Along with the physical conditioning, he thinks it helped him grow as a person. While he has been a whopping success and has helped countless other people, Pat's a bundle of insecurities. "I was always a bit of a scaredy cat about taking on challenges," he says. "Put me in a familiar situation, and I'm okay, but I'm not the type who sails off into the unknown. That's probably one of the reasons I've avoided relationships. They're fundamentally unnerving because you have no idea what might happen."

He finds his work and hobbies fulfilling and has enough of a social life with his friends and family. As for marrying and starting a family of his own, he says, "I think that ship has pretty much passed me by." Maybe he's right. If there's one thing women can't stand, it's a smart, tall, rich guy.

At work, Parks handles most of the marketing and interface with the public. "I like having someone else breaking the ice out front," Pat says. "Chris Parks does that here at Quilter. He's not afraid to charge ahead into the unknown territory. I wouldn't want to be that, until I'd radar-scoped the thing and figured where land mines were."

Pat Quilter
John Gilhooley
Pat Quilter
Not the Cyclops, but close
John Gilhooley
Not the Cyclops, but close

Yet Pat is the clear figurehead of the company, with his tall, silver-bearded visage as integral to the company identity as Colonel Sanders was to chicken. He's in their ads, and he's the star of a video they made in which he goes back in time to the beginning of tone. And it is his name on every product. If his new amps fail, he's the one all the I-told-you-sos will be sniggering at.

For a guy who doesn't like uncertainty, he has certainly ordered himself a jumbo portion of it. He's two years past retirement age; why not just go riding off into the sunset in one of his adorable little cars?

"What else am I going to do with myself? This is an opportunity to bring something new to the game, to give something back to the music business," he says. "Designing power amps is a pretty narrow specialty, and I happen to be expert in all three technologies: tubes, linear solid-state and Class D"—make that four types, if you count his wind-up Victrolas—"so I'm in a unique position to come up with something needed and new. I had hoped the uptake would be quicker, but it's working out in the long run."

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