i3 - November/December 2020 - 10

Tech

growth without taking a penny from outside
investors. Furthermore, we have not had
bank debt for decades. Achieving this took
tremendous financial discipline over many,
many years. However, it allows me to make
decisions which are in the very best longterm interest of our customers, employees
and vendor partners.

Q What technology areas do you
find exciting?

A Personally, I am very interested in con-

sumer electronic health products. With
the aging population, the sophistication of
smartphones and different technologies
coming together, I think consumer health products will
become bigger. My father
was a doctor and I am on
the board of the University
of Virginia Health System so
medicine is an area that I am
very interested in.

Q What are your thoughts on brick-and-

mortar stores?
A I believe that brick-and-mortar stores will
always be critical to retail. However, this
channel needs to be reinvented for the postpandemic world.

Q Do you see electric or self-driving

vehicles as a business opportunity?
A Not in the short run. I am waiting for
more EV OEMs to enter the market to see
how Crutchfield can take advantage of any
potential opportunities.

Q How are you preparing for the
holiday season?

A We have a tremendous amount of
merchandise on order. We are increasing
our workforce by 25% and we have reengineered our two distribution centers to
double our package throughput.

Q What are the biggest policy issues

for the industry?
A Manufacturers need to find ways to
become less dependent on traditional
supply chains. They will also need to ensure
that their products are supported by high
quality, 21st century specialty retailers.
Brick-and-mortar retailers need to find ways
to respond to the dramatic shift to online
sales. Online retailers will need to find ways
to ensure that this surge in sales does not
compromise their service quality. And all of
10

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2020

i3_1120_08-10_Tech_Innovator.indd 10

us need to respond to the
realities of political polarization. We will need to be
nimble enough to respond
to dramatic swings in public policy.

My 'Job #1'
is managing
the organizational culture defined
by our core
values.

Q Do you have advice for entrepreneurs?
A My most important advice is that they
establish a strong set of core values around
which all their company's actions are based.
My "Job #1" is managing the organizational
culture defined by our core values. Decision
making based on good data and careful
analysis is critically important. However,
there are times when it is necessary to follow one's gut instincts. Many of my most
consequential decisions have been counter
intuitive. It is interesting to note that formal
business education has grown exponentially
over the past 40 years. It typically teaches
the science of business management. It is
also interesting to note that business formation is at the lowest level in 40 years. This
dichotomy may result from my belief that
too little is taught about the art of business
management. Companies led by leaders
who understand both the art and science of
business are the most successful.
Entrepreneurs need to be very frugal.
A heavy dependence of investor and
bank financing can come at a large cost.
Crutchfield's sales should exceed $400
million in 2020. We have accomplished this

Q What issues
concern you?

A I worry about the deficit.

It concerns me that we
are going so far into debt
as a country but on the
other hand, if interest
rates remain low as the Federal Reserve
indicates they will, it's not as big of an
issue. I am certainly concerned about the
political polarization in this country. I am
concerned that we have media that feed
this polarization. We have unconventional
news outlets - some so conservative they
make Fox News look liberal and some so
liberal they make MSNBC look conservative. My biggest concern is how people
are getting honest information. I am afraid
that so much distorted information is being
electronically communicated.

Q How do you prepare for
"unknown" events?

A I am very optimistic about the future.

Americans are very resilient people. We
always emerge from troubled times stronger. However, we must bravely adapt to
what will surely be a new world. I prepare for
"unknown" events by ensuring that my company remains financially strong and staffed
with very bright people who embrace our
core values. And I am always anticipating
the unexpected. That may come from my 58
years of flying airplanes.
I T I S I N N O VAT I O N

10/23/20 12:28 PM



i3 - November/December 2020

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