John Miller, Eastern Director of Sales at GoldenEar Technology, died this past Tuesday after an unforeseen coronary incident. He was just 62.
As I get older, it gets rougher to say final goodbyes to close friends, especially when their passing is sudden and unexpected. The news of John’s death literally took my breath away.
I first met John in 2003 when he had ventured away from speaker company sales management teaming up with a Connecticut cabinet maker to launch a brand of higher end entertainment furniture. My rep firm was recommended to John by his best friend Randy Taylor, then sales manager for API (Mirage, Energy, et al).
I saw John fight the good fight for a few years. Yet with a recession looming and the entrenched position of long established brands in a constant battle for floor space, it was all uphill. When a speaker company, this time subwoofer maker Velodyne, made him an offer he couldn’t refuse, John went back to his first love—speakers.
We traveled together more than a dozen times while he was at Velodyne. My judgment of a great sales manager was simple. If at the end of a trip I had made money, then that sales manager was a great sales manager. John aced that in spades, every time. And I’ll bet any rep who had windshield time with him will echo my feelings. John knew his product, he knew his accounts and he knew the art of the deal. All that carried out with a dry but very lively sense of humor.
During what was to be our last trip together, John was unusually pensive while also spending a lot of time on his cell phone. Although his end of the phone conversations were pretty cryptic, I figured it out after a while. Legendary speaker designer/marketer Sandy Gross was then about to launch his third company. John had played a significant role at the beginning of Sandy’s second company, Definitive Technology, as Vice President of Sales.
“You’re going to go to Golden Ear, aren’t you?” I challenged. “I don’t think so,” he mused staring straight ahead. “Too risky and I’m too old.” Then he turned to me with that million dollar smile of his and opined, “But it sure would be cool to put the band back together.”
That was in August. By September’s CEDIA Expo John was right by Sandy’s side at Golden Ear’s world debut booth.
Before stints at Sandy’s two companies and Velodyne, John got his start in sales management at Klipsch back when that brand was the ultimate limited-distribution specialty line. There he formed lifelong friendships with Taylor and Ernie Coulter among others to form “The Fellowship of the Horn,” in honor of the company’s flagship Klipschorn speakers. These friends still hold annual dinner reunions at CES or CEDIA. All three are 2015 inductees into CE Pro Masters.
John’s passions for all things speaker-related extended to his leisure time hobby of collecting and rebuilding classic loudspeakers. It is sadly ironic that, following a successful sales call, he was scouring the basement of an antique shop for parts when this tragedy occurred.
At the time of John’s induction into CE Pro Masters I wrote, “As accomplished as a virtuoso and as versatile as a Leatherman, Miller is the kind of sales executive that’s always a welcome sight when he arrives in your area for a visit.”
As the tributes pour in from friends and colleagues throughout the industry, it’s unmistakable that John Miller will be missed.
John is survived by his wife of close to forty years, Annette, and their only son Jacob. Plans for a memorial service are incomplete at this time.