cover this, right? And then they say, ‘Hmmm.’”
“So the posture is one of total support for any one of our customers, no matter what they bought,” continues Eggleston, finishes Kaufmann’s thought. “At the end of the exercise, that’s all we really should be doing. Our position here is pretty much to do whatever we can to help our customer, whether that customer is a dealer, a rep or an end-user.”