Sunday, September 24, 2006

The Ultimate Ears Story

Jerry Harvey Story

In 1995, while on tour with Van Halen, Jerry Harvey designed a custom-made earpiece for drummer Alex Van Halen. When news of his work spread to other musicians, he found himself filling orders as favors.

As a sound engineer, Jerry, 44, knew many musicians were frustrated with clunky headphones or amplifiers that couldn't capture the sound on stage or in the recording studio. "I miniaturized the technology that was being used in big rock 'n' roll systems," says Jerry. He then designed an earpiece custom-made from an impression of the musician's ear.

Mindy Harvey, 41, loved everything about her husband's new creation, except the fact that he was making them for free. The couple began asking for payments upfront to keep startup costs at zero, and they relied on word-of-mouth within the music industry to gain new customers.

Ultimate Ears' current high-end custom pieces can cost in the $900 range, but the Harveys also began targeting the growing iPod audience in 2002 with their generic, lower-priced consumer line, Today, the company has almost 20 em-ployees, and sales are estimated at well over $5 million.

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