EarthQuaker Devices (EarthQuakerDevices.com | @earthquakerdev)
Countdown to the 2020 Client Showcase: #3
SBDC: Ohio SBDC Export Assistance at Cleveland State University
SBDC Advisor: Nate Ward
EarthQuaker Devices believes that effects pedals should be simple and user-friendly, with lots of practical, useable, and musical sounds, but should also be a launchpad for sonic exploration and aural innovation. Most of all, they should always work correctly all of the time, which is why each and every single EarthQuaker Devices pedal is hand built and hand tested in Akron, Ohio, and guaranteed for life.
EarthQuaker Devices was founded in 2004 by musician Jamie Stillman (the Party of Helicopters, Relaxer, Fringe Candidate, Teeth of the Hydra, Drummer, Harriet the Spy, New Terror Class). From 1993 until 2002, Stillman operated the Donut Friends record label from his home in Kent, Ohio, releasing more than fifty records by punk, metal, and shoegaze acts, gaining a cult following around the world.
Stillman began designing effects pedals after a successful attempt at repairing a broken overdrive. This hands-on experience ignited a fascination with electronics and he became obsessed with circuit design, selling his one-off builds on eBay while working various day jobs.
In 2007 Stillman released his first full-production run pedal, the Hoof fuzz. The Hoof became a popular topic of discussion on several online forums, and word-of-mouth spread so quickly that Stillman was able to quit his day job, hire his first employee, and focus on designing and building effects full-time. Jamie estimates that he personally built as many as 2,000 Devices between 2006 – 2010.
The earliest EarthQuaker Devices (Hoof, Grand Orbiter, Disaster Transport, Hummingbird, Ghost Echo) were built in the basement of Stillman’s West Akron home, where he performed all essential functions by hand — populating circuit boards, soldering, screenprinting enclosures, assembly, packaging, and shipping. To keep up with orders, Stillman converted his basement into a full-time pedal factory, where a team of nine employees built hundreds of pedals every week from scratch.
With demand on the rise, a workshop stuffed to capacity, and an abundance of new designs awaiting release, it became obvious to these basement-dwelling pedal builders that it was time to move out — and fast.
In 2011, Stillman’s wife Julie Robbins, (who prior to EQD managed her own talent booking agency) left her position in the banking industry to join the company full-time as CEO, bringing to the organization years of experience in the fields of talent management and finance. With Robbins’ business acumen backing Stillman’s innovative designs, the pair set out to find a new home for the company they’d built from the ground up, relocating to an abandoned glass factory in 2011 and later to a vacant automotive paint warehouse.
In 2015 EarthQuaker Devices renovated the two-story, 15,000 sq. ft. building it currently occupies. Having found a permanent home for 50ish employees and 40+ Devices, EarthQuaker Devices is staying put for now.
To create unique effects units which meet or exceed the needs of the professional touring musician, R&D is performed in-house by Jamie Stillman, who designs each Device to exacting specifications in order to achieve his creative vision, growing EarthQuaker Devices from one musician’s passion project into a lifeline for the musical community of Akron, Ohio.
EarthQuaker has received more than 70 hours of business counseling and training from the Ohio SBDC Export Assistance Network, and in 2018 EarthQuaker applied for an received an SBA PLP 7A loan through Peoples Bank to purchase its two-story 15,000 square foot building.
The America’s SBDC Client Showcase and Reception will be held from 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm on Tuesday, February 11, 2020, in the Rayburn House Office Building Cafeteria.
For more information about America’s SBDC and to find an SBDC near you, go to www.AmericasSBDC.org.