Al Ballard, longtime Polk Audio vice president of marketing, passed away at University of Maryland St Joseph Medical Center on Saturday, November 5. Ballard was born April 15, 1950, in Charlotte, North Carolina. He attended North Carolina State in Raleigh, graduating with a degree in Graphic and Industrial Design. Ballard moved to the Baltimore area to work as a graphic designer, eventually forming his own design firm in 1983.
In 1985, Ballard was recruited by Sandy Gross to join a small speaker company, Polk Audio, to develop in-house marketing capabilities. Ballard quickly established himself as an invaluable resource and, in 1988, rose to be named vice president of marketing. In his roles, Ballard was an important figure in the growth of Polk Audio from a small regional company to one of the largest of its type in the global market. He championed the ambassador program Polk-Fest and Polk Forums with zealous audiophile customers who spread the word in several U.S. markets to other like-minded audiophiles.
From January 2014 on, Ballard, with partner Paul DiComo, founded CE-Marketing Pros, a marketing agency helping established and start-up Consumer Electronics brands build market share and consumer awareness.
Anyone who worked with Ballard at Polk Audio or the many outside efforts he spearheaded was swept up by his incredible work ethic, personal and professional honesty, and consistent integrity. He brought uncommon intelligence to any task but also a sense of humor that, while sometimes hidden, always lurked near the surface.
Ballard was a respected and beloved figure in his neighborhood. His can-do attitude led him to help many neighbors, no matter how large or small the task. He loved to barbecue. Anyone treated to his 6-Hour Pork Shoulder Roast would not soon forget it. Ballard met many people throughout his years in the audio industry and made many life-long friends among colleagues, industry partners, and audio consumers.
Ballard is survived by his wife, Hedy Klopfer, his daughter Alison Ballard, step-daughter Tracy Klopfer, and ex-wife Monica Cortada. A celebration of life in his honor will be held at a future time. In lieu of flowers, contributions to Wilmer Eye Institute are appreciated.