Interview: Jack O’Donnell, Numark – English Version

1. April 2018

The man behind InMusic (english)

Erfolgreicher Unternehmer der MI-Industrie: Jack O’Donnell

Jack O’Donnell has always seen challenges as an opportunity.

In 1992, O’Donnell bought a company known as Numark Electronics, a small DJ equipment manufacturer that had been on the market since the early 1970’s. Numark has revolutionized the art of DJing with the introduction of new technologies and innovative products and is now the largest DJ equipment manufacturer in the world.

In 2001, O’Donnell bought Alesis, the groundbreaking company with a history that made innovative technology accessible to every musician. Alesis was the first company to make studio-quality digital effects and recordings affordable to the masses. Today, Alesis is the fastest growing e-drum company in the world and continues to develop instruments that make life easier for musicians every day.

In 2005, O’Donnell bought another iconic brand: Akai Professional, one of the world’s most influential makers of musical instruments and creator of the legendary MPC. The Akai Professional production tools harness the power of advancing technology and are an integral part of modern music both in the studio and on stage.

InMusic founded a brand new company called HeadRush in 2017. The first product, the HeadRush Pedalboard, is a guitar FX and amp modeling processor in an easy-to-use pedalboard platform.

Today, this elitist family of hardware and software companies is known as inMusic. Retaining unique brand identities, each of inMusic’s companies is committed to developing innovative, state-of-the-art, design, and technology-based products.

 

We met Jack O’Donnell for an exclusive interview, in which he gave us exciting insights into the history of his empire.

Peter:
How did you get to the music? How did you start in the music industry? Do you actually make music yourself?

Jack O’Donnell:
No, I’m not a musician, I’m just a music lover and I started getting interested in it for a variety of reasons. I worked for a company called Stanton Magnetics for twelve years. Our primary focus was on the consumer market. At the time, Stanton was involved in a growing market – the DJ market.

Jack O’Donnell:
What was your interest in becoming one of the „big players“ in the music business, even though you are not a musician. Surely you have a great passion for music?

Jack O’Donnell:
Of course I have a great passion for music. Right after college, I was fortunate enough to enter the consumer electronics business. I practically had my business degree in my pocket and at the same time I loved music. That was a perfect combination for me. For twelve years, I served as Vice President Sales & Marketing for Stanton Magnetics and Pickery & Company.

Peter:
You mean the Stanton Brand, right?

Jack O’Donnell:
Yes, I was responsible for the consumer market at the time. We made turntables, headphones and needles for turntables. At the time, Stanton was only minimally involved in the professional market. Over time, the whole thing changed and they cared more about the professional market. Stanton became the first choice for radio stations and DJs. So I said to my team, we should expand this area. At that time, the CD came on the market and turntables were becoming increasingly uninteresting for the consumer market, but sales in the professional and DJ sector increased. So we decided to expand the Pro area. We watched the market and decided to partner with Vestax to make ourselves more interesting to the DJ market. We created the name Stanton-Vestax and operated it for a few years. One day the company Numark suddenly came up for sale.

Peter:
What do you mean, Numark was for sale?

Jack O’Donnell:
Numark had financially taken over and they have tried to sell the company to free themselves from this misery. Actually, they were one of the market leaders on the DJ market.

Peter:
Yes absolutely!

Jack O’Donnell:
They did not get financial problems due to a lack of interest in their products or brand problems, but because they felt they had to relocate their production from Japan to California. Relocating a whole production means completely restarting at another location. When the company was up for sale, I thought it would be a brilliant move for Stanton to take over the company. It costs me a lot of persuasion at Stanton, but no one wanted to be convinced. So I left Stanton and bought Numark alone.

Peter:
Even though you are neither a musician nor a DJ. So you are still interested in DJ Equipment?

Jack O’Donnell:
It has always been a matter of the heart to me to understand how musicians think and feel. Most of the people here in my company, be it engineers or sales, have a musical backround. I’m not a musician and I think differently, but I think it’s often helpful to bring two different ways of thinking together. It’s just a formula for success. I bring along an economical way of thinking with and the other employees the musical.

Peter:
That would have been my next question. How did you lead Numark out of the red?

Jack O’Donnell:
Look at the problems of Numark, it was mainly production issues. They had shifted production from Japan to California and I knew that was not the right step and we should go back to Asia. There it just worked successfully. So I shut down production in California and brought it back to Asia.

Peter:
Surely that has been more expensive to produce in the USA?

Jack O’Donnell:
Yeah, that was also the point why Numark got financial problems. They made some very wrong business decisions. So I bought the company and developed new products.

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