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August 2016

2016!

me-mag.com

t s r i F e m o C e l p es o iz it e r io r P P s n io t lu So Stereo s and e iv t n e c In , g in in a Tr ep Its e K o t t n e m n o ir v En ngaged E d n a l a y o L ff a t S

Harman Blends Aftermarket, OEM Innovation

PLUS: WHAT MAKES ‘EM TICK? THE TOP 12 INSTALLERS THRIVE ON IMAGINATION, DRIVE AND NEVER BEING SATISFIED

PAC TURNS 40 THE INSTALLER’S BEST FRIEND CONTINUES ITS MISSION UNDER AAMP GLOBAL

TECH TIMES 2 BING XU & SCFAEFFER LAY OUT DESIGN PERFECTION


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Volume 33// Issue 9

Ad Index

14 FEATURES 14 // News Feature: Co-branding

What does a shop owner do when their brand isn’t quite working? Retailer Kenny McCardie has answered that question by teaming up with the Tint World franchise to create a co-brand between his store and their franchise brand. Experts weigh in on the potential pros and cons of such an arrangement.

18 // PAC Audio 40th Anniversary

For 40 years, the Pacific Accessory Corporation has been a leading name in OE integration. Editor-in-Chief Solomon Daniels sits down with the company to discuss its history, current products and future in 12-volt.

30 // Top 12 Installers of 2016

This year’s class includes veterans like Brent Leavitt and younger techs like Miguel Vega looking to take the top prize in the industry as Installer of the Year. These dazzling dozen share their feelings on the industry and what they hope to achieve in the year to come.

Accele .............................................................. p. 2 & ®3 Audiofrog ............................................................. p. 60 BrandSphere ...................................................... p. 25 Clarion .................................................................... p. 19 DD Audio .............................................................. p. 29 Elettromedia: Hertz / Audison................... p. 51 Escort / Cobra Electronics ........................... p. 11 Firstech / Compustar ...................................... p. 5 iDataStart HC3 ................................................. p. 67 Image Dynamics .............................................. p. 63 InstallerNet ......................................................... p. 45 JBL ........................................................................... p. 35 JL Audio .................................................................... p. 9 K40 .......................................................................... p. 21 Kenwood .............................................................. p. 55 Kicker ...................................................................... p. 13 Memphis Audio .................................................. p. 61 Metra ...................................................................... p. 24 Mito .......................................................................... p. 51 Mobile Electronics ........................................... p. 37 Orca: Focal / Mosconi / Illusion ................ p. 25 PAC .......................................................................... p. 49 Rydeen Mobile Electronics ......................... p. 49 Scosche ................................................................ p. 43 SiriusXM ................................................................ p. 17 Sony .......................................................................... p. 7 StreetGlow ......................................................... p. 60 Voxx ....................................................................... p. 68

38 // Real World Retail: Stereo Solutions

Located in a region filled with lakes, this Top 50 store has made its bones on marine while extending its reach to local fire and law enforcement agencies, upgrading them to the latest in-vehicle gadgets. But it takes more than a strong clientele to stay on top.

46 // Behind the Scenes: Harman

The electronics giant has turned its massive gaze back onto 12-volt and is making plans to innovate in as many ways as possible.

52 // Tech Today: The Truth About False Floors, Part 3 and More

Joey Knapp and Bing Xu complete their false floor tutorial, while Installer of the Year Runner-up Matt Schaeffer helps you keep sight of your vision during a long build.

22 ARTICLES 22 Retail News/Who’s Who 62 Installs

On the Cover

Mark Fung and his wife Erica have built a business rooted in a local boating scene and law enforcement vehicle upgrades. But what truly helped them was getting a taste of failure through the loss of a key staff member. Through the loss, the team worked harder than ever to fill in the gaps and improve the business. Since then, the company has seen its most profitable days ever. But the best was yet to come. COVER DESIGN: ROBIN LEBEL

4  Mobile Electronics  August 2016

DEPARTMENTS 6 Feedback 8 Editor’s Forum 10 Stats 12 Helpful Stuff 26 New Products 66 From The President

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 feedback

The More You Know Keith McCumber recommends more education as a way to advance your business, while Parish Tanner warns about the dangers of deceitful business partners. “I would tell anyone who is just starting out to plan for when you are one of the best shops in town. This would include increasing your staff and an organized plan to handle the increase of business.” Eddy Lamour, DSP Audio and Video, Wheaton, Md. “Anyone that has a issue and you’re registered with iDatalink, all you have to do is call and they will go out of their way to make sure your problem is solved.” Isaac Siegfried, Jam Audio, Brunswick, Maine “We have had exposure to several thousand potential clients recently. I think if we were able to give accurate estimates and schedule appointments from there we may have done even better.” Anonymous “We’re slimming product line offerings across all aspects of the shop. We have revamped our shop and reduced the brands we offer to a select few of quality which are the most profitable, best selling lines in our area. Doing so allowed us to reduce SKUs and overhead as well as really push the product that sold and worked the best for us. It also allowed us to be more knowledgeable on every piece we sell and not have to learn all the ins and outs of a ton of parts that may rarely sell. We feel it gives us more of a specialty feel and less like a box store that carries a little of everything and know little about any of it.” Rick Snyder, Tri State Automobile Accessories, Southaven, Miss. “Always have patience with your support staff. Many times these individuals are learning about the issue with you, in real time. Troubleshooting can be an exercise in patience and you need to be willing to try a solution you may not have wanted to hear.” Dayne Mielken, Visions Electronics, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

6  Mobile Electronics  August 2016

“To keep our industry going I think we have to do more training to bring more people in and show them how exciting our industry is.” Kevin Cornutt, Stereo King, Portland, Ore. “We have grown from $154,000 to $2,000,000 in 11 years. Advice: get input from all the people that you meet at K-fest. Spend the money on that experience. Invest in your future by taking their advice.” Keith McCumber, SoundsGood Auto, Coquitlam, British Columbia, Canada “If your staff deal with high volume installations and tricky cars they can benefit from having tech support from a great company.” Joseph Aglione, PC Richard and Son, Hauppauge, N.Y. “Managing the customer expectation is critical. Be up front, and keep the customer informed.” Ted Stotz, Installation Plus, Escondido, Calif. “Go to as many vendor trainings as possible. The amount of information you receive will help you for the rest of your career.” Jared Higgins, Best Buy, Rochester, N.Y. “Go to Knowledgefest. It will put life back into your shop and inspire you to do better.” Anonymous “Always have the vehicle and product info ready when calling a tech line to speed up the process.” Anonymous “Be very clear and consistent with any business partnerships. I am still dealing with the fallout from a business partner that was stealing from my company.” Parish Tanner, Ocala Car Audio, Ocala, Fla.

ADVERTISING SALES Kerry Moyer 703.598.3733 • kerrym@mobile-electronics.com ®

EDITORIAL Solomon Daniels 213.291.7888 • solomond@mobile-electronics.com Ted Goslin 800.949.6372 ext. 466 • tedg@mobile-electronics.com Creative Layout and Design: Robin LeBel Contributing Editors: Jamie Sorcher, Laura Kemmerer and Rosa Sophia.

Published by

®

Chris Cook, President 978.867.6759 • chrisc@mobile-electronics.com Kerry Moyer, VP Strategic Partnerships 703.598.3733 • kerrym@mobile-electronics.com Solomon Daniels, Dir. Media and Communications 213.291.7888 • solomond@mobile-electronics.com Richard Basler, Dir. Technology Solutions 978.645.6449 • richb@mobile-electronics.com Karin Drake, Events Manager 978.645.6478 • karindrake@mobile-electronics.com Robin Lebel, Creative Director 978.645.6456 • robinlebel@mobile-electronics.com 1)Title of publication: Mobile Electronics. 2) Publication No.: 957-170 6. ISSN# 1523-763X 3) Date of filing: Oct. 1, 2015. 4) Frequency of issue: Monthly except FEB/MAR & APR/MAY 5) No. of issues published annually: 10. 6) Annual subscription price: $35.00. 7) Complete mailing address of known office of publication: 85 Flagship Drive, Ste F, North Andover, MA 01845. 8) Complete mailing address of the headquarters or general business offices of the publisher: 85 Flagship Drive, Ste F, North Andover, MA 01845. 9) Full names and complete mailing address of Publisher, Editor and Managing Editor: Publisher: Chris Cook, 85 Flagship Drive, Ste F, North Andover, MA 01845; Editor/Managing Editor: Solomon Daniels/Ted Goslin, 85 Flagship Drive, Ste F, North Andover, MA 01845 10) Owner. MERA, Mobile Electronics Retailers Association, 85 Flagship Drive, Ste F, North Andover, MA 01845. 11) Known bondholders, mortgages, and other security holders owning or holding 1% or more of total amounts of bonds, mortgages or other securities: None. 12) Tax Status: Not applicable. 13) Name of Publication: Mobile Electronics. 14) Issue date for circulation data below: August 2015. 6. a) Total no. copies (net press run) Average: 12,484 Single Issue; 12,826. B1) Paid/Requested mail subscriptions Average: 6834, Single Issue: 6826. B3) Paid sales through dealers, etc.; Average: 0. Single issue; c. Requested distributed by other classes of mail: Average: 531, Single issue: 520. Total paid and/or requested circulation; Average 7365. Single issue: 7346. d) Non-requested distribution by mail; Average: 4382 Single issue: 4223. Free distribution through other classes of mail: Average: 0, Single issue: 0. e) Non-requested distribution outside the mail; Average: 325. Single issue: 750. f) Total non-requested distribution; Average 4707, Single issue: 4973. g) Total distribution; Average: 12,072. Single issue: 12,319. h) Copies not distributed; h1) Office use, leftovers; Average: 412. Single Issue; 507 j) Total; Average: 12,484. Single issue; 12,826 Percent paid and/or requested circulation; Average: 61.01%. Single issue 59.63%.


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me-mag.com   7


editor’s FORUM Find Your ‘Holy Cow!’ Turn a valueless business phrase into an experience that will define your business. No introduction, no names. When the phone picked up, I started right in.   “What is this noise?” I yelled over the incessant beeping, holding my phone up to the radio. I don’t really know why I did that, since I was using the car’s Bluetooth and the sound wasn’t actually coming from the radio, but rather from the installed radar detector speaker. At the same time the two blue LEDs took turns lighting up my car’s interior. With the factory red dash lighting, it was like getting pulled over, just inside-out. I figure my dumb phone holding was either because of the frustration of not knowing what was going on, or the surprise that, at 11:36 p.m. California time on a Thursday, some guy named Brian in Chicago actually answered the phone. “It’s the speed alert,” he said, with all the patience I wasn’t feeling. “It looks like you may have accidentally set it.” Sure enough, I slowed to under 70 mph and the sound stopped. Yes, I was speeding. A little bit. “How in the heck did I do that?” I said, now feeling even more out of my depth. It’s not fun to have electronics in your car that intimidate you. “Well, if you’re willing to pull over and park somewhere safe, I’d like to stay on the phone with you and get you fully set up and calibrated.” “Right now? I asked, “Sure, right now,” he answered. Holy Cow. Whenever I interview a retailer or vendor for a story, I ask them why customers do business with them. The inevitable answer is some form of “We have great customer service.” The term itself is something you hear and see every day, from just about any company that wants your money. Add to this the fact that the selling world has expanded from the old days of neighborhood shopping to worldwide access. Because it’s so overused, most customers see “customer service” as useless jargon; a statement that adds no value to the buying experience. So when this guy is willing to stay on the phone with me, I oblige. For the next half-hour, he walks me through every feature of the system, recommending settings based on where I live and how I drive. It wasn’t just a “turn this on; press that button”

8  Mobile Electronics  August 2016

conversation. Every step came with an explanation of what the feature controls and why I should set it a certain way. Then he left me with a number to text if I had any further questions. After this service experience, businesses are going to have to meet a pretty high standard to get my loyalty. So what does it take for you to get your customer’s loyalty? At KnowledgeFest we talk about and teach ways to stand out; to do something extraordinary. But we’re not pioneers on the idea: the most successful companies in the world have figured out how to leave customers with one BIG impression point that they forever associate with the brand. When I think about Apple, I think “Those guys look like everyday people who are smart, easy to talk to and willing to help.” That’s their marketing magic. During my conversations with retailers, the biggest obstacle to offering extraordinary service is cost. They base their answer on the equation of profit margin for the sale versus labor, parts and additional time. But expand that equation a bit. What do you spend on marketing to get a new customer versus keeping an existing one? What’s the amount of lost investment in educating a customer and not having him or her return? And if he or she goes to your competitor, what additional business do you lose if your competitor makes a better impression and this person writes a glowing review on Yelp? This is the real equation you are measuring against. Suddenly some extra service doesn’t seem all that expensive. Listen: what works in some stores, businesses and industries may not work for others. But this really isn’t about comparing our business and our industry to others. It’s about how customers are trained by marketing in what is so-so service and what is excellent service. And they are taught that excellent service puts them first as an individual, recognizes their need and meets it with a personalized solution. You want a true mission statement for your store? Put that sentence on your wall. Time for an out of-the-box (excuse this additionally overused term) meeting. What is the most insane thing you can do to get a customer to think “Holy Cow!” about your brand and your service? Put the question to your staff. Have a few laughs about some of the more “out there” ideas. But then hone in on the ones that make sense for your business, and take a chance. You may just find the thing that customers will never forget most about you, so make it good!


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rs i ile t Reta effec

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 stats

co n ug o ve vey th their ne e v i nd t i collec ss o he t f tech n i support

tacting Frequency of con support vendors for tech

Very Seldom - 61%

week - 26% Once or twice per per week - 7% Three to four times Very often - 6%

C

Most Common Re asons To Call Tech Support

Vehicle componen t/wiring locations - 24%

Knowledgeable support person 80

Non-traditional availability/hours -

%

7%

10  Mobile Electronics  August 2016

d Other e s U s e rc u o s e R r e Oth upport Than Vendor Tech S Forums - 58%

- 35%

Facebook groups

- 69%

Co-workers - 40% Peers - 45% Internet (Google, % Youtube, etc.) - 13

MY

K

Programming and so flashing/upgrade ftware s - 69%

In-store manuals

CM

CMY

Vehicle disassem bly - 2% Installation instru ctions - 18%

es - 18%

s Short hold time 33% Problem solved on one call - 61% Follow-through on callbacks/promis ed information - 17%

Y

CY

Compatability issu

Best Aspects of Technical Support Call

M

FORUMS GOOGLE

FACEBOOK PEERS YOUTUBE


me-mag.com   11


 helpful stuff BOOKS: Shoe Dog—By Phil Knight http://books.simonandschuster.com/Shoe-Dog/Phil-Knight/9781501135910 Who isn’t familiar with the catchy slogan, “Just Do It” or that iconic swoosh logo? In this day and age of flashy start-ups and come-and-go brands, there is a gold standard that only some companies have achieved. In a compelling and candid memoir, Phil Knight, the Nike founder and board chairman, shares for the first time the inside story of the company’s early days and how it became one of the world’s best known game-changing and profitable brands. Right out of business school with $50 borrowed from his dad, Knight launched his company with the single focus of importing high-quality, low-cost running shoes from Japan. Selling them from

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the trunk of his Plymouth Valiant, he took in $8,000 in 1963. Today, Nike’s annual sales top $30 billion. It is a brand instantly recognized around the globe, yet Knight has always remained a mystery. Now, he takes readers back to his crossroads moment of how he decided to create something of his own rather than work for a large corporation. Knight details all of it--the risks and setbacks, the competitors, the haters, the bankers, the successes and the near misses-- that dotted his way to glory. Above all, he shares how the core of the company was formed by key relationships, most notably with his former track coach, Bill Bowerman, and with his first employees. You know how it all turned out, but it is still a great lesson for any businessperson in how to get it done right.

SERVICE: Asana https://asana.com/

Collaboration is key in any business. With teams more now than ever working virtually from various locations there still needs to be a cohesive effort to get projects completed. Whether you’re a mom-and-pop shop or a medium-sized manufacturer, communicating effectively with everyone delivers better end results and strong team morale. An online collaboration service, like Asana, reduces the need for excessive emails and lets your team work together, joke around, and bond while producing positive results. Asana, which individuals and small teams of up to 15 people can use for free, lets you move projects from start to finish by assigning tasks, scheduling tasks and deadlines, holding conversations to keep momentum going, and organizing dashboards that show progress in a customizable view. It offers an easy way to track work so you can get results!

SITES TO SEE: www.mensfitness.com http://www.mensfitness.com/

Maybe you work in an install bay most of the day so you’re moving around and essentially getting in some cardio, but what if you’re on a sales floor or at a desk a good portion of the week? There are plenty of ways to stay in shape even if it means doing shrugs, bicep

12  Mobile Electronics  August 2016

curls, or lateral raises right at your desk. This site is a great resource for tips on getting in shape and eating healthy. It’s a lifestyle decision, but you will perform better at work and enjoy your downtime more, if you are in good condition, well rested, and eating right.


© 2016 STILLWATER DESIGNS

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 news feature Keeping both names on the signage is part of what the co-branding experience can offer, allowing a shop to maintain its identity as part of the new franchise brand.

Partnering Up Is co-branding the way to go? Kenny McCardie of Auto Sound Specialists shares his perspective on this unique kind of partnership, and whether it can benefit smaller businesses without sacrificing individual identity. WORDS BY ROSA SOPHIA

W

Steve Beagelman, SMB Franchise Advisors

14  Mobile Electronics  August 2016

ith inevitable constant change in the automotive sound industry, retailers must always explore creative new ways of keeping their businesses prosperous. Author Johnny Rich said, “The future is certain. It is just not known.” As new ways of meeting goals are examined, retailers shape their own futures. One way of doing this is via co-branding, which offers an option for financial security, among other benefits. Steve Beagelman of SMB Franchise Advisors has over 25 years of experience in the franchise industry. He is a Certified Franchise Executive and has worked with brands such as Rita’s Water Ice, Hollywood Tans and Saladworks. “You have to choose a partner who’s willing to be somewhat flexible,” he stated in regards to selecting a company to co-brand with. “If your brand is too strict and rigid, it’s hard to make a co-brand situation work.

You need what I call two willing partners to work together.” Recently, one notable company within 12-volt has chosen to co-brand with franchising brand, Tint World. Such a decision can be a difficult one, and depends on whether such a relationship would be fruitful for both parties. What are the benefits—are there any downsides?

A Changing Market At SEMA in 2008, Auto Sound Specialists of Union City, Calif. learned about Tint World, but at the time, things didn’t work out. “We realized it would be a nice fit, but it wasn’t the time for us,” said Kenny McCardie, owner of Auto Sound. “Their infrastructure we didn’t think could support us being in Northern California. Even at that point, we identified that the basic idea definitely fits what we do here. We kept an eye on them from 2008 until present. A few years


Part of the shop’s transformation included making sure the franchise brand was represented appropriately in key places, including the checkout counter. ago they opened in Northern California. That’s when we realized it was time to reconsider.” McCardie acknowledged that everyone is struggling. Co-branding can be a good solution depending on a company’s needs. “A lot of times as independent owners, we think ‘it’s my way,’ and are reluctant and almost afraid of change,” McCardie said. “But we’re living in a changing world and economy. We need to make the adjustments.” With co-branding can come a whole host of benefits including financial stability, improved marketing and technical support. Beagelman of SMB Franchise Advisors added, “It is certainly very synergistic—you already have a staff, already have customers coming in, why not offer an additional product line?” McCardie pointed out the car audio electronics industry has been shrinking. “Instead of being afraid of the change, working with other organizations will help us grow. So many doors will open because we have the help of a larger company,” he said, pointing out more of the benefits. “As a small business, there’s only so much we can do.” According to Anthony Foley, the Franchise Development Director at Tint World, they’ve developed solutions for marketing and IT support, and also help franchisees understand business management. Tint World has been open since 1982 and the corporate office is located in Boca Raton, Fla. “Every individual

business is different,” he said. “Every owner has a unique spin on how they want to enter the business and get customers. We understand that. We all have a unique perspective on how businesses need to run. We know what business owners are looking for. We know what makes their businesses operate in a fluid fashion. We’ve been in their shoes.” Tint World aims to make business more automated for the franchisee and places special focus on the core profit, according to Foley. “How do we help them drive more revenue more efficiently?” Foley said. “How do we help them drive more business? Cover conversions, key performance indicators—that gives us a good barometer on where business is and where we need to go. Where are you now and where do you hope to be?” This is an important question business owners must ask daily, and the answer is subject to change as the business evolves. Each retailer chooses the best ways to further their own goals. For some retailers, such as Auto Sound Specialists, co-branding can be a good solution. For others, remaining independent might be the better choice—this all depends on individual needs and aspirations for the future.

The Right Fit Depending on factors such as location and advertising, co-branding may not be a good fit for everyone. JT Torres co-branded with Al & Ed’s Autosound

for nearly 14 years, and the partnership recently ended in November. “They’re going pretty fast. It seems they have a good structure,” Torres said of Tint World. “My concern would be jumping from one company to another.” After being with Al & Ed’s for so long, Torres—who won the Mobile Electronics Installer of the Year award in 2015—decided it was time for a change. Torres noted that the business of window tinting brings in a wide margin of revenue and “presentation is key.” “What I like is it’s a lot easier to train somebody to do window tinting than to train them to do custom stuff. It makes it very easy to manage a shop,” he explained. “If I decided to go with them, I could continue to do my thing.” This would mean a JT Automotive and Tint World co-brand, Torres stated. “They have their own point of sale system. They help you with the business, and [they] have a whole team that does marketing to promote your business. If you need someone to help you get business going and dealership work, they will give you that as well.” While co-branding can help a business expand quicker, there are challenges involved as Torres described. Steve Beagelman pointed out, “One of the biggest things is training the staff if they’re operating multiple businesses.” The staff members must handle new product lines or approaches and understand how another business is managed, without the retailer losing its identity in the process. “You don’t want them to be an

me-mag.com   15


 news feature afterthought shoved into another business. You want to make sure they have their branding presence and marketing in the location.” Paul Pirro, executive vice president of Tint World, noted that retailers who co-brand gain a solid support system. “The benefit is having a receipt for success and a team to support the co-branded store’s needs,” he said. “In addition, the store owner can concentrate on their store while Tint World works on their marketing, branding, vendor management, and other key areas.” Either way, a retailer must weigh the pros and cons in order to decide whether co-branding is the best fit for their store. Despite the support available, and the perks of co-branding with a larger company, Torres noted that he felt good about being independent. “My thing is, I’m doing just fine without it,” he said. “For me to lock myself into a contract again, I would have believe in it and know it’ll be a good partnership. Everything that has gone on for me in the past year—leaving Al & Ed’s, winning Installer of the Year—it would be good publicity for them. I want to make sure it’s not just that. There’s got to be an actual benefit for me.”

The Big Choice Every store is different, so deciding whether to co-brand—or not to co-brand—depends entirely on whether business owners feel it would be advantageous for them. Paul Pirro of Tint World stated their franchise program allows retailers “to co-exist with other Tint World franchisees in a network of sharing ideas, locating staff and continuing training. This option is a great way to quickly expand your business, gain more customers and increase profits by providing more services to generate new revenue streams.” So far, this is working out well for Auto Sound Specialists. Kenny McCardie now has an IT department and marketing support on his side. “For us, it was, ‘We can do things our way,’ but how do I do

16  Mobile Electronics  August 2016

something where I can open a second or third location, or if I want to take time off, will it be financially secure?” McCardie said. “If you look at the infrastructure of Tint World, you see what they’ve done

allows for co-branding when it’s appropriate. “When expanding into some markets, a store that has been in that market for some time may have a name that is actually more valuable than the market,” Haynes said. “In that case, we look at a co-branding situation where both Al & Ed’s and the storefront’s original name are presented on the building, so that store can take advantage of the Al & Ed’s franchise program, while still retaining its local identity.” According to Haynes, if the store’s brand is strong locally, co-branding can give the business owner benefits from the franchise program while the business retains the benefits of its “own brand value. The main reason that a retailer would look at a franchise opportunity is for brand acquisition, pricing of brands and products and the support structure that a franchise program brings the store.” According to Haynes, what franchising can provide is a simpler way of running a business, “allowing for better customer service, better sales.” Tint World also uses a series of steps when bringing a company into their folds. When it comes to Auto Sound’s new partnership with Tint World, each step has been orchestrated with careful planning. Foley stated the company helps the retailer secure their financing before blending the two business models. “[We] look at logistics of how the place is laid out with floor plan,” he said. “Then [we] order inventory, put in packages, displays. Training is two weeks in Florida, Boca Raton, one week in an active store. A co-brand opportunity would require one of our reps spending a week there.” Steve Beagelman explained that the concept of co-branding “allows you to expand your brand for less money.” The practice is particularly common in other industries, especially when it comes to restaurants. “If someone opens a new location for KFC, and they’re putting in a Taco Bell, they’re saving a lot of money and KFC can open more [locations] and sell more, faster,” Beagelman explained. “That’s a benefit to expand faster through

“If someone opens a new location for KFC, and they’re putting in a Taco Bell, they’re saving a lot of money and KFC can open more [locations] and sell more, faster. That’s a benefit to expand faster through co-branding. The downside is you lose some of your identity. With some brands, it works tremendously.” Steve Beagelman, SMB Franchise Advisors

with stores with little to no experience. If we bring what we have to the table and what they have and combine into one, how can we say no?” For Auto Sound, the partnership is working out so well that they’re looking to hire more staff members and the shop has more work than they can handle. “We just hired a new installer and we’re looking for another window tinter. It has been a success to date,” McCardie said, now that the business is about 90 days into the partnership. “We are driving with our existing customers as well as our new customer base.” Customers have been responding favorably to the new look in the store. “Sales tools and displays have been instrumental. We have seen bigger presence with customers walking in and our phones ringing, Internet customers reaching out through our website and the Tint World website and social media.” Such a partnership must work well for both parties and is always carefully planned. John Haynes, Senior Product Manager of Al & Ed’s Autosound, stated that their business’s franchise program


co-branding. The downside is you lose some of your identity. With some brands, it works tremendously.” Beagelman cited travel plazas that house multiple businesses as an example. “They’re the franchisee of five brands they’re co-branding [with]. It happens a lot. But it’s more prevalent in the food industry. Other industries are seeing this and saying, how do we capitalize on this?” Retailers must ensure they partner up with the right company. In the 12-volt industry, a strong concern is keeping a retailer’s own brand top-of-mind. “You have to really make sure it works for both parties, that it works for the existing brand and the new brand coming in,” Beagelman added. JT Torres remarked that it might be easier for him to do business under his corporate name, JT Automotive. “That way people that know me would recognize the name as being me,” he said. “Just looking to do car audio, tinting, and maybe hire a guy to do interior finishing and stuff like that.” This will allow Torres

to keep his own brand top-of-mind. Since leaving Al & Ed’s, Torres has been doing business under the name Automotive Entertainment to help create a new identity. Beagelman noted that not everyone feels it’s a good idea to co-brand. “We have some clients who won’t do co-branding because they don’t want their brand to be swallowed up,” he said. “They want it to be by itself and stand by itself. What you see more and more of is people trying to justify the rent landlords are requiring, or paying the mortgage for buying the property, and if I bring another brand in, I’m covering costs and making more money. Co-branding is popular, but it’s gotta make sense.” Kenny McCardie is eager to see how the arrangement works out moving forward, given his high expectations. “A lot of thought went into this decision. I think Tint World has done a lot in this market and will be stable in this arena of aftermarket accessories and automotive

Tint World provided its own custom displays to McCardie to help complete the franchise experience for customers. styling centers,” he explained. “We have seen a 20 percent to 25 percent increase in sales on a monthly basis. We’re still a very volatile industry, but I see a definite increase. Embracing what they do has helped us get a fresh outlook. It’s important to do a migration of the best practices. If we’re doing something that’s working, they say let’s keep doing that, we can add input and make it better but if not, we can keep it moving.” 

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me-mag.com   17


 pac anniversary

Integration Evolution After 40 years, the company that started as the installer’s best friend continues its leadership role as a strong brand of AAMP Global. WORDS BY SOLOMON DANIELS

As an installer practicing in the 90s, Pacific Accessory Corporation was the name you knew for all the "little things" that made electronic integration work. Whether it was a timer, signal converter or turn-on delay, PAC had the solution. Today, installers they don't use the whole name anymore as the brand is now a division of a larger corporation, AAMP Global. It's simply called PAC. But despite the obsolete name, what is not lost is the 40 years of innovation the brand contributed to make the mobile electronics industry what it is today. As the anniversary number implies, PAC was started in 1976 by John Patterson, who saw a market opportunity to

18  Mobile Electronics  August 2016

create a better antenna connection for CB radios. The package featured a hideaway antenna and slide mount adapter for the radio. Unfortunately, the window closed quickly as the government changed CB specs just as the units were being manufactured.

Piggyback Ride to Big Boxes The company turned its attention to the burgeoning car stereo installation business, producing noise filters, crossovers, timers and signal adapters for shops across the country. PAC developed strong ties with the specialist installation community, and quickly became known for its customer-focused phone technical

support. Those ties were so strong that a car stereo company gave Patterson the designs for a new high-to low adapter concept that the company developed into some of its most successful products early on: the SNI-1, SNI-8 and SNI-15. And that led to an even bigger benefit. "The connections we made with installers was the key to our success," recalled Patterson. "When many of the large retailers decided to start installing car stereos and passive crossovers, many of the installers they hired wanted our products and service." As a result, Circuit City became one of PAC's biggest resellers, though primarily in crossovers. The growth prompted


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     me-mag.com   19


 pac anniversary Patterson to hire Brett Riggs as product engineer in 1995. For the next few years, the company grew its SKU count. "We had already started to get more into the what we call integration now, with Bose interfaces and radio replacement interfaces," said Riggs. "In 1998 I started developing steering wheel interfaces. We just saw the whole integration category to continue to expand."

“Integration is starting to branch out now. It’s not just about audio or video,” explained Riggs. “There is a huge opportunity in the integrated safety category now.” To answer the need, PAC is partnering with fellow AAMP Global brand Echomaster. Brett Riggs, vice president of integration and infotainment for AAMP PAC’s integraGlobal, is celebrating more than 20 years associated with the PAC brand. tion technologies and Echomaster’s camera systems will combine to develop aftermarket solutions that mimic factory installed Shifting to High features on new Gear vehicles. New prodBut after 20 ucts will include years, Patterson had blind spot cameras his eye on retirethat display a side ment, and it was view on the factory something Riggs radio screen when saw from the day the turn signal is he started. "He had triggered, as well a niche in the car as 360-degree view Products like the OEM-1 were mainstays in every installation bay, known audio business, and and forward-facfor their versatility in application. started it well, but ing cameras. The I also saw that he Motors vehicles made it increasingly difficompany is also was ready to be done," said Riggs. "So I cult to change the radio. The momentum working to spearhead the use of microfelt it was a good opportunity for me to made PAC an attractive asset, and in 2005 wave sensors to keep drivers safe in come in and help take the business to the the company was purchased by Audax, conditions where camera-based systems next level." which owned AAMP of America (now fail. That growth opportunity manifested AAMP Global). At 40, PAC has taken the industry from when Patterson sold the business to Bob enhancing audio to now perfecting the Clarke in 2000. The former medical supTaking the Safe Route driving experience. “In celebrating 40 plies salesman brought a new energy For the past 11 years, PAC the brand years, we want to make sure that everyand focus on marketing to the company, has maintained a strong position in the one knows that we're focused on creating which was beginning to experience a integration category, benefitting from better, faster solutions for integrators, sales slowdown. AAMP's additional engineering resources, and making sure that our biggest cus"Bob's vision was that, when business strong customer base and nationwide tomers—our installers—are confident was off, you could only save so much support. It is one of the company's seven installing our products,” concluded Riggs. money and cut back only so much," said "power brands" under the 2016 branding “I don't know what's going to happen Riggs. You advertised your way out of a change. And while brand decisions are when it comes to more and more electric slump, and that’s what we did.” now decided at a corporate level, PAC still vehicles on the road, but even now we're Clarke continued to market the brand continues its mission to develop the prod- looking at everything. We will and invest in interfaces, especially as ucts the market needs today … whenever be ready.”  the OnStar telematics system in General today is.

20  Mobile Electronics  August 2016


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 retail news

»

Sondralee Orengia, owner of Custom Audio in Erie, Pa.

Who’s Who Vic Orlando

Mobile Masters Las Vegas Years of Industry experience: 16 Hobbies: Snowboarding, shooting and car audio What you’re really good at: Audio design, staging and imaging

Nicholas Frazier

iNNovative Concepts West Springfield, Mass. Years of Industry experience: 11 Hobbies: Anything and everything cars What you’re really good at: Troubleshooting

Elias Ventura

Absolute Electronix Rockville, Md. Years of Industry experience: 12 Hobbies: Football and basketball What you’re really good at: Product knowledge

Craig Smidel

Extreme Audio Manitowoc/Green Bay/Appleton, Wisc. Years of Industry Experience: 20 Hobbies: Motocross, jet skiing, snowboarding, mountain biking, traveling What you’re really good at: Project management

22  Mobile Electronics  August 2016

Searching For Balance While the industry continues to seek new talent, Custom Audio leads by example and encourages more women to enter the world of 12-volt. WORDS BY ROSA SOPHIA

Since 1983, Custom Audio in Erie, Pa., has been a successful woman-owned business and boasts 5,000 square feet of space. While Sondralee Orengia founded the company, her original business partner decided it wasn’t for him. “At the time I was going to college studying accounting and computer science and I wasn’t really interested in owning a business or running it,” Orengia said. When her business partner asked for help, she said yes. “I’m from a family of entrepreneurs. I think it’s always been in my blood.” Now, the company has seven employees and one location where Orengia strives to provide the best service possible while staying current with the times. While she didn’t initially intend to get involved in the mobile electronics industry, Orengia was passionate about music. “I installed my first stereo system in my car,” she said. “I didn’t know anything, but I have the passion for learning. My grandparents were teachers and professors, very highly educated and my mother is as well, and that learning, wanting to learn and enjoying change, that’s what I think drives me. It’s an ever-changing industry and in 30

years it’s changed so dramatically and people have to continue to learn and learn to change.” Orengia believes in the power of presentation to help draw in customers. “We have a really pretty shop,” she said. Because the business resides in a neighborhood that is mostly middle to upper class, customer expectation is much higher and so is Orengia’s. “The store has a nice presentation when they walk in—clean, organized, the displays work. That’s incredibly important in presentation. I always use the analogy if you go to buy a new car, the car lot doesn’t have dirty cars. They are polished, clean, look good, smell good, run good. You don’t go to a car dealership expecting to see a dirty car.” While Custom Audio continues to be a successful 12-volt shop, Orengia faces a different kind of daily challenge—that of being a woman business owner in a male-dominated industry. “32 years ago I was at the Consumer Electronics show in Chicago and I was one of the few women there. The only ones there were the girls at the booths in beautiful dresses and high heels and they


pointed out women enjoy having a quality home system as well as car audio, too, “but for some reason they forgo that control to the Being a female in a male-dominated industry has presented chal- male. I think that’s going lenges for Orengia, including being taken seriously by customers. to change. I were eye candy,” she said. “There were would recvery few women in the industry. My mom ommend it to anyone. It’s a fun industry, raised me as a person, not a woman, who challenging and women are hard workcould do anything and accomplish anyers. Women are awesome!” thing. That really struck me that there Her 23-year-old granddaughter has were so few women at the show.” been working at Custom Audio during Orengia hopes more women will join the summer, and while it’s not her career the industry as time goes on. “I don’t choice, Orengia said she enjoys the indusknow what the block is. I think it’s intimtry. “We don’t treat women any different, idation. I think men claim cars and but I remember my first shopping experielectronics as their thing.” However, she ence 30 years ago,” Orengia said. Because

she is a woman, Orengia notes how even today she is treated differently by customers who don’t view her as someone with knowledge on car audio. The same is true for other women. When Custom Audio had a woman on the sales floor, she recalled, “Someone said to her, ‘Is anyone here?’ and she said, ‘Can you see me?’ I can have a newer younger person behind the counter and people immediately go to him because he’s male. It’s getting better, I think.” While Custom Audio has had women on the sales floor, Orengia said she’s never had a female technician. “I wish more women would come in when we offer jobs,” she said. “In the office, always a woman. Very rarely a man. It would be nice to see women on the sales floor, women in the garage, in home installations. They have a great eye for detail and they’re such good thinkers.” Envisioning how things might be with more women in the industry, Orengia added, “I think as a team, there would be balance.” 

me-mag.com   23


 retail news

Green created his own displays and counters to improve the look of his showroom.

Inside Build WORDS BY ROSA SOPHIA

The Car Audio Shop in High Ridge, Mo. has been going through significant

24  Mobile Electronics  August 2016

By hand-building their own displays and counters, The Car Audio Shop ensures modifications will be simple—and first impressions will be outstanding.

changes, including a complete rework of the fabrication area, shop and showroom. Rather than have someone else do the work, they’re designing and building

their own displays and counters for the showroom. Brandon Green, shop owner, is determined to ensure all the displays are consistent with the business’s theme.


By making their own designs, they’ll be able to update them in the future according to their needs. Green is confident the outcome will be exactly what is best for the business. “For us, it is another way to show clients what we can accomplish rather than a display bought and sitting in a corner,” he explained. “We will be able to use even our counter as a selling tool, not just to hold a computer. It will be good for pictures and advertising and give people seeing it there an idea of what to expect.” With a single location, the shop has two full-time employees and two parttime. “My wife and I opened this shop in February of 2012, so we are currently working on our fifth year,” Green said, stating that when they initially opened, they partnered with a high-end detailing company and “rented the back 30 by 30 portion of the shop out.” However, both businesses grew quickly, so the detailing business moved out, giving Green a chance to expand the fabrication

department. Areas were then dedicated to metal work, welding and wood working. There’s plenty of room to operate, offering room for long-term projects now that all the equipment has been moved from the main installation area and things have been re-organized. As for the showroom, it is something The Car Audio Shop has been wanting to update for some time, according to Green. They held back from re-doing the showroom until they were able to put in new flooring. “I didn’t want to do things twice,” Green said. “Now with a new floor and a comfortable waiting area for our clients, we are finalizing our plans for the rest of the space.” Currently, they’re working on a counter and beverage area. “My goal is to make much better use of our space and make it more efficient, from the moment the client walks in until the vehicle is delivered.” The idea behind upgrading the showroom is that first impressions are important: “We only get one chance to make a good first

impression,” Green said, “so we want to make it count.” All the changes in the shop are geared toward making life easier and applying more efficient practices. “Part of the changes include new tuning and testing carts, more routers and other tools, a larger welder and plasma cutter, and more,” Green added. “I have always been very particular about keeping a clean and organized shop. I think it saves a lot of time and money to know exactly what you have, where it is, and that it is easily accessible at any moment so that making that metal bracket or tuning that car does not require setting up a bunch of stuff to do the job. Efficiency and profit are what we are trying to improve.” Green has put a lot of thought into how the space is used. The aim is to show what the shop offers without adding clutter, he said. “I think this will give a much better approach in demonstrating what we can do.” 

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me-mag.com   25


 new products

Safety, Integration, Kenwood DVR Recorder

www.kenwood.com/usa

Grom Audio

www.gromaudio.com

Notable: GROM Audio has released two new car audio integration

kits for select 2008 VW vehicles, along with later RNS 310, RNS 315, RNS 510, RCD 510 stereo models. These new kits will now allow VW drivers to enhance their existing factory car stereos by seamlessly integrating with Android phones, iPod/iPhones, and other USB mass storage devices. In addition, they provide Bluetooth and aux-in 3.5mm connections, wireless music streaming and HD Radio. The kits also offer head unit connectivity via add-ons that are sold separately.

Notable: KENWOOD USA has introduced its first advanced safety

product for the North American aftermarket, the Drive Recorder. With an MSRP of $250, the Drive Recorder (DRV-410) is a window-mounted, front-facing camera with recording capabilities and enhanced driver assistance features. The Drive Recorder features a front-view, wide-angle camera that is designed to excel in nighttime and low-light situations. Its Super HD 2304x1296-pixel capability and High Dynamic Range (HDR) image processing result in video that shows details of an incident with pinpoint clarity. A built-in shock sensor allows the Drive Recorder to instantly begin storing video and audio from an impact or collision while the vehicle is parked, and incident locations are geotagged with onboard GPS.

Rosen DB-NISSERIESHD Power Acoustik Edge Speakers www.poweracoustik.com

Notable: Power Acoustik has released its new Edge Speakers.

These top-notch speakers come improved with higher efficient diaphragm and magnet structure. Its carbon fiber injection cone and treated woven cloth surround makes it ideal for taking any audiophile to the edge of the moon and back. The speakers retain the Power Acoustik high audio performance that rivals most competitors in its class but without the high cost. The Power Acoustik Edge Speakers contain a carbon fiber injection molded polypropylene cone, treated woven cloth surround and 1-inch voice coil on aluminum former.

26  Mobile Electronics  August 2016

www.rosenelectronics.com

Notable: Rosen, a power brand of AAMP Global, today released a

new version of its DB-NISSERIESHD offering the ideal factory audio system update for late model Nissan and Infiniti vehicles. The plugand-play system adds convenience and safety features including a large 7-inch LCD touchscreen display, full iGO NEXTGEN turn-byturn route guidance navigation, side camera (blind spot) inputs, HDMI connectivity for smartphone mirroring, and a back-up camera input. The system integrates into the dash seamlessly providing the same factory look and feel. The user interface performs the same way as the stock audio system and the added navigation and set-up modes are quickly accessed through touch buttons located on the top right hand corner of the menu screen.


Speakers and More AAMP Dash Kits For 2015-2016 Volkswagen Golf

www.aampglobal.com

Notable: AAMP Global makes it possible for 2015-2016 Volkswagen

Golf owners to upgrade to an aftermarket radio with its American International VWK1019 and Best Kits by PAC BKVWK1019 installation dash kits. These new American International and Best Kits dash kits facilitate the installation of a single ISO radio with a pocket below or one double DIN (2-DIN) radio in the factory radio location. The kits are finished in satin black for an attractive original equipment (OE) factory look. The multi-piece kits include the main bezel with a removable pocket, hardware, and instruction manual.

Metra Ford Transit Stereo Upgrade www.metraonline.com

Notable: Metra Electronics has announced its stereo kit for the Ford Transit models 2015 and up (without a 4.2” screen). With the trim panel painted gray, the new 99-5832G kit provides ability to install an ISO DIN radio with pocket, and an ISO DDIN radio on this popular Ford model. This kit includes brackets to mount the radio and a large dash panel to complete the job. Installers can complete the installation with the AXXESS wiring harness, part number 70-5524 and Antenna Adaptor, part number 40-EU10.

JL Audio FIX 86 OEM Integration DSP www.jlaudio.com

Notable: JL Audio has announced the availability of the FIX™86

OEM Integration Digital Signal Processor (DSP), that allows customers to upgrade factory-supplied auto sound systems without switching out the factory radio. FIX™86 joins the previously introduced model FIX™82 introduced late in 2015. While the previously released FiX™ 82 is a 2-channel processor, the new FiX™ 86 is designed around a 4.1 channel input/output architecture, fully preserving the factory fader’s functionality.

JVC Smartphone Receivers www.jvc.com/

Notable: JVC Mobile Entertainment announced it is shipping the

KW-V820BT, its 2016 flagship multimedia receiver introduced at CES earlier this year. The receiver is the first in the JVC line to incorporate Apple CarPlay, the on-screen interface that provides intuitive app control and voice command of myriad functions using Siri®. MSRP for the KW-V820BT is $599.95. The KW-V820BT features JVC’s “El Kameleon” anti-theft design to protect a full array of entertainment features, including Bluetooth and integrated apps for Spotify® and Pandora® Internet Radio. The unit is also SiriusXM-Ready™ and connects to the latest SiriusXM SXV300 Connect Vehicle Tuner (sold separately, subscription required).

me-mag.com   27


 new products

DD Audio D Series Amplifiers www.ddaudio.com

Notable: DD Audio’s long awaited D Series Amplifiers are now available for shipping.

The D Series amplifiers offer extremely compact chassis, strong power output levels, and feature rich pre-amp sections all at very attractive price points. The D Series also features a sleek new chassis design that will be used throughout the entire DD Audio amplifier lineup. Features include a Mosfet power supply amp, four gauge power terminals and 3-way protection.

PAC Backup Camera Interface

www.pac-audio.com Notable: PAC has released an enhanced version of its BCI-CH41 back-up camera interface module to coincide with the current safety trend, enabling select Chrysler owners to add a reverse camera, side view/blind spot cameras and a front camera (video switcher and cameras sold separately). It also includes a wide variety of additional convenience features such as an audio/video input for passenger entertainment, three programmable 12-volt outputs, which can be used for powering additional cameras, LEDs and dip switches for ease of installation, navigation and radio feature unlock for passenger use, and more.

28  Mobile Electronics  August 2016


me-mag.com   29


 top 12 installers

Top of th

The Top 12 Installers of 201 20-plus-year veterans to d their eyes on the big 30  Mobile Electronics  August 2016


he Class

16 include everything from daisy-fresh rookies, all with ggest prize in 12-volt. me-mag.com   31


 top 12 installers Total Years Installing: I have been installing professionally for 20 years and as a hobby for three years prior to that. Other Duties At Current Location: Managing all forms of social media related to the business and my personal pages pertaining to car audio. Scheduling and quoting appointments and builds for customers. Bookkeeping and money management throughout the business. Proudest Moment In Career: Having my personal vehicle featured in Rockford Fosgate’s website and magazines. Biggest Mistake As An Installer: Once upon a time I released the seat lever on an older Ford Bronco and the stop cable was missing. The seat smashed the windshield completely. Three Things You Love To Do: Building high performance radio controlled models. Photography and movie watching.

Brent Leavitt Low Notes Garage Boise, Idaho

Aaron Garcia

Perfectionist Auto Sound and Security Anchorage, Alaska Total Years Installing: 9 years Other Duties At Current Location: My job title is “shop manager.” The very beginning of my day consists of collecting all the written invoices and dispersing the work between my technicians and I. When it comes to customer service, I can read a customer very well and know the best way to communicate to just him/her with the utmost respect and professionalism. I handle technical support calls for people all around the nation and occasionally out of country. As a technician, I’m extremely versatile and do it all from remotes starts/alarms, custom fabrication, suspension work, lighting, and wire management.

Barry Barth

Prestige Car Audio & Marine Metairie, La. 32  Mobile Electronics  August 2016

Best Influence In Terms of Expertise, Professionalism and Work Ethic: John Gruendler. He is a past installer who took it upon himself to help teach and train me early on. Where You See Yourself in Five Years: I would like to free up more personal time and grow my business by double.

Proudest Moment In Career: My most proud moment would have to be being a part of the Perfectionist team and helping the shop rise to be an industry leader. Biggest Mistake As An Installer: I think in the overall big picture, the biggest mistake I’ve ever made has been lack of communication with a customer and sales. Three Things You Love To Do (Other Than Installation): Four wheeling, travelling, and playing video games. Best Influence In Terms of Expertise, Professionalism and Work Ethic: Growing up, my godfather Harland Anderson had the largest influence on me when it came to money management, work ethic, and character. Since his passing in 2010, John Schwartz has taken his place at being an excellent mentor and an amazing example of what hard work and dedication can get you in life. Where You See Yourself in Five Years: In five years, I would like to be a well known, contributing individual in the industry that could influence others the way John Schwartz has influenced many and myself.

Total Years Installing: 20+ Other Duties At Current Location: I am the install manager here and that entails overseeing all jobs that come through the shop and making sure they all get the attention and detail that they deserve. Proudest Moment In Career: Being voted Top 12 Installer 2015. Biggest Mistake As An Installer: I once burned myself with a soldering iron, then dropped the iron on a seat and burned the seat cover. Three Things You Love To Do (Other Than Installation): Spending time with family and friends, playing basketball, and eating great food is a big part of the culture in New Orleans. Best Influence In Terms of Expertise, Professionalism and Work Ethic: My friend and former co-worker Eric Hunn. We worked together for many years and he inspired me to be a better installer and fabricator. Where You See Yourself in Five Years: I honestly am not one to think too far ahead. I try to take one day at a time, and better myself whenever I can.


Bryan Piper

Resonance Auto Craft Corpus Christi, Texas Total Years Installing: Thinking back to the days of helping my step dad and friends do installs. That all started when I was about 12 - 13 years old. In total that would be 31-32 years. Other Duties At Current Location: I am also the Production Manager. My job is to ensure all the scheduled jobs have the correct supplies in stock or ordered. I also ensure that Operations is made aware of any products that need to be ordered for upcoming projects. I provide the training and coaching for our Integration Specialists, am the primary marketing person, I use Facebook and Instagram to show potential clients the quality of the work we provide as well as the various services we offer. As an active part of the sales team I interact with our clients regularly to ensure they get the proper solution for their needs. As an owner, I ensure that our staff receives proper training through regular in house training sessions and vendor/distributor training. Proudest Moment In Career: In 29 years, I have had some very unique moments to be proud of. The first time a vehicle I built made it to the top 10 at IASCA finals, Becoming an IASCA

judge, then a Judges Trainer. Being named to the Top 100/50 Installers 6 years in a row. My former Shop being in the Top 50 Retailers the first year we qualified. Making the Top 12 in 2014. All have been some incredible accomplishments to be proud of, topped off by being named the 2015 Trusted Tech. It would seem hard to top all of that, but I have to say my proudest moment in my career would be my son telling me how much I inspire him and how proud he is of me and the drive I have for what I do. Biggest Mistake As An Installer: Biggest mistake I ever made actually performing an install, I was relatively new to the job, and was tasked with installing a small amp in a Dodge Caravan. I was told to mount it to the firewall. I did and had the fantastic luck of driving a screw right into the middle of a brake line. Three Things You Love To Do (Other Than Installation): My three favorite things to do aside from this career are spending time with my wife and two kids, enjoying them and watching them grow. I love music, I am a percussionist as well and really enjoy playing when I have time. Aside from those, I have recently begun doing some mentoring of some industry business owners, helping them grow and improve their businesses or how they do business. I am really enjoying getting share a different area of my industry knowledge and watching these shops grow and get better from more than just fab and integration improvement. Best Influence In Terms of Expertise, Professionalism and Work Ethic: I would say the biggest influence on my expertise would have to be Eric Stevens, Gary Biggs, Ray West, Bryan Schmitt, Mark Eldridge Tom Miller, and Micah Williams. My influences of professionalism are Ray West, John Schwartz, Jon Webb, and Chris McNulty. My work ethic I have to say comes from my Grandfather, one of my former bosses and one of my oldest friends. Where You See Yourself in Five Years: In five years I would like to have moved into more of a support role within my company, still being active in the operations but move away from the day to day operation, I also want to find myself in another type of support role for the industry as well.

Total Years Installing: 24 years Other Duties At Current Location: Sales, fab, training, inventory. Proudest Moment In Career: Making the cover of Mobile Electronics magazine and passing my MECP masters. Biggest Mistake As An Installer: Doubting myself. Three Things You Love To Do (Other Than Installation): Sales Best Influence In Terms of Expertise, Professionalism and Work Ethic: Bryan Schmitt Where You See Yourself in Five Years: Be able to spend my time with my family while maintaining the same workload at the shop.

Carlos Ramirez NVS Audio Linden, N.J.

David Cruz

SoundScape Car Audio Plano, Texas Total Years Installing: 16 years Other Duties At Current Location: Other than my primary position of fabricator, I also do everyday installs. Radio installs sometimes include some modification; amp installs that also include proper adjustment of gains and correct signal location in vehicles that cannot have an aftermarket radio installed; sound processors that need proper signal use oscilloscopes and RTAs; some sales, especially when they are in Spanish! Pretty much anything that comes in. Proudest Moment In Career: Winning the achievement award at the O’Reilly’s Autorama this past February for an interior that I built from scratch in a 1967 Camaro. There were cars from all over the U.S. there with

some high profile interiors and I won! Biggest Mistake As An Installer: I remember pulling a radio out of an Infinity Q-something and I was in such a hurry that I didn’t put any kind of towel under the radio and the brackets on the sides cut the dash really REALLY bad. So bad we had to buy (I had to buy) a new dash and take out the damaged one and install the new. Not a cheap mistake. Three Things You Love To Do (Other Than Installation): Listen to music from all over the world. It doesn’t matter to me if I don’t understand what they are saying; it’s the universal language. I build scale model cars. I spend hours on end just to put together a brake rotor and caliper assembly and lots of time looking for reference photos of the real thing so I can make everything as real as possible. Probably my #1 thing would be spending to with my family, even if it’s being lazy at home all day! Best Influence In Terms of Expertise, Professionalism and Work Ethic: I would have to credit Craig Davis at Grand Prairie Audio for giving me my initial break into the 12-volt industry. Expertise has been from a lot of people, not so much from direct contact with the individuals but from watching their work and technique. Professionalism and work ethic I would have to say again there are several people from my family and also some not too good examples that taught me what not to do. Where You See Yourself in Five Years: I would love to become a better, more trusted fabricator/installer. Maybe do some traveling to do fab work. Teaching a class, becoming a more integral person at SoundScape.

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 top 12 installers

Charles Brazil

First Coast Auto Creations Jacksonville, Fla.

Matt Schaeffer Safe and Sound Mobile Electronics Chantilly, Va.

Total Years Installing: 15 Years Other Duties At Current Location: I take on the duties of fabricator, sales, custodian, trainer, painter, engine and performance, wheels and tires, drive train, social media, quality control and break room break-dancer. Proudest Moment In Career: Last year, winning Installer of the Year Runner-Up. Coming into the industry, I was lucky enough to attend Fish Camp. That single training opened my eyes to the possibilities of fabrica-

Christerfer Pate Mobile Toys, Inc. College Station, Texas 34  Mobile Electronics  August 2016

Total Years Installing: 14 years Other Duties At Current Location: I do it all. Cleaning the toilets, paying the bills and ensuring customers have a positive experience. Proudest Moment In Career: My shop staying open its first year. Biggest Mistake As An Installer: I thought that just because someone had more experience than me they knew the best way to do things. Three Things You Love To Do (Other Than Installation): I love shooting firearms in competition, going on trips, spending time with my family. Best Influence In Terms of Expertise, Professionalism and Work Ethic: I have a few friends in the industry that I am close with: Carlos Ramirez, Micah Williams, and Eric Markland. I also look up to my mother; she continues to amaze me with her work ethic. Where You See Yourself in Five Years: In five years I want to have one of the top shops in the country with an amazing crew that shares my passion for this industry and be able to enjoy life with my family.

tion. Fast forward 11 years later and I am receiving an industry award the night he received a lifetime achievement award. That is pretty awesome. Biggest Mistake As An Installer: Early in my career, I fell into a routine. I didn’t challenge myself and was afraid to try anything new. I now welcome a challenge, love feeling uncomfortable and constantly try and be better than yesterday. Three Things You Love To Do (Other Than Installation): I love hanging out with my family. I like getting crafty with my daughter (making projects, drawling, etc.). I also enjoy photography, watching sports, playing basketball and golf. Best Influence In Terms of Expertise, Professionalism and Work Ethic: My biggest influences over the past year have also been some of my best friends within the industry. Their work ethic, support and feedback have kept me focused on getting better. Bryan Schmitt, Chris Yato, Tom Miller, Jeremy Carlson, Jeremy Katz, JT Torres, Gary Bell, Doug Dobson, Jamie Schuh, Mark Klette and Shon Besharah to name a few. Where You See Yourself in Five Years: Like Joe Dirt (or Joe Dirte’ depending on where you’re from) would say “I just want to keep on keepin’ on.” I would like to stay on this path to perfect my craft. Life is a garden, I am going to dig it and make it work for me. Dangg...did I just weave in two Joe Dirt quotes. “Oh, my outlaw.” Three.

Total Years Installing: 24 years Other Duties At Current Location: I am the owner, Head Fabricator/ Installer, Store Manager, Competition Team Coordinator, Advertising/ Publicity Coordinator. Proudest Moment In Career: Graduating from Texas A&M University with my Bachelor degree from the College of Architecture. Biggest Mistake As An Installer: Early on in my career I drilled through the gas tank of a customer’s car. Three Things You Love To Do (Other Than Installation): I collect gems and minerals, hang out with my wife and kids, and playing guitar and sing. Best Influence In Terms of Expertise, Professionalism and Work Ethic: My dad and stepdad. Where You See Yourself in Five Years: I want to continue to grow as a fabricator/installer. I want to train new installers and help our industry grow.


 top 12 installers

TJ. CARLSON

Kingpin Car & Marine Audio Wilsonville, Ore.

Total Years Installing: Over 12 years total. 10 years professionally. Other Duties At Current Location: Lead Tech- overseeing the shop and how jobs are getting done, tracking parts and supplies to make sure we’re stocked on what we need to do the job the right way. Sales- help out up front from time to time when necessary, help clients during the sales process, run the front of the store every Monday when our sales manager is off, run end of day paperwork and count down the till every night. Customer Service- make sure the client has an amazing experience when they choose to shop with us.

Miguel Vega Titan Motoring Nashville, Tenn.

Total Years Installing: I started installing a little over five years ago in Florida as a hobby. About a year later I moved to Philadelphia and started installing professionally. Other Duties At Current Location: I do everything from cleaning the floors to giving my opinions to clients on how we can provide them with the best service based on their needs and preferences. Proudest Moment In Career: Being hired as a part of one of the best teams of installers in the industry with Ray West, Moe Goodell and Donny Wolfe and learning so much from each of them.

Chris Ott

Amplified Autosports Tampa, Fla. Total Years Installing: I’ve been installing since high school. My first “professional” job was at Best Buy back in 94 as a 12 volt sales guy. They wouldn’t transfer me back into the shop, so I followed another guy over to Circuit City in 95. That was my first official install job. 21 years later and still at it. Other Duties At Current Location: I try to be involved in everything, from sales to cleaning to marketing to maintenance, etc. Being a team player is important to me so I try to help wherever I can.

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Proudest Moment In Career: Every time I finish a big build!!! Every build is different and unique in its own way. And there’s nothing better than seeing the client grin from ear to ear the first time they see or hear what we’ve done for them. I put a lot of time and effort into every project and the clients reaction is what makes it all worth it. Biggest Mistake As An Installer: My biggest mistake was probably about seven years ago when I accidentally punctured a gel pressure sensor inside a seat while doing a leather kit install. It ended up being cheaper to get an entire seat from a wrecking yard than to get just the replacement sensor from the dealer. I was extremely embarrassed. Three Things You Love To Do (Other Than Installation): Travel, play the drums, and spend time with my family. Best Influence In Terms of Expertise, Professionalism and Work Ethic: Jason Kranitz. He is my current employer and has taught several tricks and techniques covering everything from everyday install to fabrication to system tuning. Where You See Yourself in Five Years: I always want to continue learning and bettering my myself in my career. I learned a long time ago that the moment you become too proud and think you know everything is the moment you become stagnant in your career and stop getting better.

Biggest Mistake As An Installer: As installers, we make mistakes all the time. But I think what’s most important is learning from those mistakes and making every effort to avoid making them in the future. A small example of this would be scratching the dash of the vehicle once and then every other time putting something as simple as tape over the car to protect it. Three Things You Love To Do (Other Than Installation): I love dancing, spending time with my friends and family and exploring new places. Best Influence In Terms of Expertise, Professionalism and Work Ethic: Ray West has definitely had the biggest influence on my expertise. His guidance and experience has helped me avoid making mistakes and learn how to do things correctly. Moe Goodell taught me a ton of tricks to improve my efficiency and quality in installations. And recently I have learned so much from Philip Lindsay about how to be a good leader and how to treat our clients with the best customer service. Where You See Yourself in Five Years: I always try to live in the moment and treat every day as if it were my last. I put all of my effort into whatever I do, which I believe helps me to consistently grow and improve for the future. I just hope to be a better professional to be able to continue helping other installers that could see me as an example.

Proudest Moment In Career: There are two experiences that really stand out. The first is winning Trusted Tech in 2014. The second is the overwhelming response and support I received last year while out of work and looking for a job. Biggest Mistake As An Installer: My biggest mistake has been becoming complacent and not being more assertive with my goals and ambitions. Not breaking out of my comfort zone more often. Three Things You Love To Do (Other Than Installation): My wife and I are foodies, and we love craft beers. We love trying out new local bars and restaurants. I enjoy hanging with my pets at home. I love traveling and exploring new places. Best Influence In Terms of Expertise, Professionalism and Work Ethic: My dad had a big influence on my work ethic. Micah Williams and Bryan Schmitt have both had an influence on me. Everyone I’ve had the opportunity to work with over the past year or so has pushed me to be better. Most importantly, my wife has been a huge influence and supporter of me and all the difficult choices I’ve had to make in this industry. Where You See Yourself in Five Years: In five years, I see myself at a shop that is creative and innovative and at the forefront of the industry and maybe it will even be my own.


Your Business Will Never Be the Same.

YOUR BUSINESS YOUR ATTITUDE YOUR OUT LOOK YOUR PROFITABILITY YOUR FOCUS YOUR STYLE YOUR PRODUCT MIX YOUR INVENTO RY YOUR PROCESS YOUR OPERATIONS YOUR AUDIENCE YOUR MARKETING YOUR CUSTOM ERS YOUR LOOK YOUR PRODUCTIVITY YOUR FORECAST ST YOUR VISION YOUR DIRECTION YOUR BUSINESS YOUR ATTITUDE YOUR OUT LOOK YOUR PROFITABILITY YOUR FOCUS YOUR STYLE YOUR PRODUCT MIX YOUR INVENTO RY YOUR PROCESS YOUR OPERATIONS YOUR AUGUST 20 - 22 AUDIENCE YOUR MARKETING YOUR CUSTOM DALLAS ERS YOUR LOOK YOUR PRODUCTIVITY YOUR KNOWLEDGEFEST.ORG

SHIFT.


real world retail

Left to right: Travis Hibner, Richard Hansen, Danny Pepper, Mark Fung, Patrick Francis and Jason Stone.

Flowing Like Water After years of steady growth, thanks largely to its marine client base, Stereo Solutions has a three-week-long backlog of customers, all eager to get work done from a staff made up completely of experienced installers. WORDS BY TED GOSLIN

Legendary martial artist and philosopher Bruce Lee once said, "Empty your mind, be formless, shapeless—like water. Now you put water in a cup, it becomes the cup; you put water into a bottle it becomes the bottle; you put it in a teapot it becomes the teapot. Now water can flow or it can crash. Be water, my friend." The power of water is undeniable in the natural world. But in the retail space,

38  Mobile Electronics  August 2016

it can be even more powerful. Especially if one put Lee's concept into practice. Luckily for Mark and Erica Fung, owners of Stereo Solutions in Redding, Calif., both the philosophical and physical elements of water have helped land his shop in the Top 50 two years in a row. Located on the Sacramento River, and close to multiple lakes, including the vast Lake Shasta, Redding is home to a strong

boating community that acts as the foundation for Stereo Solutions' business. Due to the recent drought in California, Fung had been concerned about the possibility of a slow season, but luckily, thanks to a surprise rainy season, business is booming. "It's been our second busiest month ever. California has been in a drought, but our lakes are full now. Mt. Shasta has a bunch of snow. People are investing in new boats," Fung said. "There was a point where people thought we were a boat dealer because we had so many boats parked here. The bay has 2,500 square feet with four bay doors, two on each side to pull vehicles through. We squeezed eight or nine boats in there at one time. Marine is a big portion of our company but it's not all of it."


The shop also works with the local fire department and highway patrol, installing navigation, Bluetooth, backup cameras and specialty remote starts. "Some of the highway patrol cars have come from precincts 300 miles away," Fung said. "What started it was we work with a lot of dealerships here in town and they were handling a lot of fleet programs. They got on board with highway patrol and we jumped on board with that."

Liquid Thoughts Becoming a community's go-to place for vehicle upgrades isn't a guarantee, even in a place like Redding where there is a need. It's a good thing that Fung is immersed in all things 12-volt and always has been throughout his career. "It's the only job I've ever had. I worked sweeping car audio shops when I was 15 and a half, right when I could drive," Fung said. "The first shop I worked at was called Speed of Sound in Redding. I was sweeping floors and getting to learn installs by shadowing." After spending two to three years at Speele Audio, Fung moved around to several shops in town. The experience helped Fung identify the do's and don'ts of the business, preparing and inspiring him to open his own shop. "All the shops I worked at in town are no longer in business. I think one of the biggest reasons was the owners of the shops were not car audio guys. They all had financial backers. None of them could install. They all had to rely on someone else to get a job done," Fung said. "When it comes down to it, I can sell a job and I can turn around and install it. It's hard for me to hire a salesman without an installation background because if he doesn't know what he's selling and the car it's going in, it won't turn out right. That's a unique thing here. I have six employees and every single one of them has an installation background."

The shop does not have a dedicated salesperson anymore. Instead, Fung uses a unique approach, allowing as many installers to populate the sales floor as is needed at any given time to handle customers. "People can buy this stuff anywhere but can't get it installed anywhere. There's a guy in town now that just sells product," Fung said. "That's how we focus the shop, around the install." Part of Fung's unique approach comes from his background in self-sufficiency and resourcefulness. "A shop was going out of business and I had the opportunity to buy out all their inventory and I jumped on it. I started out in a 1,000 square foot shop with two people. It was February of '07 in the beginning of the recession and super hard to get lines on anything because we were the small guy in the back of the building, sharing it with another business," Fung said. "Scott from RPM was one of the only reps who would sell us any lines because he saw our passion for what we do. About a year into it we were growing so we went to 2,000 square feet in an industrial park, then after about four years there we noticed it wasn't stopping, so we moved to our current location on Main Street with a 4,000 square foot building." After some initial advertising, the shop built a reputation that spread through word-of-mouth. Thanks to Fung's strong background and his interest in hiring only experienced installation technicians, it became the go-to place for 12-volt upgrades. "Our first year in business we did about $200,000 in sales. It has almost doubled every year. I'm doing almost a million dollars a year now," Fung said. "This year we are on track to beating last year, too. One of the hardest things has been trying to keep up with the growth. We have a crew of about six people now but need more because we are still growing. Hands-on training is a

FAST FACTS

STEREO SOLUTIONS

www.stereosolutionsinc.com

Stereo Solutions is a traditional retail store located at 2345 Hilltop Drive, Redding, California, 96002. The store is located on the main street of a small town with a population of 100,000 that sees about 19,000 vehicles pass by per day. The facility consists of 3,600 total square feet with an installation bay that includes pull-through bays and a woodshop/fiberglass room. Primary marketing includes word-of-mouth, local car shows, a wrapped van that features the company name and logo and various social media campaigns including Facebook and Instagram.

KEY STAFF

OWNER(S): Mark & Erica Fung SALES MANAGER: Jason Stone INSTALLATION MANAGER: Danny Pepper INSTALLATION SPECIALISTS: Richard Hansen, Travis Hibner TINT SPECIALIST: Patrick Francis

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real world retail must so that previous bad habits might be broken."

Forming Habits

Owners Mark and Erica Fung started their business in 2007.

Empty Waves

Not all marketing promotions result in solid returns for the shop.

“We tried to do a radio ad but no one really listens to radio anymore. We tried to advertise a window tint special we were running so we got together with the radio station and came up with a plan of action we thought would work. “The idea was to see how many people would come in after hearing our ad on the radio. We found out the people coming into the store came in from word-of-mouth or returning customers and our convenient location. Not because they heard our ad on the radio. “We should have probably just ran an ad on Facebook about our current special. No more radio for us; it was a big waste of money.”

The business relies heavily on its work with marine vehicles, which can be easily accommodated in the shop’s massive installation bay space. 40  Mobile Electronics  August 2016

To create the kind of experience he wants his customers to have, Fung has created a training culture that includes set processes for types of installations, regular company-wide meetings and trainings with industry experts like Ken Ward and Micah Williams. "We go to a tremendous amount of classes with Ken Ward, D'Amore Engineering and Sonus with Micah Williams. We also travel to KnowledgeFest for trainings," Fung said. "We try to do a company meeting every two weeks so everyone is on the same page with everything. Just a little half hour meeting so people can get frustrations out if there are any and step up our game if needed due to the current work load.” In addition to the training culture, Fung has developed a fun-loving environment for his employees by have team-building events like trips to the lake and occasional dinner parties. "There are three lakes around our area. Two years ago, everybody got jet skis and we would go jet skiing after work," Fung said. "It's kind of work and play. We have lots of jokesters and pranksters. I'm kind of a comedian; people follow suit to that. It's a happy environment. We're not selling burial lots here. It needs to be a fun environment." Keeping morale up is only part of the game. Once technicians are relaxed, the real work can begin cultivating the brand presentation to customers. From the installation side, that is presented with the little things customers see when a job is done. "The way we install, we use wire barrels on everything, Tesa tape on everything, heat shrink with our own logo on everything. We really brand our name on our installs and show people why they need to bring their car to us and why it's a better experience for them," Fung said. "We do a lot of fabrication work. Anything from full fiberglass interiors to iPads in the dashes. That sets us apart from other shops in town. We've always had a fab room. In town, I don't think


The facility is comprised of 3,600 total square feet of space, with 2,200 dedicated to the installation bay (right), 650 for the fabrication room (top left) and 750 for the showroom (bottom left).

anyone else has a dedicated fabrication room. There are three dedicated car audio shops and Best Buy." Installs are divided by individual skill sets, for the most part, with most wiring jobs going to one guy, while fabrication work goes to another. But when needed to help speed along work, technicians team up on builds.

Watershed Moment The average tenure of employees at Stereo Solutions is between five and 15 years. That longevity is partly thanks to Fung's loyalty to his long-time colleagues, General Manager Jason Stone (15 years professional experience) and Installation Manager Danny Pepper (17 years professional experience). Fung makes it a point to take care of those who take care of his business, understanding the value of such experienced employees. However, due to the installer shortage that continues to plague the 12-volt industry, he has had to look elsewhere to cultivate new employees in recent years.

The shop prides itself on owning all product stocked in-house, which allows it to operate without a looming debt.

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real world retail

Kool April Nights

To celebrate existing customers, Fung puts on a promotional event that also helps win over new customers. “We do a customer appreciation day once a year for a national event called ‘Kool April Nights.’ The initial goal was to be sure all of our valued customers are happy and satisfied with our services. “We all get together as a team and decide on food/drinks and entertainment for the event. One of the major components was coordinating what we were going to showcase that year, such as previous customers’ cars on display, live bands and one year we had the Orange County Choppers’ ‘Patriot Chopper’ on display.” “No real issues have come up other than the first year when we weren’t prepared for the number of people that showed up. But we learned we needed to be more prepared for a larger group for the coming years. “We meet our goal every year with a large turnout of over 500 people joining us for our customer appreciation event. This was the fourth year at our location; people look forward to it every year.”

42  Mobile Electronics  August 2016


"Travis is our youngest employee. He's been here about a year. It's his first car audio shop. We've trained him pretty well. He's grabbed the reins and we let him loose on his own vehicles now and he's been awesome," Fung said. "I found him at Del Taco. We were just talking and I told him to come by the shop and it went from there. He had a natural automotive mechanical ability. That's what opened my eyes to him." Despite a strong camaraderie amongst the staff, there's nothing that can prepare an owner for a sudden departure, especially one that results in a new competitor. "One devastating thing was that I just had an employee leave me to start his own shop. He worked here for five years," Fung said. Having known the employee for over 15 years, the blow stung more than Fung expected given the friendship between the two and the abrupt nature of the departure. "He was one of our salesmen. It was kind of a devastating blow at first and it hurt the guys as well. He up and left one day, leaving us high and dry." While some owners might see that situation as catastrophic, given its impact on both morale and business due to the former employee's position as primary salesman, Fung saw it as an opportunity. "One benefit from it was that I had lost sight of my business for a little bit, expecting it to run itself and this is what happened. The first month he was gone, we had the biggest month in our business's history. That shed a new light for all the employees. It said to everybody, 'we can do this,'" Fung said. "This was just last year. He left in January, and in March we had the biggest month in our company's history, which led to biggest year last

year. It led to everyone in the shop stepping up. I don't want to say it's the best thing that's ever happened, but it was a big game changer in our shop. Also, last year was the first year we went to KnowledgeFest. I can't believe how motivated it makes you feel after going to that show. We're taking the whole shop this year. It's about getting everyone on that same motivational track."

Beyond the Doors Three of the six installation technicians at Stereo Solutions has made the Top 50/100 Installers, one each for the last three years, including Fung in 2013. Those accolades, plus the collective experience between all staff, have become powerful tools for the company, which has marketed itself well with its client base. Of course, the most powerful tool for self-promotion comes from one key emotion. "Money comes naturally with passion. Customers feel that too," Fung said. "When we're talking to people, the money part follows naturally." Aside from passion, the mostly male staff uses humor to lighten the mood and make their day and the customer experience more enjoyable. But like anything else, that mentality requires a system of checks and balances. "My wife, Erica, takes care of all bills and oversees everything. She keeps us on task," Fung said. "On book she's the secretary. But she does a lot more than that. She keeps all of us in check. We do pretty much live here in a toy store." Employees who stay on task and help the company are also provided bonus incentives. The incentive program is based on how much product is sold compared to the same month of the

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real world retail previous year. The higher the sales, the better the incentives. To reach the financial heights the company has achieved, Fung stressed the importance of getting inquiring customers through the door any way possible. While word-of-mouth does a fair job of that, Fung also has his fair share of phone conversions with potential customers asking about specific product installations. "Say the customer calls on the phone saying they have a product and asks if you can install it. Our big thing is getting them down to the store. Bring your car down, bring your truck down. We look at every customer's vehicle, even if it's the same truck we own in back. We physically touch all cars," Fung said. "When it comes to installing it, there are no errors. A lot of times people buy stuff online, buy the wrong item and don't realize it. One thing that helps is getting them to return their product, then buy it again from us just because we offer it cheaper and have more knowledge on it. That's part of why we have a retail location, to bring customers into it." Once a customer is in the showroom, the salesperson discusses what they want, shows them a display, then, if they are interested, takes them in the back to show them a current project. "We also have a 40-inch TV that displays past projects. A guy recently said he had no clue we did this kind of work. He was looking on the TV screen while waiting for his car. It's like a silent salesman in a way," Fung said. "Even in our town, where we do a lot of car shows, it's surprising how many people think our custom jobs are manufacturer work." Customers aren't the only ones impressed by the shop's work. A local Best Buy sends regular referrals to Stereo

44  Mobile Electronics  August 2016

Solutions due to the continuous requests for more complex work than Best Buy can provide. "When they can't perform a particular install, they send them down the street. We're two miles down the same street from Best Buy," Fung said. "We do appointments, but sad to say, we are about three weeks out on average. It’s disappointing to people, but when we show them previous installs on the display

new speakers wanting the cheapest. I would show them the entry-level and one up and why they want it because they can hear the difference." Another strategy Fung employs is owning all product in the shop, with no reliance on credit. "I don't have any manufacturer credit on anything. Everything in the shop, the shop owns," Fung said. To make sure product is moved in a timely manner, Fung plans ahead by season. "I do forecasting. It's better to have more product on hand than less."

Leaving A Watermark

board and the care we put into the vehicle, they wait." To help educate first-time customers with product and service offerings, including window tinting, Fung creates personalized packages that suit individual needs. "If a guy wants door speakers, we offer window tint at the same time to save them money," Fung said. "As far as packages go, we feel out the customer's needs and put together what we feel work best for them." Although it used to sell cheap products, the shop no longer does that in an effort to increase both customer trust and revenue. "We've gotten out of selling entry level products. Now, the cheapest coaxial speaker we sell is $119. Before, we carried $39 speakers. Talking to customers about installs and making them feel safe has increased our average ticket price," Fung said. "We explain to customers what they need versus what they think they want. A lot of times people would come in for

With some of his biggest challenges behind him, Fung is confident in the company's future, especially given its recent accomplishments. "We made the Top 50 the past three years in a row. We also have an MECP advanced certified tech here. This year, one of my favorite reps became MECP proctor. He's going to come out this year and the goal is to get everyone MECP certified," Fung said. "A lot of it is setting goals. About a year ago or so, we began setting goals for the shop. Having the staff on board with that is amazing. They get each other's backs. We're all setting these goals in the long run to achieve them. It takes a group effort." Perhaps the most critical challenge that continues for the shop is finding quality staff. Especially considering the loss of a core staff member. "When our sales guy left us, it brought the shop together. It was nice seeing all the guys step up. It shined a light on everybody in a way," Fung said. "Don't think you're stuck with where you're at. Don't be afraid to take a chance. If you have a gut feeling about something, don't be afraid to take it. It'll work out. That was a big turning point for our company and I wish I'd done it sooner." 


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ďƒŽ behind the scenes

After building an empire in all directions of the spectrum in the audio marketplace, Harman has returned to its roots, producing what it hopes are products innovative enough to propel the aftermarket forward. WORDS BY TED GOSLIN

Chris Dragon, Senior Director, Marketing and Automotive Services, Harman.

46  Mobile Electronics  August 2016

When an idea is conceptualized, it's much like the seed of a tree. Once the seed is planted, it needs to be nurtured. Soon enough, it begins to sprout and over time, with enough care, it becomes a great oak. But soon, the tree's branches begin to grow far and wide. These branches, though attached to the same tree, spread in various directions, making them quite different. No matter what leaves sprout from them, those branches can never forget where they came from. The same is true for a company like Harman. From a seed of an idea sprouted the great oak that is Harman. Its branches include AKG, Harman Kardon, Lexicon, Mark Levinson, Revel and 12-volt brands JBL and Infinity. The company has become a household name in each of its corresponding categories, including lifestyle audio for home, work and car, connected car services with navigation, multimedia, telematics and safety/ security options, and professional solutions like integrated audio, lighting and video for scenarios like arena concerts.

In 1953, Canadian-born engineer and businessman Sidney Harman partnered with colleague Bernard Kardon to form Harman International. Since then, the company has been focused on innovation in all forms of audio. But one form that slowed down in recent years was 12-volt audio. Once a celebrated name in the medium, the company found itself slowing its presence in car audio. Today, the company has returned with a bang by allowing industry talents like Jeff Faye and Chris Dragon to reinvigorate the category with new innovations that they hope will launch both the company and the industry into a new era of prosperity.

Deep Roots In the 1980s, Chris Dragon made a name for himself and Harman within the 12-volt aftermarket space by helping to create innovative products that would shape the space in ways that haven't been seen since. With Dragon's help, the company reached its core market in such a way that it became a must-have brand for both consumers and retailers. However, he was soon moved to another division,


leaving the car audio division in other hands. "I've been with Harman for 21 years and have held a number of different roles over the years. They originally stole me from a competitor after I helped develop that company's audio division," said Dragon, currently the Senior Director of Marketing and Automotive Services for Harman. "JBL and Infinity existed first, but I had a key role in developing those brands. When I first joined, we formed a group called Harman Mobile Systems. It was separate from everything. There were nine of us focused on all things aftermarket car audio. Several of us are still here. Go figure." Considering the company's size and scope, with seven billion in revenue and around 40,000 employees at its disposal, Dragon's achievements are considerable. Despite the success of the company, it

maintains a culture of innovation, according to Dragon. "When I started here, we were building big box speakers and amps but it's still kicking for sure. People were saying aftermarket audio is dying, but guess what? It's still here," he said. "Today, we're building a lot of portable Bluetooth speakers, headphones, because technology has moved ahead. A lot of that is because of how society has changed. We've become a very portable society." Dragon views the aftermarket the same way, with the company’s current focus on launching JBL's newest head unit, the Legend CB-100, which works with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. Dragon claims the launch of the device is "all about people being able to use their content in their car." "One of the cool things about how the company has evolved is how the aftermarket audio business operates in the

automotive vertical. We work very closely with our OEM verticals," Dragon said. "We developed the JBL Legend for both the aftermarket and OEM space. Being the largest aftermarket manufacturer in the world, we don't have to develop for retail. That's an example of what the company represents." The company also represents an internal synergy that allows departments to work together so the right hand knows what the left is doing. According to Dragon, the change in CEOs has been drastic given the difference in styles each had, but that didn't hurt the culture— quite the opposite. "This is a pretty cool environment here. Over time it's done nothing but get better. How Sidney Harman operated this company versus the current CEO are two completely different creatures," Dragon said. "I had the pleasure of working

JBL’s new head unit is designed with Apple CarPlay in mind to enable modern use with easy-to-use controls. MSRP is $399.95.

COMPANY BACKGROUND:

HARMAN INTERNATIONAL INDUSTRIES, INC. Founded: 1953 as Harman Kardon, then consolidated into Harman International in 1980 Founders: Sidney Harman and Bernard Kardon Headquarters: Stamford, Connecticut CEO: Dinesh C. Paliwal Current Annual Revenue: $7 billion

Current Number of Employees: 29,000 Current Brands: Harman Kardon, Becker, JBL, Crown Audio, dbx, Martin Professional, AKG Acoustics, Lexicon, Infinity, Mark Levinson, Revel 12-volt Product Offerings: Speakers, subwoofers, amplifiers, head units, hands-free Bluetooth, safety

me-mag.com   47


ďƒŽ behind the scenes

The company has offices all over the world that are placed strategically to work within a certain space, like this Detroit-based headquarters, in place to work closely with automakers.

with Sidney. I was sad when he passed away. We did not buy brands just to buy brands. He was very smart about acquiring brands that could provide things we didn't have. Becker was navigation for aircraft. That's why we bought them. We acquired AKG because we wanted expertise of microphones and headphones." Current CEO, Dinesh Paliwal, did a lot of consolidation when he took control of company, according to Dragon. "I don't mean that in a negative sense. He was very smart with verticals and integration

48  Mobile Electronics  August 2016

to leverage these businesses to develop better product. We were better about transducer engineering," Dragon added. "Dinesh has done a pretty darn good job of leading this company into the 21st century. More and more of what we are doing is not stuff in a box. It's software driven." Thanks to a strong CEO and a common goal to innovate, the company culture represents diversity and positivity, according to Dragon. "It keeps things fresh and exciting when a company is

growing and evolving. It's far from a stagnant organization," he said. "They celebrate people in the culture here. There is an attitude to grow people within the organization."

The Real Deal With Harman's strong footprint in other industries, and its firm relationship with OEMs, aftermarket retailers might wonder what kind of support they can expect. Dragon explained how the company has positioned itself in a way to


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make all parties happy. "Retailers will always feel boxed out like the man's out to get us. A lot of it is the portfolio and what you're trying to solve for. We build our product roadmaps a little bit differently than other companies," Dragon said. "We create product as solutions. It's about 'what's the problem and how can we solve it?' not, 'let's build another 2,000 Watt, six-inch loudspeaker.' There are people who are only after the absolute best they can get. But by and large, if you look at the portfolios that JBL and Infinity have built, it's quite the range." Part of the expanded line-up Dragon mentioned includes the upcoming JBL Legend

me-mag.com   49


 behind the scenes

The Infinity Basslink SM is a powered, eight-inch, under-the-seat subwoofer, designed to fit in tight spaces to enhance versatility without sacrificing performance. MSRP is $249.95.

The JBL Trip is a visor mount, portable Bluetooth hands-free device that features Voice Cancellation technology, which blocks road and wind noise during phone calls. MSRP is $99.95.

The JBL Trip is a visor mount, portable Bluetooth hands-free device that features Voice Cancellation technology, which blocks road and wind noise during phone calls. MSRP is $99.95.

50  Mobile Electronics  August 2016

CP-100 touch-screen head unit. The double-DIN unit is a first for JBL and features Bluetooth, rear camera input, steering wheel interface ready and is compatible with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. While originally scheduled for shipping in February 2016, the unit has been delayed due to a software issue. "We have had to revisit the software as the specs for Android Auto and CarPlay were updated while we were in the middle of the submission process," Dragon said. "This of course has caused a delay. We cannot provide an exact date at this point. There are no current plans to change the product price." The JBL Legend CP-100 is exclusive to the aftermarket. Harman is the largest producer of head units in the world, according to Dragon. There are aspects of the Legend platform that will migrate into other head unit products. In addition to the Legend, all of Harman's speakers, amps and head units are exclusive to the aftermarket. "We are in complete control of our distribution. While there are a handful of products sold by distributors, the majority of our products are sold direct," Dragon said. "In addition, we do not tolerate transshipping." Maintaining a trust with its retailers is vital for any manufacturer but the importance is heightened today, considering an industry culture between reps and dealers that Dragon describes as 'broken.' He also believes that the rep is as important as the company. "Are they proactive and working their territory or do they just show up once a month?

If a rep works only by phone, they won't be with us for very long." "We're trying to keep merchants' inventory flowing. The strategy varies by territory. Big daddy is territory in the North East. There we have an example of a rep named Morris who is old school but not old school, working with dealers to develop business. He's training them, helping with consumer promotions and provides insights based on years served. We're fortunate to have those types of reps," Dragon said. "The reps have a really good relationship with merchants. Some stuff we handle on our own. We construct a document every year called 'The Perfect Pitch.' It has our product list, problem solving tips, how we're solving each problem and what makes us cooler than our competitors. The territories that are excelling are the ones who take an interest in the business. It's the same for the merchants. It's a potent combination."

Reaching New Heights Being one of the most profitable companies in the audio industry has many benefits, including a large marketing budget. But regardless of how much money the company has to spend on consumer outreach, it's still critical to maintain a focused strategy, according to Dragon. "We're marketing the JBL Legend CP-100 as an accessory to smartphones and not as an in-dash radio. One of joys of being a big company is that we have an insights group department that does nothing but consumer-facing research. You gotta talk to your customers and find out


what problems they are having and what you can find solutions for," Dragon said. "Is there still going to be a subwoofer and speaker business? Absolutely. In terms of marketing to them, we do a page or two with Mobile Electronics every month, we're friendly with PAS Magazine and we do a lot of dealer interaction with our customer base and with dealers through various communication vehicles. I personally write a newsletter that gets distributed through a consumer team in Northridge." Internal consumer tracking is only part of the game, however. If retailers want to truly reach customers with Harman's products they need to take advantage of the tools Harman provides, according to Dragon. "There are also lots of tools offered for merchants who are being proactive. The consumers are out there but they aren't all going to find you. You have to find them," Dragon said. "It's important we provide merchants the tools to do that outreach." Maintaining employees internally who have that kind of work ethic is part of the company's overall vision of being forward thinking, Dragon added. "We're not living day to day as a company. We're making changes, acquiring companies and experience to continue to propel this amazing ship that I've been lucky enough to be part of for 21 years. To develop well thought-out products that solve problems." Being a former retailer himself, Dragon is well-aware of the challenges retailers face, but knows the only way through is with the hard work of staying on top of emerging trends. "The biggest thing is that the merchants are their own champions. They have to be interested in growing their business. They have to be committed to marketing in their marketplace and need to align themselves with manufacturers that are being proactive with more than just getting the order," Dragon said. "The greatest partnerships are those between the rep, merchant and manufacturer. Those are the ones that win and prosper. There are certainly more than a handful of companies out there that are doing a really good job. They need to align themselves with those companies. Link your wagon to a stable ship. I can't think of a more stable ship than this one." 

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me-mag.com   51


 tech today

Visionary Designs

Top 12 Installer Matt Schaeffer uses a Chevy Corvette Z06 build to explain how keeping sight of a build’s longevity will help you in the long run. WORDS BY MATT SCHAEFFER

C

harles Eames once said, “The details are not the details. They make the design.” This has always resonated with me. Before I start a build, I try and ask myself a few questions. “How am I going to solve this problem?” “How am I going to make this serviceable?” “How is this going to look in 10 years?” To start the design and fabrication process, these questions need answers. It will direct you down a path to choose the correct materials for the job.  As a fabricator, I want the customer to achieve what they are looking for in solving their problem. Example: Adding a tweeter to a door panel. We have to find a solution to what the customer wants. In this case, there is a nice fairly flat surface which sits at the top of his door panel in his Chevy Corvette Z06. We can create a pod to house the tweeter, right around where the sail panel would be. This is a great location because the mid sits right below it in the OEM location.  Now that we have a solution for the customer in sight, we can start the design process. What materials am I going to choose? How is it going to be put

52  Mobile Electronics  August 2016

Acrylic was the material of choice for the tweeter pods. This ensures a long-lasting part which can withstand moisture and temperature changes.

By using small neodymium magnets, we have a way to secure and strongly mount our rear and front inserts to the pod. 

It is a small part, but detailing it with four different materials gives it a factory finish. The pod is finished off with matte black paint, black leather, brushed aluminum and a matching red press grill.


Small break lines and details tend to give more of a production feel. 

In the rear setup I chose six materials which include: matching black alcantara suede, matching red spice leather, brushed aluminum, black acrylic, LED lit acrylic and black fidelity mesh.  together? How is it going to be serviceable? At this point, I sit down in front of the area I am working on and sketch a general design. If you use the lines of the panels you are essentially joining to, your design will always fit right in. Be sure to make your lines “relatable”. In this pod, I chose to incorporate four different materials which you could find on the OEM door panel. These materials included

matte black paint, black leather, brushed aluminum and a red press grill. The front grill assembly and the rear leather insert are completely removable with neodymium magnets. There are two 1/4-inch-20 threaded inserts that are installed under the pod so it can be bolted directly to the door panel. The speaker wire leads are terminated with a removable plug so the housing can be removed from the door.  

How will this part look in 10 years? Hopefully the same way it did when the customer picks up the car. That is always the goal. The materials you choose will have a major impact on the end result will look years later. I like to use cell cast acrylic as a base in a lot of applications. It has superior weathering qualities compared to other composites. It also has a broad temperature range.

The customer wanted to have accent lighting for the equipment. I used 1/2-inch acrylic to illuminate the amplifiers and side pockets when the trunk is open. 

The controller for the k40 RL360i Expert resides in the cigarette lighter area. The lighter port was removed and the controller molded in its place. To keep it looking OEM it was refinished with matching suede flock. The controller pushes down flush with the console when not in use. 

At night you can notice a soft glow coming from under the rear arc of the subwoofer enclosure. That’s an easy way to give a added layer of depth.

me-mag.com   53


 tech today

The subwoofer enclosure was made out of layers. This ensures we have a consistent and mathematically correct shape. It is a quick way to add a 3D profile without using a bunch of different materials bonded together to achieve the same goal. I have often heard a lot of people say this method is a waste of wood. Well, when you add up the two sheets of wood this used, which cost $80, and the amount of time it took to router and assemble, which took one day, and you compare what that would have cost in time and material to use fiberglass with fillers or some alternative method, it does not even come close to comparing. This method also adds way more durability then fiberglass. So let’s start thinking smarter. That way we can build better and faster, therefore becoming more profitable. 

Poly-primer is standard when combining multiple materials or when building a stacked enclosure. You essentially want to create a “shell” over all the multiple layers or materials. When shooting a stacked MDF enclosure, be sure to shoot all sides of the enclosure. MDF is terrible when it comes to humidity. It can soak up moisture, which causes it to warp.  That’s why shooting the finished side along with the inside or non-exposed side is imperative. If you have multiple layers of fillers meeting a composite surface, it is a must to shoot poly-primer. Start making it a standard within your shop. Your build will last the life of the vehicle.  The probabilities of our part warping or deteriorating over time is slim to none. If you are going to be joining multiple pieces together, make sure you are using an acrylic cement. When I built the base of my pod from multiple stacked layers of acrylic, I had to finish of the front by molding in the grill trim ring. By doing this I used a small amount of filler from the acrylic up to the trim ring. I then

54  Mobile Electronics  August 2016

skimmed the layers of the acrylic where they stack to create a flat uniform surface. To finish this off, I painted the pods with Poly-Primer with MEKP. This assures that the acrylic and filler become one single surface. The poly primer creates a “hardened shell” over your piece. This is imperative for a long-lasting finish. 

I follow these guidelines with every part I build. If you stick to those rules, you will always have a part which will fit into the original design and withstand the life of the vehicle. Most importantly, if someone else has to service the car, your install should not stand in the way. The customer will recognize and understand just what they purchased from you, and will be back for more. 


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me-mag.com   55


 tech today

WORDS BY BING XU FOREWORD BY JOEY KNAPP

Part 3 H

i, everyone—Joey here. Hopefully, everyone has followed along over the past two articles on the beginning and middle steps to fabricating a false floor build. If you have gotten this far, you made it to the best part. In this

56  Mobile Electronics  August 2016

installment, Bing is going to talk about building the fun stuff. The top pieces! If all of his previous steps have been followed, this part should be the most fun, when you really see your creation come to life. I encourage you to go back through the other two articles after you finish reading this one. Go through them from start to finish and follow the steps, building in your mind a virtual false floor. The more familiar you become with the process, the quicker you will be when you get your next opportunity to build one of these creations. There have been many times when I have been working on my own project and went over to ask Bing something, or pick on him, and I find that all of a sudden—BAM—there’s a false floor build. That is why I suggest really getting to know the process. The more comfortable you are, the quicker you will be, and the more profitable it becomes. So, let’s see how you can finish up your project now!

Trim, Top Floor Panel And Grille It is finally time to put the icing on the cake and top off your false floor build. Even though this portion of the project requires far less thinking than the previous two steps, you still need to keep your focus. After all, the top layer is pretty much the only thing anyone ever sees of the entire build. The trim layer can be as basic or as advanced as you want it to be. It all depends on the scope and budget of the project and your skillset as a fabricator. By this step in the build process, you should already have a very clear mental picture of the shape, color and overall design of the trim panel. It is a simple matter of executing it with precision. After the panel has been cut and shaped, I typically still adhere to the top down build philosophy and do not make any of the cutouts. Instead, I draw the shapes of my planned cutouts onto the board and then pre-drill the holes into the board over the support beams. Once I have maneuvered the panel to what I feel is a good position, I transfer the holes onto


the top of the supports themselves and install threaded inserts. Now I can lock down the still solid trim panel via bolts with repeated precision. At this stage, take some additional measurements of the cutout drawn on the trim board, and if you feel that everything lines up, you can go ahead and make these cutouts. Now it is time to fabricate the main false floor. The difficulty of this exercise varies wildly depending on the vehicle. On certain vehicles, all you have to do is transfer the shape of an OEM floorboard or cargo mat onto wood and make minute adjustments. Other builds will require you to build a precision fit floor from scratch, whether it is due to a lack of OEM panels to copy from, a raising of the floor height, or if the new design retains the stock top floor cover and you need to make a new panel beneath. I will not go into a ton of detail on how to achieve this—as there are many tutorials and videos available documenting how to make a custom panel that conforms to an existing location—but in general, I do it with a lot of cardboard sheets, a tracing device of some type that copies a curve at a set distance away from the sidewalls and some packing tape to assemble the full floor template after following the lines and trimming the cardboard pieces to the desired shape.

Before transferring the cardboard templates onto the actual building material, I suggest first measuring and drawing horizontal and vertical grid lines on the wood. It is very likely that the finished floor panel will have very few straight edges to use as reference lines, so if you pre-draw these grids and make sure your template is laid onto the wood at a straight orientation (usually by lining up the front edge as that is usually a straight line) before cutting, you will have the ability to create your cutouts in a square manner by referencing these grid lines. Once you have a rough floor panel cutout, you can make it a precision fit panel by taping off areas where gaps are present and back fill with body filler. After some final sanding, what you should have is a solid panel that drops over the entire install and fits precisely with the lines of the trunk. Once you have achieved this, you can make the main cutout on this panel. Here, it becomes a slight reversal of my earlier technique and instead of going top down, I like to use the trim layer with its precise cutouts to dictate the opening on the top floor. I do this by first laying small strips of double sided router tape on the support structures. Then I bolt the trim layer down and remove the bolts, thus having the trim layer secured only with

strips of router tape. Then I lay down several bigger strips of router tape on top of the trim panel, spread out across the entire surface. This way, when the top floor panel is dropped on top of the trim player, the tape securely bonds the two boards and you can release both of them together from the car. Now, take a pencil and trace the cutout shape onto the bottom of the top panel, pre-drill any holes you may need to precisely line up the two in the future—be it for dowels or bolts/screws—and separate the two pieces. What you have now is a strong idea of where the cutouts will be in the trim layer and you can go ahead and make your top board cutout to fit precisely over them at the exactly measurements you desire. If you are doing an edge lit acrylic layer in between the trim panel and the top floor, then your job becomes infinitely easier. All you have to do is perform the same router tape procedure on the acrylic ring, flip the board over and match the shape of the cutout with a flush trim router bit. Once the cutout has been made, it’s a simple matter of figuring out your securing method—be it dowels or bolts—and upholster the panel. The final step of the entire fake floor build is to fabricate the grille(s) needed

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 tech today

In this 2014 Porsche Cayman S, the trim layer (top panel) cutout is used to determine the cutout in the main floor panel. A flush trim bit was used to duplicate the shape, and then the main floor cutout is enlarged by half an inch to showcase a border of white vinyl in the finished product.

58  Mobile Electronics  August 2016


to go over the products and maintain the functionality of the vehicle. As mentioned in part one of the article, I feel the ability to hide and protect the components is absolutely integral to a true false floor project. Without this measure, you in essence remove the “falseness” of the install as anyone looking in the trunk will immediately know the floor has been changed to accommodate an aftermarket system. Not to mention this will eliminate the functionality of the one area in the vehicle that demands the most daily usage. These types of “in-floor” builds, in my humble opinion, are strictly reserved for dedicated show vehicles and occasional weekend drivers. To be a proper grille, it has to satisfy three requirements. One, it must fit with precision so there is enough friction to not pop off when the vehicle goes over rough road surfaces, yet it should still be loose enough to pull off with relative ease. Two, it must be sturdy enough to allow daily use and abuse like the rest of the floor. And lastly, it should have a breathable surface over the subwoofers and amplifiers to allow the exchange of

air, both for thermal and acoustic purposes. The one exception to this rule is if you are using the OEM floor panel as your top cover. In these cases, the first two criteria have already been satisfied, and in most cases, I find that if you leave some room between the components and the top floor, the sub bass will still carry into the interior while the resulting air movement will benefit the thermal exchange at the same time. We typically make all of our grilles the same way. The first order of business is to make a board that fits into the main floor cutout precisely, leaving the proper gap for upholstery material. To achieve this, we first make a template from the main floor cutout using a flush trim bit. By running the bit along the edges of the cutout in a solid piece of wood, we can create a precise shape that matches the main cutout but is reduced by a quarter or half-inch, depending on the size of the router bit you use. Then, using other flush cut bits paired with various sized bearings, we can transfer the template onto the actual grille panel, and expand or reduce as needed until we are happy

with the end result. To ensure the best fit, I typically make the grille board slightly larger than it needs to be, and slowly reduce it via tiny increments, test fitting with a piece of carpet laid in the trunk, until I feel the desired dimensions have been achieved. Next, measure where you would like the cutouts to be to allow venting of the subwoofer and amplifiers, and perform them onto the grille panel. Then, take a rabbet router bit and cut a very thin grove around the opening on the top surface of the panel. Trace the shape of the grove’s outer edge onto a sheet of sturdy perforated metal mesh (we typically use 20 Ga 60+ percent open steel mesh), and cut out the shape using metal shears. Then, using a pneumatic stapler, we attach the sheets over the cutouts and hammer down any edges that were raised up during the stapling process. Once complete, the top of the metal mesh should line up with the main panel surface to create a seamless flat plane. The final step is a simple matter of wrapping the grille with carpet. We generally prefer to use trunk liner for this

This grille panel for a 2008 Volkswagen GTi has four pieces of mesh embedded into it to allow venting for the subwoofer and three amplifiers.

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 tech today

The GTi grille wrapped in trunk liner, with nylon pull strap at the back edge to allow for easy removal.

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60  Mobile Electronics  August 2016


The completed GTi false floor presentation. process as it is fully breathable and has virtually zero effect on the output of the subwoofer. You can choose to upholster the bottom of the grille as well if you wish, and we also attach some type of pull strap at the back edge to allow easy removal of the grill. Now that you have taken the journey

with me on the conception, design and fabrication process of a false floor project, go out there and create your own! Working within the strict confines and limitations of an OEM trunk floor can be tedious and frustrating, but if you just remember the mantra of “measure twice, cut once” and keep your head in the

game, it can be supremely rewarding as well. At the end of the day, the look on a customer’s face when I pop off the grille to transfer from stealth mode to full display splendor is truly one of my favorite aspects of the job. 

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@memphiscaraudioUSA

@Memphiscaraudio

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 installs

Clean and Simple

SUBMITTED BY DAVID CRUZ, SOUNDSCAPE CAR AUDIO, PLANO, TEXAS

Top 12 Installer David Cruz was hired to design a clean and simple Audison system in a 2014 Toyota Rav 4. He built the enclosure in the rear cargo area while Installer Daniel Greenwood handled the amprack and head unit and Pierce Barrett worked on the door treatments and speaker install. Parts used included a Sony RSX GS9, Prima AP 8.9 bit, Prima AP1D, Audison DRC-MP, Prima tweeters and 6.5 ohms. All doors were treated with Husmat Fast rings and black hole tile.

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NEW DEALERS WELCOME! me-mag.com   63


 installs

Project Wolf Pack Left to right: Jeremy Katz (JK Automotive Designs), Aaron Garcia (Perfectionist Auto Sound), John Schwartz (Perfectionist Auto Sound), JT Torres (HB Auto Sound), and Tom Miller (Musicar Northwest). John Schwartz, owner of Perfectionist Auto Sound and Security, believes strongly in the 12-volt community. To prove it, he assembled a crew of the best technicians the industry has to offer to build up his 2003 Mercedes SL500, his pride and joy. Having seen another job he liked in a similar model that 2014 Installer of the Year, Tom Miller, built, Schwartz first considered shipping his car to Miller’s shop, Musicar Northwest in Portland, Ore. But that never happens due to scheduling issues. Eventually, it became easier for Miller to go to Alaska instead. But Schwartz didn’t stop there with his team. Knowing what work needed to be done, he contact Jeremy Katz from Sonus Car Audio, who he knew had also built an impressive SL. “Jeremy and I have become great friends and of course when we started talking about Tom coming up I invited him as well,” Schwartz said. “Imagine how lucky I felt to have the two guys that built these amazing systems and now they are coming to my store to work on mine.” As if that wasn’t enough, Schwartz decided to call on one more person: Installer of the Year, JT Torres. “Jeremy had

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suggested that I ask JT to also come up and help because the project was going to be a lot of work to squeeze into a week. Thankfully he agreed and now we had the Dream Team!” Schwartz said. The crew went to work, drafting the look of the work on paper before starting, a trait that Miller is known for. Equipment used included a Pioneer App Radio 4, Audison Bit One processor, Audison DRC MP, Audison Voce 5.1k, Audison Voce Due, Morel 38 LE 3-way component set, Audiomobile USA Evo series and 8-inch DVC subwoofers. SoundSkins USA sound deadening material was used to help contain the sound and a K40 RL360i Expert with a Laser Diffuser Optix also installed. “I want to thank Youseff Phillips at elettromedia, Casey Thorson at Morel, and Matt Overpeck at Audiomobile for the amazing equipment and a very special thank you to Peggy Finley and Ray Woolf with K40 Electronics for hooking us up with a full laser and radar system,” Schwartz added.


Here is the finished dash. Completely made from acrylic and finished in SEM paint. The silver accents were inspired by the car and are carried out through the whole build.

Inside the door is covered in SoundSkins Pro material. The team then built a new mounting plate out of HDPE composite. For speakers they used the Morel’s 38th Anniversary 3-way component set.

The finished door panel was given a more open look to expose the speakers.

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Too Many Issues and Not Enough Decisions: Dealing with Stress Everyone has a bad day, but not everyone has the tools to manage the outcome. Here is a process that’s sure to help you navigate choppy waters, no matter how big the waves are. Have you ever had one of those days when things start to go wrong before you even make it to work? Everyone has. Some of us can regale of weeks on end with nothing going right. When your plans go awry and your facing multiple unexpected challenges, how do you get the train back on the tracks? One of the best ways to eliminate stress is to make a decision. You’re running the show and solving the immediate issue with a decision will put you back on the tracks. A decision allows you to move on to the next fire or even better, it’s what makes you and your team productive again. Think about this; you avoid a decision on something, leaving it for another time. Then you get another issue that needs the same attention. Now they are piling up. Stress! So, good or bad, decide and learn from those decisions. What if it was the wrong decision? It may well be, but at least you moved on and now can look back and learn from it. The experience will only make you better. As the leader of your organization and/or team, others are relying on you for direction. Your leadership, or lack thereof, can make or break your business. When leaders hesitate beyond a reasonable amount of time, your team will begin to lose faith in your ability. They may be more understanding of a mistake in judgement under stress than an abject failure to resolve a situation. Your team is watching your actions. They are strong when you project strength and are weak when you avoid your responsibility as leader. So how do you make a good decision in the heat of the battle? If you’re under pressure and another “can’t wait” issue is presented, take a moment of pause. Or rather, just “freak out,” albeit privately and let the emotion of the situation pass. You should avoid responding until the emotion you’re feeling has passed. The optimal time for thinking clearly should be after you have processed the news. So calm down, take a breath and think through it. Now that you have taken it all in, think about past decisions you have made. Are there any similar situations that come to mind? What decision did you make then and was it ultimately the right one? This is where experience makes a difference. If

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you can draw upon a past success or failure in a similar situation, then your decision should be easy and you will most likely make the right one. If this is something new, then it’s time to do some quick research. Think of it like this; remember the TV show “Who Wants to be a Millionaire”? There are some quick tips of which you can draw from in the “Lifeline” process. They are phone-a-friend, 50/50 and ask the audience. How does that help? Simple, pick up the phone and talk to someone you trust that may help you make the decision. The 50/50 process is also helpful. Use it to eliminate the decisions you know are not the right ones. And finally, if the first two don’t get you the results you need then take them to a broader group of people that deal with similar issues. Use private forums on social media. You will find many that are willing to lend a hand for your decision-making process. At this point, you should be ready to make an informed decision. This does not insure it will be the right one. It does however leave you with the solace that you did all you could to make it the best one for the situation. Now it is time to resolve the stress. It is time to commit! The thing about difficult decisions and the ones you need to make under pressure, isn’t just that they’re hard to make. It’s the commitment part that many of us get stuck on. If you’ve followed a thorough process to be decisive, then your best course of action should be clear by now. That doesn’t mean it’s the easiest course of action. The best one rarely is the easiest. So be sure when you make your final decision that you are fully committed to it! Start implementing it as soon as your situation allows, because once you’ve made these first steps it’s harder to fall back into your indecision. Remember, indecision was what was causing you stress, making you unproductive in other areas and leaving your team without the direction they need to make your business bustle! 


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UNLOCKING

THE

12-VOLT’S GREATEST SUCCESS STORIES LIVE BY OUR CODE RULE #1: SELL PRODUCTS YOU CAN COUNT ON RULE #2: GET THEM FROM A BRAND WHO’S GOT YOUR BACK RULE #3: EARN THE MARGIN YOU DESERVE This isn’t like wiring in a transponder bypass. It’s just common sense. That’s why CODE ALARM is the top choice of 12-volt specialists nationwide. Because for us, it’s all about helping dealers do what they do best. From our remote start systems packing Superior Range Technology to the world’s first Bluetooth telematics devices, we design our products for quality, starting with your ideas. Our dealer pricing gets you the latest gear at a cost that’s easy to work with. And if you get stuck, our MECP certified technicians will stand by you every step of the way. We honor the code, and we’re honored to partner with dealers who live by it. So, together, let’s keep those success stories coming.

“With the support we get from Voxx, combined with the features of Code Alarm, the Code Alarm brand is the go-to line at Sound FX for security and remote start” - Brian Layton (Vice President)

Sign up to become a Code Alarm dealer at www.voxxelectronics.com/become-dealer/ ©2016 VOXX Electronics Corporation - A VOXX International Company


Mobile Electronics Magazine August 2016