Posted 1st October 2020
Here is the Press Release that we have just released:
Terry has been both factory manager and speaker designer at his former employers and everybody here is excited at the possibilities for the future. We’re a friendly bunch at Harbeth with a great work atmosphere and we’re all focused on ‘doing better’. Terry is going to fit in perfectly.
Before you ask, some questions I’ll answer.
Does it mean that AS is retiring or taking a back seat?
Not in the least; I’m just frustrated that patentable work I have in hand progresses so slowly when my primary role has to be corporate governance; the team looks to me for leadership during a period where we are developing into a serious medium-sized enterprise in a complex and unstable world; and with Brexit. Clearings out ones brain to juggle R&D and management is an effort. Terry is a full-time engineer employee, not a contractor.
Does it imply that AS/Harbeth has run out of product ideas?
The exact opposite is true. I have plenty of product development ideas but no time to see them through. Terry is more than capable of taking blue-sky concepts through R&D and to marketability evaluation, where I will decide to give them the green light or not.
Does it mean that the voicing or sonic signature of Harbeth speakers will change, perhaps some of the Harbeth magic will be lost?
I can give you a categorical assurance that the special sound of Harbeth speakers – my babies – will not change. Harbeth has a special, distinct place in the market and we walk our own path. It has proved to be commercially hugely successful – a beacon of how to run a speaker manufacturing business in the modern world. That’s precious. And will not be lost.
How will AS and Terry divide their roles? How will AS ‘keep a handle’ on R&D if he is not doing it all himself? Delegation always brings challenges.
Every growing business faces the same issues when the founder accepts that he has to relinquish elements of his job to others. The challenge is to find others whose skills compliment and enhance the founder’s. We have experience employing under and postgraduates at Harbeth, but there is no substitute for grey hairs. I have always prided myself on the project documentation that I generate and have perfected software-based logging and filing systems as my electronic brain. Terry has readily accepted that removed of time pressure to complete projects at breakneck speed, the investment of effort in journaling and documentation is a worthwhile investment. These shared e-doc systems allow me to completely understand where we are at with any project on day by day basis. To enable electronic pen-and-inking, the first equipment I ordered for Terry was another Microsoft Surface Studio. I have one at home, one in the office and one at the R&D centre – and this way we can use technology to help each other along continuously.
How about an R&D budget? What resources will Terry have available
Harbeth is a successful company with adequate resources to fund any likely R&D expenditure. Our finance function have set aside an initial R&D budget, and if a case can be made that expenditure can strengthen our company, accelerate R&D, take our vision in a new direction or whatever, the funds are available from internal reserves. Obviously, we are not throwing resources around, but there are no obvious constraints. Our postgraduate engineer will work for Terry.
Are the existing Harbeth XD series speakers the end of the road for the Harbeth ‘bookshelf’ speakers?
No. All market-aware businesses have a medium and long-range strategic vision for their company and products. This year I mapped out in my mind two generations ahead for the familiar Harbeth speakers. With Terry’s help, we should be able to condense 15 years of my normal, slow R&D progress into something rather quicker!
Will Harbeth start making floorstanding loudspeakers soon?
No. Our factory layout is optimised for our current ‘bookshelf’ speakers. To introduce floorstanders would require a comprehensive rethink of process flow. For a start, we would have to consider the working height at which such speakers are assembled and manhandling such large cabinets is a two-man operation prone to damage and H&S considerations. Obviously, in the medium term, these issues can be resolved by investment, leaving the question ‘do we want to? Will they enhance our brand?’
Will Harbeth start making electronics?
We could do anything we want! There are no plans at this time to make electronics. Acquisition of an existing, respected audio electronics brand is always an option, but we have not been approached nor are we looking at this time.
Do AS and Terry develop crossovers in the same way?
Interesting question. I have been using crossover simulation as a primary engineering tool since the first generation DOS-based simulator became available in 1990. Terry has not used simulation in his career, having relied on a combination of experience and empiricism and is keen to learn the advanced tools we have here.
How does Terry feel about the corporate-culture in the Harbeth company?
Projects here are conduced at a realistic pace, fully costed and resourced to ensure success, allocated to individuals who are given a proper remit, tools, a target and left alone to deliver. I do not micro-manage my colleagues because they are all professionals in their own right. Our management style is ‘light touch’ supported by facts. In Terry’s own words from what he has seen of the inside of the Harbeth company, life here is “a revelation”.
How much does Terry know about Harbeth speakers? What does he think of of the sound compared with that he’s familiar with?
I understand that Terry has neither heard a Harbeth speaker nor technically evaluated one and his knowledge is limited to that of public media coverage. When visiting our R&D facility he was rather surprised by the range of competitive speakers that we have available for analysis at the touch of a button. It made the point that to ascertain the technical standard that the designer must aim for, proper market evaluation is a basic business requirement.
Does this imply that Terry will need some time to adjust to Harbeth
That’s two questions! In terms of culture, Terry will fit in here well. He’s a friendly professional and keen to play his part in taking this business to the next level. As for exposure to the Harbeth sound and our RADIAL cone technology, he is in for a shock having spent his adult life working with vacuum formed cones. I think it is going to be a bit of a mental reprogramming when he finally hears what he has been missing, and I’m looking forward to sitting with him and watching his reaction!
Let’s get to work 😉
P.S. Lots of congratulations incoming, including very kind words from Terry’s former boss, son of Spendor’s founder.
Share this on