|Alesis returned to Summer NAMM 2001 under new ownership. Jack O'Donnell, President of
Numark stepped up to the plate, and made the winning bid to acquire
Alesis and all its assets. What changes are in store? How will Alesis
dealers be affected? What will the market notice? Alesis' new owner Jack
O'Donnell speaks to these topics and more.
Why did Alesis seek new ownership?
"Alesis gave an impressive showing of fourteen new products at Winter NAMM 2001. Development of these products consumed large amounts of capital. The current economic slow down combined with the costs associated with the launching of these new products exhausted Alesis' resources. Alesis had no choice but to look for outside capital or a new owner."
What interested you most about Alesis and ultimately led to your purchase of the company?
"I originally pursued Alesis because I was very interested in their technology. Our discussions were solely about licensing technology. At that time I had no idea that Alesis was for sale. Their new product line at the Winter NAMM show really caught my attention. The idea of Numark working with Alesis seemed ideal. Management at Alesis was quite clear that they were not interested in the DJ business and wanted to focus on their current customers. Our dialogues continued and then evolved to discussions of purchase."
What is your background?
"I was with Stanton Magnetics and Pickering & Company for twelve years as their VP of sales and marketing. Our primary focus when I started with these companies was the consumer market. At that time Stanton was minimally involved in the pro market and Pickering was not at all. My team at Stanton pushed to establish ourselves in the pro market. Subsequently, my personal interest in the pro market grew. While at Stanton, I formed a partnership with Vestax. We brought in a new line of mixers into the country under the Stanton/Vestax name. This experience further established our foothold in the professional market. I respect the talents of professional musicians and DJs, and I enjoy aligning my business talents with their interests. To me they are very fascinating consumers and it's fun to manufacture products for these customers - many are such great artists."
Numark has become a leader in the segments that it serves. What is it in your philosophy that has allowed that to happen?
"Basically it's a two-tiered approach. One, we really listen to the market and develop our products with the input of the end consumers. Many of the people who work at Numark along with their friends and associates are really into the DJ scene. This helps us develop a product that focusses on the needs of the DJ. The second important aspect of our approach is our emphasis on technology. When I first took over Numark we immediately went to the big computer chip manufacturers and studied their technology and how it could be applied to DJ products. We are fortunate enough to have some very bright engineers working for us that have the unique combination of electrical engineering talent, software skills and musical abilities. Matching an understanding of the needs of the DJ and available technologies has helped us become the dominant player in the industry."
What will be the direction of Alesis in the future?
"Now that the purchase has taken place, I'd like to duplicate the Numark model. This means understanding the available technology and funding the advancement of this technology; along with understanding the consumer - his wants and needs. This of course is going to be a big learning curve for me. But the Alesis team is second to none, so I have full confidence that I'll learn quickly and learn from the best. Ultimately the direction for Alesis will be to satisfy the requirements of today's and tomorrow's musician/recording artist."
What is your vision for product?
"Alesis will continue to focus on the recording and keyboard markets. I also see a need to expand Alesis' product line. For example, our keyboard line is very important and in my opinion, our line is too limited. We have great products, but I'd like us to hit more price points and offer greater variety. We have an opportunity to be more things to our Alesis dealers. For example, we want to give them a reason to compliment their ADAT or Alesis hard disc recorder purchase with other Alesis products."
Will Alesis remain a separate entity or merge with Numark?
"Actually Jack O'Donnell purchased Alesis, not Numark. The Alesis name is one of the valuable assets of the Alesis purchase. I see Alesis' image as being quite different than Numark's - both are leaders within their segments - but they serve different markets. I want Alesis and its product line to remain unique and to remain separate from any other company that I may own."
What differences will end-users notice?
"The end-user might see a shortage of Alesis products for the next few months and I apologize for that. We are ramping up manufacturing but within two or three months, the consumer will see is a broader Alesis product line. When I purchased the company there were many excellent new products in the pipeline, during the upcoming fall and Christmas season, the consumer will see all of these products along with all the other products that made Alesis great."
What differences will dealers perceive in doing business with Alesis?
"I'm hoping our dealers will find doing business with Alesis even easier than before. My objective with dealers is to give them product which is reliable, profitable, and in high demand. There will be minimal changes that a dealer might notice. For example, we might make systems changes, such as software and upgrades to hardware. But the intent of course would only be to improve the operation."