MERIDIAN, MI--As Hartley Peavey surveys the economic climate on his company’s 44th birthday, the music-industry magnate is holding fast to the core principals that earned his company the loyalty of a global customer base.
“I’ve discovered that business is like a rodeo — the winner is the one who can stay on the pony the longest,” he laughs. “When I started Peavey Electronics in 1965, conglomerates were buying up all of the famous music-products companies, reducing them to mere brands that were somehow supposed to be the same. They failed to realize that companies are made of people, and when the people change, the company changes, too.
“When I look around today, I get a feeling of déjà vu. Yet we’re still here, operating under the original ownership and vision, continuing to progress and develop new products and technologies.”
Peavey founded Peavey Electronics Corporation after discovering that he was much better at building the gear to amplify music than he was at actually playing music. With the influx of corporate buyouts during the 1960s and ‘70s, Hartley saw his competitors’ prices rise and quality plummet, so he ran promptly the other way. He set out to prove that you can have quality, craftsmanship and value at fair and reasonable prices. That philosophy altered the course of the music industry and continues to drive his company today.
Now the CEO of one of the largest makers of musical instruments and professional sound equipment in the world—with more than 180 patents to its credit and distribution in 136 countries—Hartley Peavey is still looking ahead and dreaming up his company’s next big innovations.
“As we celebrate our 44th year in business, I can’t remember a more productive, exciting time in the history of Peavey Electronics. We have strong-selling, compelling products in several new categories: the Versarray™ line-array loudspeaker system for pro audio applications; ReValver™ MKIII, our debut into the world of virtual amplification software; and the Vypyr™ Series, our first modeling amplifiers, which were named Product of the Year by music retailers.”
Although Peavey is well known for pioneering the use of CNC manufacturing techniques in making musical instruments, Hartley has taken the company in a decidedly different direction lately. Recognizing the market segmentation that allows small niches to flourish, Peavey started a new custom-shop initiative to enter the boutique amplifier market with customizable amps made by hand, not machine, in the company’s hometown of Meridian, Mississippi.
“Our new 19th Street Custom Shop amplifiers are taking off quite well,” he says. “Since we debuted the program in January, we have had a solid demand for these point-to-point wired, handmade amps. That proves that there is always new ground to plow, and there is an ongoing need for companies to reinvent themselves. We’ve done that many times with great success while holding true to our core principals.”
Peavey recently began a company-wide Lean initiative that will maximize efficiency among its 33 facilities as part of a massive, multi-million dollar reinvestment that the company has made in its infrastructure just since 2008. The goal is to strengthen the organization’s position in the global marketplace, Peavey said, and help guide the company to new plateaus.