Washington — John Shalam, chairman and founder of Voxx International, was one of three honorees at the Consumer Electronics Association’s (CEA) 10th annual Digital Patriots’ Dinner, here, last night.
The event, held at the National Building Museum, also honored Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and Sen. Rob Portman (R-Ohio). All three were selected for their role in driving the U.S. economy through innovation and their dedication to ensuring that the U.S. remains a global technology leader.
In his introduction of Shalam, Gary Shapiro, president/CEO of CEA, reviewed the many contributions the Voxx founder has made to the organization. He has been an active member of CEA, where he serves on the Board of Industry Leaders, and is chairman of CEA’s investment committee, as well as chairman of CEA’s Charitable Foundation. He was also instrumental in helping CEA become an active participant in the wireless communications industry, establishing the wireless communications division in 2001 and acting as its first and founding chairman.
Shalam was inducted into the CEA Hall of Fame in October 2009. In 1997, he received the Ellis Island Medal of Honor, and in November 2012 Shalam was honored by the Anti-Defamation League and received their Lifetime Achievement Award.
Shapiro noted that Voxx, originally named Audiovox, was founded by Shalam in the mid-1960s and owns many famous CE brands worldwide. Shalam’s success has enabled him to “give back” and “live the American dream.”
Much of Shalam’s speech, as well as the remarks of Klobuchar, Portman and Shapiro, discussed the support of the immigration bill pending in Congress.
Of all the speakers Tuesday night, Shalam had first-hand experience as he came from his native Egypt in 1948 and was almost sent back after he graduated from college in the mid-1950s, but was stopped by the passage of an amendment to a long-ago farm bill through Congress.
He said that if he did not stay in the U.S., he doubted that Voxx, which has $1 billion in sales and employs 2000 worldwide, “would exist today.”
Shalam said that to turn away immigrants now would “turn away business and economic growth in this country.”