Hall of Fame: Paul Jacobs: Keeping A Legacy Brand Vibrant
In 1996, Klipsch was at a crossroads and it was clear that changes needed to be made. At CES, Jacobs sat down with Fred Klipsch (former CEO and current board member of Klipsch owner VOXX) and made his pitch. “I said, ‘I don’t know about engineering, but I do know about audio and how to put a team together. I think we can make a difference.’ I told him, ‘If you can buy me a year, we can change everything.’”
Jacobs took the reins and showed up at CES the next year with the Klipsch World Tour, an entirely new speaker lineup and a new line of powered subwoofers. That year, the company increased its margin by 9 percent. Klipsch grew 18 percent each year for the next 15 years straight. “I didn’t do this by myself, by the way,” Jacobs said. “I got Fred to agree to it, but I had some incredible people around me.”
While he does not believe in micromanaging, Jacobs said stewardship of all aspects of product gestation, development and delivery is a top priority for him in his role as CEO. “It’s about me following it enough that I know when to step in and ask questions. It’s about coaching more than managing, about elevating the people around you and helping them feel inspired about their jobs.”
Retailers are also inspired by the way Jacobs has respected the Klipsch history while keeping the product designs and technologies up to date with today’s tastes and habits. “Paul is a true visionary in our industry,” said Grant Lansdell, audio buyer for retailer hhgregg. “He is always pushing for new ways to entertain while staying true to the Klipsch heritage. We’re fortunate to enjoy such close collaboration with Paul and the Klipsch Group as they expand their marketing and grow their premium brand.”
Jacobs said that today’s market opportunities in audio are endless. As proof, he cited the rise of newer competitive brands that are capturing buyers’ imaginations, dealers’ shelf space and market share.
“What excites me about that, and what it proves, is that it is possible even for brands that have nothing to do with the audio space to come in, just by building the right products and at the right time,” he said. “That creates success. And it also says that legendary brands who can do that have the same ability.” DS