Get to know industry veteran Doug Henderson: Technology Insider Group’s newest contributor! Doug has had a nearly thirty-five year career in the high performance audio industry, starting at Dahlquist speakers in 1983, continuing for 22 years as principal of independent rep firm Audtek, representing a virtual who’s who of manufacturers including Audio Research, Bowers & Wilkins, Meridian, Krell, Rotel, Sonus Faber and others. Most recently he was, for a decade, President/CEO of B&W Group North America.
I sat down with Doug, to find out even more about how he started in the industry, what compelled him into a life of music and what he plans to bring to the readers of TIG.
Maureen Jenson: What music were you listening to in the 1970s that not only fueled your musical passion, but also drove you to want to build your own loudspeakers?
Doug Henderson: Coming of age in the 70s, musically speaking at least, was a blessing. It was really the golden age of rock, with 60s artists like the Stones, The Who and many others carrying over and doing some of their best work and a multitude of new bands coming on the scene. My high school days were filled with Led Zeppelin, Queen, Bad Company, Humble Pie, Aerosmith, the Allman Brothers, that first Boston album and so many others. I was a music freak from about the age of 12. Since I couldn’t afford the speakers I wanted, I started building my own with a goal to capture the sound of a live rock band in my bedroom. I had a talent for woodworking and my dad had the power tools to get me started. How my folks put up with my listening at ear splitting levels day after day is beyond me.
MJ: Did building speakers make you feel closer to the music? Was their something missing in the speakers you were listening to?
DH: I worked from the age of nine when I split a paper route with my brother, started caddying at the local golf course and other jobs of that sort but collectively they didn’t pay well enough to support my growing music habit. This was before the age of parental indulgence! If I wanted a stereo I was on my own, simple as that. Building speakers was a way to get more speaker for my money. I didn’t really know what I was doing, to be honest, but trial and error and a willingness to listen to the guys selling me the drivers helped. My overriding goal was loudness! It was also fun for me. Eventually I graduated to professional designs, like early Infinity models (kept blowing those EMIT tweeters up, however). I took a pair of AR3a’s to college – great speaker . . . had some magic moments with those.
MJ: You have represented a virtual who’s who of the audio industry. Any particular manufacturer you learned the most from?
DH: I was exceedingly fortunate to have been surrounded by so many great audio people early in my career. An individual who is not well known but was central to my story is Ed Woodard. He owned a hi-fi store in Manhattan called Audio East for a time and then went on to be the Director of Marketing at Dahlquist speakers on Long Island. He opened the door for me to work there when I was a recent college grad looking for a direction in life. Dahlquist, which Saul Marantz had co-founded with ex-Grumman engineer Jon Dalhquist, opened my eyes to the possibility of a career in the industry, and it was there that I first met Harry Pearson, Bill Johnson of Audio Research and other audio luminaries. Harry and Bill were both truth seekers (as well as being eccentric personalities!) – they saw music playback as a legitimate art serving a higher purpose than just making sound. They were trying to capture life, or maybe conjure it. This generation, some of whom are still going strong like Dan D’Agostino, Bob Stuart, Paul McGowan to name only three with no intent to slight many others, really rescued music from the then mass-market trends that dumbed down playback considerably, long before MP3. We need more of that spirit today and I think we are seeing it again with the vinyl revival. I look at vinyl as music’s answer to small batch bourbons. People are learning how to savor music again, not just consume it.
Doug Henderson looks forward to bringing the readers of TIG concrete info on such topics as audio sales goal-setting and romancing the customer. Doug can be followed at his personal website, www.douglasandrewhenderson.com. [MJ – Doug is an accomplished photographer as well, his photos on the site are well worth a visit]