Hey Bose Man

Amar Bose first got acquainted with electronics while working in his father's basement shop in Philadelphia, PA in the 1940's. He took this burgeoning interest to Massachusetts Institute of Technology where he earned his Bachelor's, Master's and Doctoral degrees in Electrical Engineering. He was additionally a Fulbright Scholar at India's National Physical Laboratory in New Delhi. All during the nine years of studies, continuing into his Assistant Professorship at his alma mater in 1957, and on into his Associate Professor position in 1960, he nurtured a nagging concern over the complex engineering of audio sound producing such miserable quality. He would work until after midnight enjoying every drip of that candle burning at both ends.

He saved his $ 10K teacher's salary to seed his startup company, Bose Corporation in 1964 with the help of friends -- who pitched in another 70 thousand dollars. He hired his fellow electrical engineering student, Sherwin Greenblatt, now the company president, and one could say that from their first customer, the United States Army, buying an high-powered amplifier, to today's 1.2 billion dollars worth of sales, it was one heck of an investment.

Of course, part of the reason that this company succeeds, which sold its first home stereo loudspeakers in 1968, made live performance pro musicians' loudspeakers in 1972, and custom installed automobile systems around 1980, was because -- all research comes from profits recycled back into the company. This company will not go public even after this founder retires, so states Amar, as he is interested in founding an institute composed of graduate students developing lab work that stresses lucid mental capacities rather than just factual renderings.

Even though the whiteboard in his office, which is at the top of headquarters "The Mountain," is full of equations and formulas that are representative of his motto "Better sound through research," he admits that this growth and prosperity would not have come without intelligent marketing. They have used door-to-door salesmen, and direct mail (selling the extremely demanded "Bose Wave Radio for $ 349.) But, the company, which used to sell a speaker that used the room as part of its sounding board, now can use retail demonstrations to promote their unique acoustic qualities like the "Reveal" show. Customers are introduced to what looks like a leviathan of a cabinet -- only to have the salesmen -- in a scene reminiscent of the curtain falling on the Wizard of Oz, remove the fake cover that was hiding six inch cube speakers that were responsible for providing the spectacular sound.

His son, Vanu, has the same degrees excepting his Doctorate is for Computer Science. He says he learned more from on hand situational experience at the Bose plant during summer break than from a whole term at college. Now his Vanu Incorporated software radio - standardizes cell phones, Palm Pilots, other PDA's, and pagers harmoniously. Perhaps he was smart, too, learning from Father, not to sell the business, or sell stock in his creation, resisting the temptation that others did with their ISO's. Even though he has only 21 employees to his father's 7000, 700 of which are engineers and another 10 percent of those are Research and Development, Vanu has that same long term commitment to develop technologies in the future: "Everything here is about research and innovation."

Source: IndUS Business Journal, December 2001.

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