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View From the Top: Mark Williams, RAD Global Distribution

Mark Williams, executive vice president of RAD Global Distribution, shares his journey from building homegrown mixers in Junior High to distributing pro-audio brands around the world.

Mark Williams
Mark Williams

My fascination with audio started at a young age—in junior high, I really wanted a mixer, but my dad wouldn’t let me buy one with the money I made mowing lawns, so I built my own with parts of a broken stereo and some light dimmers in the garage. In college (University of Alabama BA and North East Louisiana MA), I worked in broadcast (radio and television) while learning production, theory, management and business. After grad school, I ran the largest recording studio in South Louisiana, then in 1999, started with PreSonus, a tiny company doing around $2-$3 million a year. Within a year, I was running international sales. The company began to evolve exponentially as we entered the digital and interface realm, and over the next 17 years, we grew the international side from $100k a year to over $23 million. I learned by trial and error while making some great customers and friends for life, and left PreSonus for good in 2017.

I met Jon Haber, owner of RAD Distribution, that year while working for Warm Audio in Texas. I was fascinated by his manufacturing and distribution model, working with amazing brands as a manufacturer (Avantone Pro, Black Lion Audio and Lindell) and distributing other awesome brands (Heritage, HEDD, Golden Age, TK Audio, Isovox, Cymatic, Kahayan). I looked at it for almost two years before contacting Jon. I messaged him on a Friday about working together and he flew from New York to Louisiana on Monday. We put together a business plan over dinner and then finalized our agreement over breakfast. Then we met with United Studio Tech (Cave Daughdrill and Chad Kelly), both guys I’d worked with at PreSonus, and set up a manufacturing and distribution agreement (and placed the first order) by dinner that night.

Summerfest: The “Big Gig” Is Back

Cave—always my favorite creative director and marketing person to work with—joined our team shortly after, and we faced some familiar challenges: growing and revitalizing some established and brands, and additionally localizing European brands for North America. We also had to make the delivery of RAD Distribution as an entity easier for dealers and distributors to grasp, so we branded it as the mothership. We quickly focused in on the fact that RAD can provide a full signal chain solution for customers, offering mics, dynamics processors, monitors and headphones. The only thing missing was an interface, but Cave and I had significant experience with those from our days at PreSonus, the Black Lion team knows how to make anything move sonically from good to amazing, and Jon is a wizard when it comes to manufacturing, logistics and leadership. We all worked hard and came out with the Black Lion Audio Revolution 2×2 USB interface, shipping with Studio One packed in after negotiating with our friends at PreSonus. The interface was a catalyst for significant growth, product expansion and market penetration over the last year.

At RAD, we’ve built a core team of nine people who allow us to be nimble, quick and proactive. We have a strong element of boutique pro audio recording by brand, but cumulatively, the strength of a mid-size manufacturer. This lets us cater to niche market segments, too, with smaller runs that address specific geographic needs (like the Black Lion PG power grid series in markets like Australia). Also, the balance between the background that I have in manufacturing and international sales, coupled with Jon’s experience as a U.S. retailer and North American distributor, give us a view from the top globally down to the retail store environment in the U.S. The result is that RAD has continued to grow, fostering strong business relationships and providing great audio tools for pros.