Sad news indeed when I found out Joe was terminally ill and recently of his passing. I think in many ways it marks an end of an era in Australian high-end audio.
I knew Joe since 1987 in the Bankstown store. I was a young doctor with a passion for music and high end gear but without the deep pockets to afford it. I had many trips out to the Bankstown to peruse the trade-ins and to listen to the gear. In those days it was Phil and JoJo (or Little Joe) and Josef running the store. My friends and fellow audiophiles always referred to Josef as 'Uncle Joe'. This was the guy that was going to look after you even if you knew he was going to sell you something more expensive than you planned!
The thing about Joe, even from those early days, was a strong conviction in his beliefs and a sense that whilst it would cost you, he indeed would look after you. Call it good business acumen if you like but Joe was a person who always kept his word. He was a man of honour and sometimes in later years boasted to me how people trusted him with large sums of money that he kept on account. I personally know of at least one person that did this. I ended up buying many pieces of gear from Joe and he could always be trusted to keep his end of the deal.
That trust was also given by Joe to many of his customers. In a sense it was part of his business strategy. I recall many times in the early days Joe encouraging me to take stuff home on long-term loan/audition. There was rarely a time period set and he would throw in cables or whatever else you needed. There was a book system for stuff out on loan but I swear there was many a time it was not recorded. He did however have a phenomenal memory to back up his trust in you! He was shrewd enough to know that if he loans something for long enough it likely would never come back. You got to used to the superior sound quality and ended up buying it.
Importantly, in those early days at Bankstown, Joe always had time to spend with you even if you were trading up on some of the second hand gear and couldn't afford any of the new stuff. Joe was smart enough to look after his customer base whatever their budget. The boys would happily audition the high end gear even if they knew you couldn't buy it....... yet! Favourite music tracks were produced and people just enjoyed the the fun of being an audiophile. Something, I think is sometimes missing today.
Cash flow at times was pretty tight for Joe at Bankstown. I recall one evening he turned up to my house with a Wadia that was out of my price range but which he knew I coveted. He sold it to me at a drastically reduced price explaining he needed the cash to pay his staff.
That style of doing business with trusted customers continued through to the present day. I ended up buying Gryphon mono blocks and many other items from Joe. On the rare occasion that something went wrong he would just fix it.
I recall a very memorable dinner with Joe and Flemming Rasmussen and invited guests.
He continued to have time to chat in later years when I would need to speak to him about this or that. He spent nearly an hour on the phone with me when my best friend passed away over a year ago. I sold all of his audiophile gear on behalf of his widow and it was done through this website. Joe took the time to advise me what everything was worth and what was a fair price to expect. Since then we have spoken a few times about gear or when he would simply "pocket dial" me. We would end up chatting about where high-end audio was heading, life or sometimes his medical situation. He was just happy to chat.
'Uncle Joe' was truly one of life's characters, a larger-than-life character, someone that you thought would always be around. My thoughts go to Maggie and the family.