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The Real Kicker Behind Desert Storm

A celebration of speed on the water and more, the annual Desert Storm Poker Run in Lake Havasu City, Ariz., presents a showcase for its backers. Among those backers is Kicker Marine Audio, the event’s presenting sponsor since 2018. The Oklahoma-based company has gradually made inroads into the high-performance powerboat segment, which is—after all—the foundation of what Desert Storm is all about.

Being the longtime title sponsor of the annual Desert Storm Poker Run puts Kicker Marine Audio in front of thousands of performance boat enthusiasts. Photo from the 2022 Desert Storm Poker Run by Jeff Helmkamp copyright Helmkamp Photos.

Steve Irby, a passionate musician and audiophile, started Kicker on the automobile audio side 50 years ago. In 2004, the company began moving into the powerboat segment with Kicker Marine Audio components from tower speakers to amplifiers. The company currently offers a complete line of Real Marine™ products that can be found in pontoon boats—Bennington is a major Kicker Marine Audio customer—tow boats from Tahoe and Crownline, among others, and a fast growing list of aftermarket conversions in the powerboat segment.

But the company’s path to marine industry success has primarily been installer/dealer-driven rather than directly supplying completed stereo packages or components to powerboat manufacturers.

“We have historically been a company driven by consumer demand and local installers across the country,” said Jeremy Bale, Kicker Marine Audio’s brand manager. “We have a very small direct-to-consumer business. We want to drive consumers to their local professionals who can install our products so they realize their full potential. We provide training and technical support for our installers.

“Our products aren’t just about durability and reliability,” he continued. “We are a music-based company—our founder is a musician. We create products to fit a sound profile that offers the best possible replication of the original recording and intent of the music.”

The cockpit of this DCB Performance Boats Mach F29 is loaded with Kicker Marine Audio components.

That said, Bale is quick to emphasize the toughness of Kicker Marine Audio products. They incorporate durable materials such as Santoprene, “a rubber-like flexible and recyclable polymer used in engineered parts that require long-term performance,” according to the company’s website.

Beyond compliance required by American Boat and Yacht Council and the National Marine Electronics Association and other standard-setting quality-assurance organization, the company has focused on proper wiring, sealing connections and even includes a small drain notch in its co-axials in the event of water splashes. To ensure durability in the marine environment, Kicker Marine Audio produces its own high-quality wiring kits for its components.

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The extensive Kicker Marine Audio lines includes an array of coaxial speakers and more.

“The marine environment is incredibly harsh—and saltwater is far more harsh than freshwater,” Bale explained. “We do everything we can to build our products for that environment and we expect them to last. I believe we were the first to offer three-year warranties. We have tremendous confidence in our products because we know they are built for the environment.”

Those products, Bale noted, steadily have been finding their way into go-fast catamarans, V-bottoms and deckboats, especially on the West Coast thanks in part to a local Kicker Marine Audio installer/dealer in the Lake Havasu area. The booming high-performance center console market is of particular interest to the company’s decision-makers.

Backing the Desert Storm Poker Run has played a big role in getting the company’s products recognized in the performance boat segment. The company remains committed to the sponsorship.

“That sponsorship happened organically before I was even the brand manager,” Bale said. “We bring a level of excitement to Desert Storm and get to engage with our current and potential future customers face to face and with feet on the ground all week long.”

A Rinker deckboat showcase for Kicker Marine Audio products.

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