While Klipsch Audio Technologies may be a global audio juggernaut, the leaders of the Indianapolis-based brand make a point to stay involved in the community they call home. Considering its history of arts and entertainment, the Broad Ripple neighborhood in particular holds a special place in the company’s heart.
“We’re a local company, but I think that most of the people that work in Indianapolis are really loyal at trying to find ways to support the local community,” says Klipsch President and Chief Executive Officer Paul Jacobs. “Most of us have lived in Broad Ripple at some point in time, including me, and we just find Broad Ripple to be such an essential part of making sure that the art and music scenes in this city stay vibrant.”
Founded in 1946 by audio pioneer Paul W. Klipsch, the company celebrates its 75th anniversary this year with a run of anniversary products, promotions and live events. In addition to a 75th anniversary Klipschorn speaker, Klipsch will also unveil a 75th anniversary Jubilee speaker as well as a coffee-table book detailing the company’s entire 75-year history.
Originally based out of Hope, Arkansas, Klipsch moved to Indianapolis after Paul W. Klipsch sold the company to second cousin and Indy businessman Fred S. Klipsch and his wife Judy in 1989.
“[Paul] didn’t have any heirs that were interested in the business, and Fred had offered to either buy from him, help him take it public or help him sell the company,” Jacobs says. “He wanted to keep it in the family.”
As the company began to establish its local roots, Fred S. Klipsch eventually hired Paul Jacobs, who saw something special in the company.
“Fred was looking for some people that could see the vision of Klipsch,” Jacobs says. “I saw the opportunity and joined, and I was at the very lowest rungs of the company but I loved the brand, loved what they stood for and loved the people. Now, all of a sudden, 30 years have gone by. It’s hard for me to even imagine that.”
In his more than 30 years with the company, Jacobs says Klipsch has always stuck to its original identity established by Paul W. Klipsch, ultimately helping them to garner the world-class reputation they now have.
“We’ve always stood tall on Paul’s design principles – controlled polar response, wide dynamic range, flat frequency response,” Jacobs says. “We’ve always stuck with those things, and I think that we became a trusted business partner of a lot of people around the world because we were predictable. We stood for one thing, and we did it better than anyone else in the world. We brought a lot of exciting new ideas, concepts and products to the market, but we never deviated from who we were.”
Since the beginning, Klipsch has also stood by its intention of making every listening experience an excellent one. Specifically, the company aims to bring the live music experience into customers’ homes.
“Live music stirs you emotionally,” Jacobs says. “There’s a lot of music you can listen to that’s not live, and it can sound good. But when it sounds really good, that can stir you emotionally. That’s what Paul was after – recreating the live music experience.”
Since moving to Indianapolis, Klipsch has grown into the global brand that it is today. Jacobs says the company has offices in several countries around the world, including Australia, China, France and the Netherlands.
“We were only a U.S.-based company when I started,” Jacobs says. “There was virtually no distribution outside of the U.S. Now, we sell in about 70 countries around the world and are the largest speaker brand in the world.”
As it has grown into a global leader in sound, however, Klipsch has still maintained the same level of quality in its products.
“One of the things we haven’t changed is what Paul’s original design criteria was for our products, as well as what the original objective is,” Jacobs says. “Wherever we participate, we want to be the best-in-class product, and we don’t necessarily want to become a common, household name. We like the idea of having a little bit of mystique to us.”
“The company was based on horn-loaded loud speakers, and to this day everything we build is a horn-loaded loud speaker,” Jacobs continues. “While we’ve expanded our audience and expanded the product portfolio, what we haven’t changed is fundamentally what Paul based the company on, in how we want to reach the audience through stirring their emotions.”
While ensuring a quality product, Klipsch has also made sure to offer a great customer experience, thanks to its dedicated staff.
“I think that we’ve been pretty good about having really good people work for us and establishing a good culture,” Jacobs says. “No company is perfect, but I think we have a lot of great people. Transparency and honesty are some of our driving forces.”
Considering how passionate Klipsch employees are about their work, it’s no wonder why the company has such a presence in Indianapolis and beyond.
“While we run a global company, the heartbeat of the global company comes from here,” Jacobs says. “We’ve always been about music. You can say music, movies and gaming, and that’s all fine and true, but for most of us, you find people getting really passionate about music.”
In addition to music, Klipsch employees are also passionate about giving back to their Indianapolis community. Through the course of the pandemic, for example, Jacobs says the company did a variety of fundraising events benefiting frontline workers, artist associations, local music venues and more.
While Klipsch may bring auditory joy to customers around the world, the company leaders and staff always make sure their local Indianapolis community is taken care of as well.
“For all the people that work here, knowing that we create this outreach and do these things is a big deal,” Jacobs says. “They want to work at a company they feel believes in giving back and helping in the local community.”