You Were Buying Bob Hallenbeck

Equipment salesman sold more than equipment
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Well-known Gates/Harris broadcast equipment salesman Bob Hallenback passed away on June 6. Bill Bingham attended the funeral on Thursday and gave us these thoughts on his return. Hal Kneller contributed his thoughts here.

I feel honored and privileged to have known Bob Hallenbeck for over 50 years.

I first met Bob when I was a new upstart in the industry back in 1960. Bob was already well established as a “salesman” for the Gates Radio Company, having started with them around 1954. His reputation was well known.

I soon learned that Bob was not just a salesman. He was more of a “one-stop” source of technical service to the radio broadcast industry. Bob’s love for the industry was more technical than sales. He loved to “fix” things, and he loved to “build” things.

When you purchased equipment from Bob, you also got a wealth of technical support for no extra cost. If you had a technical breakdown, he was there to help fix it 24/7. It did not matter whether it was nights, weekends, or holidays. He was there

When he sold you new equipment, he was often there to help you install it or get it up and running.

I remember one station that had a fire in the middle of the night and burned to the ground. Bob was there the next day, before the fire department left. He arrived, not with an order pad, but in his work clothes and tool kit to help get some type of emergency facility back on the air. The equipment sale would come later.

Although his job was to sell new equipment, if you were on a tight budget he could help fill in many blanks with good used equipment. With his many accounts, he always seemed to know who had unused equipment in a back room that could often be purchased to fill in the blanks.

His “Little Black Book” had a wealth of names that one could call for many specialty services. If you had a need for a specific technical specialty, he had a name to call.

If a station was looking for a new engineer, or an engineer was looking for a job, Bob could usually find a fit.

When he sold equipment, he could recommend the right equipment for your application. He would also tell you what equipment was not a good fit and talk you out of it.

It was pretty much that you didn’t specifically buy “Gates or Harris,” you bought Bob Hallenbeck and the equipment was the bonus.

Bob regarded his customers, not as clients, but as “friends”.

His sales were always phenomenal and I don’t believe that he ever missed a quota.

I agree with Hal Kneller that he also had a few quirks, which we all used to joke about.

I remember many years ago when I first learned to fly. Bob told me that there were three things that he always wanted to do. He wanted to learn to play the organ. He wanted to obtain a ham radio license, and he wanted to learn to fly. For Christmas, that year, I gave him a gift certificate for an introductory flight lesson. Some time later, I was at his house and saw the gift certificate. It was framed and hung on his dining room wall.

Bob was an avid collector of ham radio equipment. He described to me one time a new radio that he had purchased and all of the features that it had. When I asked him how many contacts he had made, he told me that he had not unpacked the microphone!

I believe that he only made one ham contact. That was with his friend Paul Willey in North Adams, Mass. Paul had called him by phone and asked him to turn his radio on and they had one contact.

I always considered Bob to be one of my best friends and can fondly remember many, many stories featuring him. I will never forget Bob.