Mark Levinson is a guy who sold his name and has been described as….err….challenging to work with. Yet he has carved out a niche for himself in high end audio, that has lasted around 40 years now. More than anything, he is a salesman, but perhaps not such a great business partner. If they were still around, ask Sandy Berlin and Mike Kay about that and it would surely have been a story. God bless him, Mike Kay lost money with Levinson the person, twice.
Mark Levinson started his company, Mark Levinson Audio Systems (MLAS), in 1972, two years before the founding of PS Audio. Mark was the company visionary while a parade of engineers including John Curl, Dick Burwen, and Tom Colangelo designed the products. Like many garage-based operations, MLAS loped along until investors Mike Kay (Lyric HiFi) and Sandy Berlin (Harman) came to the rescue.
But even after an infusion of cash, MLAS struggled before vaulting itself into the iconic status the company once enjoyed in its prime.
Instrumental in the meteoric rise of MLAS was their director of sales, Jim McCullough, a man whose chief qualification for selling high-end audio was that he’d read a few magazines and owned MLAS equipment. In five short years MLAS went from near-nothing to $10,000,000 before McCullough left for Wadia, where he managed to do it again: From nothing to $10,000,000 in five years. And then, it was on to Mark Levinson’s (the man) new company, Cello.
Of course, no one man can take all the credit for a company’s success. But one thing Jim McCullough can do is playback a wealth of great stories of how it all happened. And those stories and history are a hoot, well worth the time to listen.