Meet the HARMAN Luxury Audio Team
Name: Dale Seidlitz Position/Job Title: Manager of Global Quality With HARMAN Since July 2018
With Meet The HARMAN Luxury Team, our goal is for you to get to know us better. Each edition we’ll be featuring a different member of the team, and this month it's Dale Seidlitz, Manager of Global Quality.
How would you describe what you do in your current role?
I take a great deal of pride in quality and my quality role. Simply put, my role is to make certain the customer never has a bad experience or a bad quality product. The customer experience starts at the design of the product and the development of each supplier. From that point forward, the quality is in the product or it is not. We work closely with our suppliers and manufacturing teams to make certain that every Mark Levinson product meets the highest quality standards before it ships. Quality has been my passion and my life for over 30 years. I have worked successfully with suppliers and manufactures around the world improving processing and quality for our customers. I love the quality role I am in — I love working with engineering, suppliers and manufacturing teams. Having a Black Belt in Six Sigma gives me a unique perspective of the quality processes when I am with our teams or suppliers, and allows me to expedite their quality improvements.
What did you study in school? Did you always imagine yourself doing something like what you’re doing now or did the fates just take you in that direction?
I guess it was fate and looking back, I am very happy about it. I studied Mechanics and Hydraulics in the military and applied them as a helicopter mechanic. For four years, I was part of the Presidential Helicopters, serving the end of President Carter’s administration and the beginning of President Reagan’s administration. I was one of many that flew to the White House on the Presidential Helicopter Marine One to meet the President and transport him where he needed to go. On all helicopters quality had to be perfect — there were too many lives at stake to take any shortcuts or not follow the exact procedures.
After leaving the military I went to work for Northrop Grumman. It was there that I started in quality, electronics and electronic manufacturing related to the B2 Stealth Bomber. At the time, it was a black world project. Years later, an industrial electronics manufacturing company recruited me on the East Coast, and I spent 15 years with them developing suppliers around the world. I was traveling 200-300 thousand air miles annually and after a number of years of it I was burned out.
How did your career path lead you to HARMAN?
I loved my previous company. I loved the people I worked with, but I had no home/work life balance. There were times I was home for 18 hours and heading back out to Asia or Europe for another two to three weeks. I walked away. I started my own consulting business and before I was even six months into it the HARMAN position came up. The core knowledge I have amassed the past thirty plus years in printed circuit boards and electronic assemblies, whether it is industrial electronics or audio electronics, made me a great fit. The concepts and the processes are the same. The criteria and the global standard of quality are the same. When I interviewed in Shelton and saw the Mark Levinson products for the first time, I could speak with the engineers about the board material, the plating type, the components they were using and why. I was able to ask technical questions and understand the answers because I had been in the electronic assembly business for a very long time. I understood the PCB process and industry and it was second nature to me.
What is the most important thing you have learned over your career?
Having had the opportunity to travel the world numerous times over many years, to meet many different people from all levels of society and life and develop friendships worldwide, I have had the pleasure of interacting with line workers to CEOs and business owners. I have learned patience. I have learned to listen to and allow a person to completely finish their thought and to clarify when it appears I might not understand. I have learned tolerance and I have learned to be nice to everyone I meet. We all have different roles on our team and just as in sports, there are the obvious heroes scoring the points and getting all of the attention, and then there are the unsung heroes, the support staff getting them there on each play. Great companies, great leaders and great people celebrate the entire team.
Any other advice you would offer people just starting out in this industry?
Never give up, never stop learning, never think you have seen it all and never ever guess on the root cause of a quality issue. Be nice to people — just being nice will get you further. When people tell you what the problem is, it is typically their opinion. It could be right but it is not data. Smile, do not argue and let the data prove what the data is, or is not. In the end the data is always right.
What are you most proud of in your life?
My work ethic, my problem-solving ability and patience. I grew up on a small dairy farm in Northern Wisconsin, which is still in the family after 115 years since its start. Growing up in the non-Google/Internet era, my father instilled in me patience and resourcefulness that were critical for fixing broken equipment and solving pretty much any problem. I apply those same lessons to my work and life today.
When did you first realize you had a passion for music or audio? Was there any one song, band or movie that did it for you?
From an early age, I was singing in the church choir and throughout high school in various different choral groups. I also played the trombone starting in middle school through high school playing in the jazz band and regular band. In 1972 at 11 years old, I bought my first 45-RPM and first record player with money I had saved. The 45 was "The Cover of the Rolling Stone" by Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show. I had heard it on the radio and I convinced my parents to let me buy it. The rest, as they say, is history. I now have a collection of 2,783 albums (according to my Excel spreadsheet) including the first album I ever purchased, and 3,283 CDs.
What gear are you rocking at home these days?
I have quite a few vintage receivers/amps that I have collected and use. I just purchased the new JBL L100 Classic speakers and the new JBL L82 speakers. I also have JBL L890 Studio speakers with a Techniques SL1200 turntable and a basic CD player. I really love the vintage look and feel of equipment.
What current technology impresses you the most?
I look forward to upgrading to Mark Levinson equipment at some point with some of the new ML No5000 series. It is beautiful and affordable. Having been part of the development, launch and build of these products, I am very proud to say the quality and engineering is fantastic. These paired with any of our Revel or JBL speakers will bring years of listening pleasure to anyone that buys them, and I intend to be a customer.
What's your favorite music genre?
Rock & Roll tops the list but honestly, I have a very eclectic taste in music and will listen to many different genres.
The desert island question of course. If you were marooned for eternity and could only listen to three albums, what would they be?
Eric Clapton, BB King - Riding with The King
The Devil Makes Three - I’m a Stranger Here
Rush - 2112
You have the floor. In closing, tell us anything else that you want to about yourself.
Life is short — enjoy it. Be nice to each other. Stress less, smile more. A friend once said to me, the best way to get someone to smile is to give him or her one. Lastly, take care of each other. We are all human. I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.