Linn Products Masterclass: High Frequency Inspiration

Music system creator Linn Products, struck a chord with Breakthrough Masterclass delegates as they discovered why outstanding sound, workmanship and a unique supplier relationship helps Linn make sweet music. Breakthrough Business Editor reports.

Delegates at the Linn Products Breakthrough Masterclass were treated to a lesson in just how high the bar can be set by this world-famous elite hi-fi equipment manufacturer. The Glasgow-based business lovingly creates music systems and speakers from scratch using precision engineering. Its standards are so incredibly high that bespoke orders can retail for hundreds of thousands of pounds, and sound-obsessed customers come from all over the world just to meet the engineers who craft these music masterpieces.
The company was founded in 1973 by chairman Ivor Tiefenbrun, after he became disenchanted with the quality of hi-fi systems on the market. He created a turntable – the Linn Sondek LP12 – that matched his idea of sound quality. Within 10 years Linn became the discerning listener’s brand of choice for components, including speakers and amplifiers.
Learning curve
Multiple innovations later, an MBE and several national enterprise awards under his belt, Ivor fell ill and was forced to take a step back from the business, only for it to falter under his replacement management.

“There wasn’t a lot of stress in the air. Everyone was getting on with their jobs in a calm manner, not frenetically as you would expect from a production line based on speed and maximum units per hour." Rachel Nash, Head of Operations and Delivery for the Breakthrough Programme.

This proved a steep learning curve for Linn’s founder and he shared lessons from this time, and his subsequent recovery of the business, in his presentation to Breakthrough delegates.
Once Ivor had recovered his health, he took the helm again, but his company was faced with debt and a floundering market position. He turned to his suppliers for leeway while he recovered the business. Fortunately, his strong relationship with his suppliers, who he sees as of equal importance as Linn’s customers, helped the company survive – and thrive once more.
Team ethics
The presentation was greeted with warm applause. Afterwards, teams of delegates toured Linn Products' factory floor to see the products in development. They discovered insights about the production process, which uses both machinery and expert human interventions to create products that are second to none.
Rachel said: “A lot of the staff had been at the businesses for a long time and had decades of experience. The team ethic encouraged people to help each other, while cross-training meant they could pass on knowledge and also work in different parts of the factory floor.
“There wasn’t a lot of stress in the air. Everyone was getting on with their jobs in a calm manner, not frenetically as you would expect from a production line based on speed and maximum units per hour. They take their time and get things right. It would be too damaging to the brand to deliver a sub-standard product to the customer.”
Incredible quality
The day was rounded off with some music in a Linn Lounge session, which gave delegates the chance, at last, to hear what all the hype was actually about. In a fully functioning house, known as Linn Home, sat in the front room, complete with sofas, a kitchenette and adjacent bedrooms, delegates were treated to several tracks, to show off the music systems' outstanding capabilities in a mini ‘Linn Lounge’ event.
“The afternoon session was a chance for people to decompress and absorb what they had learned,” said Rachel. “They had insight in how Linn makes its products and the company values, but the Linn Lounge demonstrated that the product really is amazing and it sounds incredible.”
So impressed were some of the delegates that they placed personal orders on the spot. Feedback really doesn’t come much better than that.

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