During the last 25 years, Everett Watts has been the voice of HARMAN Professional Solutions for more than 64,000 customers. As a lifelong electronics tinkerer and a Technical Solution Specialist for JBL Professional in Northridge, California, Everett possesses an encyclopedic knowledge of the inner-workings of thousands of products that span 70 years of the JBL brand.
Perhaps Everett is best known as the amiable voice on the other end of the phone when someone needs help with a piece of equipment. He is often the person who replies by email when someone can’t remember which switch to flick or what gauge cable to use.
“I’m the support specialist for anything with the JBL Professional logo on it, and we receive approximately 300–500 inquiries a month,” said Everett. “That includes any passive speakers, all the powered speakers and even amplifiers that have a JBL Professional logo.”
“There are about 350 HARMAN warranty stations in the United States. I support those techs and, in many cases, end users,” he said. “The bench techs are very well trained and savvy, but if they run into a problem, they contact me and I troubleshoot the issue for them. If someone calls with a question about a speaker that is 50 years old, I can usually answer it. If not, it may take some digging, but I’ll find what they need. That’s what I do; I solve problems. It can be for someone working on a car or home audio system, in a studio or at a stadium concert. I hear from all of them.”
What strikes you first about Everett is how perfectly suited he is for his job—friendly, focused and deeply committed to helping others. His sense of commitment, however, is not exclusive to his 8–5 job.
For nearly as long as Everett has worked at HARMAN, he has been part of the company’s volunteer committee, providing audio gear, donating his time to set up and run PA systems and encouraging employee involvement in numerous charitable events. For 15 years, he has participated in the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life in nearby Santa Clarita.
“My mother died of cancer, so the event is really personal to me,” he said. “Another one of our big events at HARMAN is the annual Great Strides walk for Cystic Fibrosis. We also support the C.A.T.S. program for abused women and children at Northridge Hospital Medical Center. On my own, I attend committee meetings for the C.A.T.S. program and provide the audio for an annual comedy fundraiser. If there is anything they need, I am always ready to help. It’s really important to me to give back.”
Everett’s relationship with HARMAN began 10 years before he officially started working at the company. “Being here is much more than just a work thing,” said Everett. “It’s been a family thing for a very long time. My parents had a business called Watts Electronics that made all the transformers for UREI [United Recording Electronic Industry]. At the time, UREI built amplifiers, preamps and equalizers for JBL Professional as an OEM [original equipment manufacturer] vendor. My mother was in charge of the transformer department and started the HARMAN Motive amplifier lines. Then I came onboard, working for facilities, as a bench tech and service manager for the Teletronix line until HARMAN bought the company and changed its name to HARMAN Electronics.”
Everett and his mother, Manette Watts, moved to HARMAN’s Northridge campus. Manette became the supervisor for Chrysler and Ford’s car audio amplifier lines, and Everett worked in tech support for HARMAN Electronics until he transferred to JBL Professional a few years later.“There were about 120 of us that came from UREI, and I’m the last one here,” said Everett. “HARMAN has always been at the cutting edge of technology and that, more than anything, is what has kept me here,” he said. “I’m always learning something new. The other thing is that a lot of cool, intelligent people work here!”
Of eight children, Everett was the only one to follow his parents’ path into electronics. “Our dad had a shop in the garage, and after school, I’d sit on his lap to watch him work,” he said. “I’m pretty much self-taught, but have been around electronics my whole life. Before I graduated high school, I was a technician and roadie for a band called Gold, an offshoot of Iron Butterfly. I have a son who is 35 and an officer in the Army, working in communications. I guess you could say he’s the third generation of Watts in electronics.”
When not at work, Everett and his wife (who he met at HARMAN) are passionate about working on the elaborate koi and frog pond they built in their backyard. “I have wanted a pond since I was a kid. It has always been my fantasy, and I finally have a house with enough space for one,” he said.
A roller skater since he was five years old, Everett went pro at 19 and still enjoys skating on his driveway. “Besides skating, I also do a lot of hiking,” he said. “I’ve slowed down a little because the pond takes so much of my time, but I’ve hiked Mount Whitney and did a three-day hike from Yosemite to Mammoth with some friends from work.”
Everett also maintains a side business in sound reinforcement and electronics. “I have my own sound rig that I rent out and do a little mixing now and then. I also do prototyping, mainly working on a lot of old tube stuff. I have friends who are engineers who design tube amps. They give me the schematic and all the parts, and I build the amp for them. It keeps me busy!”
Many thanks to Everett for sharing his insights and remarkable generosity with the HARMAN community and beyond!