Someone once asked Albert Von Schweikert what advice he would have for someone thinking about getting into the speaker business. His advice was to find someone with about $2 million to invest. Without it, he said, it would simply take too long to get things going and you would likely fail.
I hadn't read his comments when we started building speakers. If I had, I don't know if we would have tried to establish our business.
About a year into it, I received an order for a pair of SongTowers and we started work on them. About two weeks later, I got a call from the customer saying he had just seen another speaker model on our website and wanted to know how they would compare. It was unfortunate, he said, that he couldn't listen to them to make a comparison. I asked where he lived since it might have been possible to arrange an audition with an owner. He indicated he lived in an area that wasn't likely to have many audiophiles so that an audition probably wasn't a possibility.
I asked him again where he lived. "Waterford, Michigan," he said. I asked what he was doing in about 10 minutes since that was about how close he was to our shop in Pontiac. That was the beginning of a great friendship.
Eric never had much money. As a young man, he worked long hours for little pay as a roadie for Bob Seger. When it was time to settle down, Eric decided to take over his father's greenhouse business. That, again, meant very long hours for very little pay. Nearly every penny he earned went back into his greenhouse business.
About the time we met him, the county approached him wanting the land his greenhouse occupied for expansion of a county park. Eventually he agreed on a price and sold his business. Unfortunately, at about that same time, he was diagnosed with throat cancer. He always commented that he spent his entire life without money and now that he had it, he no longer had his health. And of the two, health was obviously more important.
Being retired, he had time on his hands and every once in a while stopped by the shop just to visit and see what we were doing. One day he asked me how we were doing. I told him that this was a very tough business and I didn't know how things would work out long term.
A few days later, Eric called asking for our bank account information. He said he wanted to make a deposit for another pair of speakers. At the time, I thought that was a bit strange since we just finished a pair for him. But we needed the work, so I gave him the information he requested.
Later that day, my curiosity got the best of me and I checked our bank account. There was a $30,000 deposit from Eric Ernst.
I immediately called Eric to ask what in the world he was doing. He said he loved what we were doing and had a lot of faith in us personally. He thought the money would be more useful to us than to him.
I don't know if we would be here today were in not for Eric and his generous loan in those early days.
Eric moved to Las Vegas after retirement, but would call every once in a while just to chat. In a conversation a few weeks ago, he indicated to me that he was no longer living, but merely existing. I think we both knew it would be our final conversation.
Yesterday I got a call from Eric's wife. Eric passed away on Monday. It was sad news indeed.
A few months ago, Eric shipped some of his speakers to us to sell. He didn't want his wife to have to deal with them when he was gone. There is a listing on the "Available for Immediate Delivery" for a pair of Silk Monitors and matching 12" Rythmik subwoofer in some really nice block mottled makore. They are still available. We also have a pair of on-wall HT1's done in tineo that I have not listed yet.
Hopefully those will sell soon so I can send the funds to Eric's wife.
All I can say at this point is, Eric, we will miss you. Hopefully the sounds you are hearing now are the songs of the angels my friend. RIP.