Remembering Phil Hildrow
Tuesday, 13 April 2021
phphotoPhil Hildrow made a lasting impression on those who met or knew him
UK - The music industry has sadly lost another character with the passing of Phil Hildrow, an archetypal salesman, charmingly personable, slightly risqué loveable rogue. Phil died earlier this month, aged 75.
During the ‘70s Phil worked for PACE-MM who pioneered the “cheap but serviceable” mixing consoles which launched the careers of so many bands on the pub circuits of the UK.
The UK’s dominance in this market led to growing demand for ‘Made in GB’ products across mainland Europe. So, sensing the untapped potential for sales, Phil set off with a demo MM mixer in the boot of his trusty blue Vauxhall Cavalier to call on the music shops on the other side of the Channel and take orders, preferably large ones, prepaid.
This launched Phil’s new love of travel, which along with his love of football and family stayed with him for life.
Early in the ‘80s the music industry innovators around Cambridge turned their attention to developing computers with varying results. Phil moved from MM to Harrison before settling with C Audio - an offshoot of MM-PACE.
At the end of the decade, he and fellow international salesman Hans Freytag engineered the buyout of C Audio which over the next five years they built into the largest European manufacturer of power amplifiers. At the same time they had a side project - manufacturer repping firm TCI, which was breaking brands into the European market, including EAW, Samson, Metro and ARX. Managing and growing their established distributor networks helped to grow their international presence and allowed plenty of opportunity for foreign travel.
By the mid ‘90s Phil and Hans could see the growing importance of mass production techniques and the introduction of DSP as the power amp industry moved towards the ‘dollar a watt’ era.
The writing was on the wall for the traditional way C Audio manufactured their reliable built-like-a-brick product ranges. However, the leading market position they had achieved ensured that C Audio proved an enticing target for two major industry conglomerates who lacked amplifiers lines.
Eventually, C Audio was sold to Harman in 1996 and Phil stayed on (despite yearning for a quieter life) overseeing the company's move to a large new factory in St Albans, where the brand was fully integrated into the Harman Pro-Audio portfolio. Phil wasn't made for corporate life, so he made his exit.
After his time at Harman, Phil maintained an interest in St Neots-based company Lightmasters, an audio, lighting and video installer in the fitness club and discotheque markets. He enjoyed his retirement from ‘front line’ sales by concentrating on his family and his ever-growing passion for Indian cuisine.
A true character, Phil made a lasting impression on those who met or knew him. His generosity of spirit, good humour and a passion to take care of those around him meant that many in the industry considered him not only as a colleague, but as a lifelong friend.
Phil will be missed by the large number of people whose lives he touched and especially by his close friends and family.

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