Sound booth company finds new owners

GK Soundbooth, Inc. management and employees, l-r, Pres. Mike McGowen, manufacturing team Charles Hendrickson and Joe Feeley, CEO Robie McGowen and Director of Finances Megan McGowen, now helm the sound booth manufacturing business in Lakeview.

Taking over a 17-year tried and true business may be daunting, but the McGowen family is taking it in stride as the new owners of Lakeview-based GK Soundbooth, Inc.

The soundproofing and sound booth manufacturing company was purchased from Gretchen and Ken Stribling, who moved into Lakeview to grow the business in 2000. As they were looking to retire, the sound booth business was for sale, eventually finding Mike and Robie McGowen as its purchasers. Robie is the company’s CEO, Mike acts as the president and their daughter, Megan, is the director of finance. 

The McGowen’s have Oregon roots as they have raised their family in Eugene. For the past several years, the family has been based in Boston, Mass. for Mike’s career. He retired last year and searched for an opportunity to purchase a small, established business. The McGowen’s found the Lakeview-based business, started speaking to the Stribling’s and made the move in early May. 

The Stribling’s still own and operate Lakeview All Locked Up and the facility located at the Lake County Industrial Park. 

In the transaction, the soundproofing manufacturing business was purchased by the McGowen’s company, GK Soundbooth, Inc. They continue to use the GretchKen brand developed by the Striblings because it is well-known in the market. The Stribling’s have made themselves available to help with a seamless transition to the new owners. To take over the business, the McGowen’s have immersed themselves with knowledge about the manufacturing and industry. 

Mike said the reason why they hopped into an industry without prior experience is because it was different from what they have done. He detailed the specifics of what he had to learn about sound booths and their many uses. These including building models that could either keep sound in or keep it out for customers who are learning an instrument, for a private noiseless place for writing among many other uses. The company’s customers can also include those in specific industries to properly measure the sound produced by equipment.  

All the company’s products are customized, giving them a chance to interact with customers to fulfill their needs. “It’s a niche market,” said Robie. “There aren’t many competitors who do what we do.” 

A two-man manufacturing team, made up of Charles Hendrickson and Joe Feeley, helps out in the transition of management. Together, they have more than a decade’s worth of experience in sound booth production.

The family is looking to become involved in the community. One that is on their sights is hoping to involve some Lakeview High School CT class in a sort of workplace training program. Preliminary talks with teacher Fred Smith have planted the seeds to get young people interested in the manufacturing industry. 

Since moving from the New England area, the McGowen’s have seen a good share of off-the-beaten path troubles with renovating their home and an influx of mosquitoes, but that is offset with their impressions about the Oregon Outback beauty that has had them stunned. 

For more information, contact GK Soundbooth, Inc. at 541-947-2602 or at sales@gretchken.com

(1) comment

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While I’m happy that there's a business that is able to take over the manufacturing here, signage and all, I wonder why they were eager to sell it off. If a business is profitable, surely they could have found an alternative to maintain controlling stake and earn some good recurring income from the company even as they retire right?

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