Nov. 23, 2018

From Schulich to the world's stage, PK Sound visionary found his groove

Alum Jeremy Bridge inspires first-year engineering students with sound advice about life and school

He’s made a career out of listening very closely.

These days, as the CEO of PK Sound and the purveyor of amplified music to thousands of concertgoers around the world, Jeremy Bridge is also used to being heard. Bridge’s state-of-the-art speakers are now in demand for the best artists at the top festivals — whether it’s the Electric Daisy Carnival in Las Vegas and Mexico or Canada’s Shambhala.

But listening is the key, and that’s the message the University of Calgary engineering graduate shared with a brand-new class of first-year students at the Schulich School of Engineering: Always pay attention.

“You’re sitting in class, thinking ‘I’m never going to use this in the real world. Is what I’m learning here ever going to be applicable?’” Bridge recalled of his early days in school, when some of the lessons seemed superfluous to his goal of being a chemical engineer.

A font of wisdom and sweet sound

With hundreds of future engineers in the audience, the PK Sound boss provided a wise answer.

“I’ll tell you what: 50 per cent of it is not. But you never know which 50 per cent. I’m a chemical engineer now using robotics, so the electrical engineering courses I thought were useless became very important,” said Bridge, BSc(Eng)’05.

“So always pay attention, even if you think it doesn’t apply, the fundamental skills you learn will apply.”

It was an inspiring speech from a man who turned his university side business into a world-leading company, providing sound at international festivals with 100,000 and more in attendance.

Part-time job spurred future career

Bridge said he intended to be a traditional engineer, but in the meantime, working part time as a DJ and organizing music events helped convinced him and his team to build a better speaker.

“We were throwing these crazy parties and dance music festivals, and we would rent speakers, and just blow everything up,” he explained. “We knew we could do it better. So PK continued to grow and we were building speakers in our basement. Renting speakers was a way to put myself through university.”

Armed with his chemical engineering degree, Bridge worked in the oil and gas industry after graduation, but by 2009, PK Sound had grown to the point of being a full-time venture.

Broadway and big beats

It hasn’t stopped since. With offices in Canada and the United States, Bridge and his company build cutting-edge speakers and provide sound for huge festivals and Broadway shows, and plenty in between.

His future is loud and clear, and as a new academic year gets underway for a new crop of future engineers, Bridge credits listening with making it all possible.

“The value of engineering is that it opens the doorway to develop and be able to do whatever you want to,” he said. “It provides a solid base to fall back on, and gives you the courage to go out and try new things.”