He’s been described as a living dictionary, a kind of 21st century explorer, a fighter determined to make things better for the future.
The tenacious president/CEO of Mitek, Loyd Ivey, says he “came from nowhere with nothing” and was able to take what he had and turn it into something. Born in rural Missouri, Ivey boarded a Chicago-bound bus at 16, armed with a curiosity and love of science, music and the intelligibility of the spoken word.
His first jobs, in a steel mill and then a wood mill where speaker enclosures and turntable bases were made, gave him the impetus to start his own company. In 1971, he founded Ivey Electronics, offering spill-resistant walnut laminate bookshelf speakers for students at Northwestern University. In 1974, the company showed at the summer CES, subsequently merging with American Case Co.
The rest as they say is history, featuring a plethora of new company names and acquisitions, such as American Acoustic Labs, and the establishment of Mitek in 1979. The acquisition of Matrecs Electronics (eventually MTX) paved the way for Ivey to enter the car speaker business. Many others followed, including that of Atlas Sound, and Mitek has evolved into an international concern with offices throughout the world. Over the years, Ivey's business operations have grown from a single 5,000-square foot facility in one state to over one million square feet of space in six states.
“Everything in the world is connected; it’s all together, and I’ve learned to listen well,” Ivey said of his success. “I’m 63 and I’ve always learned from older people and I still am; I just had a conversation with a 92-year old who worked on the Manhattan Project. Just listen and you’ll be amazed at what you can learn.”
Ivey is not the only one listening. “I have several of Lyod’s favorite phrases written down on the whiteboard in my office as a daily reminder of the hard work it takes to be successful,” said Chuck Wilson, executive director, NSCA. “I recommend we all should listen to him and do the same. I have always encouraged young business leaders to spend a few minutes with Loyd, and those who have will never forget him. To me he is the definition of a self-made industry leader.”
Ivey was instrumental in starting both the NSCA Education Foundation that has funded over $1 million in scholarships and programs, and the Electronics Systems Professional Alliance (ESPA), which now has over 2,000 certified electronic systems technicians working in our industry. “His generosity has done far more than people realize and he takes little if any credit for that,” Wilson added.
The more things change, the more they stay the same, Ivey said, noting how vinyl is back again. “I’m talking about the laws of physics, because those have not been rewritten and what sounded good twenty years ago still sounds great. No matter what we do certain laws can’t be changed, including those of sound. It’s what we live by.”
Ivey is still very much invested in his company, working eight days a week, and that, he said, does not get old. “I found out that fame and fortune and all the rest will come to you eventually. You’ve got to be who and what you are, and the rest will come. I didn’t try for any of it.”See all 2015 SCN Hall of Fame inductees here.