Andy W. Thanks Sidney Harman

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Andy-Wehmeyer on Apple lossless audio for car audio
We get accused of printing bad news, so we are taking the opportunity to reprint an uplifting story.  For those of you who didn’t see the tribute by Andy Wehmeyer, Founder of Audiofrog, to his former boss, Sidney Harman, Co-Founder of Harman Kardon, this is worth the read. For those of you who saw it, it’s worth a second read!
Here is Wehmeyer’s full post on the anniversary of Sidney Harman’s passing 11 years ago:
I worked at Harman for 18 years, starting in 1996. My first day was 2 days before CES that year. I was really lucky to score that job, although I didn’t know it at the time.
During those 18 years, I met Dr. Harman twice. He was “Sidney” to lots of people, but “Dr. Harman” to me.
A couple of years after I started, Toyota gave us a pre-production Solara to build as a demo car, and I built it for CES. We used our entry level “Decade” speakers and amplifiers and I stuffed a pro audio DSP in the trunk. It sounded great and there was a long line in the booth to hear it.

I finished a demo and opened the door and there was Gina Harman who said, “Andy, can you do a demo for my dad, Dr Harman, please?” They had skipped the line. So, of course, I said, “Sure!”

Dr Harman sat down in the driver’s seat and said, “Hi. I’m Sidney Harman. Who are you?” I introduced myself and he said, “Oh. You’re the guy that Mike hired a couple of years ago. OK. Let’s hear it.”
Andy W.'s Boss Sydney Harman
Sidney Harman Photo: USC News


I played a few selections of some demo material and he looked at me and smiled and said, “This was great. Thank you.” He got out and someone else got in and that was that.

A few years later, I came home from a trip to see Gary and Mark in Tulsa and, to make a long story a little less long, had septicemia. I died, was resuscitated, was in a drug induced coma for 10 days, lost 50 lbs and had to learn to walk again in the hospital. I was on disability for months and gave myself IVs at home for a long time after that. Finally I returned to work.
What I didn’t know when this was going on was that at that time septicemia killed most people who caught it. No one could figure out how I caught it, but there was a new drug that had as its only indication, the prevention of mortality in patients with this condition. There was one doctor in the NY area who had ever administered this and neither she nor the medication was covered by our insurance policy (despite the policy being excellent).
So, Mike went to Gina, who was the president of the division to ask for a special dispensation for me–to save my life. Ultimately, Dr. Harman gave his approval and the company paid to fix me. Nearly a million dollars. I’m here today because of that.
A few years later when Dr Harman retired, he went on a tour of many of the facilities for a bunch of retirement parties that the divisions held for him. Ours was a lunch and afterward he was handing out copies of a book he had written. We were all lined up to pass by, collect our book and say whatever we could come up with in the 5 seconds we’d each have.
So I stood in line thinking about how I could possibly reintroduce myself and express some gratitude in the very short time I’d have. It had been about 12 years since that demo at CES. When it was my turn, Dr. Harman looked up at me and said, “Oh. Hi Andy, how are you feeling? Are you feeling OK?”I was shocked and kind of dumbfounded. I said, “Yes, thank you, Dr. Harman.”To which he replied, “Thanks for the good work you do. Keep making cars sound great.”
I miss working at that Harman. I wouldn’t be who I am had it not been for that opportunity. And I wouldn’t be alive, either.
He died 11 years ago today at 92. RIP, Dr. Harman, and thank you.
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  1. Is this the Mike I think it is? People don’t quit jobs they quit managers. Great to have a guy step up for you in management.

  2. A great reminder that the things we do is because we can. What a great gift Sydney gave himself when he helped to save your life. We all know a gift is done in secret. So, I am reminded today that when I have an opportunity to love, don’t hesitate. What a great gift, to give one self. The gift of love. The most powerful force in the universe. PAY IT FORWARD. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Terrific story Andy, I enjoyed my 8 years at Harman U, I call it that because the atmosphere was always collegiate, yet quite businesslike and certainly educational. In the early years that preceded your tenure, I left in September 1995, Dr. Harman was a presence and quite involved in the daily operation of his AV empire and often visited our NY HQ in Woodbury and later after we split HK from JBL in Northridge. As National Sales Manager for Car Audio I worked closely with Gina Harman and I echo your sentiments. I sum up the man, simply as a “Mensch”. Be well and stay safe.

  4. Very touching tribute and interesting backstory. Good to know that the ‘Harmon Story’ was due in large part to the integrity of its Founder, who’s name it bears, which produced many great products, and made such a difference, to so many. That’s remarkable story, and thanks for sharing it. Nice!

  5. What a great story to read for a second time. Andy truly understands relationships, so to read a story like this carries a lot of weight. Mr. Harman created a legacy that will live on for generations to come.

  6. Nice. Guys like that are “one in many thousands”. Grace. Compassion. Business skills. A decent human being.

  7. Andy is such a generous person with his time, expertise and technical guidance. He has shared at least some – if not a lot – of what he absorbed at Harman with all of us in the industry through training, forums, facebook, etc. and for that my friend, I thank you. Dr. Harman and the company was equally as lucky to have you IMHO.

  8. Awesome Story Andy, You are a lucky guy in all, to work with a amazing man and having the drive to over come your health obstacles. Keep up the great work you do!

  9. there are, unfortunately, few people that have gifts like that. I never met Dr Harman, by I had heard stories for years about what it was like to work there in those days. Thanks for sharing…

  10. What a great story! It is soo nice to hear about the owner of a company who truly cared for the people that worked for him. Sadly this is almost non existent these days.

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