Rick is as much of a staple to PreSonus as drag and drop is to Studio One. He loves his team, music, and his job! After spending a quarter-century serving the PreSonus family, he is the expert when it comes to selling PreSonus with passion and enthusiasm. If you’ve met him, you love him (and you’re probably still hypnotized by the Rick Effect.) And if you haven’t met him, here’s your chance to get to know him better.
How long have you worked for PreSonus?
This coming October will be my 25th year at PreSonus. I was employee #5 or #6 I believe.
What was your job title when you started? What is your job title now?
Well, I was the first guy in sales so I guess my title would have been “Rick Naqvi, Sales Guy.” Today my role is Senior Vice President of Global Sales.
What were you doing before working at PreSonus?
In my early 20s, I was playing in two bands (Zaemon and Chris LeBlanc Band), running a recording studio and working in a music store called BeBop Music Shop. I was finishing a Marketing degree at LSU at that time as well.
What about PreSonus made you want to work here at the time?
I knew Jim Odom from the local music scene. He was one of our hometown guitar heroes and although he was a few years older than me, we went to the same high school and even took guitar lessons from the same guy. I did a recording session with him in the early ’90s and he used to come into the music store I worked at. I remember him bringing in the prototype of the very first PreSonus product, the DCP-8, about a year before PreSonus started. When Jim approached me about being a part of a startup company, it was a no-brainer for me.
Let’s talk about the Rick Naqvi Effect. People LOVE you and recognize you as the face of PreSonus. How did this come to be? How has it helped you?
Haha!! LOL. Well, I guess since this year will be my 25th year of working at PreSonus, I’m definitely one of the blessed people that found something to do with their lives that has spanned pretty much my entire adulthood. I’ve always been passionate about music and technology and I love people. So PreSonus has been the perfect place for me. I’m in awe of the fact that people use our products to share and experience music together with each other. That’s the part of this job that never gets old. I love being part of a team whose mission is to help people make music.
The FirePod was one of PreSonus’ first major products. What need was the FirePod supposed to meet?
The Firepod was the first recording interface with eight microphone preamps in 1U. So you could basically mic an entire drumkit at once. Or record a small rhythm section. It was also one of the first interfaces that allowed for multiple units to be used at the same time. So if you needed 16 simultaneous inputs, you could chain two of them together, and so on.
Any fun stories about the FirePod?
Here’s a true story. The original design for the FirePod had eight inputs but only two mic preamps. Jim Odom was beta testing one of the early prototypes and took it home to record his son’s band. When he realized it was going to be a hassle to hook up additional outboard preamps, he came to work the next day and changed the design of the Firepod to include the other six preamps. We literally had to reshoot images for a tradeshow launch that was happening a few months later. However, putting eight preamps on the Firepod solved a huge need, not only for Jim but for tons of customers. It was one of our most successful products without a doubt.
What has been one of the biggest challenges of working at PreSonus? Major roadblocks?
Working for a technology company has its ups and downs. There have been good years and not so good ones too. Sometimes you create a product that really resonates with people and other times there are challenges that keep a product from its full potential. There’s nothing more important to us than delighting our customers. And when we can’t do that, it is a major bummer for us. Thankfully, our mistakes give us the experience to get better and that’s what we strive to do every day.
In 1995, how did you define success?
One of my first job tasks was to contact dealers and try to tell them about our product. I had a copy of Music Trades that had a list of the Top 100 US Dealers. So I literally picked up the phone and started cold calling people! It was so hard to tell people about a brand new product from a brand new company that they had never heard of. It was amazing just to get someone on the phone who would give me the time of day. Amazingly a bunch of people that got called by a 25-year-old Rick Naqvi are still in the business and are some of our most trusted dealers and life-long friends.
Tell us a cool NAMM story. Or any other PreSonus story.
One time at a NAMM Show I had to give a DigiMax demo to Steven Seagal. Turns out he’s a musician and had a studio at the time. It might have been one of the strangest demos of my life. He was super serious and never cracked a smile. When I told him you could only do 96k using AES outputs, not ADAT, I thought he might judo chop me or something.
When you think about the last 25 years, how does it make you feel seeing how far PreSonus has come?
It really doesn’t seem like I’ve worked for one company. It seems like I’ve worked for about 5 different companies. I’ve been through three building moves and I’ve seen tons of people come and go. I’ve seen kids of our employees grow up and start families of their own. It’s truly humbling to have been a part of this great journey.
Way back in the year 2000, we had a string of ads centered around the mantra of “Feel The Vibe.” Originally titled “Feel The Vibe, Man, Because it’s Totally Gnarly,” we had to make some cuts so that it would fit on the back of our badges. Such decisions were much more difficult for us in the pre-Twitter era.
Like Apple’s 1984 Mac ad or Budweiser’s Spuds McKenzie, advertising has remained forever changed in a post-Feel the Vibe world. FtV explored the nexus of split-complimentary color theory and Chris Columbus’ 1990 masterwork Home Alone through the lens of surrealist laminate. More importantly—it asked us to examine these qualities within ourselves. 14 years later, it still does.
Here’s PreSonus Associate Creative Director Cave Daughdrill circa 452 AD. Since these humble beginnings, Caveman has evolved to wield a vorpal telecaster and the biggest, most ridiculous pedalboards (plural) I have ever seen. Cave’s myriad contributions to PreSonus marketing endeavors include photography, web, and a whole lotta pixel-pushin’. He also has advanced nonweapon proficiencies in Wacom Tablets and good times. Nowadays, Cave’s musical home is in your heart. Or, more specifically, in The Lazerus Heart.
Here’s PreSonus Social Media Manager Ryan Roullard (yours truly) back in the day, when I really believed that:
I still believe the latter to be true. My responsibilities at PreSonus include management and updating of all our social media platforms, writing this very blog, pinch-hitting graphic design, and general emergency response.
Nowadays I hoard gear I find on Craigslist so that you can’t have it. Musically I produce hardware-based electronic music, score short films, and play in a heavy nerd-rock band called Protogeist.
Of all the Throwback Thursday submissions I’ve received, this is far and away my favorite. Blurrily pictured below is our National Sales Director and all-around trooper Mark Stone, alongside Iron Maiden’s undead mascot, Eddie!
Like Eddie, details surrounding how this photo came to be were eroded somewhere in time, likely taken during Mark’s wasted years in retail. But, rumor has it they involved an in-store signing by Maiden, followed by explicit instructions “not to mess with” Eddie.
These instructions were promptly followed by Eddie getting paraded around the mall to the delight and terror of children, chagrin from parents, and ended with a stellar footnote on Mark’s resume.
Here’s marketing maven Ron Koliha during his tenure with the Classy Brassy Oompah Band. This photo was taken shortly before he was kicked out of the band for hyping an upcoming show by canvassing parking lots and distributing flyers under the windshield wipers of cars. Flyers that looked a lot like parking tickets.
The entire band was held responsible for the hefty $12,000 littering fee—still a record fine for this charge in Yakima county—and Koliha was summarily dismissed.
Perched atop a crabapple throne gilded with the tears of lesser designers, Ron directs all PreSonus marketing efforts with an iron fist in a burlap glove.
Here’s Peter Burrows in a much more tranquil time, back before he became the raging wildman we know today.
Peter is now our Senior Hardware Engineer, where he is able to leverage his psychobilly gearhead roots into the mechanations of our top-shelf products. If you ever found a little extra grease leaking out from under the pan knob on your StudioLive, blame Peter.
Nowadays, Peter’s musical focus is with a new top-secret rockabilly band alongside PreSonus cohort Matt Conrad.
VP of Sales Rick Naqvi also serves as both the face and mouth of PreSonus. Rick’s upbringing was a little less musical than other PreSonus regulars—here he is depicted moments before destroying a 1983 Les Paul Studio in a fit of fructuse-driven pre-teen rage.
Rick’s smashy habits were a path to success, as these humble beginnings lead to a three-year stint as pinch-hitting guitar smasher for KISS during the “No Peter Criss, No Ace Frehely, and No Makeup” era from 1987-1990.
Rick’s age is difficult to calculate here, as the exact date this photo was taken remains unclear and is probably lost to history.
Here’s PreSonus Customer Service Director Alex Tinsley (foreground) during an early recital of Jaromír Vejvoda’s “Beer Barrel Polka.”
It’s an oft-spouted cliché that good musicians are handed an instrument before they can walk. But Alex is now walking/proof.
Nowadays Alex’s musical output is of the wonderfully bionic variety. A self-described “synth collector, fixer, modifier, and knob twiddler of sorts,” Alex has been known to bring some incredibly rare—daresay obtuse—electronic instruments to the PreSonus office. Such gear invokes envy from our producer-types, and eyerolls from our pedal steel guys.