The Team

A young Alan with his sister Jill

Alan O’Rourke

Managing Director

Alan inherited his love of music and audio from his father Brian who spent his life working in the British audio industry. Alan’s experience as an engineer, musician and loudspeaker designer has given him a deep knowledge of how sound works and what makes a product sound ‘right’.

10 questions with Alan O’Rourke

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10 questions with Alan O’Rourke

Managing Director

How did you first get into the industry?

Through my Dad, my Dad was a cabinet maker and he got involved in the audio industry. His love of audio and music filtered through to me and was something that stayed with me all my life.

What excites you most about the company?

Seeing new products come to life, seeing our ideas come from just a concept to a finished product and seeing people enjoying them. It’s bringing the joy of music to our customers.

What would you say makes Ruark different to other companies?

I think the fact that we are a family company shows in the passion that we all share, there are not many family companies left. Everyone’s part of that family really, even those that aren’t actual family feel like they are. We are all a team, there is no hierarchy as such.

What’s one thing about you that others would be surprised to know?

I was a bluecoat at Pontins when I was 20/21 for a few years!

Who is your favourite singer / band?

That is a difficult one, I suppose going back it would have to be someone like Fleetwood Mac or the Beatles.

Do you have any hobbies – what and how long have you done it for?

I’ve had lots of hobbies, I enjoy cycling, I used to love water sports like wind-surfing and have been over to Lanzarote a few times to windsurf there. I like gardening and doing things around the home, things were you can see an end result, for instance, if you spend a day gardening, you can stand back and see the finished product!

What would be your ultimate bucket list activity?

I would like to go somewhere really exotic with great reefs and go scuba diving. I like to go to places where no one has been before, away from the crowds.

If you could meet anyone in the world for dinner, who would it be and why?

Richard Attenborough, I just love his love of nature and conservation. I agree with a lot of things that he stands for and I’d like to talk to him about things like the conservation of the planet, the overpopulation, how he would handle the fact that there are too many people.

What was your favourite TV show whilst growing up?

‘Star Trek’ and ‘Lost in Space’, any of those sorts of things. And ‘Tomorrow’s World’.

If you could star in one film – which would it be and why?

I would play James T Kirk in ‘Star Trek’, to probably go where no one’s been before.

A teenage Neil

Neil Adams

Operations Director

Neil is Alan’s brother-in-law and joined Ruark in 1988, to help plan production with their speaker sales growing strongly. When Alan’s father retired in 2000 Neil became Alan’s co-director and is now responsible for the day-to-day running of the company and ensuring that stock is available when required.

10 questions with Neil Adams

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10 questions with Neil Adams

Operations Director

How did you first get into the industry?

My Wifes Father was making the speakers which were diesis at the time, and that gradually turned into Ruark and I was working in retail management, not enjoying it and the company was growing, so I left that to come here. It was just me and Alan on the bench putting stuff together and Brian was out selling it.

What excites you most about the company?

I think really that even though we have got to this stage where we are, most people still don’t know about us, and there’s that whole thing for the future that there are still so many people we can reach. It’s not about selling or money grabbing, it’s more about reaching our potential.

What would you say makes Ruark different to other companies?

I think we are very focused on how the product looks and sounds, that comes first. We develop it with that in mind, it’s going to be a really nice piece of kit and sound really good. And then all the other stuff like price etc, it’s important that we are making money, but it’s got to be a really good product, we are not embarrassed to sell. Although it’s not my name on it, I wouldn’t want to be selling a product that I wasn’t proud of, and I think some companies compromise that sometimes.

What’s one thing about you that others would be surprised to know?

I’m probably softer than what people think and the image I give off.

Who is your favourite singer / band?

If I had to pick just one who I really like would be Lynyrd Skynyrd, I used to listen to them when I was a kid.

Do you have any hobbies – what and how long have you done it for?

I do yoga which I have been doing for five years. I used to windsurf but don’t anymore, the only thing I do regularly is painting and drawing, which I have done pretty much all my life. I specialise in oils and watercolours.

What would be your ultimate bucket list activity?

If I could do anything and had the money and the time, I think I’d like to sail around the world on a yacht. I don’t have a boat, so that’s a problem, but I think that would be lovely.

If you could meet anyone in the world for dinner, who would it be and why?

It would have to be someone who’s very interesting and amusing to talk to, someone like Stephen Fry.

What was your favourite TV show whilst growing up?

From when I was little it probably would have been ‘Bill and Ben’, ‘Wooden Tops’ was another one but Bill and Ben.

If you could star in one film – which would it be and why?

I always tell my kids that my favourite film is ‘Mary Poppins’ so it would have to be that, it would be a bit weird to play Mary though so it would have to be ‘Bert’ the chimney sweep!

A young Richard riding his bike

Richard McKinney

Sales Director

At the age of 20 Richard followed his dream of becoming a professional footballer and signed for Manchester City in 1999. This he enjoyed for a few years until an unfortunate injury put early end to his career. With his ‘team player’ attitude and resolve Richard is totally at home in his Sales and Marketing role.

10 questions with Richard McKinney

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10 questions with Richard McKinney

Sales Director

How did you first get into the industry?

By mistake really! So around mid-2005 I retired from being a professional footballer due to injury and I started working at my friend’s marketing company in London doing event management and road shows for the likes of Samsung, Nintendo, Panasonic etc. It got to the point where I was trying to think about my next career choice. My whole family works for the NHS and I always had an interest in medicine, so I had a look into a career in medical and pharmaceutical sales. Alongside working for my friend’s marketing company, I decided to study again and whilst preparing for my pharmaceutical exams I realised that I needed experience on the field so put my CV into a local recruitment agency. Within a few days, the agency contacted me about a job at Ruark (who I’d never heard of before), so I went along to the interview not really sure if I wanted the job or not.

What excites you most about the company?

I suppose where we have come from in the past 12 years, the growth we’ve experienced so far and what we are yet to achieve! It’s also exciting to think about where we will be in the next 5–10 years. Our product roadmap is constantly evolving with new technology and new international markets to target. As part of a small team, everyone has a voice which matters. When designing new products if you have an opinion you share it and you may see that change is implemented in the product and then you’ll see it on the shelf.

What would you say makes Ruark different to other companies?

Ruark as a business has been built upon our mission to create products that we ourselves would be proud to own. A business that started a hobby and turned into a successful enterprise, through hard work and passion for what we do. In our sector of the market there are many brands who put their name on finished products, but we start with a blank piece of paper and agonise over every detail to produce the best product we can without compromise. Products aside we are a close-knit team who are equally as passionate for Ruark as our founder. No one is a number here.

What’s one thing about you that others would be surprised to know?

I used to play professional football. My first professional club, Man City, bought me from my Irish League Club – which is why I came over to England when I was 21.

Who is your favourite singer / band?

My favourite album (well, one of) would be The Stone Roses, The Stone Roses.

Do you have any hobbies – what and how long have you done it for?

If you ask Fliss (my Wife) I have far too many hobbies. One of my friends once said to me that if I get into something, there’s no dipping my toe in to see how it goes, I’m in there until the death. Must be the competitive sportsman in me! Probably my most current hobby is cycling, but I like getting involved in pretty much any sport. I play golf, I kitesurf, I like to run, go to yoga every Tuesday night. As you would expect I love music, live gigs, scuba diving, but with having a little girl I do have to compromise… or get up even earlier every morning! So, out of all of those my main hobbies would be listening to music, going to gigs and then I cycle and run when I can.

What would be your ultimate bucket list activity?

I’ve got this book at home, it’s called ‘Mountains Epic Cycling Climbs’ by Michael Blann. It’s 44 of the worlds most epic climbs for cycling, I’ve ticked off 8 of them and would like to do them all.

If you could meet anyone in the world for dinner, who would it be and why?

I would quite like to meet Barack Obama for dinner. Why? Well the obvious reason being he was the first black American president, but more to the fact that he has changed American (current US president aside) and world politics forever… and what a great role model he is! I’ve watched a documentary on him and he seems like an interesting bloke with a great personality not to mention his really interesting background, being brought up by just his mum, growing up in Indonesia, and then going on to be the first black US President.

What was your favourite TV show whilst growing up?

As a young kid I used to love ‘Fraggle Rock’ and ‘Roland Rat’, I also used to like ‘The Wonder Year’s’ when I was slightly older, and ‘Quantum Leap’.

If you could star in one film – which would it be and why?

I have no idea… Robert Downey Jr in Iron Man?! Why not!

A young Jan

Jan Paoli

Product Design Manager

Jan works closely with Alan and the development team on product design and development overseeing the transformation of our products from concepts all the way through to production. Part industrial designer, part engineer and part graphic designer, Jan’s input into Ruark Audio’s success has been substantial.

10 questions with Jan Paoli

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10 questions with Jan Paoli

Product Design Manager

How did you first get into the industry?

I’d been working in design ever since I graduated, and I had set up my own consultancy. That’s when Alan approached me with the original idea of designing and developing his own DAB radios, so I’ve been working with Alan from the outset to establish the look and the brand. I studied at the Royal College of Art, where I did a Master of Design.

What excites you most about the company?

We are trying to achieve an awful lot, despite being a very small team with relatively limited resources. Which means every single minute and every single person counts, and it makes it both very challenging and very exciting – as well as sometimes very frustrating. I have an awful lot of direct influence into what’s exactly going to be on the market, and that’s incredibly rewarding. We are trying to build up that cool, quirky, European design, and my background is Italian/British/Norwegian so there’s a bit of Scandinavian/British design which I like.

What would you say makes Ruark different to other companies?

I’ve always worked in small teams, so I’ve always chosen to work with companies with groups a bit like Ruark. I don’t like Blue chips, I’ve worked with Blue chips before and you are just one tiny cog in a machine, but here it’s different. I guess one thing with product development, you don’t get many shots at getting it right, so when we develop a product we must get it right. Most bigger companies will develop 10 products and bring 1 to market, whereas we have to bring every product to market.

What’s one thing about you that others would be surprised to know?

I’m bilingual so I am fluent in Italian, I spend a lot of time in Italy as we have a house there. I have also cycled to Italy from the UK three times, the quickest being 12 days with camping (cycle touring with friends).

Who is your favourite singer / band?

This is difficult as I like all sorts of stuff, I don’t have a favourite anything. But generally speaking I like acoustic folk, and someone with something to say. If they sing and play an acoustic guitar, that’s generally halfway there for me.

Do you have any hobbies – what and how long have you done it for?

I don’t have an awful lot of spare time so most of my hobbies either involve doing something practical, like building wardrobes/shelves etc. I am adept at DIY and making things. I also mountain bike, road cycle, ski, and I used to do a lot of mountaineering, not so much now I have kids, but I do a bit when I can. I like challenging myself in terms of physical challenges.

What would be your ultimate bucket list activity?

I would like to run a marathon at least once. As I get older my bucket list is increasingly sparse because individual experiences in the end don’t really do it, it’s longer term experiences. I think the build up to it is more exciting, as once you’ve done it, you just sign it off. So I prefer to do lots of little things to build up.

If you could meet anyone in the world for dinner, who would it be and why?

That’s a difficult one, because for the most significant people in the world, would they make good dinner party guest? I will go for someone contemporary, Ranulph Fines, somebody who has done lots of adventurous stuff, he’s a crazy guy.

What was your favourite TV show whilst growing up?

Jackanory was good, storytelling. But in reality, it would have to be something like Hong Kong Phooey or Top Cat, for the simple reason that they were on when I go home from school, and it was a good bit of light relief.

If you could star in one film – which would it be and why?

I don’t particularly like acting, so let’s say something like the voice of ‘Baloo’ in ‘The Jungle Book’.

A young Simon with a friend

Simon Young

Product Development Manager

Simon joined Ruark after graduating from Anglia Ruskin University with a First in Computer Science and has since made himself an invaluable member of our development team. With attention to detail, Simon spends much of his time designing and testing our product software along with project planning and scheduling.

10 questions with Simon Young

qa-simon-young.jpg, Product Development Manager

10 questions with Simon Young

Product Development Manager

How did you first get into the industry?

I knew Alan’s daughter Hannah as we went to primary and senior school together. I had just finished my degree and I went to Menorca and had messaged Hannah and it turned out she was there too staying only 10 minutes down the road, so I actually met Alan on holiday! I had a job offer at Accenture, but it wasn’t due to start for 2 months so Alan offered me a job at Ruark Audio for the meantime. When it came to the end of the 2 months, Alan offered me a permanent job and I took it. It wasn’t really what I thought I’d be doing as I have a degree in computer science, but it’s loosely connected so! I actually remember coming to Hannah’s 15th birthday party at Ruark HQ!

What excites you most about the company?

I guess I’d say the products, but from a job point of view the flexibility. My role is very flexible and covers all aspects of a new product, so I quite enjoy the fact that it could be software, mechanical, packaging, certification, all manner of things from the appearance, functionality, features. I like the company and I like the products, but from a job point of view, I like the creative, hands-on kind of role that I have.

What would you say makes Ruark different to other companies?

Well, I think that being a small company has its advantages, there’s a lot less ‘red tape’, and decisions are a lot more fluid which means things get done quicker. It’s relatively friendly, except for when somebody takes the last chocolate cookie! But that says a lot – the fact that the important things are about eaten biscuits!

What’s one thing about you that others would be surprised to know?

I don’t think there’s really anything that people would be surprised by. I guess one thing people would maybe be surprised by is that I go to the same place on holiday every year – Menorca. I love the people, the Island, the Spanish language – and I am in some way teaching myself some Spanish. When I go I like to learn the Spanish history, I love the food and drink, especially the wine – red wine! So much so that at Christmas I buy myself crates of it and get it shipped over.

Who is your favourite singer / band?

That is a difficult question, I don’t know! If I had to pick something more modern I’d go for the Killers because aged 16–21 they were probably the band that spoke most to me. Christmas songs obviously, I love them, I play them pretty much from Guy Fawkes to Christmas. I love some Motown and jazz and I love Abba, they are the best! I have such a range of music really, it depends on my mood.

Do you have any hobbies – what and how long have you done it for?

Drinking – is that a hobby? No, it’s a medical ambition I’m told! I like gardening, hence the frequent delivery of plants to Terry. I have been growing vegetables for about five years, every night I am in the garden getting rid of slugs. In Menorca, there is a lemon tree where we stay, and I grew lemons from the seed from the fruit, and from China I am growing a dragon eye fruit. I also collect coins, but probably not in the way most people would think. I collect different versions of £1 coins, £2 coins etc. I have a Kew Gardens 50p which is worth a bit of money. I don’t collect them obsessively, but if somebody I am with has a good coin I will buy it off them.

What would be your ultimate bucket list activity?

Ooo bucket list activity, Japan! Kyoto, I would like to see the Samurai Temple. Egypt pyramids, New Zealand, Australia.

If you could meet anyone in the world for dinner, who would it be and why?

Einstein, but in this era, it would be great to see what he thought of the world now wouldn’t it. The man was clearly a genius, how he came up with so many theories that ultimately transpired to be correct.

What was your favourite TV show whilst growing up?

I’m going to go for something geeky, I watched this program when I was a kid called ‘Stargate SG1’. Although ‘Scrubs’ was way up there. It would have to be between those two I’d say.

If you could star in one film – which would it be and why?

I would star in ‘Harry Potter’, and I would play Snape because he’s a good guy with a bit of a dark side.

A young David dressed as Robin

David Bannister

Sales and Marketing

David joined Ruark Audio after working for 8 years at John Lewis. There he developed a wealth of knowledge on customer relations, retail and the consumer electronics industry which has proved invaluable in his role here working alongside Richard in Sales and Marketing.

10 questions with David Bannister

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10 questions with David Bannister

Sales and Marketing

How did you first get into the industry?

My background is in retail, when I left school I started working on an audio department in John Lewis and I sold Ruark products. Through doing that I met Alan and Rich years ago – back in the day. They asked me one day if I wanted to apply for a job that they had available, so I did. I’ve always had an interest in music and audio and that’s all I’ve known in my career, so it seemed like the right path.

What excites you most about the company?

What excites me the most about the company is that very few people know who we are! I can see the huge potential of the brand and I am in a position where I can grow with the company and see what we are able to achieve in the future. Because we are only small, you feel like you have an active role in the growth, you don’t feel like your input is not important – you can make a difference.

What would you say makes Ruark different to other companies?

I would say what makes us different is that we all have a genuine love for what we do. It’s not all about the money and everyone here has a true love for the product and a big passion for Ruark. We do it because we enjoy it! This could also be seen as negative as we are always thinking about the product and the brand – it can be hard to switch off!

What’s one thing about you that others would be surprised to know?

I am a massive dog lover, I have a Staffordshire Bull Terrier (my favourite breed) and her name is Sky.

Who is your favourite singer / band?

I am a big reggae fan and if I was to pick out of who has done the most songs that I like, it would be Bob Marley. He’s not someone I listen to a lot, but if you are talking about iconic artists throughout time, for me I would choose him, because he’s influenced so many other types of music. He is also always the artist I end up singing on karaoke!

Do you have any hobbies – what and how long have you done it for?

I have played golf for 4 years and I currently play off a 12 handicap. I am a member at our local golf club and I play at least once a week. I used to play a lot of squash to a high standard and I was a county squash player, but then I could no longer play due to 2 injuries, so I needed another sport to get into – so I played golf. My dad also played squash but due to his age he wanted a new sport and decided to try golf, so we got into playing it together.

What would be your ultimate bucket list activity?

I really want to go to the Maldives at some point, so it would have to be a one off, once in a lifetime trip to the Maldives.

If you could meet anyone in the world for dinner, who would it be and why?

I think I’d love to go to dinner with the Queen, I think she would have some very interesting stories and I would love to get her opinion on certain things and I’d love to hear what she thinks of people. I think it would be great to be the Queen for the week, just to be in her shoes – preferably not her kitten heels.

What was your favourite TV show whilst growing up?

Hmm what did I watch on TV when I was a kid, I think it would have to be ‘Johnny Quest’ without a doubt. Saturday morning was Johnny Quest time – I used to love it. Back when I was about nine. I also used to love all the stuff that was on after Newsround, like ‘The ‘Queen’s Nose’, ‘The Demon Headmaster’ etc.

If you could star in one film – which would it be and why?

It’s got to be ‘James Bond’, obviously playing Bond, James Bond! Why? Well because he drives nice cars, wears fancy suits and has nice watches – and gets to go to some nice parts of the world!

A young Terry at a protest

Terry O’Brien

Customer Service Manager

We pride ourselves on our customer service and with a wealth of knowledge, Terry is here to help for all things customer related. Whatever your request or problem Terry and his team will do their utmost to assist you with a professional and reassuring manner.

10 questions with Terry O’Brien

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10 questions with Terry O’Brien

Customer Service Manager

How did you first get into the industry?

I’d been in the print industry for years and years and decided to make a change. My brother-in-law worked at Ruark as a ‘handyman’ so I already knew a lot about the company from him, when I heard they were hiring I decided to come in for an interview and the rest is history.

What excites you most about the company?

Being autonomous, that you can work within your own brief.

What would you say makes Ruark different to other companies?

I just think the Directors are more grounded than you would normally find, and a lot more approachable.

What’s one thing about you that others would be surprised to know?

That’s a difficult one. I really do enjoy building and DIY / home restoration. I would love to build a house from scratch one day. I would love, love, love to be in the Ibiza generation – as I love a bit of house music.

Who is your favourite singer / band?

Ooo that’s a hard one as I have a really wide range in taste, I like foo fighters, Pavarotti, you name it I like it. There’s not really anyone I don’t like, I like both old music and new music, some brings back memories and makes you happy. I can’t say I have one person or band that I like, but my favourite genre would be dance music.

Do you have any hobbies – what and how long have you done it for?

Cycling, DIY, I’m a big foodie, and travel when I can do it. I try to cycle every day if I can and aim for around 10 miles in the morning and 10 miles in the evening – weather permitting!

What would be your ultimate bucket list activity?

Something like visiting some Mayan ruins in Mexico or something like that.

If you could meet anyone in the world for dinner, who would it be and why?

I think I’d like to meet the Dalai Lama, just because he sounds like a fascinating man. I would like to talk to him about the meaning of life, and he’d know it.

What was your favourite TV show whilst growing up?

‘Lost in Space’.

If you could star in one film – which would it be and why?

I think I’d like to be in the ‘Godfather’, staring as Vita Corleone. It’s that feeling of family through the generations / family bonding.

A young Ed cleaning his bike

Ed Pearce

Southern Area Sales Manager

Ed spent 10 years working for a specialist Hi-Fi retailer where he gained a wealth of music and electronics knowledge, developing a discerning ear for the best sound. Looking after our dealers in the South of England, Ed’s enthusiasm is infectious and he is a great ambassador for our products wherever he goes.

10 questions with Ed Pearce

qa-ed-pearce.jpg, Southern Area Sales Manager

10 questions with Ed Pearce

Southern Area Sales Manager

How did you first get into the industry?

Well I’ve always had an interest in music, and I was walking past Salisbury Hi Fi one day when I had finished college and they had a job advertised, so I applied and got the job. I decided that I needed to do something more with my life than working in a shop, so I applied for hundreds of jobs and got a job with Lawton Trade who distributed Ruark, I worked with them for a year before they made me and also Jason redundant, and so we both sent our CVs to Alan and Neil – who obviously fell head over heels.

What excites you most about the company?

I think our originality, and the quality of the product. I am always telling people there is such a nice family feel working for the company, you’re not just a number.

What would you say makes Ruark different to other companies?

I think our passion, and everyone within the company is very passionate for the brand. We are trend setters rather than following the trend.

What’s one thing about you that others would be surprised to know?

That I DJ’d at Glastonbury in 2000, the year that the fences came down and there was like half a million people there, it was mental! I DJ at home now, but I used to do it all weekend every weekend, and during the week as well!

Who is your favourite singer / band?

I can’t give a specific answer, just anything that is captivating and makes your foot tap.

Do you have any hobbies – what and how long have you done it for?

Well, I’m a looney cyclist like Rich, so definitely cycling, it’s been an interest my whole life, but I guess I took it up seriously about 10 years ago. I’ve done L’Étape Tour, which is a stage of the Tour de France in the Pyrenees, and I’ve entered lots of sportive. I’ve ridden in the Rocky Mountains, Turkey, Spain, I’ve been quite lucky as in the summer at work I can take my bike with me – globally and locally.

What would be your ultimate bucket list activity?

Landsend to John O’Groats on my bike.

If you could meet anyone in the world for dinner, who would it be and why?

Stevie Wonder, because I think his music is amazing and I’ve heard he is a really nice person to talk to and is happy to talk to anyone. I’d just ask him questions about his life basically.

What was your favourite TV show whilst growing up?

‘Round the Twist’.

If you could star in one film – which would it be and why?

I’m not a big film person, erm… I would say ‘Star Wars’, and I’d play Yoda, so I can be carried around in a rucksack by Luke Skywalker!

A young Jason

Jason Onions

Northern Area Sales Manager

Jason gained his passion for Hi-Fi whilst working part time for a local electrical retailer, rising to Store Sales Manager and then Area Sales Manager for a successful electrical wholesaler. As our Northern Sales Manager, Jason is in his element and thoroughly enjoys his time visiting dealers and flying our flag.

10 questions with Jason Onions

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10 questions with Jason Onions

Northern Area Sales Manager

How did you first get into the industry?

I first went to a hi-fi show when I was 15, and from there I was hooked. I got my first Saturday Job at the show and three years later ended up managing the stores for the next 10 years. I moved from retail to become an Area Manager with a distributer, which is where I first came across Alan, and have been working with Alan and Neil ever since.

What excites you most about the company?

The ethos of the company, as a rep it’s such a pleasure to go out with a quality product when you are visiting dealers. It makes the job really easy, you’re not selling a product that you don’t believe in yourself.

What would you say makes Ruark different to other companies?

I think the family aspect, I think the difference is Alan and Neil probably. We are still a young company and we are still growing, but I am representing a quality brand, it really gives you a spring in your step in the morning, I am happy to get out of bed and go to work.

What’s one thing about you that others would be surprised to know?

I represented England under 19s schoolboys in Volleyball in the World Championships!!

Who is your favourite singer / band?

My favourite band is probably U2.

Do you have any hobbies – what and how long have you done it for?

Up until recently I have coached my son’s football team on the Weekend, I have done that for 7 years. I love sport, I have a season ticket for Stoke City, and I watch our local team play cricket throughout the summer.

What would be your ultimate bucket list activity?

I want to go and watch England in an Ashes series in Australia.

If you could meet anyone in the world for dinner, who would it be and why?

I would like to meet Peter Kay, because I think he’d be hilarious. He is my favourite comedian, so I’d go for him and just have a hilarious conversation I imagine!

What was your favourite TV show whilst growing up?

‘The Young Ones’ or ‘Black Adder’.

If you could star in one film – which would it be and why?

I would be Bond in ‘James Bond’, because he always gets the girl!

A young Klaire

Klaire Sharp

Accounts Manager

Making great products and providing a good service is important to a company’s success, but equally vital is good financial planning and management. Klaire joined Ruark Audio in 2011 and has become an essential member of our team, working closely with Neil on all financial matters.

10 questions with Klaire Sharp

qa-klaire-sharp.jpg, Accounts Manager

10 questions with Klaire Sharp

Accounts Manager

How did you first get into the industry?

I recall receiving a counting machine as a gift when I was about 4 or 5 and spent hours playing with it, eventually, I upgraded to my parents’ old tills counting change with my younger brother – singing to Abba’s ‘Money Money Money’ - and so it began.

What excites you most about the company?

The people, it may sound cliché, but it really is important. The people who founded the company are still here, passionately involved in every aspect - so Ruark hasn’t lost its vision or drive and it continues to evolve.

What would you say makes Ruark different to other companies?

Growing up in a family business environment, I have been naturally drawn to professional but relaxed companies and been fortunate enough to find this in the various industries I have worked in, hospitality, media and insurance. Ruark genuinely has a family feel to it and it is reflected throughout every department – the atmosphere is great! Our directors are on hand and everyone catches up throughout the day or on our team nights out.

What’s one thing about you that others would be surprised to know?

I put a flan smack bang in the face of children’s presenter Stu Francis - every child’s one-time nightmare – for being rude to Les Dawson – who in turn made a fuss of me all evening.

Who is your favourite singer / band?

Maroon 5’s Adam Levine.

Do you have any hobbies – what and how long have you done it for?

Cycling, yoga, gardening and visits to The Donmar Theatre in London (it has a real Actors Studio feel to it and puts on wonderful performances new and adaptations of classics, with a guaranteed stellar cast).

What would be your ultimate bucket list activity?

Initially to make a time machine – and why not! Seriously, there are way too many to narrow it down.

If you could meet anyone in the world for dinner, who would it be and why?

From people still around – it would have to be my family and dinner would be my mums’ famous chicken curry. From people not around anymore, it would have to be my grandparents – they could tell the best stories and would have you crying with laughter for hours. Of course, if Adam Levine happened to swing by we’d pull up a chair for him too.

What was your favourite TV show whilst growing up?

Nothing springs to mind – I was probably too busy playing outside.

If you could star in one film – which would it be and why?

I know they’re not films but… Alice Morgan from Luther looks a fun character or Delores Abernathy from Westworld is an all-round action hero.

A young Lorraine playing in the garden

Lorraine O’Rourke

Customer Service

When you call us, the first voice you are likely to hear is Lorraine, who is Alan (our MD’s) patient wife and like Alan has been involved with the company from the beginning. If you have a question or a problem Lorraine will do her best to assist you and point you in the right direction.

10 questions with Lorraine O’Rourke

qa-lorraine-orourke.jpg, Customer Service

10 questions with Lorraine O’Rourke

Customer Service

How did you first get into the industry?

Alan and I got married and he made speakers at the time, so that’s how I got into it in 1983/1984 I suppose. Before then I didn’t really know much about it, so I picked it up as I went along. Now when I go to people’s houses and listen to their radios I can tell the good from the bad, which I didn’t notice before!

What excites you most about the company?

I suppose it’s always changing and developing. It regenerates as the years go on.

What would you say makes Ruark different to other companies?

I suppose it’s small and everyone has a personal interest, and obviously, we all know each other’s personalities and backgrounds etc.

What’s one thing about you that others would be surprised to know?

I’ve been micro-lighting, which is a very tiny plane which is almost made of cardboard, I did it five years ago in Turkey, which was fun!

Who is your favourite singer / band?

I would probably say Blondie. Debbie Harry that’s an old one, I like Sam Smith and Florence and the Machine for more current options.

Do you have any hobbies – what and how long have you done it for?

I like music, books, swimming and walking. I like to read biographies, and health books but I don’t necessarily follow them! I read them whilst eating a Twix bar!

What would be your ultimate bucket list activity?

To go up in a hot air balloon – I’ve never done that!

If you could meet anyone in the world for dinner, who would it be and why?

I think Elvis, that would be quite an interesting dinner. I suppose because he is such a big icon, and his music has lasted such a long time, it would be interesting to meet someone like that and find out about their life.

What was your favourite TV show whilst growing up?

‘Crackerjack!’

If you could star in one film – which would it be and why?

Perhaps somebody in ‘Grease’! Probably Rizzo because she’s the naughty one!

A young Topaz

Topaz Garrard

Marketing Co-ordinator

Topaz deals with all aspects of our marketing from advertising through to social media and much more. Having always loved telling a story and being creative, Topaz ‘fell’ into marketing as a career after developing her own blog whilst travelling the world.

10 questions with Topaz Garrard

qa-topaz-garrard.jpg, Marketing Co-ordinator

10 questions with Topaz Garrard

Marketing Co-ordinator

How did you first get into the industry?

I wasn’t sure what path I wanted to go down career-wise, but I’ve always been creative so knew it would be some aspect of that. In 2016 I went travelling where I started a travel blog. I really enjoyed writing and creating content and decided to get into marketing. When I got home I undertook a copywriting diploma studying from home and got a job in a local hotel, they had all their marketing done externally so it was a great starting position for me to really make the role my own and learn. The job was great, but not right for me so I left for something more suitable long term. A local recruitment agency got me in touch with Ruark, and from my first interview, I knew it was a great company to work for.

What excites you most about the company?

I think from the word ‘go’ I immediately got a good feel from the company. I already knew Dave from working with him at John Lewis years back, and he messaged me a week before I started to say they had organised a bowling and dinner night out for my second day. So, for me, straight away I felt like I was included and a part of the team. That’s what’s great about it here, everyone is so genuinely friendly, and has a genuine passion for the product. We may just be a small company now, but everyone has big plans for the future!

What would you say makes Ruark different to other companies?

I think for me the biggest thing would be the way the company is run, everyone has an equal say and although one person must ultimately make the decision, everyone’s opinion is listened to.

What’s one thing about you that others would be surprised to know?

I used to be really interested in performing arts and took part in all of the school productions, I went from wanting to work on stage to wanting to do stage makeup at one point – anything theatre related! I performed at the O2 Arena with my school alongside ‘A Voice in a Million’ which was a charity for orphans, and I vividly remember playing Sharpay from High School Musical at my dance school Tina Phelps and having to stand on a table belting out the solo from ‘Stick to the Status Quo’ – I have no idea why as I sound like a cat wailing… Nowadays I stick to singing in the shower!

Who is your favourite singer / band?

I don’t think I have a favourite, I really like Ed Sheeran and think he always pulls a great song out of the bag, but I am also a big sucker for some old school tunes – think Wheatus teenage dirtbag meets George Michael!

Do you have any hobbies – what and how long have you done it for?

I’m really interested in weight training in the gym which I first got into in 2014, I love the discipline of it and seeing how my body changes – I also love eating so have to work it off somehow! I am also a big adrenaline fan, I love to do anything outdoorsy and fun, I have done 2 skydives, a bungee jump and for my 16th birthday I opted to do an army assault course instead of having a party – a proper tomboy at heart!

What would be your ultimate bucket list activity?

Again, anything adrenaline related pretty much! I would love to climb a mountain, Mount Everest or Kilimanjaro have always been ones I’d like to do, I actually looked into it a few years ago! I’d also like to explore more of the world, see the Northern Lights, Canada etc.

If you could meet anyone in the world for dinner, who would it be and why?

This is a hard one, I’d like to say someone from a previous era, but I think Tom Hanks would be a really interesting dinner guest. I’d also say someone controversial like Adolf Hitler just to find out why – but I wouldn’t really like to go to dinner with him!!

What was your favourite TV show whilst growing up?

I don’t think I had a particular favourite that I’d watch without fail, but I remember coming home from school, grabbing a bag of crisps and sitting in front of CITV watching ‘Jungle Run’, ‘My Parents are Aliens’, ‘Mona the Vampire’, ‘Simpsons’ etc. I also remember a TV show that no one seems to remember – ‘The Tribe’!

If you could star in one film – which would it be and why?

This is a hard one! I think I’d like to star as Lara Croft in Tomb Raider or something, as she’s so bad-ass!

A young Jim on a rocking horse

Jim Keeley

Warehouse Operative

Jim previously spent his life working as a printer before joining Ruark Audio in 2013. He is a vital part of our warehouse process preparing orders for despatch to the UK and also export. With an eye for detail the quality of his packing is legendary.

10 questions with Jim Keeley

qa-jim-keely.jpg, Warehouse Operative

10 questions with Jim Keeley

Warehouse Operative

How did you first get into the industry?

I was in the print trade for over 30 years and got made redundant, and at my old place we all had a great love of old vinyl and hi-fi, and it made me think that the next job I wanted to do would be to do with audio. I emailed a few companies and Ruark replied!

What excites you most about the company?

I love Hi-Fi, I always have had a great love from a young age, and I actually had the Pyramid speakers’ years ago without knowing that they were Ruark!

What would you say makes Ruark different to other companies?

It’s very friendly, the two bosses are two of the nicest people I’ve ever met. As bosses go, you can get some horrible ones, but they genuinely are very nice.

What’s one thing about you that others would be surprised to know?

I scored 17 goals in a football game when I was 11, that’s my claim to fame! It was in all the local papers!

Who is your favourite singer / band?

David Bowie – by a long shot! He was the first one that I got interested in by myself, but my siblings got me into Pink Floyd and Led Zeppelin.

Do you have any hobbies – what and how long have you done it for?

I’ve always been interested in football, following matches. I also like reading pretty much anything, but I like autobiographies and as I get older I’m getting more and more interested in gardening.

What would be your ultimate bucket list activity?

I want to bungee jump but I’m not sure if I could, and I’d like to do river rafting. My son swam with sharks as he lives in Australia, but I’m not sure I could do that! I’d also like to ride all the wooden rollercoasters in America!

If you could meet anyone in the world for dinner, who would it be and why?

Robert Plant, just because he has really annoying long hair! No, he’s a brilliant, brilliant singer!

What was your favourite TV show whilst growing up?

‘Banana Splits’, ‘Lost in Space’, ‘Land of the Giants’. Sports related would be ‘Match of the Day’.

If you could star in one film – which would it be and why?

I would be Chief Brodie, so that I could kill the shark in ‘Jaws’.

A young Darren with his Nan and Sister

Darren Stacey

Warehouse Operative

Darren joined us in 2015 and has quickly made himself an invaluable member of our warehouse team. He works alongside Jim preparing orders for dispatch and puts his excellent forklift skills to good use loading and unloading deliveries.

10 questions with Darren Stacey

qa-darren-stacey.jpg, Warehouse Operative

10 questions with Darren Stacey

Warehouse Operative

How did you first get into the industry?

I heard about the company through family as my father-in-law Mark works here, so he told me they were hiring and I applied, that was back in 2015.

What excites you most about the company?

The people that I work with, I get on well with everyone.

What would you say makes Ruark different to other companies?

The flexibility and understanding, I have kids and Alan and Neil are very open and understanding to commitments and things outside of work.

What’s one thing about you that others would be surprised to know?

I am a FIFA nerd, I love playing FIFA on my PlayStation 4.

Who is your favourite singer / band?

I don’t really focus solely on people, if I was to give you one I’d say I like Keen, I’m not sure what genre of music that comes under though!

Do you have any hobbies – what and how long have you done it for?

My hobby is football, I have played since I was 14, and I play for a local Sunday team.

What would be your ultimate bucket list activity?

I’d like to say (because my partner goes on about it all the time) to do a skydive although I don’t think I could actually do it!

If you could meet anyone in the world for dinner, who would it be and why?

Paul Walker, to have said that I had the opportunity to meet him before he sadly passed away would be a great thing, and I also love the Fast and Furious films.

What was your favourite TV show whilst growing up?

‘Friends’ – a classic!

If you could star in one film – which would it be and why?

‘Transformers’ it’s my favourite film, I would play Sam (Shia Labeouf), I love the fact that he gets to work with the Transformers – it’s unbelievable!

A young Sue

Sue Barfoot

Credit Control

Sue joined us in 2015 to work alongside Klaire. Having a good knowledge of accounts and credit control her input is indispensable. When not working Sue enjoys spending time with her grandchildren and also holidaying in Spain which she loves.

10 questions with Sue Barfoot

Sue Barfoot, Credit Control

10 questions with Sue Barfoot

Credit Control

How did you first get into the industry?

Through an agency, I was recently made redundant before I came here. I worked doing credit control before and joined here in December 2015.

What excites you most about the company?

The people really, everyone is just so natural, there’s no airs and graces. The bosses are no different from the workers, and I find everybody is very pleasant, and everybody helps everybody.

What would you say makes Ruark different to other companies?

The atmosphere, the presentation. Although we are here to do a job, it’s a pleasure to come into work and there’s not many places you get like that – unfortunately!

What’s one thing about you that others would be surprised to know?

My age probably! I think I’m the oldest one here!

Who is your favourite singer / band?

I haven’t really got a favourite, I do like Ed Sheeran and I also like Sam Smith and a bit of the Blues!

Do you have any hobbies – what and how long have you done it for?

My hobbies really are my gardening. I’ve been doing that since I was married. I support my son with his motorbike racing – well I say support him… I just cheer him on. And I love my grandkids, they’re my world - I have 6 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren.

What would be your ultimate bucket list activity?

I think to live in a hot country and be warm all year round. That may happen, it may not happen. It would probably be Spain because it’s not a million miles away from home, and most of my family have places out there, so I’m familiar with it. It’s the people you get to meet there, you get to know them and there would never be a dull moment.

If you could meet anyone in the world for dinner, who would it be and why?

I think David Beckham, why? Because I think he’s interesting, I’d like to see what he gets up to, how he is, just being nosy I expect.

What was your favourite TV show whilst growing up?

I don’t really think I had any favourite growing up, but I do now. It’s the soaps I like, I enjoy them because it’s a bit of gossip, not that I’m a gossip person. I just like to see how the different storylines pan out, I suppose because they are based on real life situations.

If you could star in one film – which would it be and why?

One that comes to mind is ‘South Pacific’, that’s a very old film, because of the environment. I don’t know who I’d play because I can’t remember their names!

A young Stuart preparing to go snorkelling

Stuart Pacey

Service Technician

Stuart joined Ruark in 2010 after working for Rega, a Hi-Fi company who are renowned for their excellent turntables. With his attention to detail we guarantee that if it’s been serviced by Stuart, your product will again look and perform as new upon its return.

10 questions with Stuart Pacey

qa-stuart-pacey.jpg, Service Technician

10 questions with Stuart Pacey

Service Technician

How did you first get into the industry?

I’ve been into music all my life, I grew up in a dance school as my mum was a dance teacher. I bought my first decks when I was 13 and then had to save up for another year to buy another one - then I learnt to mix. I was working for Rega, and then in 2010, I joined the Ruark team.

What excites you most about the company?

Because it’s to do with sound, and it’s very relaxed here – good people.

What would you say makes Ruark different to other companies?

I suppose it’s family and not corporate, I am a name instead of a number.

What’s one thing about you that others would be surprised to know?

I used to do Ballroom and Latin dancing from a baby to 16, I could have gone professional at 16 but I chose not to. I danced in a film called the ‘Power of One’, but they deleted the scene – I was only 16 and it had Daniel Craig and Morgan Freeman in!

Who is your favourite singer / band?

I like everything electronic. I like people like Jeff Mills who is going to be the first DJ in space in September, and Richie Hawtin (Plastikman).

Do you have any hobbies – what and how long have you done it for?

I do a bit of kayaking over the Thames, and I go swimming every day and I’ve also just started diving. I mix Vinyl and digital DJ using Traktor S/W.

What would be your ultimate bucket list activity?

I suppose one thing I’d like to do is canoe the Ardeche which is a river that starts in France and ends in Spain that is naturally carved out in the rocks. I did it at school, but I really enjoyed it and would like to do it as an adult and see it again through different eyes.

If you could meet anyone in the world for dinner, who would it be and why?

I would go to dinner with diddy Dave Bannister, because he’s a legend! Or maybe Angelia Jolie – it’s a tough call!

What was your favourite TV show whilst growing up?

Probably ‘Buck Rogers’.

If you could star in one film – which would it be and why?

I’d play Deadpool in ‘Deadpool’, because he’s funny, crazy and nuts, and he’s also a bit of a romantic! It’s about the only love story there is in Marvel!

A young Mark playing a guitar

Mark Dobson

Service Technician

Mark joined us in 2013 and works alongside Stuart on repairs and servicing. Like Stuart he cares greatly about the products that come to our service centre and works hard to ensure that products are fully serviced and quickly returned to their owners.

10 questions with Mark Dobson

qa-mark-dobson.jpg, Service Technician

10 questions with Mark Dobson

Service Technician

How did you first get into the industry?

I used to work for Rega, then I left there and went to a few other places and went totally out of that area. I got into a situation where I started my own company as a computer engineer which I learnt in college, but it didn’t work out. I had a few bad jobs, and one day when I went to a really bad job, I decided to drive to a few companies I knew and thought I would like to work for and handed my CV in. Ruark was one of those and a few days later Neil rang me and asked me to come in for an interview as they had a position just come up. That was in 2013!

What excites you most about the company?

Everyone is very friendly I find, I get on with everyone which is great. I don’t dread getting up and coming to work in the morning (which I’ve done before). It’s nice to get up and not feel stressed about coming to work, it’s just a very relaxed nice place to work.

What would you say makes Ruark different to other companies?

I suppose because it’s family run, the structure is different. You can go to Alan and Neil and speak to them about everything, and the same the other way around. They can talk to me, it’s a very open relationship.

What’s one thing about you that others would be surprised to know?

I suppose my taste in music – maybe. It can be quite bizarre, more the heavier side, if it’s angry and aggressive I like it. It doesn’t have to be heavy metal but the angry and aggressive music keeps me calm.

Who is your favourite singer / band?

I’ve got a couple that I really like, Knuckledust because they are from London and I’ve been on tour with them (I used to play in a few bands) so they are quite a big influence on me. And I like Hatebreed, there’s so many but they are probably the top 2.

Do you have any hobbies – what and how long have you done it for?

I don’t really do it much now because of time, but I like writing songs and playing guitar. I don’t play in my band anymore as it was a bit too time consuming, but I enjoy writing both acoustic and electric stuff and playing electric guitar.

What would be your ultimate bucket list activity?

One thing that popped into my head (which would never happen) is to play at Download Festival – that would be nice!

If you could meet anyone in the world for dinner, who would it be and why?

My Nan, because she died when I was young, and I used to get on really well with her. It would be nice to see her again and take her out, I never got to really do that.

What was your favourite TV show whilst growing up?

‘He-man’. That was easy.

If you could star in one film – which would it be and why?

The film would be from ‘Dust til Dawn’ (even though it’s pretty bad) and maybe I’d play George Clooney’s part, because I think it would be pretty cool to kill vampires.

A young Martin

Martin Onslow

Warehouse Manager

Martin joined us back in 1997, initially working as one of our skilled speaker assemblers before becoming a line manager. Seeing Ruark grow from all sides, Martin is now our Warehouse Manager and it’s his responsibility to ensure the efficient movement of our stock both in and out.

10 questions with Martin Onslow

qa-martin-onslow.jpg, Warehouse Manager

10 questions with Martin Onslow

Warehouse Manager

How did you first get into the industry?

Well I came here in 1994, before I started I worked for another electronics company building PA systems and amplifiers, and when I left I was looking for a similar thing. Ruark was building hi-fi speakers at the time and that was what originally attracted me, I have been here for a long time and ended up as warehouse manager, and the rest is history!

What excites you most about the company?

I think what we’ve managed to do with the radios if we are talking from a product side of things, they have managed to take their hi-fi experience and add it to the radios which makes the sound fantastic. Yes, you can go to a competitor and buy a cheaper product, but it won’t sound as good as a Ruark product. They have added their expertise to the product.

What would you say makes Ruark different to other companies?

Well, they’re easy-going, Neil and Alan, in the respect that they are not on your case all the time if you like, so they are pretty easy-going guys. If you need to go somewhere or do something there is no issue. They are not fools obviously, but they are pretty relaxed in the way things are run. Not in a way that is bad for the company, but they understand everyone sometimes have things going on.

What’s one thing about you that others would be surprised to know?

I love my martial arts, my Wing Chun Kung Fu and I have an extensive record collective, I love Reggae music.

Who is your favourite singer / band?

There are so many, one of my favourite singers is a guy called Peter Hunnigale.

Do you have any hobbies – what and how long have you done it for?

Wing Chun is not really a hobby in a way, it’s more of a life thing, I have been doing that for around 7 years and I teach it to children. I also like to build model cars like remote control cars when I have time!

What would be your ultimate bucket list activity?

I like cars, so I think the chance to maybe drive like a racing car around a track – probably in a single seater racing car!

If you could meet anyone in the world for dinner, who would it be and why?

I would like to meet Bob Marley I think, he’s somebody I really think is cool and I’d like to have a chat with him.

What was your favourite TV show whilst growing up?

It would have to be ‘The Fresh Prince of Bel Air’.

If you could star in one film – which would it be and why?

Right, I would star in ‘IP Man’, the last great grandmaster of Wing Chun, there’s been about four films done about him and it’s a great martial arts film.

team-david-orourke.jpg

David O’Rourke

Videographer

At the age of 16, David picked up his first camcorder and filmed a home video, beginning the path of his passion for videography. Over the years he studied film and worked with various production companies, improving his skills and became obsessed with making things look shiny and polished. David films and edits all of our video content and puts his creative mark on his videos.

10 questions with David O’Rourke

qa-david-orourke.jpg, Videographer

10 questions with David O’Rourke

Videographer

How did you first get into the industry?

I first got into film when I was 16 years old, I bought my first ever camcorder for £300 and I made a little film called Nightmare Kitty where I got one of my sisters stuffed cat toys and tied a plastic knife onto its paw with a bit of thread and had it chase me around the house. The film was very crude but people at school seemed to love it, so I decided to get more into film. I then studied film at college and University where I improved my skills both in corporate and fictional films. I became obsessed with creating the perfect image and making things look shiny and polished. I worked for various production companies making videos for trainee beauticians, wedding videos, and making videos for various corporate purposes, whilst also working on my own passion projects in my spare time. I then got employed by Ruark, to add my sense of creative direction to their videos at the beginning of 2019.

What excites you most about the company?

It’s a very modern, down to earth company, and we genuinely care about our customers.

What would you say makes Ruark different to other companies?

When you call the company, you don’t go through to a switchboard, you go through to a human being, which gives it a more human/personal touch.

What’s one thing about you that others would be surprised to know?

I once played Dopey in a Snow White production with a local theatre company.

Who is your favourite singer / band?

Black Sabbath.

Do you have any hobbies – what and how long have you done it for?

I have been playing guitar for 12 years, both acoustic and electric.

What would be your ultimate bucket list activity?

I would love to produce a Hollywood blockbuster.

If you could meet anyone in the world for dinner, who would it be and why?

I’d like to go for dinner with Bruce Lee, because he was a philosopher and could teach me to knock someone out.

What was your favourite TV show whilst growing up?

The Simpsons, and it still is now!

If you could star in one film – which would it be and why?

Fight club, and I’d play Brad Pitt because people say I look like him.