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In Profile: Mike Borne, Founder & President Of Allstar Audio Systems

Building it one relationship at a time

By Kevin Young March 31, 2011

Long before founding Allstar Audio Systems in Nashville in 1984, Mike Borne prided himself on having an ear for excellence. “Even in high school,” he says, “when I’d go to looking to find a key piece of gear for my stereo, I wanted quality.”

In 1969, he got his start with professional systems by purchasing his first PA for $400 for the band he was playing with. “When you own the system, whether you’re lousy or not, they gotta keep you,” he explains with a laugh.”

“But while owning the PA solidified his position in the band, he wasn’t destined for a career on stage. “I was shy, and when I got on stage with a guitar that gave me some freedom, but what I really had a passion for was good music and better sound.”

Fast-forward 40 years or so, and Borne shares another passion: achieving as close to perfect performance as humanly possible for all of his Allstar Audio clients.

The key to doing so, he explains, is patience and preparation, as well as adopting a strategy aimed at controlled growth. One of the most important aspects of achieving that is developing strong, mutually beneficial ties with his peers in the industry.

“Some people see every other company in the world as competition, as in, ‘they’re my enemy’. But I see them as trying to live their dreams like I’m living mine,” he says. “So a company from California can call me to cover a client in Florida and know I’m not going to steal the client – I’m going to do my best to make them happy they gave us the job.”

Early Days
After graduating high school, Borne went on to study electronics at Northern Kentucky Vocational and Technical School, earning an associate’s degree, but instead of continuing with college, he took a job as front of house engineer with a regional club band. “It was only a three-month tour—and the first week or two there was so much feedback I’m surprised I kept my job.”

Even then, making barely $100 a week, he’d already begun amassing the gear and capital needed to form his own company. “I lived with my grandmother, and she said, ‘if you want to store your equipment here and have a bed, you send me half your pay’.”

It wasn’t rent, he explains, but seed money. “When I wanted to buy equipment I’d have to call her and convince her to break out a bit of money to help.”

Over the course of six years of serving as a mix engineer and system tech on tours with various bands, Borne also formed valuable professional relationships, including one with Jack D. Johnson, manager of country stars Charlie Pride and Ronnie Milsap.

Johnson became an important mentor, eventually tapping him for a gig with rising star T.G. Sheppard. “The first gig we did was the Champaign (Illinois) County Fair. They threw me off the bus like I was bait, and said ‘go do your job’.”


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About Kevin

Kevin Young
Kevin Young

Freelance Music and Tech Writer, Professional Musician and Composer
Based in Toronto, Kevin Young is a freelance music and tech writer, professional musician and composer.

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