|Updated: 5/01/2012 8:21 am
||Published: 4/30/2012 1:21 pm
Arkansans have changed the world through inventions. Paul W. Klipsch is one of America's most celebrated audio pioneers who started hand-making speakers in Hope, Arkansas almost 70 years ago. Today, Klipsch is still one of the leading global manufacturers of speakers.
The power of music coming through speakers adds to the experience at concerts and movie theaters. When customers ask about home theater or stereo systems, top name brands that come to mind include Samsung, Sony, and Bose. Klipsch is also top of the line.
Jerry Calhoon is the plant manager and says when the name Klipsch is thought of, what comes to mind is pure reputation of sound. "We started a homegrown business and still build a lot of the products here in Hope. That's what gets people."
Paul W. Klipsch is remembered for his humor and known for catching people who he thought told tales. He used to wear a pin on his lapel, and when someone would make what he thought to be an outlandish remark, he'd flip his lapel over to reveal the pin which said "bull#hit."
Calhoon says Klipsch worked hard, and was passionate about his product. "When I started working at the plant, he'd come in everyday. He was a unique character. He was a good guy."
Up to the age of 96, friend and former employee Robert "Bodock" Wyatt says Klipsch played an active role in the company. "He'd stop in the middle of the day and say "Champagne! We've met our goal." He always came into the plant to check on folks. He's one person you'll never forget. He was a genius. He liked gadgets and fixing things. If I went to his house and my watch was off, he'd get his things and set it."
Klipsch and his wife, Valerie, sold the business to a cousin in Indianapolis in 1989, where the corporate headquarters is currently located. Even though the company has changed considerably since those early days, Calhoon says they look to the future with an eye to the past. "What makes you so proud when you listen to the product that we make is the emotion it puts in you. You know you had a little bit to do with that, and that gives you a lot of pride."
Paul W. Klipsch passed away in 2002 at 98 years old. The heritage and drive for perfection of his early work is the standard by which the company produces loudspeakers today.
In her 90's, Valerie Klipsch still lives in Hope, Arkansas and keeps tabs on her husband's old business. She still spends time with Robert "Bodock" Wyatt who has been a faithful friend to the Klipsch family all these years.