QSC Closes 40th Anniversary Year Looking Back Where It All Began To Find Where It Is Today
When Pat Quilter founded what we know now as QSC Audio Products back in 1968, the industry still embraced what was essentially a singlebrand sound system approach. That is, if you wanted audio in a church, nightclub, or theater, you simply placed a call to your local systems contracting firm, and it would provide everything you needed, usually drawing every necessary
From left: Barry Andrews, John Andrews, and Pat Quilter. component from only one manufacturer’s catalog.
The times changed of course, and it wasn’t long after QSC hung its shingle out that a market structure emerged favoring specialized manufacturing. Following the Tapco 6-channel mixer’s introduction, suddenly the industry entered an era where there were many companies turning tidy profits dedicated solely to the production of loudspeakers, consoles, amplifiers, and other individually specific elements of the systems signal chain. In turn, a new style of audio design took hold in which whole systems based around the integration of choice components supplied from different manufacturers took hold.
Two brothers named Barry and John Andrews helped Quilter and young upstart QSC find its niche in the new order by specializing in amplifiers. Arriving five years after Barry helped found the company, John added his talent to the management team armed with an MBA from USC. “There were some real moments of truth back then,” John Andrews recalled. “Cash was tight. Once I can remember handing out paychecks right before lunch with the caveat that no one cash them until I returned. Instead of eating, I ran out to the bank and got what we needed to cover the payroll at the last moment, then rushed back to tell everyone all was good, hoping the whole time they hadn’t walked off the job yet.”
Surviving these lean times and going on to prosper with a business model that produced the Series 3 and Series 1 components in the ‘80s, QSC established its place in the market based on the reputation of its amplifiers. With the emergence of digital control and monitoring in the ‘90s, however, things began to turn full circle, favoring the one-stop systems approach again.
QSC entered the digital age by expanding its role to include the manufacture of digital transport and processing technologies, efforts that led to products today including those destined for use within the QSControl.net platform like the BASIS family of processors. Loudspeakers were added to the mix as the calendar took a turn into the 21st century, with QSC’s WideLine Series of compact line array components joining the introduction of new models within the AcousticDesign Series, as well as self-powered enclosures within the HPR line.
“Taken in combination with a trend in which major brands have consolidated and expanded to become full-systems suppliers, the move to digital really started to take us back to where we began in terms of a singlesource sound system approach,” Quilter noted. “To remain competitive today, you have to be a full-service amplifier,
QSC manufactures products in an 81,000-square-foot production facility located next to its current headquarters in Costa Mesa, CA.loudspeaker, and electronics company. As we view things, it’s our place to make it simple for customers to call us and order everything they need. Just the same, that person only needs to make a single call if they ever need help or support.”
Continuing to subscribe to just such a philosophy with major investments made on both human and financial levels, QSC finds its place these days in an enviable position of continued growth and expansion, even within a shaky economy.
“In the beginning, it made sense that we should focus on our strengths,” Barry Andrews said. “Thatwas pretty ambitious considering wehad yet to make any real money. We’ve come a long way since then, but we’ve never lost sight of our core values. The best ideas always win.”