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SCN Hall of Fame 2019: Sam Malik

Sam Malik’s favorite airplane seat is 12C. “I like the aisles and I can get off the plane quickly to catch my next flight or get out to the customer,” said Malik, who has logged 3.4 million flight miles in the last 20 years.

For Malik, his job in the AV industry is all about the customer. “If I give you my handshake and a commitment, I work very hard to deliver on that commitment and those promises,” said Malik. “If you run your business that way and you approach business that way on a daily basis, you’ll have long-term relationships with your customers.”

Sam Malik, Optoma

Sam Malik

Malik, who grew up in the Chicago suburb of Lombard and graduated from the College of DuPage with a business degree, spent much of his early career in computers but made the switch to AV in 1995 when he joined nView.

“For me, it [AV] was a good connection because it’s still plugged into a computer, which was important to me,” said Malik.

Malik started out selling nView’s early display products, including the Diamond D400, one of the first DLP projectors in the United States powered by Texas Instruments’ DLP engine. “Once DLP came out, that was the next level of spark for presentations,” said Malik. “And you could see it. Now you had a choice of LCD or DLP, and DLP was digital.”

Malik’s next big move came when Toshiba recruited him to help launch a visual display group. “I got to develop that business. I was employee number one and we ended up with 14 or 15 employees overall,” he said. “But I took them from zero, [a] brand new business, to over $100 million in sales annually.”

After spending 13 years at Toshiba, Malik worked in sales at Vivitek, Sanyo, Premier Mounts, and Proxima before landing at Optoma, where he joined as senior director of sales for pro AV in July 2018.

“I’ve carried many of the same customers with me throughout those career changes because I’ve operated at a high level of integrity and ethics,” he said.

Malik fell in love with electronics when he was 8 years old, when he got a kit to build an AM radio from RadioShack. “I was hooked on electronics right from that point,” he said. “I started to figure out how to repair radios and television sets. I took some basic electronics classes and so I got into electronics that way.”

His passion for electronics continues today and extends to his off-work hours. “If it takes a battery or plugs into the wall, I stick my hands in it and start working with it,” said Malik of his collection of coin-operated machines that ranges from parking meters to slot machines to antique payphones. His favorite is a 1903 Bally pinball machine that he played as a boy in his grandfather’s northern Wisconsin tavern.

“My grandkids play it now, but in the corner of it in the glass is a picture of me when I was 5 years old playing that machine,” said Malik. “That’s my pride and joy—it was my grandfather’s machine and now I restored it, brought it forward, and I’ll pass it along to my family.”

His passion for electronics and sales also show through his professional work. “I try to teach people about listening to customers carefully and trying to be a person of integrity, which I try to do at all times,” said Malik. “One of the things that I have is that my word is my bond.”

Read More: SCN Hall of Fame 2019