Whitledge Designs was founded in 2004 by Jon R. Whitledge, a Polymer Scientist and Mechanical Engineer from the University of Akron. Jon possesses over 19 years of industrial experience with companies of various sizes from small, venture-capital funded biotech companies to large Fortune 500 companies. For over 17 years, Jon has contributed polymer structure-property expertise to materials and biotechnology companies. In addition, Jon has two years of professional experience as a Manufacturing Engineer, and 30 years of experience in machine tools technologies and mechanics.
Jon R. Whitledge’s ancestors were inventors and craftsman (carpenters, watchmakers, gunsmiths, and machinists) with numerous patents and noteworthy accomplishments. Jon’s grandfather, because of his mastery of the internal combustion engine, was Eddie Rickenbacker’s private mechanic in World War I. Jon shares the passion of his ancestors for all things well made that are both functional and aesthetic.
Jon R. Whitledge’s personal achievements illustrate his passion for science, engineering, craftsmanship, and athletics. At the age of five, Jon won his first trophy at a model rocketry competition. In elementary and middle school, Jon won numerous science fairs, poster contests, and creative writing awards. When Jon was 17, he won 2nd-place in a national model airplane show. In his late teens, Jon began competing in motorcycle competitions and achieved the status of “Expert” in motorcycle trials competitions, amassed dozens of trophies, and rode with national champions. Jon appeared on local television in up state New York, while riding over a Volkswagen Beetle. While attending college, Jon became interesting in bicycling. Throughout his 20s and 30s, Jon raced road and mountain bikes and amassed dozens of trophies. Jon appeared on local television in Moab, Utah, at the Fat Tire Festival and on ESPN2 while mountain biking in Crested Butte, Colorado. When Jon was 24, he designed and built a silver-soldered, lugged, steel bicycle frame. Surprisingly, Jon also went on a training ride with Greg LeMond! In his late 30s, Jon developed a passion for hi-fidelity audio, first home audio then car audio.
In early 2002, Jon began one of the largest personal projects in his life – a high-performance car audio system. After 8 months of design, fabrication, installation, and tuning, Jon completed the system. The system was designed and built purely for the love of audio. Jon was unaware of car audio sound competitions, and consequently, built his first system with no regard for competitive rules of any kind. But in the fall of 2002, on a whim, Jon decided to enter an Extreme Audio Fest event near his home in San Diego. Jon’s McIntosh and Dynaudio equipped Volkswagen EuroVan Camper won 1st place in sound quality in the rookie class. Jon’s car stereo went on to win 10 1st-place trophies in sound quality from many of the major competitive organizations. Consequently, Jon was nominated as IASCA’s (“International Auto Sound Challenge Association”) “Rookie of the Year”. Shortly thereafter, Jon’s automobile appeared as a feature vehicle in “Car Audio and Electronics” magazine.
Needless to say, Jon found a new passion in life, and began to be noticed by prominent individuals in the car audio industry. Jon’s competitive results and media attention attracted sponsors. Faced with the prospect of competing at a higher level, Jon needed to build a better audio system. Because of this, Jon sold his EuroVan, and started with “clean slate”. This time, Jon drew upon his 19 years of corporate experience and developed a focussed competitive strategy. In 2004, Jon became an IASCA-certified sound quality judge and a member of the Audio Engineering Society (“AES”). Jon drew heavily upon his knowledge about, and experience with, high-fidelity home audio systems and believed that many of the paradigms established in home audio could be applied to car audio. Jon thoroughly researched essentially all existing car audio components and accessories. Jon read just about everything available regarding loudspeaker design, room acoustics, and fabrication techniques. Jon carefully studied the systems of renowned competitors to learn form their designs to see if there were new opportunities for improvement.
Then Jon did what he has done best throughout his industrial career - disregard conventional thinking and approach engineering challenges from a fresh, surprisingly simple, perspective. Jon knew from experience that even the best audio components can be compromised by poor speaker placement and inferior room acoustics. With this in mind, Jon chose the new platform for his competition vehicle by carefully considering system layout and design, room acoustics, and cockpit geometry. Jon believed that conventional sedans possessed too many compromises, and ultimately chose a Mercedes-built Dodge Sprinter 3500 SHC cargo van. Jon believed his new platform, admittedly an unlikely choice for a competition vehicle and show car, possessed the optimum balance of attributes ideally suited for a high-performance mobile audio system.
This website is intended to showcase the innovative designs embodied in Jon’s car audio system and highlight the maniacal attention to detail in the fabrication process.