Inside one of the world’s last audio cassette factories




“You can characterize our operating model as stubbornness and stupidity. We were too stubborn to quit,” Steve Stepp, president of the National Audio Company, told Bloomberg Business.

When the music market moved into CD production and digital formats in the ’90s and ’00s, most tape companies went under. But the National Audio Company in Springfield (Mo) kept going. Instead of music, they focused on spoken word and blank tape customers. They bought out failing competitors, collecting their equipment, and they waited patiently for the music market to pick up.

Stubbornness has paid off. Last year the company sold over 10 million tapes and sales are up 20% this year. The cassette maker says it’s experiencing its best year since it opened doors in 1969.

And as they predicted, music fans have got back in to tapes, much in the way that vinyl has revived. Today about 70% of the company’s sales come from music cassettes.

“Probably the thing that has really enlarged our business at a faster phase than anything is the retro movement,” Stepp said. “There’s the nostalgia of holding the audio cassette in your hand.” [via Bloomberg]

Look inside National Audio Company, one of the world’s last remaining tape factories, in the video below.

Love physical formats? Make sure you check out our timeline charting the evolution of music formats