Just before 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, highly respected consumer electronics manufacturers sales representative Steven B. Zaboji was killed when a Piper Pawnee aircraft that he was piloting crashed near the Front Royal Airport in Warren County, VA. According Virginia State Police, the crash occurred just after Zaboji had released a glider that he had towed into the sky.
Steven B. Zaboji
Reporting on the crash, Strata-gee’s Ted Green wrote that Zaboji, 76, lived in Reston, VA, and has been an aviation enthusiast for most of his life. Not only was he a licensed pilot, but he was also a certified flying instructor. In the incident that occurred Saturday, Zaboji’s Piper had towed a glider into the air and had successfully disconnected from the glider. According to the police, after disconnecting, the Piper developed some type of problem that led to its crash on private property just off the airport. The plane caught fire upon crashing. No one on the ground was hurt and the glider he had been towing landed safely without incident.
Zaboji was the owner of Balaton Marketing, founded in 1972, one of the dominant manufacturers representative firms in the Mid-Atlantic region for 45 years. Zaboji and Balaton Marketing are mostly known for their vigorous representation of the Yamaha line of electronics, as well as other well-known brands.
Ray Wright, executive director, CEDIA IPRO Affinity Group, called Zaboji "an industry professional in every sense."
"[Zaboji was] a person who valued his customers and fellow representatives alike," Wright said. "He served as the IPRO president in 1993 and 1994, and developed the Virtual Representative newsletter which he made available to IPRO, as well as all of our members. In our educational conferences, Steve was always a leader and contributor to networking sessions, sharing his experiences for the benefit of all representatives. His contribution has been a benefit to our industry.”
Yamaha’s senior vice president Tom Sumner also responded to the sad news in this statement to Strata-gee:
“I was shocked to find out this morning that Steve passed away in a plane crash. I hadn’t flown with Steve, but I had many long drives with him through Pennsylvania and Virginia driving between dealer visits, so we had many a long talk. Steve and his company have represented Yamaha since the 1970’s, so his depth of knowledge about Yamaha history, and in particular the history of Yamaha AV gear in the U.S., greatly exceeded mine and most folks that work at Yamaha.
“Steve always had the dealer and the end consumer in mind in all his dealings. I think every time I traveled with Steve he took me by a home that had a Yamaha installation — it was hard to believe that he had that level of detail — but he did. I last met with Steve in August. He was a great guy. He enjoyed what he did and had passion for the industry. He was always very thoughtful and showed foresight in everything he did.
“We will miss him.”