The Peavey Story

By: Stan Torgerson
By: Stan Torgerson

Peavey Electronics was founded in 1964, but Hartley Peavey points out
it was not an instant success. It took 13 years.

"What people see is the success of Peavey, and we've had a few, but what they don't see is the failures and blood, sweat, and tears that myself and a whole bunch of other people put into building this company," Peavey said.

In the 1960s as the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and other such groups became the rage, a number of companies went into the guitar amplifier business.

"But they forgot something," said Peavey. "You'll rarely ever see a band that doesn't use a P.A. system. In those days there were only two P.A. systems that you could buy, both of which were relatively expensive."

Peavey invented a four channel P.A. amplifier. It was 30% cheaper than the competition's and worked as well. In those days, Peavey Electronics was literally a one-man company. Hartley was the production guy, the purchasing agent, and the chief salesman.

"I'd go in and say I've got a new line of amplifiers I'd like to show you and they said, what's the name and I said Peavey. Get out!" he laughed.

But the eventual success of that amplifier helped build his business. Today, Peavey Electronics now owns so many production and warehouse facilities, he's lost track.

"I don't even know the number of buildings any more. It used to be important to me. It's not," said Peavey. "Thirty something buildings. Right now we have between 1,600 and 1,700 people. We do business in, I believe somebody told me the other day, it was 134 countries."

A major success has been the company's Medi Matrix sound system for large stadiums and buildings.

"We just got the new terminal at Toronto's International Airport," Peavey said. "We put in the sound system, the Media Matrix System. It is, in fact, in the Senate, the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives. We even put in one of these systems in the KGB headquarters in Russia. That was an interesting experience."

So what is the secret of his success? "I was given a chance," said Peavey. "I was given an opportunity and in life that's really all you should expect is a chance. And if you don't grab that brass ring, it's your fault. And I did. And I'm still hanging on for dear life."


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