It's always an honor to be a part of the Pilgrimage down in Hope, Arkansas. Our fans, the live music, and great food always guarantee a fantastic time. This go around we are sharing our time in Hope through the eyes of our Brand Ambassador, Mark, who's a veteran in the Klipsch family, but witnessed the pilgrimage for the first time.
Tell us about yourself and what you do at Klipsch?
I am the brand ambassador for Klipsch Group which includes the Klipsch and Jamo speaker brands. Over the past 26 years at Klipsch, I've worn many hats. I started in sales and am now the senior VP of global brand and business development, representing the company as a brand evangelist and interfacing with all facets of business channels and media.
You attended the transfer of the KHMA. How does it feel to know Jim Hunter is now leading the charge?
A: It's obvious to me that Jim would be the curator because he assumed this role years ago for Klipsch history and archives. I am proud that it is official now and that future generations will come to appreciate the story of Paul W. Klipsch and the early foundational days of the HiFi industry. Knowing Jim for so many years, I have often referred to him as the walking, breathing, audio history encyclopedia. It's easy to see his passion for all that is this hi-fi industry.
How would you describe your first time at the 2017 Klipsch Pilgrimage?
A: It was a family reunion -- with a family I didn't know I had. It only took a few minutes of conversation to realize I was amongst friends, family, and fellow zealots for Klipsch. I understood that as a long time employee and having kicked off the forums in late 1999 with ProMedia; I was meeting the "faithful" from those early days of building our community. This has become an extended family and unlike anything in the industry. This Klipsch family formed long before our forum! The forum just provided a platform for a community that was already there.
Strong personalities and passion are evident in these folks, and it only makes sense because of the love of Klipsch products and the man himself, that they would establish this annual event.
We had some die-hard fanatics in Hope during the pilgrimage, how did they embrace Klipsch employees and how does it feel to know we have such an incredible following?
A: I personally felt that I was separated at birth from some of these new-found brothers and sisters. We immediately had mutual respect and couldn't wait to sit down and share stories of PWK and our love for music, movies, and (kick ass) gear! I was at home.
Speaking of our fans and a huge following, you got to talk to them and hear their stories, what was your take away from that?
A: We discovered how similar we are, even though we were meeting for the first time. Our common bond is that PWK has affected our lives. As a Klipsch dealer in the 80s, I knew then that Klipsch fans had extra measures of passion for the live music experience. And this stands the test of time. After this group catches up with "gear talk" (an easy ice breaker), the conversation opens up to the limitless topic of music and bands. Hearing about first concert tour experiences, teenage formative years, and all the common bonds struck me emotionally. Then, of course, we got back to talking about speakers, haha.
How does it feel to see our visions brought to life through the hard work and dedication of the factory workers in Hope?
A: The Hope Factory and the people there are dear to me--- many I know from my beginnings at Klipsch. To witness these craftspeople building the heritage and cinema products by hand just makes me proud. I remind those around me always that Klipsch is such a rarity-- as a true founding father of the industry and as a vibrant company in 2017. Today, we are faithful to our roots and stand our ground with products that are consistent with PWK’s sound principles. Our family in Hope makes all this possible by bringing the vision to life. Keep in mind that several of them worked with Paul Klipsch and are carrying the torch. This is how I view our Hope employees- our torch bearers and family in a long-standing, proud tradition.
Has this trip left a lasting impression on you and how will you prepare for the Pilgrimage in 2018?
A: No doubt. I will be telling stories about it all year. And while hail was hitting my house and vehicles at home in Indiana, I was able to forget it and dive deep with my Klipsch family. We had many laughs, as we talked about life and speakers. Next year I will prepare and bring more music, and photos of my family and audio gear to share. Maybe I’ll give a PowerPoint presentation! Haha, just kidding!
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