Karl & Kris Cartwright

As we reflect on our history in celebrating Westone’s 60th anniversary this year, we would like to take some time to show our appreciation to all our employees who have helped the company get to where it is today. It’s hard to believe that it’s already been 60 years since Westone was founded by Ron and Mickey Morgan up in the mountains of Divide, Colorado, as we know we wouldn’t still be here today if it weren’t for all the determination, dedication and resiliency that the Morgans instilled in Westone from day one. We would especially like to thank our most tenured employees for all their hard work over the years, as we’re proud to say that about 40% of our employees have been working at Westone for at least a decade. We couldn’t think of two better people to kick off these employee highlights with than our two most tenured employees who’ve been with Westone for 40 years, Karl and Kris Cartwright.

It’s been a LONG TIME since Karl and Kris (more commonly referred to as “the twins” or “K²” around here) came in for their first day at Westone back in 1979. With dreams of making it big in a rock band, they didn’t think they’d be sticking around Westone for too long. “We got jobs here so we could buy band gear,” Kris recalled when asked what initially brought the twins to Westone, “Westone was just a small family business back then. There were only about 12 to 15 employees, and half of them were related to one another.” The way Karl and Kris saw it, Westone was just a stopping off place, or a place where people would “get a job for the summer, or for a couple of years while they were getting ready to start their lives.”

Thankfully for Westone, the twins never quite reached their rock ‘n’ roll aspirations, however their incredible musical talents would still be put to good use later in their careers with the company. In the meantime, Karl and Kris completely immersed themselves in their work as laboratory technicians, learning as much as they possibly could about the production of custom-fit earmolds. Karl recalled that “Back in those days I used to keep track of how many earmolds I could produce in a day…I stopped counting after I had personally made a quarter of a million”. Kris jokingly chimed in that he had almost finished seven earmolds in that same amount of time.

Throughout the 1980s Westone continued to grow, and the twins’ roles grew with the company. They began taking on more and more responsibilities within the company, including: managing the earmold production facility, training new employees in the fine art of producing custom-fit products, developing new production techniques, creating new earpiece materials and designing new earpieces to fit specific patient or hearing instrument requirements. As the decade came to an end, the twins started representing Westone at tradeshows (as well as other industry events), with Karl also starting to write articles for trade and educational publications, while Kris got more deeply involved with the advertising and marketing side of the business.

In 1990, Westone was approached by the bands Rush and Def Leppard to see if anyone could develop some products that would help them on their upcoming world tours. By combining their passion for music with their earpiece expertise learned at Westone, Karl and Kris were able to create the world’s first balanced-armature in-ear monitors, founding Westone’s music department in the process. Based on that initial work, the twins were able to develop a full line of custom-fit and universal-fit in-ear monitors and earphones, not only for Westone, but for other companies as well. In 1998 (eight years after the foundation of the music department), the twins partnered with the United States’ Air Force Research Laboratory to develop Westone’s first ACCES earpieces - a custom communications earpiece system designed specifically for use by Air Force pilots in the cockpit. Westone’s military department was thus formed, and now over 20 years later, both it and the music department remain crucial, growing parts of Westone’s business.

One might think that with 40 years under their belts, it would be hard for the twins to identify their favorite part of working at Westone, but it didn’t take Karl long to come up with the perfect answer to that very question: “For Kris and I, our favorite thing would have to be creating new products and product categories. We have been quite fortunate to be able to turn our ideas into products that have become part of what Westone offers its customers today.  Most importantly though, it’s just knowing that what we have done affects someone’s life in a positive way every day, which is incredibly rewarding.”

Having been with Westone for two thirds of the company’s entire existence, it’s hard to think of any other two single employees that have devoted more of their time and energy to improving the company, as it is truly impossible to overstate the lasting, positive impact that Karl and Kris have had here at Westone.    

When they’re not too busy creating new revenue streams and opening up new doors for Westone, the twins enjoy spending time with their families. They also still look for any excuse they can find to have a quick jam session with friends, with Karl always laying down the beat on bass guitar, and Kris backing him up on the drums. Somehow, these inseparable brothers still haven’t gotten sick of each other just yet, even after sharing the same office for 40 years. In fact, working together remains one of their biggest perks here according to them!  “I get to work with my brother every day,” a gleaming Kris stated, “we were raised as a team, and we’re still a team today.”

Karl and Kris, from everyone who’s ever had the pleasure of working with you, thank you for all that you have done, and continue to do for Westone!