Respected Industry Veteran Graham Hallett Dies

Held Top Positions at Harman Kardon, Xantech, McIntosh and in the Hearts of His Many Friends

Photo of Graham Hallett

I have sad news to report today as respected audio industry veteran Graham Hallett died last Friday, March 8th, after a battle with cancer. Hallett was 73 years old and passed away peacefully, surrounded by his beloved family.

See more on the passing of Graham Hallett…

Although he started out life in England, Graham Hallett enjoyed a nearly 40-year career in the consumer electronics industry here in North America, with a path that took him far and wide around the industry, accumulating a huge network of colleagues and friends in the process. Thanks to his sharp intellect, quick wit, and his magnetic “people-person” personality – Graham held top spots as a President or a Board of Directors member with many of the industry’s top company’s, such as Harman Kardon, Xantech, McIntosh, Onkyo, and more.

With a gregarious, outgoing personality, Graham was almost always smiling and often laughing. He was quick with a joke, but watch could often be a wickedly sarcastic one, as Brits are wont to do.

A Great Teller of Stories…Often with Emerging Lessons

Early photo of Graham Hallett

Graham was also a great storyteller, often regaling his colleagues with long, winding stories…but stories weaved in a strategist’s way in which a deeper meaning is revealed in an often surprise ending. And that ending usually carried an important lesson.

Using the Socratic method, he also was expert at guiding by questions those who reported to him, leading them to reconsider what they were doing and to tap into a smarter strategy – rather than to simply repeat a process they were taught as “the way things are done around here.” This could often lead to an epiphany for that employee, who realized that Graham saw something in them – a little something extra that they brought to the table – that they themselves often didn’t realize existed.

To the employee, Graham was empowering them in new and exciting ways; to Graham, he was simply revealing the unique characteristic they had all along. Many of these employees considered him a mentor for the remainder of their careers.

Brief Meeting…Lasting Friendship

I personally had the opportunity to work with Graham for what would end up being – through no fault of his own – a short stint at Onkyo. From him I learned some of what would become my favorite expressions…”This is not a hill to die on,” or “He’s a ‘Hail fellow well met.'” Somehow, they always sounded more thoughtful coming from him than from me. “Of course,” Graham once told me. “Because Americans think every time us Brits talk, we’re speaking Shakespeare,” he said with a wink and a laugh.

Graham first came to the U.S. in the 1990’s after an 11-year stint as President of Gould Marketing, a Canadian distributor of consumer electronics products. His first role here in the U.S. was as the President of Harman International Industries’ Harman Kardon brand. After HK (and his short Onkyo stint), Graham landed what I think must have been a really exciting role for him – as President of McIntosh Labs in Binghamton, NY. Although he wasn’t an audiophile in the classical definition of one, he was a “brand-ophile” and McIntosh was a prestigious brand he had long respected.

The Logical Path from Pharmacy to Audio

From there, he launched Strategus, his consulting company whose name was designed to connote his expertise in business strategy. Ironically, in England, Graham was at the University of Manchester studying Pharmacy. But once he got hooked on the audio business here in the U.S., he earned a diploma in Business Management from McGill University and traded chemical formulations for electronic specifications.

Graham went on in 2005 to become a board member for Audio ReQuest, leaving there to become President of Xantech Corp. in 2007. Since then, he had a series of advisory roles with multiple other companies who became clients of Strategus.

The Hallett family: Gillian, Andrew, Kit, Graham and Joanna Clare [Photo: Facebook]

A Close and Loving Family

While Graham certainly has developed many friendships in his successful work life, he was even more blessed with a close and loving family. He spoke often of his family – of his wife Gillian, whom he called Jill and with whom he shared 43 years…and so intensely proud of all of his children – sons Christopher (Kit) and Andrew – and daughter Joanna. Although his job often took him on long road trips, he always looked forward to going home to reconnect with his family.

In reviewing the Facebook pages of the various Hallett family members, the concern, respect, and love they feel for each other is clearly evident. And the joy they took in each other’s company was equally crystal clear.

Private Service is Today; Larger Memorial in Planning

I spoke briefly with Graham’s younger son Andrew who told me the family is having a small, immediate family-only, private service today in California. He says they are in the very early stages of planning a memorial service for Graham, tentatively scheduled for April. I will update this post when their plans have been finalized.

For now, they are still dealing with the shock of their loss, so we will stand by for more information later.

From my perspective, and the perspective of the children he left behind, we didn’t just lose a father…we also lost a best friend.

Andrew Hallett

Share Your Remembrances of Graham Hallett

Did you know Graham Hallett? Share your stories, memories, and thoughts about him in the Comments below. Whether funny or poignant, let us all hear about the Graham Hallett you knew.

Over the years, many families have shared with me how much they have been touched as they read the stories about their lost loved ones in the comments left on my stories of their passing. They are familiar with the home life, but don’t always know just how important, appreciated, and respected their family member was in their work life.

About Ted

A sales and marketing specialist - primarily in the technology industry - I've experienced a sort of "circle of life" in business. I've been a mass merchant retailer, a specialty retailer, a specialty manufacturer, a large volume manufacturer, a distributor, and even represented sales representatives. Now the owner of a marketing company that works with a variety of businesses on improving their strategic marketing and business development - I analyze issues from all angles to develop holistic solutions.


Respected Industry Veteran Graham Hallett Dies — 8 Comments

  1. I was truly brokenhearted when I learned of Graham’s passing. He fought it out with cancer last year and even though he was still sick he took the time to come to CEDIA to see his friends and I am so glad we got to spend some time together at the show.

    Graham knew that I am a Tour de France junkie. I watch it religiously every July. One early Saturday morning I get a call from Graham. For Graham to call on Saturday there must be an issue so I answer it. He called to tell me that he was vacationing in the south of France and the Tour just went by his hotel room window. Not sure what is more remarkable, the fact that he remembered that I love the Tour or that he thought to call me from France. I still have the hat he brought me back.

    I consider Graham one of my mentors and true friend. He taught me many lessons over the years. I will miss him dearly.

    My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.

  2. Graham was my boss when we were both at Harman Kardon and it is sad to hear of his passing. He was a (usually) calm, reasoned person to work for. Over the years I worked for more than a few Presidents of HK, and he was one of the best. He will be missed.

  3. I am profoundly saddened to have received the news of Graham’s death earlier this week. Graham was truly a man of good character and infinitely respected by all I know who speak of him. Peace to his family and closest loved ones.

  4. Ted, thank you for such a moving notice. You captured Graham perfectly. I had the honor of working with him three times over a 20 year period. In fact, he had to fire me the first time and I still went back twice after that, he was that great a friend and leader.

    Since “Americans think every time us Brits talk, we’re speaking Shakespeare” was one of his classic comments, I’ll embarrass him by wishing here that “flights of angels sing thee to thy rest” and look forward to him giving me grief about it on the Other Side someday.

  5. Graham was not just one of my favorites in our industry, he was one of my favorite people in the world. My husband and I considered him a dear friend and he will be so very missed.

  6. I had the pleasure of working for Graham at Xantech Corporation and I have to say that he was one of my most favorite bosses. Since Mark Cerasuolo mentioned the “Shakespeare” talk, it reminded me of the first time Graham called me into his office to chew me out about something that had happened. The whole time that I was listening to him I wondered whether he was offering guidance or reprimanding me. When he was done, I said, “did you just chew me out? to which he responded while looking over the top of his glasses “Bloody Hell Mr. Mosandl, what is wrong with you?” I told Graham that that was the most eloquent reprimand that I had ever received. Rest in Peace my friend. You left your mark on everyone you met. A truly Class Act.

  7. I am deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Graham who was a dear friend, industry colleague and fellow countryman. Graham and I enjoyed a relationship and friendship that spanned thirty years and involved many companies.

    We first met in 1988 when he was with Gould in Montreal and took on the Tera line of televisions with his typical enthusiasm AND optimism!!! Persons familiar with the industry at that time will understand my use of exclamation marks regarding the early use and connection of the word optimism with the televisions produced by Tera!!!

    Nonetheless the problems of Tera did not spoil our friendship nor our relationship and we jointly connected with many other companies over the years including Knoll, Xantech, Sherbourn and of course McIntosh.

    Graham was always a model of ethical behavior and straight talking. He liked to raise a toast whenever we had the opportunity to clink glasses together and say ‘here’s to us, of whom it has been said, there are not many!!’

    He and his lovely and loyal wife Gillian and his whole family are truly in my thoughts and prayers at this sad time.

    Ron Fone

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