But Shure did, mostly by shifting to professional tools. And now microphones, be they wired or wireless, are by far the largest portion of our business. Phonograph equipment is still a very nice business for us, but it’s a minority part.
So that’s the biggest shift - we went from a company that was making its living off of “leisure” - for lack of a better word - because hi-fi was mostly a leisure product, and transformed into a company that does the majority of its business by providing professional audio tools.
Microphones are used to create leisure in many cases, but they are the tools of musicians, recorders, broadcasters, performers, etc. I think it’s really a shift more from a leisure basis to a professional tool base, to put it into a general context.
Another thing that’s changed has been the quickness with which we bring out products. In the late ‘70s through the early ‘80s, a major project would take maybe three to four years from inception to market, and now its typically 18 months and often less.
KC: Why do you think Shure has been so successful in the shift to the pro market?
Michael: We make a great product for the price, very reliable, very durable, you can depend on it to work, and people appreciate that.
We’re not necessarily the most “trendy” company around, and sometimes we might wish that to be different, but when people buy products that work for 20 or 30 or 40 years, it has a major impact.
In fact, one of the reasons I came to work here was that I had a Shure microphone in the ‘60s, and not only did it work great for me, but I had a problem with it that was fixed promptly. I said, ‘gee, this must be a pretty cool company’.
The other thing is that Shure is dedicated to being honest, to giving customers the truth. The Application Engineering Department is a prime example. We stress the truth and try to guide customers to the best solution, whether it’s from us or someone else.
Everyone in the department has my complete support to tell a customer that “this is not the right tool,” or “we don’t have the right tool for you, but let me help you find someone else that does”. Customers remember that far longer and more positively than if we steered them to use something that only “kind of” works.