Behind the Scenes: Introducing Alan O’Rourke

Every company starts its life as just a concept, an idea by someone who feels it has the potential for greatness.

At Ruark, we are proud that the key personnel behind our family-owned company, who drove that initial product forward, are still with us today. Using their passion and skill, they blended exceptional sound with authentic British design, to make Ruark Audio what it is today.

And who better to talk to about the brand than company founder Alan O’Rourke.

What’s your favourite interior design object and why?

I love designer lighting; it helps completely transform a room. The warmth and connection it brings to the other objects in the room really helps set the mood. I think spending money on good quality lighting is a must for strong interior design. I have Flos lighting at home and I particularly love the Arco lamp.

What is the one product at home that you couldn’t live without?

My coffee machine! I absolutely love a good cup of coffee and a few years ago I invested in an Italian Rocket Espresso machine with a separate grinder so I can grind my own coffee beans. I use it everyday; it’s the first thing that goes on in the morning and I think it’s made me a bit of a coffee snob!

So what is your go to coffee drink?

A flat white – the milk and the steam has to be just right to give the perfect level of creaminess.

What has been your proudest moment since launching Ruark in 1986?

Every time we launch a product it makes me so proud to see the reactions from both customers and the media. When we launched the original R1 and The Telegraph called it “The Aston Martin of DAB Radio’s” that was when I knew we had something that was going to be a success.

What was the first album you ever bought?

I was probably 10 or 11 when I bought my first album with my own money, so a long time ago now! From memory it was Jimi Hendrix, Electric Ladyland – I listened to it constantly. I was also into David Bowie at the time, and T-Rex Electric Warrior.

Could you share one interesting fact about yourself that many people wouldn’t know?

Great question… probably that I cry easily, I am quite a softie at heart. If I watch a film and there is a piece of music that’s placed in an emotional scene, then I’ll be a wreck. There is a scene in Love Actually where Emma Thompson is listening to Jodie Mitchell’s Both Sides Now – the music, the song lyrics, the context, will get me every time.

You were a pretty handy guitar player. Has that helped you make Ruark products sound so good?

Yes absolutely. I spent a lot of time getting out there to understand how instruments should sound which we ensure is conveyed in all of our products – we call it the Ruark Sound and we try our best to make music sound as natural and pure as possible.

You’re very much a family firm, so what influence did your father bring to the company?

He was involved in the music industry since I was a young kid, so it was him that inspired me and gave me the passion for audio. I used to go to work with him at weekends and we shared the same love for music. I don’t think he would mind me saying but he was a dreadful businessman, but I learnt from his mistakes and he loved to watch us develop and grow. If he was around today, I think he’d be very pleased with what we’re doing. 

Ruark was a renowned maker of high-end Hi-Fi speakers. How much of that technology makes its way into Ruark’s current products?

Lots of it! In essence all of our products are Hi-Fi speakers, although they are smaller than what we used to make, the same level of detail and technology is used. We are proud of how much we can get out of our compact units, but we are in the future looking at going back to doing separate speakers… but that’s a vison for a few years down the line.

Some quick fire questions…

Favourite colour?

Blue.

Tea or coffee?

Coffee… well both! I love tea too.

Favourite place to eat / drink in Southend on Sea?

Our local Italian restaurant – Eatalia.

Favourite radio station and why?

Radio 2 in the evenings as it has some fantastic music. I love Jo Whiley, Bob Harris and I love the sounds of the 70s.

If you could meet one famous person, who would it be and why?

It would probably be Phil Collins. He’s had a fantastic life and he’s a really passionate musician. Either him or Paul McCartney.