You can't tell the Peachstate Audio story without tying it to the early years of OAP Audio. OAP Audio got its start in a 1500 sq ft. cinder block building that was rented for $100/month. It was June of 1976 after company founder and president, Mike O'Rouke, had graduated from North Georgia College. The love of pro audio grew from Mike's involvement with several local bands during his high school years and evolved into a small sound rental company during his college years. The main business was designing and building speaker cabinets for regional music groups. "When I graduated from college the company didn't have many assets. Nine sheets of plywood, a gallon of paint, some glue, a hammer, nails, a table saw, and a 1967 Ford Fairlane station wagon," O'Rouke states. "I did have a customer who owed me $550.00 dollars... so that was a start."
February 1985 - From left to right: Doyle Henderson, Jack Lockhart, Dana Hunter, Randy Whitworth, Mike O'Rouke,Rusty Sheorn, Rick Atha, Dave Pemberton.
Circa 1976: Sign at the first location in Sugar Hill
In October of 1977 OAP picked up Electro-Voice as its first product line. OAP sold EV speakers in their own enclosures and EV microphones. In November of 1977, OAP looked to the future and purchased land to enable potential growth. From 1977 to 1980 the company started picking up more professional audio lines, adding houses of worship and regional sound companies to their customer list. In June of 1980 OAP hired its first full time employee Jack Lockhart who is Mike's nephew. Jack continued to work with OAP Audio until June of 2014 until he came to Peachstate Audio as the warehouse manager.
In May of 1981 OAP developed the infamous FH118 folded horn. The need for a very high efficiency low frequency box was evident. Most of the power amps were only in the 150 to 200 watt range. The FH118 was a 15% efficient box while most other low frequency enclosures were direct radiator types in the 4-5% efficiency range. What separated the FH118 from the other folded horns was that it utilized a bass port for the rear of the speaker which allowed it to go a half octave lower than other designs. It was the perfect product at the perfect time. Some of the original serial numbers are still in use today. While the original design has seen some face lifts, OAP Audio will still build them as a special order.
One year later, OAP Audio partnered with Sharp Audio on the first R.E.M. tour and developed the DP1512 "DensePack" speaker system. There are still "DensePack" systems used today even though 1992 was the last year they were produced. The R.E.M. tours went from one 24ft. Ryder truck to three 45ft. air ride trailers in a year and a half, showing the band's rise to popularity. To keep up with the band's transition from college campuses to arenas, OAP developed the DP118-3, still the largest production model ever built by OAP. Hey, gas was cheap, so bigger was better. Just like other "flagship" products that have long lives, the DensePack series is still being used today by sound companies. It reached its zenith in the late 80's and early 90's when Rock N' Road Audio used the series for tours with Hank Williams Jr. and Travis Tritt.
Circa 1980: Jack Lockhart sanding a custom "W" folded horn. These were for Rock N' Road Audio and toured with Mother's Finest & Atlanta Rhythm Section
FH118 folded horn
DP1512 "DensePack" speaker system
In June of 1982 the company was incorporated and hired two more employees, one of which was Doyle Henderson who is still with OAP Audio and is now the chief engineer. In December 1982 two more employees were hired, one which was Dana Hunter, who is still Peachstate Audio's current office manager.
1983 was quite a growth year, not only for the speaker products but rentals, installations, and service. During 1983 six thousand square feet of adjoining space was added. Schools and colleges were added as clients for the company. In late 1983 plans were made to break ground for a new building to be built on the land purchased in 1977. In February of 1984 ground was broken for the new facility and completed in October 1984. It is still the home of OAP Audio.
During construction OAP Audio's speaker line experienced rapid growth and filled up the new building as soon as they moved in. Plans were made to expand the building as soon as possible. After the move new models were added to the speaker line, and sales increased on a monthly basis for the next few years. The building was expanded in December of 1986.
In the fall of 1987 it was decided to take the OAP brand nationally with a launch date for the 1988 summer NAMM Show. Additionally in 1987, land was purchased for future growth.
The best selling products were readied for market and saw some success after the 1988 summer and 1989 winter NAMM shows. After these shows OAP conducted marketing research and decided to go after the emerging sound installation market. Thus, OAP developed the T-122 and C-1 installation speakers. The T-122 was the first trapezoid speaker to use a radiusCirca 1992: Db Enterprises T-122s and TR218 ready to be flown in for a show in Denver, Colorado front edge. A year later quite a few companies had copied the radius design and it is still the prevalent design used today.
The T-122 uses a threaded rod connecting the top and the bottom of the enclosure, virtually eliminating the wooden enclosure in the safety factor equation. This is an expensive safety feature and has not been copied by other manufacturers. The C-1 was the first speaker system to have a long throw and short throw horn in the same enclosure, complete with five optional colors to choose from. In another industry first, OAP speaker systems were built with removable input plates via connectors for service in the field and installing optional connectors.
The first Peachstate Audio Logo on a monitor still in use today
1991 was also a very important year. With the OAP brand speaker line, the equipment sales division, and the sound for hire division all growing, it was decided that the company had to be divided. The equipment sales and rental division became Peachstate Audio while OAP Audio remained the manufacturing aspect of the speaker brand. Plans were made to build a new facility for Peachstate Audio on the land bought in 1987. In March of 1993 the staff of Peachstate Audio moved into their new facility.
During the early 90's a relationship was struck with Dr. Eugene Patronis of the Georgia Institute of Technology. Using Dr. Patronis' patented design, OAP developed the ProAx and then the Concert ProAx compact, horn loaded, coaxial high output full range speakers. These products are still in the OAP product line.
As sales continued to grow for all divisions Mike O'Rouke knew that to continue to develop, both of the companies needed outside help. In December 1994 it was decided the "Rental for Hire" company would be sold to several of Peachstate Audio's long time customers. With Peachstate Audio's continued growth and OAP Audio's brand becoming more and more a factor in the sound installation and touring market, it was decided the OAP Audio Brand and assets would be sold to Loeber-Hickey Inc. with Ted Hickey as the new President and CEO. Ted was an industrial engineer with management credentials from NCR and AT&T, so this was a perfect fit. Ted retired in April of 2014 and turned the company over to his son Ted Jr. This transaction allowed Mike O'Rouke to take over the reigns of the sales side and focus on developing the distribution division of the company. Within two years of overseeing the day-to-day operations, Peachstate had already outgrown the Suwanee facility it moved into in 1993. In November of 1997 land was purchased for a new facility to house the growing business.
While Mike was overseeing the daily operations of Peachstate Audio, he pulled from his manufacturing background and realized there was huge potential for the distribution of pro audio. He had years of experience dealing with contractors of all sizes around the country. This was invaluable knowledge when it came to A/V integration. In order to reach the growing vision Mike had, ground was broken in March of 1998 and construction began on a new, larger facility in Suwanee, Georgia. This building was completed in January of 1999 and was the 1st home of Peachstate Audio.
Since then, Peachstate Audio has seen growth every year, leading to the addition of stage lighting and video products to their product offerings. Pulling from his many years of experience as a volunteer coach, in 2008 Peachstate added a Sports Division for sideline management. The division sells coach communication products, cases, sound reinforcement for sports fields and gymnasiums, and other accessories. Mike is currently a community coach at his Alma Mater, North Gwinnett, where he gets first hand experience with all the latest technologies in the Sports Communication arena. The growth in the business world and its technologies made evident the need for an e-commerce site to diversify the Peachstate Audio brand. The e-commerce site was brought online in June of 2009 and continues to grow with new products constantly being added. In April of 2010 training and information videos were added to the main page of the website.
In February of 2014 OAP Audio decided to move their factory to Alpharetta, GA to be closer to their vendors. The decision was made by Peachstate Audio to completely renovate the OAP Audio factory at 310 Peachtree Industrial Boulevard, Sugar Hill, GA to better facilitate the growth of Peachstate Audio. In June of 2014 the move was completed. The renovation allowed for expanded showroom, office, ware house and product training space. With "Going Green" in mind the new facility has theatrical LED lighting in the showroom, lay in LED lighting in the offices, and LED security lights for the parking lots. New fiberglass skylights were installed to eliminate the need for artificial lighting in the warehouse during business hours. Small tank less instant water heaters were installed at all sink locations. To further conserve energy High efficiency HVAC units were installed in multiple zones and new insulation added.
The large showroom has been instrumental for "real world" demo of audio, lighting and video products. It is also perfect for in house seminars and product showcases that Peachstate Audio is known for.