From Concept to Global Distribution, One NAMM Member’s Journey Bringing a Product to Market
Throughout his life, Rick Wilkinson was always encouraged to build things. One could say it was in his DNA as he comes from a family of engineers, which has led to a fascination with how things work.
Once he earned his degree in electronics, Wilkinson entered the professional world as a bench-technician, repairing audio amplifiers and wiring audio systems for hotels and writing installation procedures and repair guides for electronic products. After gaining some experience, he advanced to a Customer Support Manager for a semiconductor equipment manufacturer. In this position, Wilkinson continued to develop troubleshooting procedures and maintenance literature while also running the international service department.
With a wealth of knowledge in hand, in 2007, he began Austin Ribbon Microphones. Wilkinson was searching for an entry-level ribbon microphone to help record a client. Ever the engineer, he was heavy into his research on the best product to buy when he stumbled upon a website and discussion groups that outlined how to modify a low-priced ribbon microphone to improve the sound. Inspired by the idea, Wilkinson took it one step further and became determined to build his own ribbon mic - if he could only find a complete tutorial. After an extensive search, he realized that such a manual wasn’t readily available. Wilkinson did the only thing he knew how to do - write one himself. Three weeks later, a new DIY ribbon mic was born and had a step-by-step guide, with photos, readily available for a new generation of aspiring engineers and musicians.
As word spread about Wilkinson’s new ribbon mic, he started to receive some repetitive feedback, “Do you have DIY Kits?” By 2009, he had officially combined his unique building plans with a box full of specially curated parts to build his microphone and put the kits on the market.
Never one to rest, Wilkinson became determined to fix another annoying problem facing fellow engineers and novice builders alike, the unstable “3rd-hand” alligator clip. This clip safely holds parts in place when soldering. We sat down with Wilkinson to talk about his latest product, the Hot Holder and Hot Holder Pro.
Wilkinson continues to update and improve his products by incorporating unique tips and tricks directly from his customers and students.