Klipsch Breaks New Ground

The economic outlook may be gloomy, but there are bright spots here and there. One is Indianapolis-based Klipsch Audio Technologies, which, on November 5, announced a bold expansion program that will add more than 200 people to its workforce.

The new hires will fill jobs in a new 46,000 square foot warehouse and distribution center in Hope, Arkansas, Klipsch's original home, as well as in a new 27,000 square foot engineering and technology center in Indianapolis. Klipsch has already hired 45 new employees in Indianapolis, according to the announcement. Engineering staff in Arkansas are being transferred to Indianapolis in order to create what the company believes will be "one of the most advanced consumer audio research facilities in the Midwest, possibly even in the US."

Klipsch's expansion comes as especially heartening news for the American electronics industry, which has suffered this year not only from a general recession, but also from consumer reticence in the wake of the events of September 11. The new distribution center represents a multi-million dollar capital investment, said Fred Klipsch, CEO of Klipsch Audio Technologies, and will require at least 80 additional workers once it is complete.

The 55-year-old company, one of the oldest and most respected names in the audio industry, has been aggressive in its pursuit of top engineering talent. Early in 2001, Klipsch acquired Mondial Designs, makers of the Aragon and Acurus brands of electronics. The company debuted new models of Aragon amplifiers at the CEDIA show in Indianapolis in September, and has long-term plans for staking out a substantial portion of both the North American and global markets for high-quality loudspeakers and electronics. Klipsch has formed strategic business alliances with Hard Rock Café, Regal Cinemas, Monster Cable, and the four Tweeter Center outdoor amphitheaters in Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, and Philadelphia. Klipsch claims to be the only company in the world to have achieved THX® certification in four product categories.

An exception to the general economic trend, Klipsch reported record sales for September 2001, and claims to have doubled its revenue over the past three years. Other audio companies have also reported increases; San Diego–based PBN Audio recently stated that its business has grown by 20% this year. Companies that have the vision and resources to ride out the slump are almost certain to succeed; according to research firm Frost and Sullivan, home entertainment is the fastest growing area of the consumer electronics industry. Approximately $750 million was spent on loudspeakers in the US last year, a number expected to exceed $1 billion annually by 2007.