FRONT of HOUSE — October 2012
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ATK Audiotek Names MacDonald President
George Petersen

VALENCIA, CA — The pro audio community was recently surprised at the announcement of Michael MacDonald as the new president of ATK Audiotek, stepping in for retiring company president Michael Stahl. Founded in 1983, Audiotek is a sound company specializing in award shows, broadcast events, industrial conventions and major tours, with an enviable client roster including Super Bowls, Academy of Country Music Awards, American Music Awards, Billboard Music Awards, Grammy Awards, Academy Awards, Emmy Awards, American Idol, Democratic and Republican National Conventions, Olympic opening/ closing ceremonies and more. MacDonald, an industry veteran with three decades in pro audio, most recently completed a stint as vice-president of sales and marketing at Harman Professional.

The audio community is filled with examples of personnel moving from contracting and AV rental companies and into manufacturing, but the reverse is less common. MacDonald had a long history of working with ATK Audiotek since the company’s beginnings, when he worked on various projects with Mikael Stewart, now partner and vice president of special events at ATK Audiotek. So in a way, this marks a homecoming for MacDonald, who began his production industry career working as lead audio engineer on a host of major tours and projects including Olympics ceremonies, Grammy Awards and presidential debates.

Audiotek had wanted him to work with them fulltime, but “I went in another direction, working a corporate job at Yamaha,” says MacDonald. “I diverted of the production world and started doing equipment product development and sales back in 1986. Then I bounced around with a number of companies and did consultant work for Yamaha, JBL and about 30 other companies.” MacDonald then moved to the Harman group where he held positions including president of JBL Professional and VP of sales and marketing at Harman Professional.

When Stahl started talking about retiring from Audiotek, MacDonald spoke with Stewart and Scott Harmala (partner, CTO and VP of engineering) about the potential of buying out Stahl’s equity and taking over as operating partner for ATK Audiotek. “The timing seemed right, and I started putting together a plan to do that,” MacDonald explains, “I communicated that to the folks at Harman. They were pretty good about that and it all came together.”

“Having Michael MacDonald join the company is a natural extension of the relationships we have enjoyed for over 30 years,” said Stewart. “We’re pleased to welcome him onboard and look forward to his ideas and his energy just as we are appreciative of Mike Stahl’s massive contribution to ATK since its foundation.” Harmala concurs. “Michael not only brings decades of experience and industry contacts but a proven, high energy, creative approach to building new business. We share a considerable history together but also a strong vision for the future potential of the production industry and of ATK Audiotek.”

“I had this opportunity to work with some old friends and own a piece of the business,” says MacDonald. “We’ve gotten together a couple times a year over the past 15 years for golf or scuba diving, so we know each other well. It’s going to be a lot of hard work and it will be quite a change moving from the manufacturing side, but I’m really excited about this opportunity to do something different.”

But might this include product development as well? “It’s probably early for me to start prognosticating about strategies, but there’s always been a role for progressive sound companies to help manufacturers develop new products, Mac- Donald adds. “For example, Audiotek did a lot of field testing on some of the early VerTec products, and we had hired Scott [Harmala] out as a consultant on some of the predictive software. I think we could vend that capability and engage in things like design verification, product testing and consulting on new feature sets. There’s a lot that a company like Audiotek can bring to the game.”

MacDonald sees an even brighter future for the company. “The plan for Audiotek is to double the company size in about five years, offer new services, get new clients, work with new manufacturers to provide cutting-edge stuff and take it to the next level. I’ve got great partners to do that with. We have a fantastic team and it feels really good.”