The well-known slightly raspy voice tinged with his Brooklyn roots was unmistakable. Harry Elias was calling.
The former executive VP/COO of JVC, a member of the CE Hall of Fame, board member of the ADL’s national electronics and appliance division, who has made more appearances in more CE trade publications than just about anyone, called me on Friday.
“What’s the matter? You don’t call me anymore?”
I’m guilty. The last time we did speak, Harry was in a health-care facility after a serious operation and only had that number. Whenever I remembered to call, such as when I heard the news about JVC Kenwood this week, something would come up and I’d get sidetracked.
I apologized and he immediately began to talk about the industry, which means he is feeling a lot better.
Harry said he was reading the April 7 print issue of TWICE and chuckled when he said, “After seeing what’s going on in this business, I’d love to get back in it again!”
The subject of JVC Kenwood never came up but talk of the closing of American TV (“Do you remember how strong they were in the marketplace?”) and the news from J&R Music World (“They never really bounced back from Sept. 11.”) saddened him because healthy retailers were always important to him.
“The key to my success over the years was developing a strong dealer network. We supported them and they supported us,” Harry volunteered. And then he added, “I always told our dealers, ‘Don’t over-expand,’ especially if you have to take Wall Street’s money because then you no longer own your own business.”
When I commented how things in the industry have changed since he left the business, since it is even tougher now, Harry immediately said, “That’s why I’d want to get back in it. Seeing some of the decisions some people are making …” He didn’t finish the sentence, but the disapproval was deafening.
The amazing thing is that after all these years, Harry’s passion for the crazy business they call CE is still there.
We gossiped a bit about a couple of mutual industry friends, and as he signed off, he said, “If you have your health and your family, you’re blessed.”
And when you get a call out of the blue from a guy like Harry, you’re pretty lucky too.