Neil Terk, 55, chairman of Terk Technologies, died May 3, following a long battle with lung cancer.
Terk, who founded Terk Technologies in 1985, served as its president since its inception, until two years ago. He grew the company, based here, from primarily a maker and supplier of indoor AM television antennas to products that run the gamut from rooftop to set-top solutions.
In July of 2001, Steve Roth assumed the role of CEO, while Terk became chairman.
“We are deeply saddened at the passing of Neil Terk” said Roth. “He was a true entrepreneur who had the confidence to invest his personal resources to start this company and built it into a successful operation focused on the research, design and engineering of innovative products. The loss of Neil will be felt by everyone who knew him and whose lives he touched.”
Terk had applied his background in industrial design and engineering to spend the last 18 years marrying both form and function to create Terk’s award-winning product line. This includes the company’s first product, in 1987 — the Pi AM/FM antenna. It also takes in all the products that followed, including HDTV and analog TV antennas, satellite digital radio antennas, in-car cellular antennas, DirecTV satellite dishes, a full line of installation hardware and Leapfrog wireless multi-room A/V distribution and multi-room control systems.
Over the years, Terk had been known for creating a consumer electronics category where there had been none, with emphasis on developing problem-solving accessories that complement consumers’ lifestyles. His success was said to have motivated the industry to improve standards for accessories products, on everything from design and engineering to packaging and merchandising.
Prior to founding his accessories company, Terk was a graphic designer who founded his own business. He also worked as a consultant to such companies as Pepsi and Playtex. In one of his early positions, he designed record album covers.
Terk served on the executive board of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA), its board of directors, and both as chairman for the accessories division and antenna subdivision.
CEA president/CEO Gary Shapiro said Terk was not only an active leader in the association and an industry legend, but also a true friend and inspiration. “The consumer electronics industry owes a debt of gratitude to Neil. He truly represented the best of our industry — he was an innovator, an entrepreneur and a highly respected businessman.
“Neil’s contagious enthusiasm and energy led to the development of several innovative industry programs aimed at growing the accessories category,” continued Shapiro. “Under his leadership, CEA developed and launched our highly successful antennaWeb program, which helps consumers select the best antenna for TV reception, based on their geographic location.”
Marcia Grand, TWICE publisher said, “Neil was a very special person who touched many people’s lives. Wit, warmth, intelligence, creativity are only part of it. He wasn’t just a client to me, but a close personal friend whose friendship I will always cherish. I speak for my husband and myself, and for so many others in consumer electronics who were lucky enough to know him. Neil Terk will be enormously missed.”
Other CE industry leaders also paid tribute to Terk.
“We traveled a lot together; it seemed as though he was everywhere,” said Loyd Ivey, CEA vice chair and chairman/CEO of Mitek Industries. “Neil was down to earth and brilliant.”
“Neil was a warm, compassionate friend. He made significant contributions to our business. His passing is a great loss to the consumer electronics industry,” said Jerry Kalov, CEA industry executive advisor.
Terk is survived by his wife and two daughters.
The family has asked that instead of flowers, donations can be made to Cancer Care-Woodbury Chapter, in memory of Neil Terk, 20 Crossways Park North, Suite 110, Woodbury, N.Y. 11797. Phone (516)364-8130. CEA will hold a memorial service for Neil Terk at 10a.m. June 4 at the Museum of Television & Radio, 25 West 52 Street, in New York City.