As a company headquartered in Ogden/Utah -- just a few freeway exits west along the Wasatch range past Salt Lake City -- Zu Cable's location in the heart of Mormon country is of course no coincidence. Founders Sean Casey and Adam Decaria both spent the traditional two-year service as church missionaries right out of school. Sean was sent to South Korea, Adam to the projects in the UK. Today, a percentage of Zu's profits are tithed to the Church. LDS, I'm told, acts among other things as one of the world's highly active disaster relief organizations.


Doing business with Zu thus quietly supports an organization involved with humanitarian relief work and social outreach programs around the globe, be that 911, the tsunami in Indonesia, Katrina in New Orleans, job placements, foster care or counseling services. While religious convictions are utterly private affairs and not something Zu Audio or those of its members connected to this church would ever push, this silent connection does deserve mention at a time when many businesses pursue blatant profiteering with zero regard for eco structures or community support.


Presently known as Zu Cable, the pending launch of a revised and updated website [mock-up below with an excited Sean Casey] will introduce the company more properly as Zu Audio. This will acknowledge the fact that what began as a cable outfit in the fall of 2000 has since expanded to include a growing lineup of high-sensitivity loudspeakers.


From humble wood shack beginnings in Sean's garage -- which earlier had acted as birthing place for Talon Audio and Wasatch Cable works -- Zu has moved into new quarters four times since. Each time the square footage secured doubled. Below are the Kiessel Street building and the Old Post Office, two previous Zu Cable factory outposts.


Zu today operates out of a 4000sft industrial park facility [below]. It sits directly adjacent to a machine shop that's run by one of Sean's childhood friends. His outfit handles all of Zu's custom-machined aluminum parts, from plug housings and logo holders to driver trim rings, tweeter horns, phase plugs and terminal plates.


Zu  Audio's newest addition over its previous business residences is a rather sizeable paint booth with industrial-grade ventilation. The size of the fan vent above the booth roof is an indication of how much suck develops when the switch is flipped and the massive air exchange system kicks in. Zu hired ace car restoration painter Jason Champagne who feels more appreciated fashioning custom speaker designer skins than hiding boring road accidents. Two of his latest creations can be spotted down below, one burgundy pair of Definitions assembled, one gloss black pair still awaiting drivers on the table.


With Zu's belated emergence into US consumer and press consciousness -- until a year ago, 90% of all Zu business was export, predominantly to the Far East -- has arisen a significant challenge: deciding on a form of domestic distribution that honors the Zu men's core philosophy. They insist on hands-on interactions with the end users; fair value; peak performance; and custom options. How best to accommodate all of those in today's changed retail climate?

In the US, Zu views the traditional dealer model as essentially defunct. Accordingly, they have focused exclusively on direct sales for their home market, with 60-day satisfaction guarantees equating to an enviable sub 1% in speaker returns. The availability of now truly limitless automotive and speciality lacquer finishes plus iridescent matte or semi-gloss color options means that Zu Audio is quickly growing into a build-to-order custom shop. Below sees Adam fan out one of six pearlescent lacquer palettes of just one of many different paint suppliers. "Knock yourself out!" is the happy credo here to assure that you derive maximum kick out of your personalized cosmetic wow factor.


However, Sean and Adam fully understand the need for US listening stations outside their own Ogden facility. They're presently assembling a select group of fellow manufacturers and retailers who will act as the first points of contact between prospective customers and their products (top-notch demonstration facilities are mandatory to be considered). Thereafter, the customers continue to order from Zu and make payment directly to Ogden. The new website will facilitate color and trim selection as "just one mouse click away". Once the speakers are delivered, the facilitating friend of Zu will visit the new owner to help set up and 'dial' the speakers to the max. This will assure both Zu and the customer that the new acquisitions are performing as intended and to the best of their abilities in their new surroundings. (These listening post operators are required to be setup and voicing experts).


Presently, Jim Smith (formerly of Avantgarde-USA) and Lloyd Walker of Walker Audio are getting activated in that capacity. Dan Wright of ModWright Audio just took delivery of a personal pair of Druids, too. He felt compelled to e-mail Zu one day later very enthusiastically though in his case, manufacturing responsibilities won't allow the time for showcase involvement save for personal recommendations. Roger Hebert of Wyetech Labs in Canada has a pair of Definition Pros on order. And so on. As such industry affiliations take shape, possibilities for respective markets are explored and formalized on a case-by-case basis, prospective Zu customers will eventually enjoy a few choice and dedicated Zu listening posts across the country. They promise to be a few cuts above the worn-out retailers who have defeatedly transitioned into Home Theater. Instead, these posts are envisioned to reintroduce the kind of add-on service which previously set apart the boutique High-End shops from the chain stores. The service fees paid to these facilitators by the manufacturer will remain well below standard dealer margins. This insures that Zu's current pricing structure can remain unchanged yet the customer will enjoy better service and access. It's the quintessential win/win proposition.