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View from the Top: Jim Dugan, President, Wisycom USA

By Clive Young. Jim Dugan discusses bringing the Italian RF company's products to the United States and how that completes a worldwide picture for Wisycom.

Jim Dugan
Jim Dugan

Every musician dreams of capturing the attention of a top executive who in turn gives them the chance to take their career to the next level. That’s what happened to Jim Dugan—except that it happened decades after his musical career ended; instead, it was his wireless gear design work that caught the eye of Massimo Polo, owner of Italy-based Wisycom, and that eventually found them creating Wisycom USA.

“Like many, I started out as a musician, which led to mixing bands at a small recording studio that I opened,” recalled Dugan. Burnt out after a decade, he closed the facility and took a job with Systems Wireless, where he began learning the wireless business. That led to a freelance role building and operating trucks and widespread wireless networks for Total RF Solutions, usually for its client the Golf Channel.

Returning to Systems Wireless, which had been acquired by Bexel in the intervening years, he developed more wireless products. “While at Bexel, I designed my own gear, such as the distributive antenna system that we set up for major awards shows,” said Dugan. “This technology caught the attention of Massimo. It was a very high-level fiber networking system, and he was doing similar work and exploring services in that realm.”

Dugan ultimately decided to launch his own business, Jetwave Wireless, and soon established a partnership with Wisycom. “Collaborating and sharing ideas, we worked together to design a lot of Wisycom’s current antenna products,” said Dugan. In 2014, they officially teamed up to build Wisycom’s brand in the United States. “While I was cultivating my relationship with Wisycom, I was also launching Jetwave Wireless with practically zero resources. Today, we’ve grown to nearly 20 full-time employees and Massimo has watched our evolution. It was through Jetwave that we were able to establish a business presence for Wisycom and begin to build a structure by which to launch Wisycom USA.”

Creating that business presence required more than merely bringing Wisycom’s wares to the attention of potential U.S. customers; it also had to do with the interpersonal side of business. “The company needed U.S. exposure, and someone suited to American culture, who knew the technology and could build relationships with regional customers and dealers,” said Dugan. “Massimo didn’t just want an American employee—he wanted a business partner who was equally invested in the success of the company.”

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That resulted in the founding of Wisycom USA earlier this year. Dugan now serves as president of both companies. Some employees are involved for both entities, but several are dedicated solely to Wisycom USA, such as Geoff Baynard, who provides 24/7 service and support for all Wisycom users, while Patrick “Paddy” Steading was recently added to the team to head up national sales for the company. TJ Miesen is based in Los Angeles and provides tech support and business development on the West Coast, while the East Coast sales team comprises Ian McKelty and Josh Flower, who both focus on Jetwave sales at large but have “a keen understanding of Wisycom-related projects.”

Among many other responsibilities, Dugan oversees relationships with Wisycom’s local dealer network, a group that he is selective about. “Among the dealers, we have some that are systems integrators, others that are pro audio, still others that are live production and so forth,” he said. “Jetwave serves as the broadcast dealer, with our primary focus going to the major studios. To certify that every dealer has quick and easy access to the gear, we keep a certain level of stock at Wisycom USA. As categories scale up or down, we reconfigure our supply to meet the needs.”

Dugan’s main focus at Wisycom USA, however, is sales/marketing and education. To support that effort, the company recently expanded its office to add a production studio, used to create training-style videos for YouTube that are each under two minutes. Dugan hopes to leverage the videos to provide instant product details to prospective clients, and likewise give current users reference information about best practices, alternative uses and more. The objective of the videos is to reach not only American users but people across the globe, underlining the fact that Wisycom is everywhere.

While all product research, development and manufacturing for Wisycom USA takes place in Italy, becoming a major force in the U.S. wireless market is an important focus for the Italian company. Dugan often travels to Wisycom to advise on features intended for the American market, but the growing influence of the U.S. on the company runs deeper than a feature set.

“With the advent of the American office, the culture of Wisycom overall has changed to meet the demands of this new territory,” said Dugan. “What that basically comes down to is, near-instant response. In Europe, there’s a different type of business culture. People work at a slower, calmer pace. They clock out at closing time and don’t think about work again until the next morning—but in the U.S., business rarely halts. I think that’s something to which many European manufacturers have had to begin to subscribe. There’s a wonderful level of cooperation and understanding from the Wisycom home team that in the U.S., response time is crucial.”

There are also a lot of customers here to respond to, as Wisycom USA serves primarily three markets, the biggest of which is location sound—appropriate since many of the company’s new and legacy products are focused on audio mixers and operators. “Location sound experts have a unique culture about them, and I have been able to form deeper relationships with them through our platforms,” said Dugan. “Our users are very loyal and excited about our products. Many of the first adopters of the product here in the States consider themselves brand ambassadors, helping to promote Wisycom to colleagues. We often turn to that collective to help with beta testing new products.”

The other main markets are broadcast—for which Dugan often draws on his Golf Channel truck background—and an emerging presence in touring sound. “Over the past six months, Wisycom has gone on tour with Beyoncé, Taylor Swift and Stevie Wonder, as well as with several ’80s hair bands like Whitesnake,” said Dugan. “Wisycom’s IEM product is truly better than anything else on the planet. Its sound, wideband, radios, range … everything is better. Nothing comes close to Wisycom’s sound and quality. Live sound engineers and musicians are beginning to take note.”

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With all that going on, it’s safe to say that Wisycom USA has a lot of irons in the fire, and Dugan and his team continue to raise brand awareness in the States, spending time with dealers to go over products and technology with them, producing YouTube videos and more. Looking ahead, Dugan is exploring having a presence at NAMM 2019, which would allow the company to reach attendees from around the world—something that would be pretty appropriate for the brand. “Wisycom is worldwide,” said Dugan. “The U.S. was the last frontier. [Creating Wisycom USA] enables the brand to connect with customers throughout the Americas, from Canada to Chile.”

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