Visionary 12V Executive Passes

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Mark Rutledge

It is with great sadness that we report the passing of a leading industry member, Mark Rutledge. He developed the Maestro interface at Automotive Data Solutions (ADS), creating one of the most important tools for integrating radios in today’s vehicles.

Rutledge was known for his intelligence, humility and technological vision.  His many colleagues and partners across the industry mourned his passing on Friday at the all too young age of 51.

In a remarkable career path, Rutledge was a tech support rep at Directed when he decided to return to school for a degree in electrical engineering, which he completed while working and raising a family.

He had an idea for a device that would help aftermarket radios integrate into new and more complex vehicles, and took his idea to ADS President Frank Barassi, who allowed him to develop what would become the iDatalink Maestro.  To date, Maestro products have altered installations in three quarters of a million vehicles.

Barassi said,  “Mark and I were dear friends before we became colleagues. I admired him for his ability to nurture positive human relations with integrity, dedication, passion, and humility. He was respected by all and made a monumental difference in so many lives. I know of no other person who has contributed to our industry in such a beautiful way. I regularly joked with Mark that he never engineered products. Admittedly, he was more than an engineer, he was a visionary. Mark was demanding on others but most demanding on himself. Along with many others who share this sentiment, I love him dearly. His legacy will live with us forever.”

Jason Ewing was on Rutledge’s team at ADS.  “Mark never made me feel like I worked for him, but more with him. He was also the one that would motivate you, to see what you are truly capable of. I learned many life lessons from him, and I will hold those lessons and my memories with me, for the rest of my life,” said Ewing.

His long time friend, Ken Ward, now International Technical Marketing Manager at Elettromedia said, “I met Mark nearly 30 years ago. I worked with him in tech support, later in product development, and he always was the best-prepared person in the room. Few have had success in security and remote start, AND in head unit replacement, AND in OEM audio integration, but Mark was one of the only people who could pull that off.  In his years at iDatalink, developing the Maestro program, he became known to many bay-level techs as an engineer who really understood what they were dealing with…We will all miss him – his sense of humor, his humility, and his willingness to support good people. My heartfelt condolences to his family.”

Jim Warren, Executive Director of the Elite Distributor Alliance said, “Mark Rutledge was focused, day in and day out, on making our lives in 12 volt aftermarket easier.  As the guy in charge of product development, he led the way in bringing us elegant solutions.  So bright and talented, he truly leaves a big hole in our industry and a legacy that will live on.”

Rutledge served as Director of Engineering – New Products at ADS.

He is survived by his wife Amy and four children.

Funeral services will be held on Saturday in Murietta, CA at 10 am.


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  1. With Mark’s passing it’s one that is really hard to even imagine is true. I still remember vividly when I last had dinner with Mark in early 2020 before COVID and as usual I was not only glad to see him again and talk some business but the laughs just kept rolling all evening. Always looked forward to our conversations either in person or over the phone. Whenever I had a question or needed a solution Mark always got back to me quickly and with a solution that was always bang on. Just an amazing person all around and I know all who knew him and had the pleasure to interact with him in anyway were very lucky people to have Mark not only as co-worker but a friend. RIP Mark you are 1 in 8 billion thats for sure. My condolences to Mark’s family as Mark’s passing has left a huge hole in everyones hearts.

  2. Mark was for me an excellent coach, teammate, and friend, he was able to help me in my professional development.
    it will stay in my heart forever.
    I will miss you rest in peace!

  3. Mark was really an amazing leader and person: super smart in everything he touched, doer and lead by example, humble, friendly with everyone… really someone that made an impact on me and everyone who had the privilege to connect with him.

    We will surely miss him!!! My thoughts are with his family.

  4. Proud to have called him a personal friend. Humble, approachable, and generous were just some of the many high quality character traits that he possessed.

  5. Mark is a such great man. I still can’t accepted this sadness news . His passing truly a big lost in our industry. I was knowing Mark since from 25 years ago . His talent knowledgeable and kindness made everyone so please to work with him . The last time our families get together in San Diego was just year ago that happiness time will so deeply missing. Our prayers and condolences go out to Amy and four children. His legacy will always remembered.
    Rest in Peace my best friend.

  6. Saddened to hear this tragic news. Mark was an industry leader and visionary, respected by all who got to know him and work with him. Deepest condolences to his family, his friends and colleagues.

  7. I just had the opportunity to meet Mark. He recently joined our Rotary Club in Hemet. He said it was something he had always wanted to do. He had a heart for community service. My Club and I want to express our deepest condolences to Mark’s family and friends. This is truly heartbreaking.

  8. Mark had an infectious passion for the 12 V industry. I believe his license plate was 12 Volt Guy. Mark is a leader that understood it’s all about doing the right thing for the customer. Prayers for the family and friends.

  9. Mark always made me feel comfortable regardless of the setting…not many people have that effect on others. Truly one of the good guys and a pillar of the industry, he will be missed.

  10. No one made a bigger impact in the installation category over the last 10 years than what Mark accomplished. He will be missed for sure.

  11. Mark was a special guy. Straight up, honest, to the point, deep thinking and no BS. His vision into the needs of consumers, dealers and our industry made him a true unicorn. I will miss his sense of humor and wit. Thoughts and prayers are with his family. Rest in peace my friend.

  12. Mark combined technical expertise with personality and compassion. A rare blend of traits that made him such a leader in our business. Condolences to his family. He will be sorely missed.

  13. A true visionary as well as a truly stellar individual. His insight into our industry will be greatly missed. My prayers go out to his family.

  14. I had the PRIVILEGE of working with Mark when we were both at Directed back in the day. We kept in touch as we both moved onto other manufacturers. Mark was an amazing person and a damn rocket scientist. I can’t imagine the industry without the BitWriter or Maestro. Mark will be sorely missed. A great person, a kind soul and an all around NICE person. Our thoughts and condolences go out to his wife and family.

  15. Mark was a very rare person in our industry ,he identified and related with all aspects of the business from the install bay, sales reps, engineering all the way to the boardroom and even the consumer.
    As a freind he would always listen than give you his honest take on whatever the subject .
    They say everyone is replaceable ,”They ” are wrong this time.
    Rest in peace my friend.

  16. Mark was a good friend and a wonderful human. I am saddened to hear of his passing. My thoughts and prayers go out to Amy and the children.
    Mark, made a difference in our world and will be missed.

  17. Mark was an amazing person and great guy to have a good laugh with. Our industry lost a good one. Thought and prayers to his family.

  18. Wow, I knew Mark when he was just a tech at Directed. He was super knowledgeable and always supportive! Tragic loss to all. Thoughts and prayers to his family!

  19. Tragic loss of an industry icon. Thoughts and prayers go out to his family. RIP Mark

  20. Always a super friendly and supportive guy. We never got to work together a lot, but did have some great conversations, and he always asked great questions. A real loss, my thoughts are with his family.

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