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Klipsch steps down as speaker maker CEO

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Indianapolis-based speaker maker Klipsch Group has its first non-Klipsch CEO: veteran executive Paul Jacobs.

Longtime leader Fred Klipsch has resigned from the firm he bought in 1989 from his cousin, acoustic engineering pioneer Paul Klipsch, parent company Audiovox Corp. announced Wednesday morning.

Audiovox, based in Hauppage, N.Y., bought Klipsch Group on March 1 for $166 million and is operating it as a subsidiary.

The local management team will absorb Klipsch's duties, and he's expected to join the Audiovox board of directors in July.

"The team that's going to operate the company is my team," said Fred Klipsch, 69.

Jacobs joined Klipsch Group in 1991 as a sales rep and worked his way up to chief operating officer.

"He's definitely the guy that's got a lot of vision and understanding of the end user of the product. He's a natural choice," said Rick Santiago, a former Klipsch vice president of engineering who co-founded Indy Audio Labs.

Klipsch Group has its roots in high-end loudspeakers but under Fred Klipsch expanded into home-theater and personal audio products, such as iPod docks and earphones. Fred Klipsch also expanded overseas sales from 5 percent to 40 percent of the business, which saw $169 million in revenue in the last fiscal year.

The company has about 200 employees worldwide and about 130 at the northwest-side headquarters.

Fred Klipsch said he is not retiring. He is vice chairman and a member of the Board of Health Care REIT, a publicly traded company based in Toledo, Ohio. He also is deeply involved in Indiana education reform and the school voucher movement. He'll continue as chairman of School Choice of Indiana and the Educational Choice Charitable Trust.

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