The Minneapolis Speaker Company: When Inspiration Met Opportunity
Having served in World War II as a B-17 gunner, Cliff Digre returned home to Minnesota. Like many returning from the war, he came back with a newfound interest in electronics. Settled and newly married Cliff enrolled in National Radio School. After his wife had given up after several attempts to repair her scratchy-sounding new radio, Cliff took it to his radio repair class. Cliff’s instructor readily determined what had been unsuccessfully diagnosed as bad electronics was actually a speaker with a rubbing voice coil. As budgets were tight, and the cost of replacing the speaker was three times the reconing cost, Cliff sent it off to the only reconing shop in the state. After waiting over six weeks for the speaker to be repaired Cliff saw an opportunity. Soon after he recruited partners, founded the Minneapolis Speaker Reconing Company, and was ready for business on the first day of 1949.
After many start-up challenges, having to eke out a living, and shedding partners, by the summer of 1950 Cliff’s little venture began to succeed. The company experienced notable success reconing speakers for demanding applications like drive-in movie theaters. Through that experience, they learned a lot about what caused speakers to fail and devised improvements to reliability and performance.
In 1956 Cliff was commissioned to design and build an 8” speaker for a local manufacturer. Experiencing issues with the reliability and sound quality of speakers from suppliers, this customer had come to rely on Cliff to recone them. So the customer requested the Minneapolis Speaker Reconing Company build them a speaker that met the high standards Cliff had become known for throughout the region. The result was wildly successful. But having just received parts to build 1000 of these speakers the customer died, leaving Cliff holding the bag. Always one to see an opportunity Cliff forged ahead, built the speakers, and went to market. Soon Cliff’s speaker design and manufacturing expanded to include a range of automotive speakers, 8” hi-fi models and 12” hi-fi woofers. Minneapolis Reconing evolved into the Minneapolis Speaker Company and soon launched its popular Red Line range of drivers.
By 1980, the success of speaker design and manufacturing drove the company that had become MISCO to primarily be an OEM source for the growing demands of drive-through intercom systems. Experience gleaned from those early years reconing speakers for drive-in theaters made MISCO preeminent in the development and production of reliable “waterproof” designs.
Since day one, MISCO has been a family-run enterprise, with Mrs. Digre managing finance and extended family members (and later) the Digre children helping in all manner of the daily operations. Having learned the business hands-on, under his father’s tutelage, Dan Digre assumed leadership of the company in 1990. Dan’s initial career was in music education. Returning to MISCO, Dan brought his passion for music, and a long-standing love of audio and related technologies, to the President’s role at MISCO. He also recognized the growing need for reliable high-quality audio in applications like aerospace, medical equipment, and professional audio. So leveraging and continuing his father’s passion for and foundational commitment to reliability and audio performance, Dan diversified MISCO’s market presence.
With the success of Dan’s expansion into new OEM markets, MISCO moved into a purpose-built facility in Minneapolis. MISCO’s new home supported a notable expansion of engineering staff and capabilities. The new factory maximizes the efficiency of the production lines and incorporates leading-edge testing equipment. In support of our ever-present fervor for long-term product reliability and preeminent audio quality, MISCO’s dedication to production line quality and end-of-line testing is unparalleled in the industry. Our commitment to continuous improvement is fostered in our company culture under Dan’s visionary leadership.
In 2015, MISCO acquired Warkwyn. This acquisition added to our already impressive test capabilities: the resources of the most advanced and complete R&D audio lab in North America. The addition of Warkwyn to our holdings positions us as the preeminent speaker design, testing, and manufacturing operation in North America.
While we proudly design, engineer, and build speakers and speaker systems in the US, we are a global company. Dedicated to meeting the logistic and economic needs of our customers around the world, we maintain manufacturing facilities in Asia. Supported by our St Paul-based R&D and administrative teams, our Asian factory provides cost-effective solutions for both our international and domestic customers. Our focus on continuous improvement and quality is demonstrated to our customers by our ISO 9001 certification. Our passion drives us to find the best audio solutions, build the most innovative systems, and provide unrivaled audio excellence for our customers.
1949 – Clifford Digre, a B-17 gunner during World War II, goes to the radio school in Minnesota and what begins as the repair of a scratchy radio speaker from his wife’s radio develops into the beginning of the Minneapolis Speaker Reconing Company.
1956 – A customer asks Cliff Digre to design and manufacture an 8” speaker with the same high quality as his previously reconed speakers for a drive-in theater. The first order is a huge success. The line expands to automotive speakers and 12” speakers for hi-fi sets. MISCO begins to manufacture Red Line speakers.
1980 – The company begins to focus on OEM sales servicing the growing drive-thru commercial sound industries building on its famous “Waterproof” designs.
1990 – Dan Digre, Cliff’s son, takes over the responsibilities of company management as President of MISCO. MISCO expands into new markets such as aerospace, medical, and pro-audio.
2001 – A new, expanded engineering and manufacturing facility is built in Minnesota. The new factory allows the layout to maximize efficiencies in speaker manufacturing; MISCO expands its product line to include amplifiers and complete audio systems
2015 – MISCO acquires Warkwyn, the most complete R&D audio lab in North America and moves it to Minnesota. The synergy created with Warkwyn puts MISCO into a unique position to serve the industry with the best and most extensive loudspeaker design, testing, and manufacturing capabilities in North America.
2016 - MISCO acquires Oaktron from Mitek Corp and moves it to Minnesota. This acquisition further expands MISCO's commitment to USA manufacturing, especially to expand capabilities and product offerings for its customers in the military, aerospace, and mass transit markets.
2019 – MISCO launches “Bold North Audio” brand with the introduction of the MS 10-W, designed to exactly match the acoustic signature of the Yamaha NS-10M systems.
2019 – MISCO builds and moves into a new state of the art R&D, manufacturing, test & measurement and warehouse facility in St Paul, MN.