If you’ve enjoyed the manatee exhibit at the Cincinnati Zoo, a stein at the Hofbrauhaus, a game at the Cintas Center or lunch at Fountain Square, Ian Budd has hooked you up.

His company, ICB Audio & Video Equipment, has survived new technology and market trends to provide expert connections for some of Cincinnati’s most notable venues for the last 30 years.
Success in a quickly changing industry requires continuous adaptation, says Budd, 55, and that means fighting the tendency to stick with what’s familiar.

“A company has to reinvent itself constantly to really stay alive,” he says. And he should know; ICB managed to become a respected industry authority even while its original market faded.

Budd moved to the U.S. from England in the ‘70s when Cincinnati’s recording industry, once host to the famous King Records, was thriving. Budd had been interested in the technical aspect of sound from a young age, working on school performances while growing up in London. After attending university in Liverpool, he began employment with international mixing console manufacturer Allen & Heath and moved to Cincinnati as part of its expansion plan.

In those days, the recording studios’ only local resource for technical support was the hardware section of the local Swallens, Budd recalls. Soon, he was in business for himself, installing and servicing recording systems for studios such as Cincinnati’s Fifth Floor Recording Studio. He developed contacts throughout the industry and built ICB’s reputation until he was able to move his business from his basement to The Media Center on McMillan Avenue in Walnut Hills. There, he added ICB’s first retail space.
Soon, churches, schools, restaurants and other venues began enlisting Budd for his services. “One of our trademarks has been the quality of what we do,” Budd says, and that’s what caused the word to spread.

ICB grew into the retail, service, installation and corporate education sectors, so it continued to prosper even when recording studios left the local scene. ICB moved to a larger location on Reading Road in 1989, then in 1993 to its current location, 1738 Tennessee Ave. in Cincinnati. Today, ICB employs more than 25 people. It was a Small Business of the Year finalist in the 2007 Small Business Excellence Awards from the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Budd has had to be creative over the years to allow fans to hear announcements over the roar of racecars, swimmers to hear music over the echoing splashes of an indoor pool, and even for Cincinnati zookeepers to monitor the endangered Sumatran rhino, whose spraying urination habits made installing effective video equipment tricky.

Among these challenges was the UC College-Conservatory of Music, composed of four theaters, five recording studios and a number of auditoriums and other rooms. The most recent round of installations for the college was a three-year project that cost $1.25 million and used 750,000 feet of cable. ICB met the challenge and was chosen as contractor of the year by Turner Construction, which worked with ICB on the project.

ICB has triumphed by building lasting customer relationships. Customers should understand what they are buying, Budd says. “Part of being a good company is asking questions and finding what people really need.”

Having already completed projects locally and across the country, ICB is expanding to do projects abroad, including Mexico, Guatemala and Colombia. “It’s an opportunity to enjoy other cultures as well as do business,” says Budd, who recently returned from a business trip to Lebanon.

ICB is also an annual supporter of Cincinnati’s MidPoint Music Festival. This year, it partnered with renowned producer Erwin Musper of The Bamboo Room recording studio to create the festival’s first International Stage. The stage showcased bands from the United Kingdom, Canada, Belgium, the Netherlands, Japan, Turkey, Australia, Israel, Denmark and the United Kingdom.
When he isn’t working at ICB, Budd continues to teach at The Recording Workshop school of audio and music production in Chillicothe, where he has taught since 1980. He is also actively involved in historic preservation and urban renewal in the city of Newport, where he has lived since 1979, as part of the East Row Historic Foundation.