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Industry Mourns Jerry Kowitz

Co-founder of Jerry's Audio/Video in Phoenix passed away on August 2, 2020 at the age of 80.

Jerry Kowitz, co-founder of Jerry’s Audio/Video in Phoenix passed away on August 2, 2020 at the age of 80.

Jerry’s Audio Exchange was founded in 1970 by Jerry and Claudia Kowitz as a specialty audio store with “Buy, Sell, or Trade” as the business tagline. It did not take long for Jerry to secure some major high-end product lines such as McIntosh, JBL, Marantz, SAE, Yamaha, and Sansui. Jerry’s passion for music started at a very young age, listening to Jazz, and drove his enthusiasm for Hi-Fi.

The first retail location was in Tempe, AZ, on University Drive across from Arizona State University. The clientele were college students who had a real passion for music. The business grew and Jerry’s Audio/Video quickly expanded into the Phoenix and Tucson markets with a retail store on East Camelback Road. In 1990, Jerry designed and built a 15,000-square-foot superstore to replace the existing location, winning an award for best store design of the year in the U.S. Jerry’s Audio/Video occupied these locations over 35 years from 1974 until 2009. Jerry’s son, Michael Kowitz, and his wife Rhea continue to run Jerry’s Audio/Video, serving the consumer technology and integration market in Arizona.

One of his many accolades was, in 1980, at the PARA conference in Palm Springs, CA, Jerry, Bjorn Dybdahl and then VP of sales for Yamaha, Steve Caldero, gave a presentation on the future convergence of audio and video. This launched “home theater” as a new category to the group of audio-only specialty dealers. Jerry’s Audio/Video was always at the forefront of emerging technologies and one of the first nationwide dealers to implement custom installation.

Jerry Kowitz was a founding member of Home Theater Specialists of America (HTSA) buying group and remained Chairman of the board until 2008.

Bjorn Dybdahl, president of Bjorn’s in San Antonio shares, “Jerry Kowitz had so many exceptional qualities as a businessperson and as a friend. He was trustworthy, ethical, someone to count on, always willing to share, never a bullshitter, he truly loved those around him, and he was one of the real nice guys in our industry — only made complete by his wife and partner, Claudia. Jerry made you feel part of his family and a true friend. He will be fondly remembered and truly missed.”