In July, we took a look at the history of Yorkville Sound, which achieved 55 years of service this year. This month, we go more in depth by chatting with company CEO Steve Long to learn why the company has been successful, why he is optimistic about the industry and what we may see in the future. Enjoy.
The Music & Sound Retailer: Please tell us about Yorkville and the products you produce.
Steve Long: Yorkville’s foundation is based on listening to what musicians and pro-audio professionals want, learning what would make their lives easier and understanding what would sound better for the end user. These are a few facets to what we do at Yorkville. We are a manufacturer of pro-audio (PA) products including mixers, amplifiers, active and passive loudspeaker cabinets, and lighting. We continue to build the Traynor brand of tube and solidstate instrument amplifiers.
While our first product was a PA cabinet, our second product was a bass amp, so we have a lot of experience in both areas. Everything is created by our team, from the idea to the finished product, right here in our Pickering, Ontario, facility.
On our distribution end, we carry some of the most sought-after brands in Canada and high-profile lines in all of North America, including Dynaudio, Hughes & Kettner and HK Audio. We also design and distribute the Applied Research and Technology (ART) brand, which we acquired many years ago. And we design and sell the Apex Electronics line of products, including studio tools, microphones, headphones and accessories.
The Retailer: You celebrated 55 years this year. What has been the key to your success?
Long: The key to our longevity is a great staff. We have many people that have been with the company 30 years, 40 years, and even more. Half of our staff have been with the company for more than 10 years. Our people care about what they do, and as a team we work together. This has always been the case, and I’m very grateful for everyone’s efforts. Many on our team are active musicians and users of our products. We do not put out any product that, as a group, we are not proud of. That is our secret.
The Retailer: Please tell us about your background and career.
Long: Yorkville is a family business that was started by my father. I have always been involved in music. I studied business and engineering [at] university. After that, I spent three years playing music professionally. I realized that was probably not a viable long-term career. Yorkville had an opening at that time, and I took it. This allowed me to combine my education and love for music. I have done almost every job at Yorkville over the last 35 years, and I can honestly say there has never been a time when I was bored.
The Retailer: What is the overall state of the industry today?
Long: I have always been a glass-half-full type of person. There are always changes to how things are done in any industry, but I think that, overall, our industry is very healthy. We have tried to take advantage of the technologies available and incorporate those technologies in our designs. While our company is not the largest, we have always made a big commitment to engineering. Most of our products are in the sound reinforcement area, and I am amazed at how far technology has moved. It is now possible to get a great deal of performance out of a very small package. I really wish that type of technology had existed when I was touring Canada. While the industry has, of course, changed, there are still, and will probably always be, situations where people will gather to listen to music. And every time that happens, we have an opportunity to be a part of it.
The Retailer: What technologies are changing the market and/or could change the market in the future?
Long: Over the last number of years, it was possible to increase the power handling and efficiency of speaker cabinets, resulting in a lot more output per pound of cabinet. While this will continue, I would say there are three things that will change the future of sound reinforcement, and all will lead to more user-friendly systems:
DSP technology is making the equipment much easier to use. For most of the products that we now manufacture, it is possible to get very good sound with a minimal amount of user interface.
Battery technology is making it possible to make larger and larger systems without the need for AC power. This makes it quicker to set up systems, and at the same time, allows people to set up systems where there is no readily available AC power.
Wireless technology is improving, and it will continue to improve and come down in price. This will enable people to hook systems up without the need for cables. Again, this will speed up the process, and make things a lot easier for the users.
The Retailer: Tell us about some recent product launches and ones that will be coming down the pike?
Long: Expect to see more battery-powered, lightweight and wireless products coming from our factory. We are working on the best-sounding speaker system Yorkville has ever created. That is saying a lot for a company that has been around for over 50 years.
The Retailer: Anything to add?
Long: Our company has always tried to be fair; to our employees, our customers and our suppliers. Over the years, all three groups have returned the gesture with incredible loyalty. I would like to thank everyone in the industry that has helped us over the years. I look forward to many more years of positive relationships.