JLab LLC, a maker of headphones and earbuds, recently moved from digs in Tucson to offices in Oceanside to tap the active lifestyle of San Diego County and a larger base of workers.
"As we grew, and we wanted to hire a deeper talent pool, San Diego came to everyone's mind," said Josh Rosenfield, 35, JLab founder and CEO. "It wasn't hard to convince our board."
Rosenfield said that his seven-year-old company was purchased in January by Ada, Okla.-based Mach Speed Holdings LLC, a private-equity-owned firm that makes digital media players.
Dallas-based Transition Capital Partners, which has a portfolio of more than 40 companies under its belt, purchased a third company last week that will complement JLab and Mach Speed's market, according to Rosenfield.
The third company, Bentonville, Ark.-based Bear River, as well as Mach Speed and JLab, are expected to generate a combined annual revenue of $100 million, he said.
Bear River makes consumer electronics and remote-control devices.
JLab recently leased 5,000 square feet of office space in Oceanside.
With roughly eight jobs filled in Oceanside, JLab is looking to hire another 10 people in the near future.
JLab's headphones and earbuds are manufactured in Asia, predominantly in China. Rosenfield took an unconventional approach to finding his manufacturers.
In the mid-2000s, he traveled to China to "live in factories," playing basketball on various teams at the factories he visited, and taking note firsthand of how audio electronics were made. "I lived and hung out, and studied how things were done, and stayed in an engineering dorm," he said.
Rosenfield eventually settled on a factory situated in Shenzhen, a modern city just north of Hong Kong. "I've been back 20 times since," he said.
A new ritual for JLab's management team, and others whom it has hired for support, is its Friday surf meetings. "I think it'll be our regular thing to do," Rosenfield said. "We talk about the water, ideas, product development and having fun. We want to make surfing and the active lifestyle a part of our company."
The company expects to announce partnerships with surfers, musicians and athletes who can promote its products, he said.
JLab's wireless headphones and earbuds, which are sold mostly through Amazon.com, come in a rainbow of colors and sell at price points ranging from a few bucks to $100. JLab's newest sensation is a waterproof MP3 digital player with headphones that is guaranteed to work for swimmers and surfers - up to 10 feet underwater.
Talks are under way to sell JLab's products at big-box retailers Walmart and Target. "We'll probably make a decision this year and roll out next year," Rosenfield said.