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William "Bill" Grommes 



Bill Grommes circa 1960's. 
1912-2001

     William "Bill" Grommes was born in Chicago in 1912.

     During the depression, Bill worked as an engineer at Radio Parts Company in Chicago. It was there that Bill met his future wife Esther and Al Hart

     By 1946, a man named Harold Freeman convinced Bill to take his experience and go into business together. After discussing this with Ester and Al Hart, he did--and Ester and Al Hart joined the team.

     Precision Electronics, Inc. was born.

     After a year and a half in business, it became clear the partnership between Bill and Harold was not equal. Harold agreed to be bought out and from that day forward the company name and reputation were built upon Grommes~Precision Electronics.

     Bill lead the company from designing test equipment such as signal tracers to pioneering high-fidelity with consumer audio equipment. By the 1950's Grommes was not only known for its high-end tube amplifiers, preamplifiers, and tuners, but also for its Little Genie amplifier kits which gave many future audio engineers their start.

     Between the 1950's and 1960's the company earned many awards (e.g. Pioneer of High Fidelity, Paris Fair, Growth in Export), was featured in many trade and general interest magazines (e.g. Playboy, Life, Esquire), and continued to garnish praises from its most important critics: its customers. 

     The company grew, and soon, to maintain the overall demand for its high-fidelity audio products, moved to a bigger factory outside of Chicago in Franklin Park. Over the next two decades, Grommes~Precision continued to grow, expanding its facilities twice and tripling its manufacturing capabilities.

     By the 1970's, overseas competition invaded the consumer electronic market. Most of Bill's friends and colleagues by that time had decided to sell their names to the foreign competition. Bill, however, was reluctant to sell the company.
Bill decided to stay by the company he had started and the employees he had come to know as family. He discovered that overseas competition lacked the quality and durability to meet and exceed commercial paging demands and lead the company, under the name Precision Electronics, into that market.

     He continued to be active in the company daily until he went into semi-retirement in 1987. However, he would oftentimes come in to the office to assist in matters and spend time with Al and other employees. He believed Grommes~Precision had evolved into something much more than just a business--it had evolved into a community of friends and family. Indeed, the loyalty of many of its key personnel stemmed from this feeling. As late as 1996, four of the first five people who started with the company at its creation were still working with the company or remained with the company until retirement. Bill was especially pleased to see the third generation take the helm starting in the 1990's.

     On June 26, 2001, Bill's wife, co-owner, and fellow employee, Esther passed away. Five months later, on November 24, 2001, at the age of 89, William "Bill" Grommes joined his late wife. 



Chicago Mayor Daley (left) presenting Bill Grommes (right) and Grommes~Precision with a Pioneer in High Fidelity Award.

 

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