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Another CE Moment: SpeakerCraft Saloon at CEDIA 1994

The company that gave us semi-nude performers at CEDIA 2008 built a saloon on the show floor 15 years ago


CE Pro Editors · August 22, 2009

In the spring of 1994 SpeakerCraft completed the development of its first branded line of products, after transitioning from a custom installation company and designer and manufacturer of speakers for JBL, Polk, Sonance and Niles and many others.

Principals Jeremy Burkhardt and Ed Haase were brainstorming what to do for CEDIA Expo in Dallas.

After visiting with many corporate trade show companies, Burkhardt and Haase decided that a shiny, glossed over, expensive, plastic and pre-fab booth would never fit in with SpeakerCraft’s thought process or their goals for a trade show.

After a few beers at a local bar it was decided that SpeakerCraft would launch into the CEDIA market and make a statement that would encompass the culture of the company. It would project an attitude of having fun, taking care of their partners and just hanging out with dealers as opposed to strictly business appointments and product pitches.

“We built a wooden saloon with screws and nails,” Burkhardt recalls. “We didn’t even have money for drayage or transportation, so Jason Markley and I—we were 22 years old—snuck the booth on to the CEDIA show floor, piece by piece, on our skateboards.” 

Burkhardt had a pocketful of hundreds he used to bribe the dock workers to avoid any union entanglements. 

“We did what we had to do to launch the brand and still reinvest all our money into new products as opposed to slick marketing campaigns and other ‘unnecessary’ expenses. I do appreciate that we got away with it. We succeeded in launching the brand and in turn we have returned the favor by stepping up and sponsoring CEDIA to the highest level we can afford,” Burkhardt says.

SpeakerCraft gave away thousands of beer mugs filled with root beer (darn), hundreds of pounds of beef jerky and everyone was invited to hang out. It was, perhaps, the first time we were exposed to the now-famous SpeakerCraft antics.

To this day they remain a little off center with tattoos, semi-nude CEDIA performers, beer fests and more.

In honor of EH Publishing’s 15th year in business, we’re collecting the 100 Greatest Moments in Custom Electronics. Send us your favorite memories—thoughts, old cut sheets, photos, whatever. We’ll pick the 100 best and publish them on CEPro.com in September. Please send to: cemoments@ehpub.com.



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