Audio industry veteran Stephen M. Williams, 62, passed away in Seattle, Washington, on April 13th, after complications from surgery.
In his long career, Steve’s passion for the audio business was manifested in the many roles in which he excelled, from retail salesperson guiding consumers to company president restoring an iconic brand to glory.
Stephen M. Williams
Steve leaves behind a legacy of innovation and vision in the consumer electronics industry. In the 1970’s he was a pioneer in specialty audio retailing, at Eakin Audio and later as president of Speakerlab in Seattle’s U-District, still an audio retail landmark today. Steve was renowned even by his competitors, who described him as both “tenacious and gracious.” From there, he brought consumer insights gleaned from retail to Harman International, where he transformed that knowledge into a series of renowned product successes as a key member of that company’s branded product and marketing team.
An avid technologist as well as marketer, Steve next turned his attention to the emerging fitness equipment industry and helped put Cybex on the map before returning to the audio business at Onkyo, where his strategic marketing and product development role was a key factor in that brand’s growth. This achievement made Steve a natural leadership pick by the board of directors at Carver Corporation, which in the mid-1990’s was resurging through national distribution and renewed technology. During his tenure as Carver’s president and later CEO, Steve and his team oversaw some of that brand’s most acclaimed product development and progress.
Steve continued his career as a project consultant in high demand by both the audio and fitness industries, in spite of increasing physical challenges brought on by advancing kidney disease. In 2000 he helmed a division of American Technology Corporation, bringing advanced transducer technology to the emerging field of sound targeting arrays. He was one of the original importers of high-end Chinese audio equipment into the U.S. And he remained active in the fitness field, managing marketing for TechnoGym of Italy and founding E-Nova, a consultancy which brought new products to that industry.
His battle with his health, along with his determination to keep going both personally and professionally, became the subject of the 2009 book Complications: A Doctor's Love Story, written by Steve’s wife Linda Gromko, M.D.
Along with his wife Linda and children Tim and Brita, Steve leaves behind a large, diverse network of friends and colleagues with one thing in common: admiration for the energy, sincerity, and transformative nature which defined every relationship Steve built. Steve’s legacy lives on in those people who are better at what they do—and how they do it—by being fortunate enough to have known and worked with him.