This profile originally appeared in the February/March 2019 issue of WiFi HiFi Magazine.
If someone had suggested back in the ‘90s that I would be writing a positive profile on my assassin, I would have laughed out loud. He was sent to terminate my former company's contract with one of our biggest brands. But here I am doing just that, and it speaks to the character of this man.
Walter Moser is General Manager, Canada for Sound United. Amongst other things, he is responsible for the Denon, Marantz, Polk Audio, and Definitive Technology brands in this country.
He didn't intend to be in the audio business. Walter embarked on a four-year path studying Architectural Drafting at Toronto's Bathurst Heights School. While doing his internship, a Scotsman named Robert Rennie changed his path. "Robert said he had an opportunity he thought I might enjoy with the North York Board of Education." The course was to prepare Walter as an AV Technician. He graduated in 1967. "I was a student in June. In September, I was walking into the teacher's lounge as staff."
Three years later, Walter was recruited by the Toronto Board of Education. There, he opened up a tender looking for portable cassette decks. "The guys from Radio Shack came in and told me they wanted me to run one of their four new locations in Toronto. Then, only a year later, I departed with a number of other employees."
He got married and left the industry, but soon was drawn back and began working at Sound Center in Ajax, ON where he met owner, Rudy Van der Vecht. "I decided to go to Centennial College full time for three years while still holding down my work with Sound Center. Rudy asked me to be his partner. I answered, ‘We can either be partners or remain best friends.' I opted for the best friend."
Then, Walter called Richard Brack. At the time, Brack Electronics was one of the most prominent AV specialists in Toronto. In his first phone conversation, Richard asked who Walter was, and Walter answered, "I'm the man you need." Richard hired him. There he played many management roles, including rolling out the chain of Compu Electronics stores, and running Fairview Electronics' 900 Albion Rd. location.
In 1984, Walter went on the road as a rep in Toronto and Western Ontario. "Along with other brands, I represented Bose right after Bose had departed from Robar to go direct." Then, Walter got a call from Bose recruitment. "I spoke to Larry Russell and flew down to Bose to meet with Paul Olean, director of sales for the Americas. I was so proud that I had gone back to school at age 30 and I talked about what I learned in school. I will never forget his response. ‘Walter, I'm not hiring you for what you know, I'm hiring you for what you can do.' An AHA! moment." Walter became the eastern Canadian manager and worked with pro sound through the Olympics, holding trainings all over the country, and starting the residential systems portfolio. "We had a great run. In 1984, you could actually talk to Amar Bose. But having doubled from $400 million in sales to $800 million in eight years, by 1992, life at Bose had changed."
After a two-year tenure as the general manager for the Communications Division of Bosch (Blaupunkt Car Audio and Cellular), Walter received a call from a man he'd known from his eight years with Bose, Jim Herd. Jim had just joined Polk. Evolution Audio had grown Polk for 14 years and now Jim felt it was time to set up direct in Canada and go beyond the independents, just as Bose had. "I joined Polk and continue to manage the brand to this day."
Walter has a habit of working Sundays, but some weekend time is devoted to his passion for automobiles. He has an ‘84 VW Cabrio which has been tuned, and last year, he bought an ‘03 Mustang that's never been rained on. He has raced his cars, too. In 1985, respected speaker engineer, Derek Hansen started DECH Motorsports. "He used to rebuild Mustangs before Saleen did it. And he really tweaked the cars. I went out to Shannonville and took the Spenard-David course. I did some lapping there in my 1984 Dodge Omni GLH. Not a lot of power, but a lot of fun. That thing would turn in like you wouldn't believe. Then I went to a Shelby, and then a Saab, which was a mistake. Then I got a Shadow which was the best car I took to the track. We stopped racing in 1992, but I'm still a motorsports fan." That same year, Walter got into spending time on two wheels and became a keen cyclist. "I'm still an avid rider. And I have another passion: I love great wine."
Favourite weekend activity? "Depends on the season, but typically visiting friends and family." Walter has a large family, including four kids between the ages of 40 and 46, and nine grandkids.
"I'm blessed to be in the industry I'm in. It's so much fun. How many people get the chance to go through their career playing with toys? To this day, I still go into my basement and turn the lights off and listen for an hour at a time. But in the end, it is the relationships with great people that has kept me in this business." Even as the guy who took the bullet, I couldn't agree more.