Lessons (and laughs) from the Odd Couple of business

May 11, 2008

The world (well, the Globe and Mail at least) is suddenly hot for Clairtone, Kickstart contributor Peter Munk and David Gilmour’s starburst of a hi-fi business from the 1960’s.

Since the release of Nina Munk and Rachel Gotlieb’s The Art of Clairtone, a book about the company’s remarkable design innovations in the heyday, Gordon Pitts has been running a series of excellent retrospective stories. This time, Pitts sits down with Munk and Gilmour 55 years after their relationship first blossomed, and asks them to comment on their longstanding friendship (Partnership is a lot like marriage — the financial stresses, all too close for comfort, the competitive nature,” Mr. Gilmour observes. Then he turns to his friend Mr. Munk and quips: “But in a marriage, at least there is sex to make it up.”), their past mistakes (Gilmour: “Chance favours those who are prepared. There are five elements to running a business — design, marketing plan, people, finance and production. When you are in your 20s, you can lose sight of those things. What Peter did brilliantly, after Clairtone, was that we always entered the next business with a flawless plan.”) and success (Munk: “I wouldn’t call Clairtone unsuccessful, because it achieved more than many more businesses that were classified as successful. It created products, it created a Canadian awareness. Finance isn’t the only criterion on which to judge a human activity.”) Give it a read.

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