Small Business Spotlight: Whirlwind

June 05, 2019 07:04 PM

GREECE, N.Y. (WHEC) -- They are some of the biggest names in the recording industry -- and some of the biggest venues in America, and this business on Ling Road in Greece is responsible for keeping them wired.

Whirlwind has been in business now for nearly 45 years, making some of the most respected audio and electrical interfacing equipment in the world.


"We started out in the music industry supplying and manufacturing products for the music industry," said Whirlwind founder and president Michael Laiacona.

He got his start making equipment for his own rock band when he was 19 years old.

"We went from a zero to a $5 million company in about two and a half years selling guitar cables," Laiacona said.

Musicians have come to count on Whirlwind for their audio components and you'll find their name on the world's best-selling guitar pedals and sound boxes.

"Everyone from Paul McCartney, Carlos Santana, you name it, they play it. They use them. They're the number one professional pedal in the world."

But beyond the big rock shows, Whirlwind has done work for clients like NBC Sports and ESPN , and wired dozens of major stadiums and arenas from the Meadowlands to Yankee Stadium.

"When the trucks come to the stadiums for the very first time, that game could be worth $20 million worth of advertising revenue," Laiacona explains. "So when the truck pulls up to the stadium and goes, click-click, everything in the stadium has to work."

Laiacona has also done a number of government jobs, installing his equipment for press conferencing in some well-known places.

News10NBC's Brett Davidsen: "Tell us a couple places where we'll find it."

Michael Laiacona: "The White House."

Talking to Laiacona as he gave us a tour of his plant, it became clear he is more than a businessman. He's an innovator and an inventor.

But he credits much of his success to his 150 employees. We saw them working on several different products in this sprawling factory from circuit boards to industrial cases and metal audio panels.

These days Laiacona is gearing a lot of his efforts toward the electrical, rather than the audio side of things.

It may seem hard to believe that a man with no engineering background has created all this -- but you know what they say: necessity is the mother of invention. And Laiacona knows what his customers want and need.

Davidsen: "What would the world sound like without Whirlwind?"

Laiacona: "What would the world sound like without Whirlwind? I would say not as good."

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Brett Davidsen

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