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60-Second Interview: TJ Smith, Harman Pro

Harman Professional Signal Processing Business Unit

Harman Professional Signal Processing Business Unit

Q: What is your new position, and what does it entail?

A: My new position is General Manager of Harman Professional’s Signal Processing Business Unit. This essentially means that I oversee day-to-day business as well as strategic direction pertaining to the BSS, dbx, Lexicon, and DigiTech brands. In addition, I continue to oversee our China and India engineering operations at a strategic level.

Q: How has your background prepared you for your new role?

A: I’ve had the privilege of serving in many different roles at Harman. I started out with Harman as an amplifier engineer at Crown over 13 years ago. From there, I took an assignment in China to setup the Shenzhen Design Center. These experiences taught me how to deploy a diverse and geographically disperse engineering team to execute on new product developments, as well as how to successfully work with a Contract Manufacturing base. With the success of the Shenzhen Design Center and the emergence of China as a key market for Harman, my assignment grew over four years into managing all of Harman Professional’s business activities in China. I was quickly thrust into a marketing and sales management role. Fortunately, our distribution structure in China with ACE is top notch and I was able to focus on fine-tuning and learning how to manage sales. These experiences have put me in a unique place to support the growth of our Signal Processing brands (BSS, dbx, Lexicon and DigiTech) through new product development throughout the world. My international experience has given me a unique view of our sales channels and how we can better serve our customers.

Q: What new marketing initiatives are we likely to see?

A: You are going to see these four brands (BSS, dbx, Lexicon and DigiTech) pivot hard toward our customers. We are going to dig in and understand how we can help our customers grow their business as individual brands and as a component of Harman’s portfolio. This is especially important in the installation market, where our customers have made significant infrastructure and training investments in Harman. We’ll be providing new tools, new products and higher levels of support going forward.

Q: What are your short- and long-term goals?

A: Short term, we are all about new products. Many of our brands have not seen a new product in far too long. That is about to change in a big way. Longer-term, I would like to see this business unit strengthen its installation vertical market focus and support of all Harman brands in this area. Signal Processing serves many vertical markets, but we need to improve our organizational discipline and execution in installation.

Q: What is the greatest challenge that you face?

A: The Professional Audio Signal Processing market is crowded and seems to see new entrants every day. Many of these competitors are formidable. I think our biggest challenge is keeping our eyes on the customer and off the rearview mirror.