How did you get started in this business?
I got interested in HiFi when I was young. I loved gadgets, especially anything that made sound. By 12 years old, I was reading Stereophile magazine and taking apart TVs and stereos. By 17, I was installing stereos in my friend’s cars. While in college, I needed to earn extra money so I started selling audio gear at a retailer in Boston. It’s where I learned how to guide a customer through a sale. After college I kept on the sales path in New York selling audio gear and eventually worked my way up to a buying position. I joined Sony in 1989 and have been in the industry, mainly on the manufacturer side, ever since.
Please share some milestones, and what makes you most proud about your career?
I’ve been really fortunate to have been part of many firsts for the CE industry and for Sony. Lots of new technology launches including DAT, MiniDisc, DVD, Blu-ray and Sony’s SXRD technology that we still use today. I managed Sony’s CI division in its early days and was part of the development and launch of Sony’s first Home Theatre Projector line. I am incredibly proud of that launch; it helped cement Sony’s position in the CI space. We came from having nothing in the market to being #1 market share. Fast forward to today, our latest lineup of home theater projectors is once again leading the market.
How would you describe your management style?
Collaborative; focused on developing every member of my team.
Which executives in the CE industry do you admire most and why?
I will always admire the Sony leaders that helped shape my career: John Briesch, Tony Piazza, Mike Vitelli, to name a few. These leaders each helped me better understand how to run a business and to drive results. They pushed me to become a better leader. There are also many in the CI space that have inspired me. Mark Hoffenberg at Audiovisions is one example. He exemplifies the entrepreneurial spirit that is core to our business. It’s leaders like him that inspire me to think creatively about driving the business but also elevating the industry.
What’s the best business advice you ever received, and how did it help you?
Listen to your customers, listen to your peers and listen to your team. I find that the best ideas come from listening and understanding an issue and crystalizing a solid plan based on that feedback. Sounds simple, but it takes practice.
Tell us a little bit about your personal life, past and present.
I grew up in suburban New Jersey and my playground was often New York City. I was able to feed my interest in music going to see live performances every chance I could get. I am passionate about food, wine, a good cocktail and great coffee. And when I can, I like to ride my motorcycle. I still like to take things apart but now I am better at putting them back together. My wife and I love to travel, and we live with our two rescue dogs in San Diego.
What will be the future of our business, and of retailing, in the coming years?
Post pandemic the customer has become accustomed to learning about electronics in new ways. Digital marketing, influencers and e-commerce will continue to help drive opinion. But there will always remain a need for a great demonstration. Finding that balance of technology and personal experience will be a challenge for both e-commerce and traditional retail as technology advancement makes product steps more nuanced. Those who can make it simple for the consumer to understand will win.