Sometimes a handshake changes a whole life—it establishes cooperation, a mutual plan, a friendship. Jaromir Tuzil looks back on his first encounter with Sennheiser and how he built up the sales of the brand in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. His story also centers around the audio industry in his home country, and the start of a very long friendship.
We call Jaromir Tuzil on a Monday. This is one of the days when he is at the Panter office in Prague. “Actually, it’s my daughters, my son-in-law and my nephew who take care of everything now. I just stop by every now and then, maybe about twice a week when I am needed. I guess you could say I’m semi-retired. While my wife Marta is writing reviews for classical concerts, I might do a recording every once in a while. But I only do it for friends, I’ve gradually given up my nomadic life in the industry,” he says.
Jaromir Tuzil’s story with Sennheiser began in 1964 at Czechoslovak Television (CST), as an OB van operator. Later, he was responsible for carrying out technical measurements and selecting microphones and magnetic tape recorders to be purchased by CST. In 1967, the President of the Bulgarian Communist Party Zivkov asked Czechoslovakia for help to put on a light and sound show, similar to the one he had seen at the pyramids during his state visit to Egypt. The task was handled by governmental agency Artcentrum, where Jaromir Tuzil planned and implemented the sound system at Veliko Tarnovo castle in the heart of historical Bulgaria. The show, which premiered in 1982, is—with a few alterations—still running today. From 1981, Tuzil represented Grundig, and later on also ITT and Panasonic Professional, and since 1988, he has represented Sennheiser, which is where he met Uwe Marks. In 1992, Jaromir Tuzil established his own company PANTER s.r.o. and it was Uwe Marks who told him that Professor Jörg Sennheiser would like to speak to him and had invited him to Sennheiser headquarters in Wedemark: Prof. Sennheiser asked him to take on responsibility for future sales in Czechoslovakia.
“Professor Sennheiser invited me in his office. He said to me: ‘I heard you want to do this for us. You know everything there is to know about the different products.’” Tuzil told him it would be an honor and requested some personalized Sennheiser stationery. “If it brings turnover, do it! I wish you every success.” And with that handshake, their partnership was concluded. Of course, there was also a contract. It was set out on a single page of A4 paper and did not change for many years. In fact, it was only increased to 48 pages when the contracts had to be amended and renewed a few years ago.
A lot has happened over three decades of loyal partnership. There were major collaborations like the Expo 2000, where the first flat screens were used. Music could be transformed through touch alone… Jaromir Tuzil was always fascinated by the details of the technical innovations. It was a passion he shared with Prof. Fritz Sennheiser. “We were both graduate engineers in acoustics and electrical engineering. Our conversations have never been what you would expect from businessmen. He and his wife Herta spent their 60th wedding anniversary with us exploring Prague, and even the younger generation of the Sennheiser family have been to visit.” There is only one family member who has not yet paid a visit. When Professor Jörg Sennheiser presented Jaromir Tuzil with the Sennheiser Chairman Award in Munich a few years ago, Tuzil asked him again: “When will you finally come to visit us in Prague?” And Prof. Jörg Sennheiser replied: “You know, I only come when there is a problem.” That speaks volumes about how successfully Panter has been representing the Sennheiser brand in the Czech Republic and Slovakia for the last thirty years. Nevertheless, the invitation from one friend to another still stands.