No Scandal Here: Why Frank Sterns is Leaving Niles Audio
Forget the recent Linear roll-up of Xantech, Niles and Elan, Sterns just turned 50 and felt it was a good time to "take a summer vacation for the first time since I was 14"
Scandal is no doubt erupting everywhere about Frank Sterns’ resignation from Niles Audio, where he worked for the past 18 years, most recently as president.
After an interview with Sterns, however, it seems certain that the story is just about a guy who turned 50 and has the great fortune to be able take a breather. It was his idea to resign, and his idea only, and it’s always been his game plan to retire at this age, he explains.
“I just turned 50 and I’m in perfect health,” Sterns says. “I’m single with no kids. I’m going to live in Italy in two weeks and I’m taking a bike. I’m going to take a summer vacation for the first time since I was 14.”
Sterns’ departure from Niles (effective April 23) comes just two weeks after parent company Linear Corp. rolled up Niles, Elan Home Systems and Xantech into the new Linear Audio, Video, Control Group.
He insists his resignation is not linked directly to that move, but felt it was the perfect opportunity to take a breather.
Mark Terry, the former leader of the Harman Kardon Pro group who was hired to run the new Linear AVC, is serving as the acting president of Niles.
“He seems like a very capable guy,” Sterns says. “He needs a runway.”
Sterns has nothing but praise for Linear and its parent company Nortek, which acquired Niles in 2005.
“They have been great,” he says. “They’ve been nothing but good to me.”
A Look Back and Forward
When asked about his greatest accomplishments at Niles, Sterns points mostly to products because, as he says, “I’m a product guy.”
The favorite products he helped to engineer are the simpler products but they’re the ones that put Niles on the map and made it a household name: The OS-10 indoor/outdoor speaker, the industry’s first 12-channel amp, and the old IntelliControl home theater controller that set the standard for RF-enabled, macro-capable, user-friendly remotes.
He won’t be traveling forever.
“I just want to take some time and celebrate, enjoy myself, be thankful for it,” he says.
After that, “Sure I will want to go back to work and do something as equally as exciting as Niles.”
Frank says, “I’m a product guy” so he was especially proud to accept an Electronic House Product of the Year Award (from editor Lisa Montgomery) in 2006 for the IntelliControl ICS
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Julie Jacobson is founding editor of CE Pro, the leading media brand for the home-technology channel. She has covered the smart-home industry since 1994, long before there was much of an Internet, let alone an Internet of things. Currently she studies, speaks, writes and rabble-rouses in the areas of home automation, security, networked A/V, wellness-related technology, biophilic design, and the business of home technology. Julie majored in Economics at the University of Michigan, spent a year abroad at Cambridge University, and earned an MBA from the University of Texas at Austin. She is a recipient of the annual CTA TechHome Leadership Award, and a CEDIA Fellows honoree. A washed-up Ultimate Frisbee player, Julie currently resides in San Antonio, Texas and sometimes St. Paul, Minn. Follow on Twitter: @juliejacobson Email Julie at firstname.lastname@example.org
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