Redmond company offers electronics that take a beating.
By Joseph Ditzler / The Bulletin / @josefditzler Published Jan 27, 2015 at 12:01AM / Updated Jan 27, 2015 at 06:09AM
REDMOND — The name tells the story: Tractor Tunes Offroad Audio. Company founder Antone Santos recalls how, while installing a sprinkler system in a pasture at home about 10 years ago, the idea occurred to him to install a sound system on his tractor, for convenience.
“I got tired of bringing the truck around for music,” he said. “Pretty basic, you know.”
Friends noticed and commented that they could use something similar on their tractors, off-road vehicles, utility vehicles and pickup trucks.
“No matter where I dug, I could not find anything like it on the market,” he said.
Today, Tractor Tunes is more than sound systems for tractors. From its beginning in a 6,000-square-foot manufacturing facility, Santos has expanded the company, adding a global distribution network that makes and sells housing systems and mounting kits for electronics systems — not just sound systems. Along the way, Santos also created a separate line of light bars and work lights through a sister company, Extreme Lighting Products.
Santos said Tractor Tunes has $2 million to $3 million in sales each year and is ready to move beyond its rambling 16,000-square-foot space at the Redmond Airport industrial park. Pretty good for a company that started without a concrete business plan and no lending from any banks, Santos said.
“They turned me down. And that was kind of the all-in point,” he said. “It was my decision to either take their advice, which was don’t do what I’m doing, or follow my gut, my instinct, and get after this thing.”
Success, he said, is built on the dealer networks he’s created in the intervening years. Anyone can open a business installing stereos, even customize the installation package, he said. Few have thought to design and build a durable system designed for the job site and the hunting camp and then market it through dealers around the country.
Tractor Tunes products are available through thousands of dealers that sell John Deere, Polaris, Kubota, Bobcat and similar equipment from Alaska to Florida and beyond, and through the outdoor sporting goods chain Cabela’s.
Santos said he’s outfitted entire fleets for trucking companies, installed GPS devices for mining companies and customized audio systems for a NASCAR driver and a country music singer. He said keeping up with new forms of electronics and their changing applications is one way the company grows.
Santos said innovation is part of the story. He said the company is incorporating 3-D scanning into its design and manufacturing process. The scanners create models to millimeter specifications that are then used to create products by vacuum forming.
“That technology is a sling-shot,” Santos said, “as far as getting us to where we need to be.