MEET YOUR MAKER -- JAMO
Jamo, what sort of name is that?
It comes from the first two letters of the surnames of the
founders, Preben Jacobsen and Julius Mortensen.
They’re not local boys then?
No indeed, they hail from Denmark, the sticking out bit and
all those little islands above Germany.
So how did it all begin?
Preben Jacobsen was a cabinet-maker by trade and between
stints in the army he designed and built loudspeakers for friends in his
mother’s wash house. That was back in 1965. They were obviously pretty good
because he was asked to supply empty cabinets to other Danish speaker
manufacturers. Jacobsen’s success prompted him to give up sub-contracting and
set up his own speaker manufacturing company, but he lacked commercial skills.
That’s when his brother-in-law Julius Mortensen comes into the picture. His skill
and experience as a salesman and independent fish exporter was clearly what the
fledgling company needed. Jamo Hi-Fi was established in 1968.
Fish and loudspeakers, run that one by me again...
Forget the fish. Julius’s background in exporting is the
important bit, they quickly realised that Denmark’s population of just 5
million wouldn’t be enough to support their business. One of Julius’s first
jobs was to set up a network of dealers, initially in other Scandinavian
countries, where they did really well. Then they set about conquering the rest
of Europe, now they’re busily making a name for themselves in the US and the
Presumably they’ve moved out of Mrs Jacobsen’s washhouse by
The first production facility was an old shed, then they
took over an entire floor at the local temperance hotel, but they soon outgrew
that too, so in 1970 they started building their first factory in Glyngore,
which is in Jutland. They’re still there, though the factory has grown
considerably and now cover an area of some 28,000 square metres.
One of the most advanced and highly automated loudspeaker
production facilities in the world. It’s crammed full of robots and many
ingenious machines designed by Preben Jacobsen. Between them they churn out
around one million loudspeakers each year, ninety per cent of hem for export. Such
is the degree of automation that the output has more than quadrupled in the
past few years, without any significant increase in the number of staff. They’ve
got so many robots and machines they’ve won prizes, like the prestigious Danish
Award for Applied Automation in 1985.
It doesn’t sound like a very people-friendly place?
Well, unemployment isn’t a big problem in Denmark, but they
do take their social responsibilities seriously. They do their bit for the environment,
the factory is clean and green. Something like 98% of all the paints they use
are water-based, there’s no CFCs used in any of their processes and all plastic
packaging is bio-degradable. The cardboard they use is unbleached and contains
60% recycled materials, and all their loudspeaker magnets are harvested from
sustainable sources, but native tribesmen that care...
But what about the speakers?
Yes, yes we’re coming to that, but you may also like to know
that in 1992 they became the first loudspeaker manufacturers to receive ISO
9001 quality control accreditation, which recognises the fact that their
products tend to be very reliable. Right now their product range includes over
180 different cabinet mounted loudspeakers, from everyday hi-fi units like the
Studio 80, which sells for a little under £80, to the mighty Oriel floor
standers, that will set you back around seven grand!
So what’s next?
Jamo pride themselves on being quick off the mark and able
to react swiftly to change and demand. They’re now making quite a name for themselves
in home cinema, with THX rated products, and watch out for the new PA2000
sub-woofer. It’s onwards and upwards as far as marketing is concerned and the
aim is to strengthen the Jamo brand in growth markets in the Asia Pacific
region, Eastern Europe and Latin America.
Another Viking invasion in the making?
R. Maybury 1997 0105