A truly unique industry personality – and unabashed technology enthusiast – Len Schneider passed away Monday, after a brief illness. Most recently known as the President of TechniCom Corp., an industry marketing company offering product development capabilities and technical writing services, Schneider had a long history working in largely product marketing roles for a variety of top brand names such as Sony, Marantz, and Onkyo. However, many more in the industry became aware of him through his well-researched and approachable writings, with many articles, white papers, books and posts – including one of the most popular posts ever on Strata-gee.com – having been published on a national basis.
See more about Schneider and his contributions…
After working in sales for a few prominent NY Metro area retailers in the late 70s/early 80s, Schneider landed a position at Sony as its National Training Manager. It was in many ways a good fit for him. Schneider possessed the unique ability to translate highly technical concepts into terms the base level retail salesperson (or consumer, for that matter) could understand. But in other ways, it was an odd fit. Schneider is a life long member of the Audio Engineering Society and regularly attended the organization’s meetings, hungrily devouring their thickly intense technical papers, many on obscure and arcane technical topics. He was, in many respects, over-qualified for a position with a mass market brand like Sony. But Sony is a technology company and Schneider loved technology.
A physically large person, Schneider could cut an intimidating figure. Of course, that would mean you were feeling intimidated by a giant Teddy bear, as Schneider possessed a cuddly personality that was universally liked by all those with whom he came into contact. Almost always smiling, Schneider’s loud, raspy laugh was highly contagious…resistance was futile.
The Greater Good
Schneider was highly opinionated…and passionate. This is a combination that could, at times, get him into trouble. But you always knew where he stood on a topic. Schneider was never duplicitous – it wasn’t in his DNA. He fought for what he believed in – and his motivation was never personal gain…but the greater good for his client or company. Even if you didn’t always agree with him, you knew his heart was in the right place.
Many people with whom he’s spoken often walked away thinking Schneider was an engineer. He was not. He was, however, an extremely intelligent and a highly gifted translator of technology for the common man. He had a knack for explaining topics in a non-judgmental, easy-to-grasp manner…with nary the slightest hint of condescension. Possessing an encyclopedic array of analogies and metaphors, Schneider didn’t just tell you about something – he verbally illustrated it in such a manner that you fully grasped its significance. And that instant, when your face lights up as you suddenly grasp the meaning of what he was sharing, gave him the greatest pleasure.
Committed to the Truth
What Schneider was not, was a smoke-and mirrors illusionist or trickster. Critical of sleazy and false “experts,” he was committed to the truth. When assigned a topic to write about, Schneider would engage in intense research – both in technical libraries, and with his extensive network of colleagues, of which many were engineers. In short order, he transformed himself into the industry’s leading expert on the topic – whatever it was.
As strong as his personal friendships were, Schneider often had a tenuous relationship with deadlines. Perhaps due to his penchant for extensive research – or always in pursuit of that last…perfect…interview, Schneider was almost always begging for an extension of the final deadline. Editors put up with this because, while his draft may come in a day late – it was almost always far superior, by a wide margin, than originally anticipated.
After leaving Sony, Schneider did stints at Onkyo, Marantz, and Adcom. He launched TechniCom in 1994.
Loved the Industry
Len loved the electronics industry and took every opportunity to attend as many industry events as possible. Especially when an industry trade show or meeting was in the New York Metro area, he was sure to be in attendance…with his quick smile and easy conversation.
There was a side of Schneider that many people did not know. Len was an avid gun enthusiast, for example. And, as you might suspect, he was technically very knowledgeable about wide variety of weapons. He was also, in the past, a student of the martial arts. In fact, it was during a martial arts training exercise when an accidentally misplaced blow permanently damaged his eyesight.
Len Schneider was 71 years old and leaves behind his partner, Carol Anderson; daughter Jess (Sean) Waters; son Aaron (Erin) Schneider; and five grandchildren.
The family has no plans for a funeral service at this time, but will hold a private gathering in the near future.
ON A PERSONAL NOTE
I have known Len Schneider personally since the 1980s and worked with him at Onkyo. Len was a true gentleman and one of my favorite go-to sources for technical stories or questions. After a long period of estrangement, we had recently – just a few short years ago – reestablished our friendship.
I will miss his wit and intellect…his quick, sometimes silly humor…and that goofy smile he would flash when he spied me in the room at an industry event.
May you rest in blissful peace my friend…