Editor's note: This is one in a weekly series of profiles on locally owned and operated businesses in Southern Oregon.
What do you do and how long have you been doing it? We design, develop, manufacture, sell and market high technology professional music and audio products. MV Pro Audio started in 2007 and Buchla has been around for 50 years; I bought the company with two partners in Australia last year.
Business: MV Pro Audio
Owner: Michael Maran
Website: mvproaudio.com and buchla.com
How long have you lived in the Rogue Valley? We moved to Grants Pass from Santa Barbara in April 2012.
What inspired you to go into this line of work? I've been a musician all of my life. I was always involved in music and audio from the time I was a little kid, and I just sort of let the industry take me where it might. I've always had an interest in music and a bent for technology and followed it to companies with the latest and greatest products and those introducing new products.
What decision or action would you change if you could do it again? We re-examine ourselves every day. Everything is a growth and learning process. I think I might have considered getting outside funding instead of doing bootstrapping with our own money. That, of course, would have put us on a different path and different issues than we have addressed. It would have allowed us to do more aggressive marketing and take greater risk with inventory and things that have cost-factors associated with them. It would have been less expensive shipping with less exposure to foreign currency fluctuations. If I'm purchasing something from Germany, I might wait until the euro was lower and then buy a year's supply of something, rather than the leaner just-in-time approach we use.
What's the toughest business decision you've made? Employees and personnel. It's always a challenge to get both talented people and people who can work together as a team. It's a matter of keeping a lot of balls in the air all the time.
Who are your competitors? Anyone who makes professional music and audio equipment. Yamaha and Roland are among them. So much of the industry is based on instruments that are by nature unique to the player, so everyone is competition. Buchla makes very advanced music synthesizers; they're sound-sculpting tools of great depth, variety and capability. The analogy would be an artist's pallet. We do a similar kind of thing in the electronic sound world. We sell a lot of studio and live performance tools, manipulating sound for recording and live performance such as compressors, mixing boxes and monitor controllers.
What are your goals? We plan to have a considerably larger company in five years. We came to the Rogue Valley very specifically to grow the company both in revenue and number of employees. The other component of that is attracting and retaining local employees. The U.S., Europe and Asia are our three major markets. We sell any place music is made, and I see it becoming more and more globalized. We have companies around the world that are extremely comfortable dealing with us in the U.S. Between PayPal, Skype, and emails and other types of communications available, people have no problem dealing with us. Don Buchla was the co-inventor of the synthesizer. He's getting along in years and contacted me a while back to see if a deal could be put together to purchase the company. In our industry there are father figures, and technology has driven the industry for many years with innovation and new capabilities. Buchla technology certainly qualifies with its industry-driving technology. We have the opportunity not only to continue the legacy but to expand the intellectual property to the next generation of instruments and processing tools.
What training or education did you need? I grew up on the cutting edge of the technology and was in the room as it was invented. There weren't really schools to learn about synthesizers — it was more about timing. There is not training for it. For quite a few years, I was the technical editor for one of the industry journals — Keyboard Magazine.
What's your advice for budding entrepreneurs? Learn how to get by with no sleep. It's a big, huge cliche, but the devil is in the details. If you are going to be an entrepreneur, you have to know everything about your business. You have to be responsible for the details and make sure they happen. It's a nonstop endeavor — you can't say I don't have to worry about the details today — you have to own them every day.
To suggest ideas for this column, about businesses that are at least five years old, contact reporter Greg Stiles at 541-776-4463 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.