BEHRINGER Celebrates its 20th Anniversary!
But whenever you celebrate you have to remember the people who have helped you get there as success is always a team effort.
First and foremost I like to thank our employees who are the most phenomenal, dedicated and passionate people I met in my life. Many of them have stayed with us for over 15 years and have given a part of their life to our Company. My heartfelt gratitude goes out to all our 3,500 BEHROID’s (that's how we call our dedicated employees). Thank you guys and let’s make this an even better place. The best is yet to come :)
But I also want to thank you, our customer. You are the most important part of our Company and I like to thank you for supporting us in all these years. By buying our equipment you have not only helped us build this Company but also enabled other musicians to get affordable equipment. All of you are the real reason for BEHRINGER’s success and hence it is my personal goal to build an even closer relationship with you.
In my early years I repaired basically anything from coffee makers to TV sets in our neighbourhood and established a pretty professional repair shop in my bedroom, though my mother was not too excited about the solder residue that got burnt into the carpet. Later I stepped up to build my own synthesizer at the age of 16 which sadly never made it into mass production (maybe it's better that way).
During my early years in Dusseldorf I was extremely passionate about playing piano and I practised up to 6 hours a day, simply with the goal to become the best pianist. One day I walked into a jazz club called Front Page where the owner Harald Rehbock sang the whole Sinatra repertoire. The place was also a mecca for all working musicians and I was so fascinated about the music, that I brought my cassette player with me, recorded all songs during several nights and practised non-stop. After three months, I got the job. Harald's passion for Sinatra was truly inspiring and it went that far that he would use the same microphone brand as "Old Blue Eyes" as well as sip the same whiskey. I played at the Front Page for several years, often 4 nights a week while studying at the same time. I greatly enjoyed these years but I also got to know the tough life of a working musician as sleep became a luxury.
One day I played at a hotel lounge as a substitute for another pianist. At the peak of my musical career I was extremely excited to play any song a customer would request. One of the guests walked over and put $50 on the piano. "Can I request something?" he asked, "can you please stop playing the piano?"
I left the money on the piano and walked out of the hotel. I knew this was not the career I wanted to pursue and it was time to shift focus in my life.
I realized that it was simply impossible to become a Sound Engineer without having my own studio.
I desperately wanted to have my own equipment but as a student I couldn't afford to establish my own recording studio. One day I opened up a signal processor of an established brand and I realized that despite a selling price of $ 1,000, the components inside were just worth $ 100. I started to design equipment initially for myself but surprisingly I had immediately sold ten pieces to my friends and fellow musicians before I had even built them. I discovered that all my musician friends faced the same dilemma. There was simply a tremendous need for good and affordable equipment.
It became my personal mission and later the Company’s philosophy to provide professional products at prices every musician could afford. This formed the BEHRINGER mantra “Double the Features at Half the Price” which literally created a new “Prosumer” or home-recording market that had not existed before.
Over the last years we relentlessly invested in the best people, infrastructure and quality systems. Just look at our immense investments in BEHRINGER City, over 160 R&D engineers, cutting-edge infrastructure, etc. and you will understand that BEHRINGER has become a truly industry-leading enterprise.
But I have never forgotten where it all started and why we are in business. Over the past twenty years we have received countless letters from musicians who thanked us for helping them to become a musician or recording artist because of our affordable equipment.
This still is the major motivation to keep us going.
In 1997, I decided to relocate to Hong Kong in order to be close to the action as I realized that you can't run a business by fax. We opened an office to engage in sourcing as well as managing our contract manufacturers. Over the next few years we realized that it was impossible to manage contract manufacturers as quality and delivery was a constant problem. Attempts to improve manufacturing standards lasted only for the short period of the factory visit. One has to accept that contract manufacturers have agendas other than those of their clients, including switching client priorities or cutting corners on components simply to maximize profit. There is a general conflict of interest.
And I tell you that we have incredibly motivated and hard-working Chinese employees, that I am very proud of. These are the people who take great pride in assembling your BEHRINGER product.
In addition to the equipment we manufacture, we now produce many of our own internal components such as our speakers down the pulp for the speaker cones. And we hand-pick through massive shipments of vacuum tubes to test and match them so every product sounds the same.
We do this because two things matter most to us – achieving the highest possible quality and consistency as well as the lowest possible cost so you can enjoy an incredible product that does not break your bank. In fact I always encourage you to do a simple blind test and put our product next to one that costs 10 times the price - just listen and judge for yourself.
By making this fundamental and substantial investment in “BEHRINGER City”, our state-of-the-art factory in Zhongshan (Guangdong province), we have now achieved total control over processes as well as aligning all employees to share the same goals and values.
This makes all the difference as we do no longer rely on subcontractors and control our own destiny, which gives us a tremendous quality and consistency advantage over our competitors. Because we want you to enjoy every single BEHRINGER product that you use.
But the project I am most excited about is called “The BEHRINGER University”, where we will be providing E-Learning tools so our people can study even from home to help them build careers within the Company. Whether people want to study management or learn a language, we will be offering courses for learning opportunities. Over the last few years I have developed a passion for coaching people, something I greatly enjoy. It’s incredibly rewarding to see people become confident, grow and succeed. There is nothing better than creating an infrastructure where people can succeed and then pumping 100,000 Volts of motivation into them.</p>
His name was Otto Pahnke. We would walk around his factory and I noticed that he knew 2,000 employees by name. Everyone adored him as he truly cared for his people. He was a clear marketing genius and every night at 7 pm the whole family had to sit down on the couch when he would comment on TV ads that were aired around that time. I got free marketing lessons and once I decided to start my business I naturally asked him for advice.
I thought I was pretty smart when I came up with a name for my new company. I wanted to call it "SAL" which stood for "Scientific Audio Lab". After I revealed my idea to Otto, he just shook his head, looked at me and said "do you believe in your business?". I answered "of course I do" and he said "then your company has to carry your name".
A few weeks later we went back to see him and we would go for our usual walk in the forest. I said to him that I wanted to call the company "BEHRINGER Professional Studio Equipment" as I thought it sounded impressive. Otto looked at me, just shook his head again and said "professional? You are a little fart, you are a one-man show and you want to compete with the big boys?". He continued "no way are you professional yet but I watched you how you carefully listen to your products when fine-tuning them. You have to call your company "BEHRINGER Specialized Studio Equipment" and add an ear symbol in your logo since you design your equipment by ear and not by cold specs".
Otto Pahnke has been a true mentor and he helped me getting this Company on its feet.
Sadly he passed in 2005. He was a great man and I owe him a lot.
Personally I believe in a healthy and simplistic lifestyle, I enjoy sports, yoga, dancing, Japanese food, wine and most of all good books. And whenever I have a chance I play piano for a glass of red wine.
Someone asked me once "what's the best thing to be Uli Behringer" and I answered "that I can live my passion and surround myself with great people that are smarter than me".
20 years ago I started this Company because I wanted to become a Sound Engineer but could not afford good equipment. Until now my personal mission is still the same – to offer you the best equipment at fair prices so you can pursue the most beautiful passion of all - music.
So what could possibly be more fun than the next 20 years to come?
Founder and Chairman