Fight the Future!
Military influence keeps the pros at Prestige ahead of the latest integration challenges
NEW FOR 2016
HEADING WEST? HERE’S WHAT YOU CAN EXPECT AT AND AROUND THE BIG SHOW
NEW YEAR’S SALES DRIVER:
SAFETY PRODUCTS ARE PRIMARY TARGETS FOR RETAILERS
THE LONG ROAD:
CCE FOCUSES ON AUTONOMY, ADVANCED SAFETY & HACKING PREVENTION
optimize your senses
Mini Super Wide Viewing 150º view, Programable Normal or Mirror Image, 0.5 lux
Wide Viewing, 120º view, 0.3 Lux
OEM look, Stick On mount super wide, 160º view
Flexible Rubber Surface Mount
RVCLPM (Chrome) RVCLPMB (Black Chrome)
RVC800LPWIRB (Black) RVC800LPWIR (Chrome)
License Plate Camera 120º view
IR License Plate Camera 120º view
On Star ! OE STYLE REARVIEW MIRROR with Built In 4.3” LCD (Manual Dimming)
RVC180B Split Screen 180º Rear/Front Camera
RVC1500 Mini Surface Mount Camera Incredible Low Light !
PROFESSIONAL GRADE 7 PIECE DASH PRY TOOL SET! Easily Remove Trim, Molding, Door Panels and Dashboards !
4.3” LCD Rear View Mirror with OnStar ! Manual Dimming Includes Cable Adaptor Adjustable Parking Lines
NEW ! Adjustable Parking Lines
OE STYLE REARVIEW MIRROR with Built In 4.3” LCD (Auto or Manual Dimming)
Auto Dimming !
Rear View Mirror Monitor
Adjustable Parking Lines
WIRELESS CHARGING CRADLE For Samsung Note/S3 and iPhone 4/5
USB POWERED PODS AND EXTENTIONS
Just drop the phone into the charging cradle for instant charging
Samsung Note 2/3 & Samsung S3/4 Dual USB Power Output
Dual USB Power POD with Mount
12 VDC Input Air Vent Mount
iPhone 4/4S and iPhone 5/5S
Round flush mount
Dual 2.1A / 2.1A Output
1 amp & 2.1 amp USB output
HDMI / USB Extension
u o y e r A 11” WIDESCREEN FLIPDOWN MONITOR
With Wifi Steaming & Built In Multimedia Player •11” WideScreen 16:9 • Built-in IR Multi-Media Player • 2 Audio / Video Inputs • SD Card Reader + USB Input
( ( ( (
Wirelessly Stream !
17900 Crusader Ave, Cerritos, CA 90703 USA (800) 788-1212 (562) 809-5090
7” DASH MOUNT NAVIGATION AND DVR
Wirelessly Stream !
1080 HD Content from your smartphone
• 7” LCD Display • iOS, Andriod and Win8 Supported • 12 million pixels • 1920 X 1080 Resolution • Auto Recording while Driving • TF memory Card • Power Protection Supported • Screen Saver Supported • Auto Switching Supported • Front Facing Camera
9” PORTABLE CAR ENTERTAINMENT SYSTEM
Wirelessly Stream !
1080 HD Content from your smartphone
( ( ( ((
Wirelessly Stream !
1080 HD Content from your smartphone
• 9” LED backlit High Resolution Digital Panel • Works in all type of Cars • Multimedia DVD Player • Supports 3-In-1 SD Card Slot, USB, DVD • HDMI Input • Dual IR Wireless Headphone Transmitter Built-in • FM Transmitter Built-In • Game Controller • Slim Design • Touch Button Controls
10.2” OR 17” WIDESCREEN FLIPDOWN WITH WIFI STEAMING
a e R
• Built in Wireless Wifi HD receiver • Built in SD card player • Audio Video inputs • Wireless IR headphone transmitter • Wireless FM transmitter • Led Dome lights • IR Remote control
1080 HD Content from your smartphone
. . . dy
Volume 32// Issue 8
14 FEATURES 14 // CES Preview
As each year passes, the OEMs push more and more into the territory of the aftermarket by adding products to stock vehicles off the line. In order to keep up with trends, aftermarket companies are releasing innovative products at a rate never before seen.
24 // Connected Car Expo
From tech start-ups to major auto manufacturers, the Los Angeles Auto Show’s Connected Car Expo featured the best of tomorrow’s automotive future.
Accele Electronics.......................................... p. 2, ®3 Alpine Electronics................................................ p. 5 Arc Audio ............................................................... p. 41 AudioControl ...................................................... p. 35 Auto Design NYC .............................................. p. 47 Compustar .......................................................... p. 59 CybCar .................................................................. p. 43 Directed ................................................................ p. 60 Infinity ..................................................................... p. 11 InstallerNet ......................................................... p. 55 Kenwood ................................................................. p. 9 Kicker ..................................................................... p. 23 KnowledgeFest 2016 ...................................... p. 17 Memphis Car Audio ........................................ p. 47 Metra ....................................................................... p. 13 Mito ......................................................................... p. 43 Mobile Electronics ........................................... p. 57 Powerbass ........................................................... p. 21 SiriusXM ................................................................ p. 12 Scosche ................................................................ p. 39 Voxx .......................................................................... p. 7
36 // Real World Retail: Prestige Car Audio and Marine
With the help of a military-man-turned-manager, this Top 12 Retailer of 2015 has become a local landmark for community and installations of all kinds.
44 // Behind the Scenes: Audiofrog
Taking a risk is one thing, but opening a high-end speaker company in the middle of a decline is another. Regardless of risks, Audiofrog has proven that calculated risks can pay off big.
48 // Tech Today: Amped Up
Installation expert Joey Knapp discusses how to mount an amplifier using tips and tools that can benefit any level of technician.
On the Cover
Using a team atmosphere, Prestige Car Audio and Marine has earned its first ever Top 12 Retailer and Installer awards in 2015. The company began from necessity, with flooding of local vehicles requiring new carpet. Over the years, Cory Himel and Dustin Daigle have pushed the brand to new heights by helping their local community with charity events. The store has proven that no matter the problem, whether it be a natural disaster or man-made, working together through collaboration can help people overcome anything. COVER DESIGN: ROBIN LEBEL
4 Mobile Electronics January 2016
26 Retail News/Who’s Who 30 External Effects 54 Installs
DEPARTMENTS 6 Feedback 8 Editor’s Forum 10 Stats 12 Helpful Stuff 32 On the Market 58 Guest Editorial facebook.com/me-mag
WITH ITS 9-INCH TOUCH SCREEN AND COUNTLESS FEATURES, THE X009-WRA IS READY FOR YOUR NEXT BIG ADVENTURE
The 9-inch screen is 89% larger than the factory radio and 55% larger than a standard aftermarket screen.
View alerts like tire pressure and door status, plus keep your favorite factory features like steering wheel controls and factory amplifier controls.
Your Jeep Wrangler deserves the ultimate dash upgrade. The X009-WRA Restyle Dash System has a large 9-inch screen that is the hub for your entertainment and information needs. Use it with separate front and rear view cameras to reduce blind spots and maneuver around off-road obstacles. Let your adventures start with Alpine.
The X009-WRA is compatible with front and rear view cameras (sold separately), to help eliminate blind spots around your Wrangler.
Shown here, X009-WRA for: 2011-UP Jeep Wrangler*
The X009 and custom dash kits are also available for:
Select Ford F-150* trucks, Select GM* trucks and SUVs, Ram* trucks and Toyota Tundra*
* Jeep and Wrangler are registered trademarks of FCA US LLC. The Bluetooth® word mark is a registered trademark owned by Bluetooth SIG, Inc. and any use of such mark by Alpine Electronics, Inc. is under license. Other vehicle makes and models are those of their respective owners. © 2015 Alpine Electronics, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Helping Hands Shops like Drivers Side and Audio Solutions continue to search for quality technicians while River Oaks Car Stereo and GNC Customs make marketing breakthroughs to bring in the New Year. "We could use help getting more employees primarily security remote start installer and fabricator." Tony Perez, Highend Vine Street Car Stereo, Philadelphia, Penn. "Finding a good reputable installation tech is a challenge. We're also looking for a good web designer to get us a new up to date website." John Schumacher, Audio Solutions StL, St. Louis, Mo. "Finding people that are willing to work is our biggest continual issue." Evan Carter, Drivers Side, Plainville, Ma. "I would like to know what type of marketing does very well." Stanley Clark, Absolute Audio LTD, Belair, Md. "We're looking to find staff that have the 'whatever it takes' type of mentality, who are thorough in their tasks and professional with our client base." Moe Sabourin, Soundcrafters Inc., South Daytona, Fla. "Finding a qualified tech remains a huge issues with us." Sean Davis, Tip Top Customs, Morris, Ill. "Our business has doubled year over year, even during the recent recession. Our biggest obstacle is finding qualified, experienced installers and sales people. We have been advertising for the past year and have yet to find someone with the skills we need for our open positions." Richard Korber, Mr. Kustom Chicago, Chicago, Ill. "Cash runs low while waiting to deliver big projects." Carlos Ramirez, NVS Audio, Linden, N.J. "We could use help in driving local cus-
6 Mobile Electronics January 2016
ADVERTISING SALES Kerry Moyer 703.598.3733 • email@example.com ®
EDITORIAL Solomon Daniels 213.291.1528 • firstname.lastname@example.org
tomers to our shop." Eddy Lamour, DSP Audio and Video, Wheaton, M.D.
Ted Goslin 800.949.6372 ext. 466 • email@example.com
"Everything here is based on the oil and gas industry but we have successfully reached out to returning customers and financing has been very beneficial." Jim Perdue, McDue Ultimate Audio, Farmington, N.M.
Creative Layout and Design: Robin LeBel
"We are struggling to get the sales guys to buy in on capturing customer emails consistently and follow through on selling financing." Steve Cramer, Custom Car Stereo, Chas, S.C. "Marketing, marketing, marketing. In the last year I have been through three on-site dedicated marketing staff to handle everything from Facebook to online reviews to in store displays, advertising and so much more. I cannot seem to find someone that understands the whole package." Eddie Runner, River Oaks Car Stereo, Houston, Texas "We finally broke 1,000 likes on Facebook. It isn't a lot but we were very close for a long time and finally achieved this goal." Josh Mojica, GNC Customs, Goshen, Ind. "The continuation of a dramatic remodel is coming together and the results are becoming apparent to otherwise unaware clients that come in." Anonymous "We hired a new person, sales are up and more emails coming in from web site." Robert Lewis, Extreme Audio & Performance, Manchester, Ct. "We have hired three new personnel. Two sales staff and one installer. Our staff is finally filled after two years of being understaffed." Jamie Lewis, Sounds Fast, Bend, Ore.
Contributing Editors: Jamie Sorcher, Laura Kemmerer and Rosa Sophia.
Chris Cook, President 978.867.6759 • firstname.lastname@example.org Kerry Moyer, VP Strategic Partnerships 703.598.3733 • email@example.com Solomon Daniels, Dir. Media and Communications 213.291.1528 • firstname.lastname@example.org Richard Basler, Dir. Technology Solutions 978.645.6449 • email@example.com Karin Drake, Events Manager 978.645.6478 • firstname.lastname@example.org Robin Lebel, Creative Director 978.645.6456 • email@example.com 1)Title of publication: Mobile Electronics. 2) Publication No.: 957-170 6. 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) Nonrequested 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%.
access can your Remote Start
the vehicle from anywhere?
to emergencies automatically?
texting? CarLinkBT can — in one do-it-all, cover-it-all, product and app combination. And, oh yes, for a FRACTION of what OEMs charge. No joke.
A Remote Start solution jam-packed with a full array of OEM-level smart connected services — all at a price you won’t believe! How? We’d love to show you how. BOOTH 10417
optimize your journey ©2016 VOXX Electronics Corp., Hauppauge, NY
Yep, It’s Cliché Time
A lot of what you’ll read here this month will sound like stuff you take for granted. And that’s just the point. Happy New Year! Technically, I’m the first to say this to you since this was actually written in early December. That aside, I hope you had a great New Year’s celebration and a great close to 2015 sales. If you’re letting sales cycles and in-store issues blend one year into the next, don’t. The beginning of the year is a fresh start, and you need to make an effort to draw a line between 2015 and 2016. One way to do that is to have a series of things you do specifically because it’s a new year. And guess what? I’ve got 6 of them. 1. Make a change, any change. Ever wonder why, after a remodel, a store realizes an uptick in business? Sure, a lot of it has to do with the big banner outside, but I suspect it has more to do with the aura of newness and fresh perspective. People are attracted to that. Conversely, people tend to ignore sameness, and your same-old store’s condition starts to play less of a part in helping you build rapport. Even if you don’t have a remodel planned, get with your staff to look around the showroom and install bay and brainstorm little things you can do to create that fresh perspective. Whether it’s shuffling displays, moving the sales counter or putting in more comfortable waiting chairs, do something that catches attention and makes customers wonder what’s new. 2. Hang your goals. If, as a manager, you’ve sat down with business partners, other managers or even your spouse and hammered out goals for the business, they won’t do anybody any good if only your small group knows about them. Create a mini poster, clearly outlining the company goals in numbered order, and post it where everyone can see it. Little things like this keep everyone pointed in the same direction, helps provide clear objectives and gives everyone something to cheer about when goals are achieved. 3. Have a meeting. A lot of managers of smaller companies tend to overlook the importance of companywide meetings. “Everybody knows what’s going on,” they say. I’m always reminded of the scene in Alien 3 where the monks have a meeting for purposes of ‘Rumor Control.’ Keep in mind that, if you’re not telling the staff something, they are getting the information somewhere else, and no doubt there are a lot of the teller’s
8 Mobile Electronics January 2016
personal opinions in the message. Getting everyone together and disseminating company goals and happenings does two things. First, it separates opinion from information so everyone is hearing the real, authentic version. And second, it shows leadership and gives staff the peace of mind of knowing there is a plan from the top. 4. Reiterate your policies. Everybody needs a refresher. It’s inevitable that if you do the same thing over and over, the edges of your effort get dulled and need to be sharpened. In your meeting, remind everyone about the elements of store operation, especially those that deal with customer interaction and policies toward resolving customer issues. How to answer the phone, appropriate attire, refund and store credit policies, greeting and stacking customers, upsell opportunities—all of these should be on the agenda. As a result, you’ll see a more predictable service model, and customers will better associate your store with quality, rather than just certain staff members. 5. Do some outside-of-the-box thinking. Ever had that random thought of “What if we could do this” and then later dismissed it because it was too expensive, outside of your expertise or required too many resources? Well, now you need to have a session where everyone chimes in on exactly those types of ideas. The topic should be, “If money, time and resources were not obstructions, what could we do to take the store to the next level?” If you’re wondering what the point of this is, assuming you won’t be able to accomplish any of the ideas anyway because in fact, there are several obstructions, think of the companies that produce ridiculously-priced flagship products. They know they won’t sell any, but it’s a standard of the technology that the company can produce, and pieces of that technology trickle down to mainstream models. It’s the same idea with your meeting: there are going to be elements of each idea that you can actually implement into your business plan. This is a highly successful practice that keeps companies fresh and progressive. 6. Schedule staff assessments. Based on workload, you may not be able to get these done in January, but this is one of the most important things you can do to kick off the new year. The timing takes advantage of the “start fresh” mode in the store and enables managers to give both constructive feedback and have it be accepted in a positive light.
Come see us at CES Booth 1702
me-mag.com â€‚ 9
Retailers provide insight into business readiness for the new year's challenges.
Strong interest We already sell them
“360-view” cameras 8% 38% 45% 10% In-vehicle DVRs 3% 38% 41% 18% Lane departure warning 8% 26% 51% 15% Front-view cameras 5% 18% 44% 33% Back-up cameras/sensors 10% 30% 25% 35%
1-Week / 2 3 4 Needs work
5 Strong / Excellent
Appearance to customers 0% 3% 3% 17% 77% 0% Internal operations
5% 11% 16% 31% 28% 8%
Adequate staff size
0% 3% 8% 25% 64% 0%
0% 3% 8% 25% 64% 0%
0% 3% 8% 25% 64% 0%
Installation workload 0% 3% 8% 25% 64% 0% Overall profit percentage 0% 3% 8% 25% 64% 0%
1-Week / 2 3 4 Needs work
5 Strong / Excellent
0% 3% 3% 17% 77% 0%
5% 11% 16% 31% 28% 8%
Repeat business prospects 0% 3% 8% 25% 64% 0% New Business prospects 10 Mobile Electronics January 2016
3% 8% 31% 39% 19% 0%
me-mag.com â€‚ 11
Books: Fast N’ Loud: Blood, Sweat and Beers By Richard Rawlings
www.amazon.com/Fast-Loud-Blood-Sweat-Beers/dp/0062387863 The breakout star of Discovery’s hit automotive restoration show Fast N’ Loud, and the owner of the hot rod shop Gas Monkey Garage, Richard Rawlings, wears lots of hats. He’s an entrepreneur, auto mechanic, racecar driver, and now author with this memoir/automotive handbook that takes readers on a wild ride through his life and also behind the scenes of his hit series. For those who want a jaw-dropping read, this delivers with its stories injected with the foul-mouthed charm Rawlings is known for on the show. While it’s a fun story, the bigger takeaway is how success is within anyone’s reach. Rawlings shares his tale of how it all went down, the background on his car building reality show, and the automotive know-how that made him famous. The book opens with how he went from flat broke to being a big deal with some of history’s most notable car guys. Anecdotes include how he got shot defending his 1965 Mustang from carjackers, the toughest car he had to restore, the best cars to make it the small screen, and tales from the Gas Monkey gang. A veteran of transcontinental road rallies, he has won the Gumball 3000 and the Bullrun twice, and he broke a world record in the Cannonball Run that had stood for 25 years. You never know where the big ideas are going to come from and this book could be the inspiration for your installers to take it up a notch!
Services: Sam’s Club www.samsclub.com
Yes, it’s a great place to stock up on toilet paper and bottled water for your shop, but the members-only Sam’s Club has also rolled out a suite of services that can help small business owners save up to $2,300 a year. In collaboration with web.com, Sam’s is offering digital marketing solutions. There are several bundled plans to choose from to help with web site design, email marketing, and social media strategy with DIY (do-it-yourself) or DIFM (do-it-for-me) options. There are digital platforms for bookkeeping and year-round tax planning services as well in conjunction with 1-800-ACCOUNTANT.COM. If you want to offer mobile payment options, Sam’s has partnered with First Data so you can offer everything from point-of-sale options to loyalty programs. You can even get a loan. Sam’s Club Business Lending Center offers between $5,000 and $350,000 in capital through its lending club and SmartBiz SBA loans.
12 Mobile Electronics January 2016
Software/Apps: Drupe for Android - Free
https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=mobi.drupe. app&hl=en Email is still around, but today it’s necessary to get in touch with your contacts faster than ever. Drupe displays all of your contacts and then makes it easy for you to get in touch using any of the most popular messaging services. Using drupe, you can dial, text or creatively reach anyone in your contact list using your preferred communication app—and with just one swipe. This always-on launcher shows up as a column of dots on the side of your phone screen. Swipe right to reveal a menu of contacts along with a range of communication options like phone, SMS, email, WhatsApp, Google Hangouts and Skype. (Drupe also works with Facebook Messenger, Tango, Voxer, Twitter, Instagram, Threema, Line, Waze and Viber.) Then drag and drop the contact onto an app icon, and you’re talking or texting right away. There are other useful features including you can view the last message or call log below each contact so you know how you last got in touch with them.
Sites to see: www.crossfit.com It’s January and the number one New Year’s resolution people make is to get to get in shape and lose weight. More importantly, if you’re physically fit and have a way to manage your stress, and you’re doing some cardio and eating well, then you’re going to feel better and deliver a better performance in all areas of your life—including at work. The trend right now is moving away from those massive cafeteria-style gyms to more boutique “trim gyms” as they’re called. Rates vary as do hours. CrossFit is a solid place to start even if you just want to get some information for you and possibly your co-workers. CrossFit, which promotes a core strength and conditioning program with its WOD—Workout Of the Day—is a community of more than 4,500 gyms worldwide. They’re all local, small businesses that share the philosophies of CrossFit and legally license the CrossFit name, but each affiliate has its own scene. CrossFit workouts typically involve high-intensity interval training incorporating kettle bells, medicine balls, rowing, running and powerlifting.
The Battle Of CES
Every year, OEMs attempt to steal the show with new innovations meant to take over aftermarket categories and win over consumers. This year, aftermarket companies look to put up a fight with strong product offerings in hopes of winning consumers over for the coming year. 14 Mobile Electronics January 2016
Company Name: AAMP Global Location: Booth #2809, North Hall Booth Representative(s): Product and sales reps Primary Reason for Exhibiting: AAMP Global is excited to unveil new products launching across all of its Power Brands and showcase products that were launched in 2015. AAMP will have working displays for sale at the show and CES specials for customers. AAMP’s Power Brands are: PAC, Stinger, Phoenix Gold, EchoMaster, iSimple, Autoleads, Rosen.
Company Name: Accele Electronics Location: Booth #1110 Booth Representative(s): Allen Arzoumanian, President, and Chris Way, Vice President Primary Reason for Exhibiting: Safety item: the world’s first auto-dimming sun visor. The light sensor automatically adjusts the sun visor’s tint level based on the sunlight. No batteries needed; the unit gets its power from the solar light sensor. The driver no longer has to adjust the sun visor to keep from being blinded as the sun flashes between trees or buildings.
Company Name: Alpine Electronics of America Location: Meeting Room N101, North Hall Booth Representative(s): Steve Crawford, Vice President and General Manager, Aftermarket Business Unit, Mike Anderson, Assistant Vice President, Sales, and Steve Brown, Senior Restyle Development Manager. Primary Reason for Exhibiting: Expansion of the Alpine Restyle family of products, and other 2016 product introductions. What To Expect: Alpine is further expanding the Alpine Restyle family of products which are designed for vehicle-specific applications. These products have unique features which include the largest aftermarket in-dash touch screens available combined with factory fit, integrated dash bezels. Equivalent options are not even available from the factory. The Alpine Restyle products are backed by a profitable business plan, so retailers can enhance their business while offering one-of-a-kind products to their customers. Hopes For The Show: Retailers should understand that even though the Alpine Restyle lineup is unlike traditional car audio products, they can benefit from the Alpine Restyle business plan while providing their customers with a product that is unequaled in both the aftermarket and OEM channels.
Company Name: AudioControl Location: Booth #2112, North Hall Booth Representative(s): CEO Alex Camara, VP of Sales Chris Kane, and National Sales Manager Chris Bennett. Primary Reason for Exhibiting: With a focus on “Making Good Sound Great,” AudioControl is stepping up at CES with one of its largest product launches in the car audio market with new amplifiers, new DSP Matrix Processors, new packaging and product designs, new marketing and a focus on “perfect processing at great price points,” reinforcing its position in the car audio processing market today. What To Expect: With a focus on “Making Good Sound Great”, AudioControl is stepping up at CES with one of its largest product launches in the car audio market with new Amplifiers, new DSP Matrix Processors, new packaging and product designs, new marketing and a focus on ‘perfect processing at great price points” reinforcing its leading position in the car audio processing market today. Hopes For The Show: A successful CES show for AudioControl means exceeding expectations on its new products and creating excitement for its dealer base.
Company Name: Cerwin-Vega Mobile Location: Booth #1410, North Hall Booth Representative(s): Bob Chanthavongsa (VP Sales), Larry Frederick (New Product Development), Jeff Peters (Sales), Karl Giles (Sales), Ryan Klein (Sales), and Wayne Mussina (Sales). Primary Reason for Exhibiting: Showcasing new RPM (Recreation I Powersport I Marine) series products. Special Events/Happenings: There will be a Vega Nation promotional dealer gift package giveaway throughout entire show. Experience the "Sound Vault," the latest demo vehicle from Cerwin-Vega Mobile. Come see the latest custom Cerwin-Vega Mobile active display sound boards available for speme-mag.com 15
ces preview cialty retailers. What To Expect: Starting off with great performing products, right pricing and profitability, and a display board program that will help increase ticket sales and improve sell-through at the retailer level, the Cerwin-Vega Mobile brand name is looking to impress retailers with a resurgent product line. Hopes For The Show: Cerwin-Vega’s new RPM series of products will be well-received by traditional 12-volt retailers and non-traditional retailers in the recreational, powersport, and marine segment. Retailers will see the value that Cerwin-Vega provides with the new active display board program and will make space in their showroom to display and audition the latest products.
Company Name: Cybcar America Location: By appointment, North Hall Booth Representative(s): Benjimin Ng and Carson Leung Primary Reason for Exhibiting: Introducing new products and catching up with current and new customers. Special Events/Happenings: Lunch meeting available by appointment.
Company Name: Directed Electronics Location: Booth #1321, North Hall Booth Representative(s): Representatives from executive sales and product development staff Primary Reason for Exhibiting: Announcement of exciting new hardware and software products. Special Events/Happenings: New product reveals and demos throughout the show 16 Mobile Electronics January 2016
What To Expect: That Directed/Viper, the creator of the connected-car category, remains the leader in aftermarket security and remote start products, as well as connected-car mobile apps. Hopes For The Show: High attendance, high traffic at the booth and great representation of Directed's products and services, all demonstrated by increased sales, improved brand recognition, and stronger relationships.
Company Name: HD Radio Location: Booth #945, North Hall Booth Representative(s): Bernie Sapienza Primary Reason for Exhibiting: Featuring new 12-volt products from the leading manufacturers that utilize HD Radio Technology. Special Events/Happenings: Contact Bernie Sapienza directly at Bernie.Sapienza@dts.com. What To Expect: Broadly expanding assortment of HD Radio equipped product from the best names in the business. Hopes For The Show: For HD Radio, CES would be successful if retailers walk away with a better of understanding of how far HD Radio Technology has come, and the advances that it’s making for radio.
Company Name: Image Dynamics Location: Booth #710, North Hall Booth Representative(s): President, vice president, Eastern and Western sales directors, tech manager, marketing manager, warranty manager, customer service representatives, as well as territory sales reps. Primary Reason for Exhibiting: Debuting new products such as the new SQ Series amplifiers. Image Dynamics is looking to extend its direct dealer network by creating new and exciting relationships while at the show.
Come visit ®
at CES Booth 2102
SPRING TRAINING APRIL 9-11 • Indianapolis INDIANA CONVENTION CENTER
Come to Indy To Get Ready For Selling Season. 30+ Vendor Trainings • 45,000 Square Feet of Exhibits • 30+ Educational Sessions Network with Confidence in a Peer-to-Peer Setting – Exchange Ideas – Share Success
More information at www.KnowledgeFest.org me-mag.com 17
ces preview What To Expect: Image Dynamics intends to show retailers, current and new, that it is a great fit for retail outlets, providing unmatched quality driven by passion for good sound. Image Dynamics IDQ and IDMAX sub woofers are still made in the USA one by one, and the company strives to bring that quality and performance to every aspect of the brand. Hopes For The Show: Meeting with current retailers and furthering those long-term relationships while also making new lasting business connections with new retailers around the globe to share the amazing products, service and passion Image Dynamics has for the car audio market.
Company Name: KICKER Location: Booth #1719, North Hall Booth Representative(s): About 50 employees, including KICKER President/CEO Steve Irby. Primary Reason for Exhibiting: New product intros, to meet with authorized dealers, distributors and industry colleagues. What To Expect: KICKER wants retailers to get excit-
ed about its new offerings for 2016, and to realize that KICKER is there for them to help bring the 12-volt consumer to their business. KICKER will continue its long tradition of in-field dealer training. Hopes For The Show: KICKER has worked hard to develop innovative new solutions that dealers need to grow profitably in 2016, and would consider the show a success if dealers come away from the booth with the confidence that we'll deliver on that promise.
Company Name: Metra Electronics Corp. Location: Booth #2309, North Hall, and Booth #8232, Central Hall Booth Representative(s): Metra’s booths will be represented by sales and management teams from its corporate offices in Florida. Primary Reason for Exhibiting: Metra is showing off new products. The company will visit with current customers, and hopes to gain some new ones. What To Expect: Metra would like retailers to have a better understanding of the company and to see its high level of commitment to the industries Metra supplies products to. Also for them to be confident that if they are doing business with Metra, then they have made the best choice for their accessory sup-
MORE COMPANIES TO CHECK OUT: ARC Audio
Booth #725, North Hall
Booth #1702 and 1711, North Hall
Rydeen Mobile Electronics
Crux Interfacing Solutions
Booth #4227, North Hall
Booth #3106, North Hall
Booth #3334, North Hall
Hard Rock Hotel & Casino, Artist Hall
Sony Electronics, Inc.
Booth #2818, North Hall
Muse Hall Ballroom, Hard Rock Hotel 18 Mobile Electronics January 2016
Booth #14200, 15444, CP 29, Suite 30-111, Central Hall
plier. Finally, Metra would like retailers to also understand they can be confident that Metra will be first to market with more products that will help them make money than any other supplier. Hopes For The Show: Metra would consider this year’s CES a success if it is able to reach out to some new customers and current customers, who will be very excited about the company’s new products and programs for 2016.
Primary Reason for Exhibiting: New product introductions. What To Expect: Pioneer continues to be the leader in aftermarket entertainment, introducing innovative new products that complement the Smartphone lifestyle and meet the demands of audio enthusiasts. Additionally, Pioneer has solutions for today, but is also preparing for tomorrow and the future of the in-vehicle experience with advanced technologies including solutions for automated driving and advanced driving support. Hopes For The Show: Products and services being shown to help strengthen relationships and continue confidence in Pioneer within its dealer network. Company Name: Powerbass Location: Booth #710, North Hall
Company Name: Mito Location: Booth #3423, North Hall Booth Representative(s): Ben Bontrager, Karen Doran and Robin Siciliano Primary Reason for Exhibiting: To reveal new products, which will include: FliCharge Wireless Charging solutions, MITOs 12-volt hotspot, new Gentex Auto-Dimming mirror with Compass, HomeLink 5 and blue blacklighting. What To Expect: MITO is a forward thinking company with lots of new technology. Hopes For The Show: Customers seeing all the new and exciting products MITO has to offer.
Company Name: Pioneer Location: Booth #1102, North Hall Booth Representative(s): Representatives from sales and marketing departments
Booth Representative(s): Various executives and sales reps. Primary Reason for Exhibiting: Debuting new products such as the new 4XL Super woofer, UTV sound bars, powersports amplifiers and speakers and much more. Powerbass is looking to extend its direct dealer network by creating new and exciting relationships while at the show. What To Expect: To show how Powerbass can be a very successful and profitable brand to have in retail outlets. As a manufacturer, Powerbass is able to be one step ahead of the curve as well as price its products at a level that many other manufacturers simply cannot compete with while providing excellent service and reliability. Hopes For The Show: Meeting with current retailers and distributors and furthering long-term relationships while also making new, lasting business connections with new retailers around the globe to share amazing products, service and value.
Company Name: SiriusXM Satellite Radio Location: Voxx Electronics Booth, #10417, Central Hall Booth Representative(s): Tom Malone, President VOXX Electronics, Aron Demers, Vice President Mobile Electronics, Paul Trueman and Hasib Mohammed Primary Reason for Exhibiting: New Product: Commander Touch Vehicle Radio, showing how SiriusXM can be used in all parts of your life. Car, home, streaming, business and more. What To Expect: SiriusXM has over 28 Million subscribers who love listening to commercial-free music, sports, news, talk, comedy and entertainment. The SXV300, Onyx Plus and Commander Touch Radios are the #1 selling aftermarket sku’s and continue to be great products for all types of 12-volt dealers’ installation profits. The Commander Touch was selected as a CES 2016 Innovation Awards HONOREE in the In-Vehicle Audio/ Video product category. This means that the product scored high across all judging criteria, and it joins a small percentage of other products that are given this honor each year. Hopes For The Show: Lots of buzz and excitement on the show floor regarding SiriusXM aftermarket products followed by orders from local distributors.
Company Name: Scosche Industries Location: Booth #4306, North Hall Booth Representative(s): Top management: key company executives including the co-founder and CEO. Sales: both the consumer tech and car audio sales teams for domestic and international sales. Primary Reason for Exhibiting: Many new products are being introduced in both the consumer tech and car audio arenas. These products are in popular categories like health and fitness; mobile device mounts 20 Mobile Electronics January 2016
for vehicle, home and office; Bluetooth portable speakers; connectivity (exciting new charge and sync cable technologies like Type-C/USB-C and our new EZTIP (tm) Reversible Micro USB line of products); plus many new car audio dash kits, interfaces and sound system hardware. Some are CES Innovation Awards 2016 winners, others are CES Innovations Award winners from years past. What To Expect: Scosche will once again be introducing a wide array of innovative new products in high-demand product categories like mounts, portable Bluetooth speakers, health and fitness and connectivity plus a host of new car audio products like installation kits, interfaces and sound system hardware and more. And that these products, as with other existing Scosche products, will be popular at retail in 2016 and beyond. Hopes For The Show: Lots of qualified booth traffic. A mixture of current customers visiting to learn about new products, along with the creation of new business relationships both domestic and international. Winning an award or two.
Company Name: VOXX Electronics Corporation Location: Booth #10417, Central Hall Booth Representative(s): Tom Malone, President VOXX Electronics and Aron Demers, Vice President Mobile Electronics. Primary Reason for Exhibiting: Singtrix will be featured inside the VOXX Electronics Booth—the next generation karaoke machine. Other products will include advanced iris identity authentication solutions, immersive, single lens 360-degree video, Advent/ Audiovox Mobile Video Systems, Vehicle Security and Tracking, Remote Start Systems, Telematics, Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS), and Navigation. What To Expect: VOXX is still completely committed to the 12-volt space and taking in new products to build and expand categories, staying ahead of innovation. Hopes For The Show: VOXX hopes visitors continue to see a strong and robust future with mobile electronics and with VOXX.
we invite you to come experience new products from powerbass and image dynamics
SQ Mini Digital Amplifiers
UTV Powered Soundbar
- IR Full Range Class-D Design
- Precision Tuned Electronic Crossover
8 Speaker or 10 Speaker Amplified Configurations -
- High Efficient SMD Circuit Technology
Water Resistant -
- 41 Click Accu-Tune Rotary Controls
Remote Mountable Controls ( Sold Sperately ) -
- Available in Mono Block, 4 Channel and
AUX Input and Output -
5 Channel Configurations
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Universal Mounting System -
d e a l e rs
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PowerBass USA, Inc. & Image Dynamics USA 2133 S. Green Privado, Ontario, CA 91761 PowerBass USA tel. (909) 923-3868
Image Dynamics USA tel. (866) 933-1414
CES 2016 North Hall Booth #710 me-mag.com â€‚ 21
Las Vegas Showcase
Las Vegas Product Showcase
Company Name: Orca Design and Manufacturing Location: All brands will be in the Westgate Hotel, Suite #2816. Booth Representative(s): Nalaka Adakari, Duane Pilgrim, Nick Wingate, Alan Hulsebus, and Carrie Sahotsky. Primary Reason for Exhibiting: To present and demonstrate new products to existing and potentially new dealers. Products coming at CES time: Focal launching, new for 2016, a complete K2 Power line of speakers. ES165KX2 is listed at $1299.00 and ES165KX3 at $2299.00. MAP pricing will be $1299.00 and $2199.00 respectively. What To Expect: Orca intends to sonically impress dealers with a quality demo and presentation of products, so they can hear what the products really sound like, as opposed to only going over numbers and figures. Hopes For The Show: A busy show, where Orca can excite as many new and current dealers as possible with its product lines. Company Name: DD Audio Location: Private offsite residence Booth Representative(s): Team members from sales, service and marketing will be available. Primary Reason for Exhibiting: In-depth product training. Special Events/Happenings: One on one dealer training in a relaxed atmosphere (by appointment only), and multiple demo vehicles. What To Expect: DD Audio goes to great lengths to offer dealers a brand they can be proud to partner with. Its products are designed to be the best sounding most durable products in the market, and DD Audio’s policies are designed with the dealer’s interests in mind. Hopes For The Show: A successful show would have every dealer or prospective dealer leaving armed with a deep understanding of what makes DD Audio and its products unique in the mobile audio world. In turn, this knowledge will give them confidence when positioning DD Audio against other brands in a retail environment.
22 Mobile Electronics January 2016
© 2016 6 STILLWATER DESIGNS
for the 21st century
For specific models of Chevy, Ford, Dodge, GMC and Jeep. Works with the factory radio and options. True plug-and-play for quick install and max profit.
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Visit us at Booth 1719, LVCC North Hall! me-mag.com 23 /kickeraudio
connected car expo
The Connected Car Expo featured speakers on the main stage discussing the latest technologies in safety, security and infotainment.
Setting The Pace Now in its third year, the Los Angeles Auto Show’s Connected Car Expo continued its quest to identify and pursue the next big thing in automotive tech. The event featured expert speakers and panelists, the top 10 start-ups of the year and a show floor with both familiar and unfamiliar companies.
t the 2015 Connected Car Expo (CCE), which took place as part of the LA Auto Show in Los Angeles, Calif., companies ranging from start-ups to established brands presented their visions of the future within the automotive technology space. Ideas presented focused on in-car tech with products like vehicle diagnostic tracking software and the expansion of app-enabled ride sharing. The ultimate goal of many of the tech companies present, however, seemed to be creating the foundation for fully connected cars that interact with one another on the road, paving the way for a safer future that can include fully autonomous cars.
Consumer Influence In a change from the last two events, the venue of the event changed from being located in the LA Convention Center’s South Hall Atrium (which serves
24 Mobile Electronics January 2016
as an entry way for the LA Auto Show) to the halls of the JW Marriott, utilizing its lavish ballroom facilities to host the main stage and the CCE show floor, which included over 40 exhibitors. Over 2,000 media and industry representatives packed the halls of the event to obtain the latest that experts had to offer on what the future holds for automotive tech. Host Brian Cooley of CNET introduced some of those experts on the main stage in the form of panels and short presentations. One such presentation came from Kristine Coolidge, executive director of driver interaction and HMI for JD Power, who was part of a three-presenter set discussing what research reveals about the deepest desires of automotive consumers. “What we’re seeing across multiple studies at JD Power this year is a paradigm shift. We’re seeing overwhelming satisfaction with technologies that are improving the safety and enabling
benefits that are consumed within the collision detection arena,” Coolidge said. Blind spot warning and detection, forward collision mitigation and adaptive cruise control are among the services that consumers want most. Coolidge also broke down consumers by category, showing which generation has the most interest in these technologies. Generation Y was found to be the most interested, with 87 percent in the affirmative. The other groups included Generation X at 79 percent, the Baby Boomers at 76 percent and the pre-Boomers at 81 percent. However, the groups were divided also by individual salaries, showing Generation Y to have the least amount of discretionary income to spend on those technologies currently. “It’s an exciting story that people are going to want these technologies but we have to be sensitive to what it’s going to mean to the overall quality of the vehicle,”
Coolidge emphasized. “If we go back a few decades to the 80s and 90s, technology was much more simple. Enter into the period of the 2000s. Now we enter this era of usability. ‘If technology doesn’t work in a way that I think makes sense, I’m viewing that as a quality problem.’” The presentation as a whole highlighted the importance of keeping an eye on what challenges technology companies need to overcome to please the consumer given the complexity of the expectations created over the years. She concluded with a thought that “Trust takes years to build, seconds to break and forever to repair,” highlighting how vital it is that companies get all aspects of their tech right the first time to avoid tragic accidents that could hurt progress. The remaining presenters from the segment, seconded Coolidge on the popularity of safety in the vehicle, but added that infotainment and connectivity fragmented the interest in what is most wanted in the car.
Mobile Hack-tronics Perhaps the most talked-about subject of the event was that of cyber security. The reason that subject has become a focal point in most automotive circles these days is due to the so-called “Hack heard ‘round the world.” Two professional hackers, Chris Valasek and Charlie Miller, hacked into the controls of a Jeep Cherokee while the driver, Wired journalist Andy Greenberg, sat helpless behind the wheel. The hackers managed to turn on the air conditioning, radio and windshield wipers, all from the safety of an apartment miles away, just before shutting off the vehicle while it slowed to a crawl on a main highway with cars jamming up behind it. At CCE, a trio of presentations, titled “The Cyber Security Trilogy: Three Problems, Three Solutions,” was introduced and included three cyber security experts, who proceeded to lay out the issues and how they can be solved. “Automotive is so different from other industries. We have safety, a super complex supply chain and we have a fairly complex product that has thousands of components,” said Andre Weimerskirch,
Associate Research Scientist at the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute. “So what can we do? There are a lot of things we’re currently working on like resilient architectures and automotive intrusion detection systems. But I fear we need to do much, much more.” Looking at what other industries are doing with safety and adopting those for autoOver 40 companies presented the latest motive are a good place to technologies on the Connected Car Expo show start, Weimerskirch went on floor. to explain. For example, the iPhone has an advanced secuchallenges within each industry. For rity system that prevents such hacking of automotive, since the system is software its operating system. He added that the based, and has the same level of security industry needs to go beyond the basic as most software platforms for computconcepts currently available and invent ers would have, the security is considered new cyber security by fusing the physical less hackable than hardware-based syssystem features of cars with cyber secutems in vehicles. rity, which currently does not exist in any “If you look at some of the recent other medium. hacks that have happened, a lot of it is The other two presenters covered the hardware based. In terms of how we use issue from the perspectives of a lack of the data, we are using industry-recoggraduates in cyber security from colnized standards for all the protocols,” lege (Karl Helmer, founding partner of said Brian Curley, solutions consultant Autoimmune) and the law perspective for Covisint. “What we do today is we discussing the difficulties of getting the put a pin code in or we could introduce government to pass laws that protect a second factor of a biometric authensecurity in the vehicle (David Stricktication to prevent anyone else but the land, Venable). Ultimately, the presenters user from having access. Of course, nothrevealed a great need for lawmakers, ing is one hundred percent safe from software designers and automotive manhacking, but the fact that we are aware ufacturers to join forces to assure the of that should make the consumer feel future of vehicle safety is handled with safer since we are always on alert to such care. threats.” Also on display at the event was Zubie, Down the Road a connected car company that allows Unlike other trade shows, most comaccess to vehicle diagnostic informapanies at CCE were not selling physical tion, traffic alerts and Wi-Fi access via products, but rather software systems or the Zubie Key, which plus into the vehiideas that would change the way things cle’s OBDII port. Aside from companies are run in the vehicle. One such company like Zubie, looking to provide diagnostic was Covisint, a connected vehicle solution options or fleet services, the event also utilized by Hyundai. The software is the provided an opportunity to 10 automotive foundation of what allows a user’s Smartstartups, like Capio, a voice-recognition phone to access controls and data within company, and Getaround, a car-sharthe vehicle, such as Android Auto, which ing technology. With such opportunities, is available in current Hyundai models. the event again proved its importance When it comes to vehicle security, in searching out new technologies and the company has a variety of industries improving on those already in effect to it caters to, and therefore has different secure the future of in-car tech.
Attracting classic car owners has brought new business to Soundcrafters, opening the door for custom work. WORDS BY ROSA SOPHIA
When the sale of upgrades began to slow down at Soundcrafters in South Daytona, Fla., the business began to consider new ways of making money and attracting a new clientele. “Soundcrafters has been in business for 37 years, since 1978,” said manager Moe Sabourin. Given that both Sabourin and Soundcrafters’ owner Paul Papadeas are classic car fans, increasing the focus on classics was a natural avenue to pursue. The owner himself “has two classic cars, a 1966 Chevrolet Corvair, and a 1973 Volvo P1800,” Sabourin added. “Our staff has over 150 years of experience combined and we have been doing custom work since the store was opened.” Two of the shop's three technicians are also skilled in fabrication work. In total, the shop has eight staff members. For Soundcrafters, their main target market remains within the 30- to
26 Mobile Electronics January 2016
55-year-old age demographic, clients who tend to want upgrades to OEM sound systems. However, the sale of these systems, as well as the sales of security systems and radar, began to decrease, spurring the business to alter its focus. “The shop has always catered to the classic car market,” Sabourin said. “But over the last couple of years we’ve seen an increase of classic car owners coming to the shop inquiring about sound systems and having complete systems installed. Some were ‘hideaway’ type systems and others were retro classics looking for complete systems.” This demographic is generally age 40 and above; those who love classic cars and are in a position to spend money on their vehicles and attend car shows. “Many had invested thousands of dollars in engine, paint, interior and overall restoration, and they were looking for something else to add to their vehicle. A
sound system was the next logical step,” Sabourin explained. With all of this in mind, Soundcrafters set their sights on local car shows, building rapport with car owners as well as event organizers. “We were approached by other classic car event organizers asking us to display at their events as well. This led to one of the area’s most popular car shows, the Daytona Dream Cruise, and two of the nation’s largest classic car events, the Turkey Rod Run and Spring Spectacular, asking us to participate.” Beginning Thanksgiving week and running into the weekend, the Turkey Rod Run showcased thousands of classic cars. Hundreds of vendors were there as well for “the nation’s largest classic car show and swap meet. This year, Soundcrafters, in conjunction with Kenwood, sponsored an event within the show called the Dream Build,” Sabourin said, prior to
the show. “A 1955 Chevrolet BelAir will be assembled over the four days of the show, in full view of the public.” The sound system itself was sponsored by Kenwood, and a Kenwood Excelon Car Play/Android Auto head unit, speakers, subwoofers and a 5-channel amplifier will go into the Chevrolet. “It’ll be televised and featured on the Velocity network from what I understand,” Sabourin said. “Soundcrafters facilitated the sponsorship arrangements and along with Kenwood will have a booth at the show directly across from the Dream Build, giving both our companies some excellent exposure with the classic car crowd.” Many of Soundcrafters’ customers often attend car shows, and help to promote the shop through word-of-mouth. Sabourin himself stated word-of-mouth is a very powerful tool for the shop, bringing in new business. This form of marketing has proved more successful than traditional techniques. “We’re still in our infancy in this market, but from what we’ve experienced so far, there’s a lot more potential in that market.” Soundcrafters offers many options for classic car owners, doing everything from custom fabrication to sound systems and security. Besides attending popular local car shows, Soundcrafters also hosts their own event. “The Spring Break Nationals … is a combination mobile electronics
Having classic cars around the shop for viewing has helped increase sales greatly, regardless of the age demographic that comes in. me-mag.com 27
Who’s Who Jim Perdue McDue Ultimate Audio Farmington, N.M. Years of Industry experience: 31 Hobbies: Harleys, music, fishing What you’re really good at: Troubleshooting 12-volt issues, system designs
Kimberly Trainer Car-Tunes, Inc. Greenville, Miss. Years of Industry experience: 15 Hobbies: Cooking What you’re really good at: Details, presentation, new ideas
John Gaffney My Audioworks Milford, Ct. Years of industry experience: 25 Hobbies: Golf What you’re really good at: System design
Eric M. Carter Cartronix, Inc. Valparaiso, Ind. Years of industry experience: 20 Hobbies: Music, books, outdoors, porn, eating What you’re really good at: Making $$
28 Mobile Electronics January 2016
Owner Paul Papadeas’ love of classic cars has helped bring in more business to the shop. His prized 1966 Chevy Corvair, seen here, is part of the cause.
trade show, consumer show, car audio competition and car show that regularly sees close to four hundred custom cars and motorcycles,” Sabourin explained. “The Spring Break Nationals (known as SBN) is in its 30th year and is focused on the mobile electronics industry.” The show also includes trade seminars, which manufacturers can utilize to promote products. “The car show we host at SBN is called Tuner Jam. There are over 25 classes in Tuner Jam ranging from tuner vehicles to classic cars, motorcycles and specialty vehicles such as ATVs.” In the future, Soundcrafters plans to continue to attend local events. Getting a spot in all the major events in the area
will help promote the business and continually draw in new clientele. Traditional advertising, such as radio and television, is no longer as effective as it once was for Soundcrafters. Other local networking techniques include placing poster cards at auto parts stores and similar businesses. “We maintain our position as the top shop in the region and also have staff focused on custom home control and audio, as well as some expeditor work plus the traditional retail sales business model,” Sabourin stated. “The best advertising a store can have is people talking about the quality work we do with others and the referrals they send our way.”
Keep Them Coming Back The Internet has posed new challenges for 12-volt retailers. My Audio Works remains a staple of the local community, networks with other businesses and does its part by aiding charity organizations.
Creating positive relationships with other businesses can help raise awareness as well. From his involvement in a lot of business-to-business networking, Gaffney has found that even networking with businesses outside of the industry can be fruitful. “I work with a variety of businesses. I recommend them and they recommend me. We have a partnership group,” Gaffney said. “Everyone is in the same situation.” The businesses discuss what has worked well for them. If one business creates a flier for their own store, they might add something about My Audio Works to the flier. The mutual, friendly promotion between businesses creates a community presence.
WORDS BY ROSA SOPHIA
Gaffney sells Evas Miracle t-shirts in-house with the proceeds going to the family of a girl with Spinal Muscular Atrophy: www.evasmiracle.com.
In a world where the Internet is the go-to place for just about anything, 12-volt retailers are standing up to the challenge of drawing customers away from the Web and back into their shops. John Gaffney of My Audio Works in Milford, Conn. acknowledged the changing times, stating that he utilizes not just Facebook, but also Twitter, Instagram, Yelp! and others to draw in customers. “If I don’t do all of them, I’ll miss something,” he said. “I have a website company I work with on a regular basis, blog company, marketing guy who does all my Facebook and Twitter and Instagram.” In this case, marketing promotes the brand, instead of just advertising products. Gaffney also hopes to gain more reviews on Yelp! in order to promote My Audio Works. In business for 18 years, currently with four full-time employees and one part-timer, Gaffney has embraced a philosophy for his shop which centers around the quality of service given. “That’s what we go on,” he said. “We are a Viper dealer, we sell Sony, well…I don’t make Sony, I don’t make Viper. I buy a box. That box sold from anyone is the same box. Everything I do is the branding of the store.” Additionally, the benefits offered by My Audio Works set them apart from other businesses. Gaffney explained “the service we do after the fact” is just as essential as the service given when the client first walks in the door. “Most remote control [starters] from the factory have a one year warranty,” Gaffney explained. “I give two- or three-year warranties.” My Audio Works also offers lifetime replacement on remote control batteries. These benefits keep customers coming back. “We have a really good return rate with our customers,” he said. “A lot of second and third time buyers. I think the next two, three, five, seven years are just as important [as day one]. I believe that is what separates me from [the rest].”
By getting involved in the local community and also participating in the Coats for Kids drive, the store was able to offer a new incentive to customers. “Everyone wants a discount. A lot of my competitors are out there, and the term we use is ‘a lot of shops are in the race to zero,’” Gaffney said. “Everyone advertises cheaper remote starts since it’s getting colder. If you bring in a new or gently used children’s coat, you get a discount on a remote start. At the same time, we’re doing something, donating [the coats] to Helping Hands and they get it out to shelters and groups throughout Milford. That’s more than just throwing out a discount.” My Audio Works endeavors to be more than just a retail store. Involvement in the local community has also led them to help out with Eva’s Miracle, which provides t-shirts that help raise awareness for Spinal Muscular Atrophy (SMA). The store sells these t-shirts, and the proceeds go to Eva and her family. The biggest question is: where is the 12-volt industry headed? How will increasing Internet sales affect the industry? Gaffney was uncertain. “I don’t know. I think about that all the time. Where am I going with this company and with this industry? We have changed a lot, added a lot of different categories, so I don’t really know the answer to that.” Gaffney cited how electronics are constantly changing and manufacturers are adding new devices to vehicles. By embracing the change, getting involved with the community, and experimenting with creative marketing, a shop can keep their customers coming back. “[The industry] is never going to go away, but I think what it’s done in the past and will continue to do is weed out the ones who can’t handle it,” Gaffney said. There will always be obstacles. “I’ve seen more shops close, and I think they don’t know how to change…or can’t handle [the changes].”
Purposeful Purchasing What’s Going On: According to global consumables retail leader Daymon Worldwide, there are “tectonic shifts” in the retail world caused by competitive pressures from both high and low-end stores, and it’s producing a new creed of business models. According to Daymon’s “Global Retail Trends Predictions for 2016,” the pressure for retailers to perform today is relentless. To stay on top, Daymon Worldwide CEO Jim Holbrook said the company has identified seven key trends that smart business leaders must factor into their thinking. “Anticipating these changes and acting on them in 2016 are critical to success, if not survival,” Holbrook said.
How It Can Affect You: One of the key trends retailers must consider is using balance as a strategy. Consumers have technology overload in our “Always On” culture and are hungry for balance. Retailers need to recognize this shift and deliver communications and promotions tailored to consumers’ extreme lifestyles. “Purposeful purchasing” is another trend as consumers’ values are more often affecting their buying decisions. Consumers are asking retailers to align with their core values like sustainability and diversity. Expect to see more retailers in 2016 reframing their messaging. A third key trend is how retail is moving from transaction to interaction. With so many places to shop and more consumers moving online, physical stores must redefine themselves. Retailers are hoping to connect with customers by creating lifestyle spaces that offer hybrid services like a clothing retailer that offers frozen yogurt or a car wash operation with a shoe shine service.
30 Mobile Electronics January 2016
Tech Tats Create Skinsation What’s Going On: Could future wearables actually get under your skin? It sounds somewhat unpleasant, but some speculators believe the next evolution of the category is embeddables. Not to worry—it’s still a concept looming in the distant future, but implantable technology trackers could arrive sooner than we think. Chaotic Moon, in the meantime, has an interim solution with its Tech Tats. These removable biosensor wearables, which put circuitry into the form of a temporary tattoo, have impermanent adhesive that adheres to the skin so it can be discreetly placed under clothing or away from the wrist.
How It Could Affect You: The wearable tech industry is projected to grow 64 percent over the next three years, reaching $25 billion in 2019 when more than 245 million devices are expected to ship. Even with explosive growth, it’s an industry that is still figuring itself out. Signs, however, point to a embeddables in some form. In the future, Tech Tats could add biosensors to record vital signs like heart rate, breathing rate, and blood pressure. Chaotic Moon has even suggested that Tech Tat has possibilities in the world of finance where mobile payments are edging towards more wearable options. Even though there is no actual release date for Tech Tats, signs point to it being a reasonably priced device if it should make it to market. After wearables and embeddables, could ingestibles be far behind?
Filter Figures In Baby Naming What’s Going On: Don’t underestimate the power of technology and entertainment. It has become so intertwined in our lives that it’s even influencing our baby names. For the first time, technology and science are emerging as influences on parents’ naming decisions. BabyCenter’s results of its 2015 baby names survey revealed that parents are turning to Instagram filters for name-picking guidance.
How It Can Affect You: From how a new product or new car gets its name to how we name our children, pop culture has now Insta-inspired names like Ludwig, Valencia, and Amaro. All of those names exploded in popularity this past year, particularly Lux, which saw a whopping 75 percent increase in birth certificate appearances.
Cyber Steals The Limelight Hoverboard Holidays What’s Going On: There was big buzz and a fair amount of controversy throughout the holiday season about this mobile device that blends Segway and self-balancing scooter, but there is no doubt that hoverboards have established themselves as a new category of transportation.
How It Can Affect You: Many retailers are trying to determine if it’s even worth it to carry these devices. There are no standards for safety so plenty of questions are bubbling up about what risks are involved with the device. Many of these two-wheeled electric scooters look almost identical even though prices can range drastically from $299 to $2,000, and quality can be equally disparate. Matt Waxman and Maxx Yellin, co-owners of PhunkeeDuck have created the hoverboard that has become what many are calling the market leader when it comes to brand recognition and sales. While the field is getting crowded with wannabes, the hoverboard is catching on nonetheless. In fact, hoverboards have already surpassed Segway’s sales. Even though these devices are not cheap, they are much less expensive than a Segway which can run about $5,000 and up. Expect to see more of these machines on the streets and sidewalks this year.
Swan Song for Black Friday What’s Going On: Although how it got started is questionable, Black Friday became a pretty big deal more than 25 years ago when retailers trumpeted it as the unofficial kickoff to the holiday shopping season. Its importance has grown each year as the stores opened earlier and earlier, but based on the new shopping habits of consumers, it could go back to simply being the day after Thanksgiving. Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis at NPD Group, even suggested that it may be time to drop the moniker Black Friday, saying, “We’re on the path to a very different kind of holiday selling season then we’ve had in the past.” In a way, retailers are victims of their own success at making it easy for people to shop whenever, wherever and however they want.”
How It Can Affect You: Truer words could not be spoken. The sentiment was echoed by Jesse Tron, spokesperson for the International Council of Shopping Centers. “There’s an overall dilution when it comes to this entire shopping weekend,” he said. According to the National Retail Federation, 103 million people shopped online over the holiday weekend, edging out the 102 million who shopped in stores. The trend of consumers shopping online is not just isolated to this weekend, but will likely continue into 2016.
What’s Going On: Well, it was one for the record books. Cyber Monday 2015 killed it—and the day is now turning out to be a true barometer for retailers to see if they are web site savvy. According to retail analytics firm Custora, Nov. 30 was the biggest day in U.S. online shopping ever, with e-commerce revenue up 16.2 percent and orders up 14.7 percent year over year. Custora found that mobile shopping accounted for over a quarter of online shopping on Cyber Monday 2015 at 26.9% of orders. For the full holiday weekend, mobile shopping accounted for 32.1% of orders, up from 26.4% over the same period in 2014. Mobile shopping, as expected, has taken off from being a search-andfind mechanism to a more predominant way that consumers are completing the purchase.
How It Can Affect You: The online boom has been bittersweet for retailers. For many, it has meant unprecedented sales, but has also presented logistical challenges. For instance, Target. com, fumbled with its 15-percent-off all online items and free shipping. The offer was generous but Target said it then purposely had to reduce the site’s functionality as orders surged at a rate two times faster than previous peaks. Shoppers experienced scattered delays and got stuck waiting in digital checkout lines. Even with the hassles some consumers experienced, Target said it had its biggest online sales day ever. Meanwhile, according to a Walmart.com spokesperson, mobile was the retailer’s biggest trend with 70 percent of site traffic and nearly half of all orders originating from mobile devices since Thanksgiving. Whether consumers are shopping a retailer’s mobile platform or website, the preparations a company must take and consistent functionality are playing a more important role than ever.
on the market
2016 CES Innovations Winners
Each year several winners are selected to represent the best innovations for the coming year in technology. The 12-volt category winners include amplifiers, head units and accessories. Rydeen Mobile Electronics MD4BT Rear View Mirror and PVR15W Front Collision Warning System
MD4BT is a unique rear-view mirror that links one’s smartphone for touch-free and hands-free operations. MD4BT also has a backup camera input for visual safety while a vehicle is in reverse maneuver. The PVR15W is a highly advanced unit that incorporates front collision warning (FCWS), lane departure warning system (LDWS) and a full function DVR with built in GPS and G-Sensor, a combination of features not found even in the most expensive vehicles.
SiriusXM Commander Touch Vehicle Tuner The SiriusXM Commander Touch™ is an innovative solution to add satellite radio to vehicles with an FM radio or AUX input. It includes a custom designed color touchscreen display and small hideaway tuner module that hides behind the dash to conceal the wiring. MSRP is $129.99.
Alpine Electronics X110-SLV 10-inch Restyle Dash System Alpine’s X110-SLV 10-inch Restyle Dash System is being billed as the largest aftermarket AVN/Bluetooth system. It works with 2014-up Chevy Silverados and comes with a dash kit that replaces the OEM audio controls. An add-on module turns the X110-SLV into a control hub for other accessories installed on the truck. 32 Mobile Electronics January 2016
Harman Infinity Kappa K5 KAPPA K5 is a high-performance Clari-Fi, enhanced 4-channel full-range car audio power amplifier, designed to deliver Class D-level efficiency and power. The amp produces 125 watts per channel and is available at an MSRP of $399.99.
Mosconi Gladen Pico 2 As a high-efficiency class D car stereo amplifier, the PICO 2 has made waves as being recognized for being the world’s smallest audiophile sound quality amplifier. The two-channel amp features fast installation and allows users to hide the device easier than most other amplifiers on the market due to its compact size.
Parrot Simple Box The Parrot Simple Box is an all-in-one solution that provides users the ability to have navigation, music and communication through use of their Smartphone.
Bosch Personalized Configurable Haptic Touch Control The touch screen with haptic feedback for automotive components reduces driver distraction, permits enhanced interaction functions and provides a more immersive touch experience in the car. Intensity and the ‘feel’ of feedback can be easily configured to suit personal needs and situation.
on the market
Dual Electronics Car CD Receiver with High-Resolution Audio Player and WiFi The world’s first in-car headunit that allows playback of high-resolution lossless music files streamed from a smartphone over WiFi. The player supports FLAC, ALAC, APE and WAV high-resolution audio files, up to 24bit/192 kHz, for the highest quality audio. MSRP for the device is $499.
Cobra Electronics DSP 9200 BT Steelmate Co., Ltd. TPMS for Motorcycle A tire pressure monitoring system specially for 2-wheel motorcycle, easy DIY installation that matches with valve-cap external sensors. TP-90 has the world’s smallest and lightest tire pressure sensors and has adjustable pressure range, with replaceable sensor battery (CR1632).
34 Mobile Electronics January 2016
DSP 9200 BT is among the most advanced systems in its class and its first digital detector which improves range and performance. It embeds advanced technology for precise notifications through digital signal processing, identifying alerts from unwanted noise for greater reliability and frequency.
Delphi Automotive 3D Gesture Recognition System
SMARTwheel The SMARTwheel is the said to be the first intel-
Delphi has developed the world's first integrated 3D gesture recognition system for cars. With the wave of a hand or flick of a finger, drivers can sift through a music playlist, zoom in and out of navigation maps or accept phone calls...without having to look at or touch the center console.
ligent steering wheel cover that helps prevent distracted driving by utilizing patented sensing technology to change people’s driving habits via real-time feedback of unsafe driving behaviors and
post drive review via the companion app.
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real world retail
Commune Of Sound When a long-running local car audio shop began to decline, Prestige Car Audio and Marine became a refuge for former employees looking to continue the relationships they already had. With that foundation, the store would quickly become a community landmark and 12-volt powerhouse. WORDS BY TED GOSLIN
isasters are caused by many things. Earthquakes, tornados and volcanoes are on the list. Some cause buildings to collapse, cities to burn and lives to be lost. Others, like hurricanes, are known to cause flooding. When a flood occurs, the water in the area rises and often damages homes, equipment and vehicles. In Metairie, La., a city that is part of the greater New Orleans area, rainfall is common, as is the threat of hurricanes. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina struck land
36 Mobile Electronics January 2016
in New Orleans and caused over $180 billion worth of damage and took an estimated 1,836 lives, with 1,577 of those taken in Louisiana alone. Needless to say, residents of Louisiana take storms very seriously. Such was the mood when a storm hit in Metairie in 1990, causing a fair amount of flooding. While no lives were lost during this particular storm, many vehicles were damaged. Interested in a career fixing cars, Cory Himel offered to replace carpet in his neighbors’ damaged
vehicles, working out of his garage. Soon enough, more work came in, and before long he had enough to purchase some alarm systems, which he flipped into enough money to purchase a small building and start a business. That business would become Prestige Car Audio and Marine, a Top 12 Retailer of the Year for 2015.
Safe and Sound After opening his first store in the town of Harahan, just southwest of Metairie,
Himel moved his store from a tiny one-room venue to his own building in Metairie. After operating for a few more years, Himel would move the shop to its current location, where it’s been for ten years. Eventually, Himel would hire help, and turned to an employee from a local shop: current store manager, Dustin Daigle. “I created my own opportunity. Cory heard of me from Mobile One but didn’t know me. We knew of each other in passing. I approached him and told him
what I could do for him, knowing a position was open and he hired me,” Daigle said. “I was working part-time in the Air National Guard and working part-time at Mobile One. In total I did two tours of 13 years. But I love music. I love how it sounds, how it makes people feel. That’s what got me into this. To bring out the best in the music and make people feel a certain way.” Having originally joined the military on reserve, the job soon became full-time due to various circumstances
like 9/11 and Hurricane Katrina requiring Daigle to extend his stay. Eventually, after getting married and starting his family, Daigle realized he needed to get a job doing what he loved most: car audio. Thanks to his part-time work over the years at Mobile One, Daigle made it a full-time job and earned his place as a salesman, then manager. Thanks to a solid reputation, he and Himel found each other at the right moment and he would take his place running Prestige.
real world retail Despite not having an installation is the longest tenured staff member at aided by Nam Pran, the other full-time background, Daigle’s management abilthe shop at 10 years. Barth was the only salesman. Pran required less hands-on ities are strong, based in common sense employee already at the shop when training due to his previous experience, and personal relationships. Daigle arrived. but Daigle worked with him directly on “I’m heavily the company poliinvolved in sales. cies and sales style. It’s just myself and “He owned a another guy that little shop before work the front. I working here and try to treat people already had a lot of equally. I’m more of knowledge about a consultant than a the industry and salesman. People’s how things worked,” perceptions about Daigle said. “At first salesmen are that I threw him to the they are just trying wolves to sell on to make money his own. We work and commissions. together on the I try to provide a bigger sales and solution for somework better as a one. I try to make team.” people feel at home All jobs in the and treat them as store are commisI would like to be sion-based, with The team at Prestige, pictured here, includes two sales staff, three treated.” some given both installers, and one window tinter. For the last four salary and commisyears, Himel has worked as a salesman “When I came over from Mobile One, sion based on seniority and experience. and manager of seven other employees, I brought Scott with me, a long-time Commissions are broken down by cateincluding one full-time window tinter, installer. Everyone had previous expegories like warranty, product, labor and four installation technicians, one salesrience when hired,” Daigle said. “We accessories, with varying percentages for man and Cherie, Himel’s wife, handling generally look for 15 to 20 years of experieach category. payroll and phone calls. Himel is less ence for the people we employ.” Sales aren’t the only element that is involved with day-to-day activities, acting New installers are trained on-the-go by team-based. Most procedures at the shop as part-time support role, helping Daigle shadowing Barth and having him look on have come about naturally, without the when needed. as they perform work. All employees are need for direct implementation by Daigle. Also on staff is Installation Manager paid hourly to start and moved to com“Guys are constantly teaming up on jobs. and Top 12 Installer, Barry Barth, who mission once they reach full-time status. They work as team rather than individu“Our newest als. It came together naturally,” he said. employee, Brady “It’s estimated by the hour. If one guy Lewis, is traingets front speakers and an amp, they get ing directly under paid on that. Sometimes they will even Barry. We had him split up the money a little bit.” as an hourly guy All work is written down on install for six months sheets and turned in at the end of the while he trained, week to determine how much each then gave him employee gets paid. Between eight and 10 commission,” cars at a time can fit in the bay, dependDaigle said. “Barry ing on vehicle size. is MECP Master Regarding benefits, employees have Certified and opted to decline insurance to avoid trained Brady daypaying the extra costs since most are in, day-out during married and use their spouse’s insurance that time.” or have some other means. “We’ve tried to On the sales offer it before but no one was interested side, Daigle is
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in it because they already had it through some other form,” he added. The staff also trains together with in-house guest trainers like Del Ellis for sales training and Micah Williams from Sonus for install training. The staff has also traveled to Sonus for training, as well as KnowledgeFest training for Himel, Barth and Daigle. “We try at least once a year to do an install training to learn something new or refresh something we’ve already learned,” Daigle added. All staff are cross-trained to allow anyone to do most jobs in the shop if needed. What makes the staff work so naturally together is the amount of time most have known one-another and their common goal of continuous improvement. With several of the staff having worked together previously, the crew behave more like a family, supporting each other and maintaining the camaraderie of brothers. “We’re definitely more of a family. The majority of us have all worked together for a long time,” Daigle said.
Flooded With Business Located in a high-traffic area hasn’t hurt Prestige, making it a destination for 12-volt in the greater New Orleans area. The 6,000 square foot facility is located on Causeway Blvd., a main drag in Metairie. Thousands of cars pass by each day, with some drawn via a large, elevated street sign that stands 20 feet above the road. But like most popular 12-volt shops, word-of-mouth is the store’s greatest source of business.
- LOST WORDS -
“We tried to do some print advertising but stopped doing any kind about two years ago. It brings in absolutely nothing. “A couple local magazines and a local newspaper asked about advertising. So we took out ads. It didn’t matter what we tried. Nothing brought anything ever. The goals were to increase foot traffic and profits but it never panned out. “It would be a seasonal thing. It was on the regular for a while, but after the seasonal promotion we cut it off all together. We spent a few thousand dollars on it. It was just a general advertisement to let people know about us. No one ever mentioned seeing us through our print ads. “I would definitely stay away from print in the future. I guess people just don’t read the paper for that around here. I would take that advertising dollar and put it into something more web-based. When the mind starts to wander at home, they look for car audio online. It’ll point people straight to you.” Dustin Daigle
real world retail
Barry Barth, Installation Manager
PRESTIGE CAR AUDIO AND MARINE FAST FACTS WWW.PRESTIGEAUTOSOUND.COM
PRESTIGE CAR AUDIO AND MARINE IS A BOUTIQUE-STYLE RETAIL STORE LOCATED AT 1510 N. CAUSEWAY BLVD, METAIRIE, LA. 70001. THE STORE SITS OFF OF A MAIN STREET THAT BRINGS THOUSANDS OF CARS PAST DAILY. WORD-OF-MOUTH IS THE SHOP’S PRIMARY MARKETING TOOL. THE STORE USES 6,000 SQUARE FEET, WITH 1,200 SQUARE FEET DEDICATED TO THE SHOWROOM AND THE REST TO THE INSTALLATION BAYS AND FABRICATION ROOM. STAFF CORY HIMEL - OWNER DUSTIN DAIGLE - MANAGER, SALES NAM PRAN - SALES BARRY BARTH - INSTALLATION MANAGER, FABRICATION SCOTT DROUIN - INSTALLATION TECHNICIAN BRADY LEWIS - INSTALLATION TECHNICIAN CHERIE HIMEL - PAYROLL, ADMINISTRATIVE
40 Mobile Electronics January 2016
Customers are brought in to the sound room to listen and left to choose which speakers or radios they like best. “We get a fair amount of walk-in traffic but most of the time it’s referrals,” Daigle said. “Our last facility was actually bigger, but was located on a back street—not a good traffic area. The bay was not very big at all, which is why Cory decided to change venues.” The shop prides itself on its ability to handle any type of work that comes through the door, with a bulk of the jobs focused on trunk enclosures and marine audio. To establish strong customer relationships, the sales staff welcome guests the same way, on their feet and in an active way, to show proper engagement. Clients are asked about their specific needs and are not sold products but rather services more as recommendations than part of sales tactics. “The fact that we even greet or acknowledge customers when they walk in sets us apart. There’s no greeting with other shops like Best Buy,” Daigle said. “We try to create an environment where they feel welcome, comfortable and unafraid to ask questions.” Customers are taken out to their own vehicle to discuss the specifics, then back to the showroom to look at product displays to get ideas. “Sometimes they don’t really know what
they want. We try to help them figure that out,” said Daigle. Some customers are offered a tour of the bay, but due to time limitations, it’s not always possible due to the need to help other customers or space issues in the bay from ongoing projects. “We don’t do the walkthrough all the time but I’d like it to be all the time. Having the walkthrough is very important to show how we separate ourselves from everyone else,” Daigle said. “It’s hard for me to take people on a tour and keep customers waiting. If someone is spending a lot of money at the shop they definitely get a walkthrough.” Displays are used to show examples to customers—some built in-house, some from manufacturers. The sound room features different radios that customers can listen to and choose which sounds best to them. “I let them pick it out first. Most of the time I don’t have a problem selling them on the price, per se. Once they’ve heard it, it sells itself,” he added. All staff wear collared shirts with the company logo and have loose rules about bottoms, with cargo shorts worn during hot months and jeans during colder months.
A waiting area is set up for customers that includes a TV, chairs and a table. Drinks are offered while customers wait, but the area is not sectioned off like some facilities. Customers are made to feel at home and are treated no differently than staff. “If I have someone here that’s waiting for a while and we’re ordering out for lunch, we’ll offer to buy them lunch,” Daigle said.
Give And Receive Building word-of-mouth in any business takes time and lots of hard work. Both have paid off for Prestige given its rich history of giving back to the community. To develop its strong reputation locally, the shop gives back regular to events without asking for anything in return. One such way is by volunteering at local school fairs by helping set up booths, cooking food and helping put on the event as a whole. The team also volunteers with the Special Olympics, attends the annual Louisiana Boat Show and takes part in an event to combat a form of cancer. “We participate in ‘Hogs For the Cause’ which supports
pediatric brain cancer. We work with a guy who builds a structure every year. People donate money and food. All proceeds go to fighting pediatric brain cancer,” Daigle said. “We started doing that because one of our clients whose daughter died from it is involved.” For existing customers, the shop mails hand-written thank you cards that include a discount on a future purchase. The cards are mailed once a week to the most recent customers. “They usually receive it the next day. People are always positive and are surprised that someone took the time to hand-write a note that says thank you. Typed letters are so informal. It’s a breath of fresh air when you get a hand-written note in the mail saying we appreciate your business,” Daigle said. When the shop does pay for marketing, it uses 168 Media, a company that specializes in 12-volt campaigns. The company is run by car audio veteran Mitch Schaeffer, and the company manages the website, blog
With the use of manufacturer and company-made displays, the showroom conveys the sense of class that Daigle wants as part of the store’s look and feel.
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real world retail “People’s perceptions about salesmen are that they are just trying to make money and commissions. I try to provide a solution for someone. I try to make people feel at home and treat them as I would like to be treated.”
Dustin Daigle, Manager
content and social media campaigns for Prestige. “We spend maybe about five percent of our monthly budget on marketing. The website was built a little over a year ago. We have a monthly budget with 168 Media and fill the site with content,”
“No Yelp. I’m on the fence about that but we had a guy leave a bogus review on Yelp who happened to be a competitor,” Daigle said. “I called him out and asked him to take it down but he refused to take it down. We find it best not to use Yelp to avoid issues like that.”
Daigle said. “They have a process where they call blogs ‘articles’ or ‘build posts,’ which is a long article. We dump a couple dollars into an article on a popular vehicle like an F150 and when people do a search on the web, they find us with a keyword search.” Schaeffer’s company specializes in Search Engine Optimization, helping Prestige to be found easier online through specific searches. The company also posts regularly on Prestige’s Facebook page. Prestige avoids using Yelp due to issues with false reviews from competitors.
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Life is full of firsttimes. Most people in today’s society don’t have experience dealing with tragic scenarios like hurricanes and floods. But human beings have built a reputation for making the most of tough situations. As a first-time Top 12 facility in 2015, for both retail and installer honors, Prestige Car Audio and Marine has had to deal with a level of success never before seen. But like all quality businesses, it takes its new achievements in stride, focused on its current and future goals of helping its community and building relationships. “We just like to do things within our community when we can. This year we’ll be taking coat donations as part of a campaign to give clothing to children in need,” Daigle said. “Making the Top 12 for the first time hinges on our dedication to what we do and I guess people recognize
that we are one of the better caliber stores in the nation. We go above and beyond to make the customer feel that they belong here.” Getting to its current level required a different way of thinking, Daigle added. “I came here with the mindset that we wanted to be the best shop in town. I wanted to turn out quality work. I’ve always held myself to a higher standard.” For the coming year, Daigle hopes to finish a complete store remodel, which is needed due to a difference in height between rooms. “Half of the showroom is one height and the other is higher due to it being added on when the site was purchased,” he said. “In five years I would want someone to walk in the door and feel the same as those entering a Mercedes dealership, with a high-end, exclusive atmosphere. Perception is everything,” Daigle said. “You walk into a shop that looks like crap, it doesn’t matter how good their techs are, you wouldn’t trust them with your car.” As a manager, Daigle continues to support his staff and customers the same way, with honest ideas and a hopeful outlook for the future. “I usually tell people just love what you do, be the best at what you do. If you clean toilets, be the best damn toilet cleaner on the planet. Never give up on your dreams. Do something every day that will put you closer to your dream.”
“OUR TWO TOP BRANDS ARE ORCA AND JL AUDIO. WE SELL A LOT OF MOSCONI AND FOCAL. WE’RE ALSO A FLAGSHIP DEALER FOR JL. EVERY BOAT THAT COMES THROUGH HERE HAS NOTHING BUT JL PRODUCT IN IT. “WE HAVE A GREAT RELATIONSHIP WITH KEVIN KNOX AND PETE DAILEY FROM ORCA. IT’S THE SAME WITH JL. OUR REP, BEN PUGH IS AWESOME. HE’S ALWAYS STOPPING BY THE STORE. “THE FOCAL SPEAKER LINE IS OUR BEST SELLING LINE FOR ORCA. IT’S PHENOMENAL. WE SELL MORE FOCAL SPEAKERS THAN ANY OTHER SPEAKER. WE SELL MORE THAN JL AND ALPINE COMBINED. FOR JL, THEIR MARINE IS SECOND TO NONE. IT’S PHENOMENAL PRODUCT. YOU HAVE OTHER COMPANIES LIKE ROCKFORD AND WETSOUNDS, BUT IT’S TOTALLLY DIFFERENT. THE QUALITY OF THEIR MARINE PRODUCT IS ABOVE AND BEYOND. THERE IS NO COMPARISON. “I’VE BEEN UNDER THE IMPRESSION THAT FOCAL IS REVAMPING THEIR KEVLAR LINE, WHICH IS EXCITING FOR ME BECAUSE THE 165 KRX2 IS OUR MOST POPULAR SPEAKER. I’M TOLD THE K-SERIES KEVLAR LINE WILL BE COMPLETELY DIFFERENT THIS COMING YEAR AND A WHOLE NEW LINE OF AMPS THAT WILL BE REALLY NICE. THEY DON’T TURN OUT NEW PRODUCTS. THEY BARELY CHANGE EVER. THEY MAKE ONE SET OF SPEAKERS THAT MIGHT LAST TEN YEARS. “JL HAS AN EXCITED PIECE THAT JUST STARTED SHIPPING. IT’S CALLED THE FIX. THE OTHER IS TWK. THOSE TWO PIECES ARE PRETTY EXCITING BASED OFF OF WHAT THEY DO.”
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behind the scenes
Against the Current In contrast to downward trends in the speaker category, aftermarket speaker company Audiofrog began an uphill battle into high-end sound but is quickly defying the odds to become one of the hottest companies in 12-volt. WORDS BY BILL BRAUN
et’s face it: this is an unconventional time to start a 12-volt company. Between the shrinking sandbox that is aftermarket car audio and the increasingly difficult process of integrating gear into newer vehicles, most companies are receding from our industry, not adding to it. Yet, there are some that are not merely surviving. They are thriving. Audiofrog is a fledgling manufacturer that comes to the table with some legendary names on the letterhead. The most notable among them are two long time forces in the industry: Andy Wehmeyer,
44 Mobile Electronics January 2016
formerly a product manager at Harman International (JBL, Infinity, et al.); Gary Biggs, formerly of JBL, Kicker and sound competition stardom; and Marcus Yeo, formerly of Harman Asia Pacific and Pioneer APAC. Gary and Andy could be fairly referred to as “installers extraordinaire.” Both have a wealth of technical knowledge as trainers, sound-off competitors, business owners and product developers that extends decades back. And now they make speakers. Our story starts well before the origins of Audiofrog became evident to the populous. More than two years ago, Wehmeyer
started asking the 12-volt faithful what they wanted in a set of speakers. The questions (and subsequent answers) came on Facebook as well as numerous car audio forums. Wehmeyer, Biggs and additional members of the brain trust gathered this information, melding consumer input with their own industry experience. Wehmeyer’s explanation for Audiofrog’s birth is based as much in product as it is in passion. “Years ago, car audio was a business for enthusiasts. One reason to buy speakers was that if the car did come with speakers, they sucked. It was
one 4x10 in the center of the dash or the also designed to give installers more time Leaps and Bounds rear deck. Now, car audio installation is to come up with ideas without having Another differentiating factor is the becoming more difficult. You need crazy to make small parts that are “dangerous testing the company employs. “Comdash kits, etc. In those 30 years, we’ve and time-consuming to create. Compared pared to other high-end drivers tested to had a commoditization of car audio.” to other products, we offer features that be used in a home, our drivers are tested The Audiofrog founder believes that are performance based and not gimsimilarly to OEM reliability testing,” Wehwhile the financial crash of 2007 meyer said. The tests are designed to 2008 caused problems in the to simulate 50,000 hours of vehicle domestic market, the business for operation: that’s equivalent to over many companies migrated interfive and a half years of non-stop nationally. They were trying to sell driving. Resistance to heat, humidspeakers in countries like China, ity, thermal shock, exposure to Brazil, Russia, Indonesia and ultraviolet light and vibration are India. Those companies invested tested. Audiofrog’s power testing in selling less expensive products is four and a half days long and overseas, or divested themselves of includes a concurrent test of RMS ancillary businesses, and focused and peak power. According to Wehon their core businesses in the U.S. meyer, “many other companies may When money started to move the test with pink noise for eight or 10 other way (back to the U.S. and hours.” Western Europe) car audio once It may come as a surprise that again became a vibrant market, but Audiofrog chose to sell their gear the cars are now more difficult. Big Andy Wehmeyer, President and CEO, Audiofrog online, considering more than a box companies like Circuit City and few 12-volt manufacturers have Best Buy Canada disappeared while Best mick based. Instead of a rotating tweeter chosen to prohibit the sale of authoBuy U.S. car audio is now an aisle by the with a tiny voice coil, we have true dome rized gear online at any price. The logic phones. tweeter with a real 1-inch dome and voice behind that decision is explained by the Wehmeyer sees the opportunity for coil.” Audiofrog president. “Our business plan Audiofrog existing for “end users who Offering the Audiofrog GB60 as an doesn’t include plans for 1,500 retaillove audio enough to invest [in their example (a 6-inch component speaker ers in the U.S.,” Wehmeyer said. “There sound].” Their self-professed goal is to with an MSRP of $949), the driver will undoubtedly be people who don’t “make great sounding products that are includes a 2-inch copper clad aluminum live close to an authorized Audiofrog profitable for retailers from a company edge-wound voice coil, and a copper cap dealership.” that is easy to do business.” over the pole piece to help eliminate disCrutchfield was approached to be the That business is firmly positioned tortion. It also includes a shorting ring sole online retailer for their customer serin the upper end of the qualitative and that helps to reduce even more distorvice reputation, system design skills and financial spectrum. For example, the GS tion. The performance of that speaker is their online visibility, which is among the series 4-inch coaxial costs $229.99 per on par with the highest-end speakers that largest for consumer electronics. It is one pair, according to Crutchfield. Confident you could buy for home audio. of the few remaining companies that still that the premium audio track would conThe Audiofrog founder notes that there sends out catalogs several times a year. stitute the bulk of the profitable business, is a lot more profit selling a $1200 set of When establishing an upper echelon Audiofrog is making an effort to attract a speakers than selling a $100 set of speakbrand, a big part of the equation is the specific clientele, both at the dealership ers, especially if the installation takes gear. Another factor is the people selling and consumer level. about the same amount of time. “We also it. How knowledgeable are they? How “Doing upscale audio comes with a make speakers that perform well and in much do they believe in the gear, and higher expectation of performance,” Wehmany cases require far less tuning hassle how well do they represent the brand as meyer said. “It’s an opportunity for lots than other speakers—especially speakthe retail extension of the manufacturer? and lots of labor, but an upscale instalers that are home audio drivers sold as Gary Biggs is a co-founder of Audioflation can turn into a money pit rather car audio drivers.” In essence, the idea is rog, and vice president of the company. than a profit center, so we wanted to to attach product profit to hours of labor With multiple sound quality titles under build speakers that are easy to install.” billed. Come away with more money his belt, not to mention positions at JBL, The effort begins with including unique while making the installer and customer Kicker and his own 12-volt shop, his stratinstallation kits, designed to increase the happy. egy for establishing a strong retail base speed of the installation while improving was relatively simple: go after the best in the fit of the components. The kits are the country. “Initially, many of our targets
behind the scenes The Driven Autosound owner met Wehmeyer in an unconventional way: online. “I had met Andy on the forums, where he likes to hang out. Every so often he’d ask a random question, ‘Hey, if you were making a speaker, what would you do with a passive crossover, how would you set Wehmeyer holds up one of many subwoofers at it up?’ I started respondthe company’s manufacturing facility. ing to the threads and keeping an eye on what were MERA Top 100 dealers. Andy and I he was doing. When the announcement are fans of MERA and its training,” Biggs came out that he was starting Audiofrog, said. “We wanted to partner with great I told him I would be interested.” retailers that know what they are doing As a company, Driven Autosound to help us establish the brand. From understands that Audiofrog isn’t a run of there, we compiled a list of retailers that the mill product. It needs to be demonwe’ve had relationships with in the past.” strated, and Driven wanted to be the shop that would put it on a proverbial pedThe Pack Mentality estal. Most brands in Driven’s selection Both Biggs and Wehmeyer have have one or two components that are less invested in intimate personal relationthan the base price of the Audiofrog comships with every Audiofrog retailer. Their ponents. The advantage for Driven lies in personal cell numbers are given freely. the premium nature of the speaker. The Emails and social media are watched attraction of exclusive distribution invarinearly every waking hour. Tech calls are ably appeals to a certain type taken personally, and at any hour of the of cusday or night. “We have personal relationships with our dealers,” Biggs said. “Every one of them has mine and Andy’s cell phone numbers. There’s not a month that goes by that we don’t touch base with each dealer. Unlike some of the big companies where there’s no relationship with the brass of each company, they have us on speed dial.” “Our mission is to be super friendly and be super easy to do business with,” Wehmeyer said. “In any case where we can, if an order arrives in time for us to get it to the FedEx store, an order goes out the same day. We have a prompt pay discount; we take checks, credit cards, tomer, which is exactly who McNulty is PayPal and we ship COD.” trying to appeal to. “Were looking for Chris McNulty owns Driven Autosound the 2008 Lexus owner that doesn’t enjoy Electronics in Chantilly, VA. “We were what he’s listening to and is driving in one of the earlier adopters,” McNulty said. two hours of traffic every day. Not the guy “We sell the solution not based on the that is replacing a blown speaker.” level of product, but the architecture of That customer comes with certain the system with time alignment, DSP and qualitative expectations, and they are all of that.” willing to pay for it. McNulty describes
46 Mobile Electronics January 2016
the average ticket as much higher than most shops—more than $2,500. “Our traditional job is an OEM integration with a DSP, five channel amp, set of components and a sub. Rather than pressing buttons on a sound board, we focus on what kind of experience they are looking for. What they are trying to accomplish. Our course of action is to ask the client more questions than they ask us. We go out to their vehicle. We show them what we are working on, and we normally have two to three cars in the showroom of the shop. I’ll craft a solution to their ultimate goal, once we diagnose what that might be.” Part of the reason shops like Driven Autosound are attracted to Audiofrog involve not only product, but highly “retailer-friendly” business practices. Part of that is a hassle free return policy. When it comes to repairs, Audiofrog’s official policy is “take care of the customer.” Authorizing a factory credit or field destroying the speaker made more sense than shipping back a 25-pound subwoofer for repair. As of the time of this writing, Audiofrog has logged less than ten defective speakers taken back in the 13 months since they started shipping product. “Ideally, the way to handle returns,” Wehmeyer stated, “is just not having any.” The company attributes a nearly nonexistent return level to training, knowledgeable dealers and their QC process.
Training Jumps The state of training in the industry is often a function of budget, personnel or both. While Audiofrog has not formalized an official training process, both founders have engaged in constant education. Whether they are visiting a shop, talking on the phone or chatting online, the communication has been consistent. “I just had a lengthy Facebook conversation with someone who was building boxes and had a bunch of questions,” Biggs said. His example of Audiofrog’s “training” began over Facebook at 10:30 p.m. “I got a text from one of our retailers. I spent 30 minutes designing a diagram, designing an input/output diagram for his processors. Explaining where to cross everything over. A guy working
late at a shop—doing what all guys need to do which is getting the job done on time. The relationship we have, they feel like they can reach out to us and get a response.” Wehmeyer believes that very few companies allow the senior people at the company to answer a tech support question, let alone founders of their respective reputations. “We’re active on Facebook and in a lot of the 12-volt groups, and Andy is as well,” McNulty said. “As the gear was coming out, he was putting stuff up there and people were asking questions. It was a virtual training, and it was a continuous virtual training. I think there are actually two or three Andys; I would see something he posted at 7:00 a.m. Eastern time, and you would start doing the math.” Audiofrog is on the West coast, while McNulty is on the East. “He is always offering solutions.” McNulty went on to describe just such a situation. Using a set of 6.5-inch GBs,
the installers ran into a problem where a minimum of ¼-inch of material was to be used for the mounting ring. In this case, they had about half of that thickness available. Consequently, the grill was being impacted by the surround of the speaker. A picture and a note were sent to Audiofrog, and within about two hours, the diagrams and manual were adjusted on the dealer forum. “The fact that he’s always there to give an answer and willing to admit when things aren’t 100 percent perfect and take care of them immediately is kind of awesome.” McNulty stated that part of the reason they sell Audiofrog over other lines is the relationship they have with Audiofrog founder. “If we have an issue, we don’t call an 800 number, we don’t talk to some customer service representative. We talk to Andy. We talk to the guy that designed the speakers. When there are issues, we are immediately taken care of.”
Hopping Forward With the imminent arrival of CES, Biggs is looking forward to a chance to show off the newly released gear. “We just released the GS series. GS is our entry level … but not entry level. G series is an entry level sub. Everything is ready to ship now, and at CES we’ll have everything available. We’ll also have a demo car.” During the show, Audiofrog will be at the Residence Inn across from the Las Vegas Convention Center. Many companies lay claim to an audiophile’s background. Others have tried (some in vain) to incorporate that aspirational attitude into a thriving business. Audiofrog intends to meld their personalized form of customer service with a genuinely different approach to testing and product design, but their greatest hope is simply summed up by the president of the company. “What we want more than anything,” Wehmeyer said, “are enthusiastic retailers that want to see their customers smile.”
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The 12-volt tech guru is back to cover the nuts and bolts of how to mount one an amplifier in the roll cage of a 1988 BMW E30 M3 and tricks to mount amps in other difficult locations.
WORDS BY JOEY KNAPP, SIMPLICITY IN SOUND
mplifiers are a key component to a great sounding audio system. I believe amplification is even more important in the mobile environment. In a home audio system, there is a very low environmental noise floor. Because of the low noise floor, a marginal amount of power is needed to provide good resolution in the audio playback. In addition, home audio speakers are much more efficient than their mobile counterparts. The automotive environment is very different than the home environment. Even a parked car with the engine turned off is susceptible to much more external noise than a home. Cars don’t have the benefit of dense building materials, heavy insulation, or double-pane windows. Starting the engine in a car will typically raise the noise floor in addition to adding a bit
48 Mobile Electronics January 2016
of tactile distraction. We own cars to be able to drive them. Whether for utilitarian purposes, or for enjoyment, at some point most every car will be moving. That movement brings in a whole other realm of noises to the vehicle cabin. Wind noise and road noise are two of the biggest enemies to a low cabin noise floor. Sometimes soundproofing can help address some of these issues, but they will never disappear completely. So, to have a great sounding audio system in a vehicle, an amplifier is paramount. Amplifiers help increase the signal level to overcome many of the typically present automotive interior noises. Over my many years in car audio, I have installed hundreds of different amplifiers. The amplifiers have ranged in output from a few watts per channel, to thousands of watts. The locations in
which the amplifiers are installed are usually narrowed down to the floor of the vehicle (whether the trunk or under a seat), under a rear deck of a trunk (leaving the trunk space useable), or the side or back panel of a trunk. Recently, though, I had the opportunity to install an amplifier in a place I had never before installed one. The location was the roll cage of a car. The car I worked on was a 1988 BMW E30 M3. The owner of this car is Sam Yang, owner of Southern California surf brand, VAST. Sam’s car is a motoring icon. It was the first generation that BMW offered with the M package. Initially, the E30 M3 was a homologation special. They produced a limited number of the cars so that they could, in turn, be able to race a version of the car. The M series had different body panels, brakes,
suspension, wheels, a few interior tweaks, With the general plan of how the black of the interior, I chose red to use as and engine modifications. While the car amplifiers would be mounted, I started an accent color. An added bonus was that outwardly might look somewhat simisketching out a few ideas of how the the Mosconi amplifiers also had red as a lar to a base E30, they are completely trim pieces would look. These would part of the D2 logo that would be visible different animals. This car happened to be important, because even though it on their top. have an Autopower roll bar in it. While was mounted on the aftermarket roll The first step in mounting the ampliBing was discussing different installation bar, I wanted the assembly to look like fiers was to make a frame the size of the locations for the equipperimeter of both amplifiment with the client, the ers. I made this frame out roll bar came up. In this of ½-inch square tubing. “Wind noise and road noise are two of car the roll bar prohibited To attach the amplifithe biggest enemies to a low cabin noise anyone from using the back ers to the frame, I drilled floor. Sometimes soundproofing can help seat. So the concept for the and tapped the mounting address some of these issues, but they will amplifier location was that locations for each of the never disappear completely. So, to have a the amplifiers would be visamplifier mounting tabs. great sounding audio system in a vehicle, ible through the back glass, The tapped holes allow the an amplifier is paramount.” looking into the car. amplifiers to bolt easily to In keeping with the the frame using 8/32 bolts. sport/race theme of the car, The next thing I had to Bing wanted very small, INSTALLATION EXPERT, SIMPLICITY IN SOUND do was to determine the lightweight amplifiers. The height and angle of the Mosconi D2 amplifiers frame. The roll bar mounts seemed to fit the bill perin the vehicle at a slight fectly. The Mosconi D2 80.6 DSP would it belonged in the car. In the past I had angle, so I knew this needed to be taken power the 3-way front stage as well as made some door pods for another E30 into account when I planned the location handle all of the processing. This ampliM3, so I was familiar with the design of the amplifiers. The roll bar had been fier has 6 channels of 80 watts each. of the interior. The design uses a lot of removed from the car, but I was able to It also contains an 8 channel DSP. The angular flat surfaces with some conuse the mounting base plates to re-cresubwoofer, an Illusion Audio C10, would necting radiuses in some spots. This ate the angle of in which the bar sits in be powered by a Mosconi the car. I ran into my first D2 150.2. Both of these area of concern at this amplifiers together have point. I found out that a footprint smaller than to get the angle I wanted many traditional amplififor mounting the amplifiers with a fraction of the ers, I would come close to power. hitting the area where the My instructions from seat back would recline. To Bing were to mount the help make sure I had the amplifiers securely on the assembly centered proproll bar, and continue the erly, and that it wouldn’t small, light, minimalist impede the seat motion, I theme. While wood is a setup a two-part jig. The very common construction first part was meant to material in the world of car find the center of the bar. audio, it was not suitably The whole assembly was strong enough to mount the made of round tubing, so amplifiers safely on the roll just measuring across it bar. My plan was to build Very crude, but functional, the jigs were used to find the cen- would be difficult. I chose a steel mounting rack to ter of the roll bar and align the amp rack so that it wouldn’t affect two spots that would give secure the amplifiers, and me an easy and symmetseat travel. then use thin wood to build rical place to measure trim pieces to cover them. If the amplifiparticular car had aftermarket seats in it from, the rear support connecting tubes. I ers were larger, I might have considered and re-upholstered rear seats. The stitchpulled a measuring tape between the two using aluminum to build the mounting ing in the seats was red, as are one of the points, noted the measurement, and then rack, to help save some weight. bars in the BMW M logo. Along with the hung a scrap stick of wood with a screw
In order for the amplifiers to be visible through the back window, they needed to be angled upward on the roll bar. The jig allowed for the amplifiers to be angled up as much as possible without interfering with the seat.
Thin pieces of MDF were used to help keep the weight down. Thicker pieces were used where reinforcement was needed.
50 Mobile Electronics January 2016
The thin piece of ½-inch MDF was added to the bottom back trim piece and then the back of the trim piece was routered with a 22.5 degree chamfer bit.
glued to the top of it. I centered the screw attached to the stick on the tape measure, and let it hang down freely. This gave me the center point on the cage, which I marked on the taped-up bar. The next jig was one that I left in place for much of the mounting rack and trim piece fabrication. This jig was simply two pieces of wood stuck together with template tape. The first piece was to span the distance between the seat back reclining stop bar and the bottom cross-member of the frame. The second piece was there to provide a bit of additional clearance for the frame and assembly trim pieces. This jig was clamped to the roll bar with a simple spring clamp. Now that I had the parameters for the fabrication of the rest of the metal rack, I cut and welded on the height spacer pieces and the mounting tabs. (For details on the metal working involved with this project, metal fabrication tips and suggested metal working tools, keep an eye out for a future article focused on that topic). Securing the amplifier rack to the roll bar would be two mounting tabs that extend out to the sides, for horizontal support. For vertical support, I added two additional tabs that mounted perpendicularly to the side tabs. These tabs were bent to fit the curve of the tubing, so when they were bolted down, they would hold the assembly securely. After the tabs were all welded on, I used the previously attached jig, and marked center point, to determine the location of the rack on the roll bar. The screw holes drilled in the mounting tabs provided a perfect template for marking the mounting holes on the roll bar. I used a Sharpie to mark the holes and then removed the rack. The roll bar was made out of was 3/16-inch steel tubing, which I determined was thick enough to be able to drill and tap for the amplifier mounting rack bolts. I used the marks made by the Sharpie to precisely drill and tap the holes. It was now time to move on to building the trim pieces that would cover the amps and mounting rack. I bolted the rack to the roll bar and then bolted the amplifiers to the mounting rack. I began to cut and assemble the pieces that would form the trim shell, based off the initial sketches I made. The majority of the pieces were cut from Âź-inch MDF, to try to keep the assembly as light and streamlined as possible. A few spacer pieces were made of thicker wood, as was the bottom front trim piece, which aesthetically needed to be thicker. One unexpected issue that arose was a concern for the clearance between the bottom back trim piece and the amplifier mounting frame. The wiring for the amplifiers would have to be routed between these two pieces, and the clearance was tighter than I would be comfortable with. Not wanting to endure the wrath of Jesse Lucero, who would be wiring up the amplifiers, I decided to add an additional piece and then router out the back side of it to give more room for the wires. An added bonus was that the additional piece not only strengthened the piece, but also added a little more shape to the relatively flat piece. I moved from the rear lower trim piece to the top upper trim piece. This piece would cover the amplifiers and also conceal the wiring. There were a few aspects of the design that
The additional piece added for the wire channel ended up adding a nice touch to the bottom back trim piece, in addition to adding a bit to the strength of the piece.
I was thankful that Bing had this pattern trim bit from 12vTools. It made shaping the curves on the amplifier cover a piece of cake! me-mag.com â€‚ 51
tech today The front underside trim piece was constructed of two pieces of ½-inch MDF. The inside of the bottom half of the trim piece had to have clearance to conceal the two metal mounting tabs
As usual, the trim pieces went through a number of stages of test-fitting. This is one of the final test fits before I began prepping for upholstery.
The wiring channel worked just as planned and helped avoid any pinched wires by the mounting frame or trim piece. 52 Mobile Electronics January 2016
I needed to address. The first thing was that I was trying to keep this piece as small as possible. I wanted it to be just big enough to cover the amps and the wiring, but I also needed a little bit of additional space so the lower portion of it would taper. The largest design element for this part of the build was the angled taper. This taper mimics the lines on the door panel parts and ties the two together. Because we were emphasizing the diminutive size of the amplifiers, I wanted to make sure I showed as much of them as possible. Therefore, the cutout shape was just slightly smaller than the profile of the two amplifiers. I added a radius on the corners to smooth out the shape. This is the first place I would also be introducing some of the red accent color. A red, acrylic insert would frame the amplifiers. I only wanted 1/8-inch of the insert to show. To make the insert, I used the amplifier cutout shape as a template to duplicate the opening to a piece of 1/8-inch acrylic. Then, to create the 1/8-inch perimeter, I used a rabbet bit with a 1/8-inch step difference to oversize the amplifier cutout shape in the wood. I flipped that piece over and finished the rabbet cut with a flush bit, so I was left with a opening that was 1/8-inch larger all the way around. I then rabbeted the back side of that piece up 5/32 of an inch, to account for the thickness of the acrylic and vinyl that would be wrapped around the opening, resulting in the acrylic being mounted flush in the top underside of the amplifier cutout shape. It was then on to the perimeter of the shape. The Mosconi D2 amps are a very efficient design and as a result, they do not get very hot. I wanted to allow for a little bit of air circulation, though, in the tight confines of the trim piece. I did this by making the side perimeter 1/8-inch higher than necessary for the piece to sit flush on the amplifiers. This would leave a 1/8-inch gap between the trim piece and the amplifiers, for air to circulate. The perimeter was constructed by piecing together ¼-inch MDF and gluing the pieces together with CA glue. To smooth the corners, I started by taping off the ¼-inch MDF base. Then, I used a liberal amount of body filler to smooth over the seams. I wasn’t concerned about smoothing it too precisely, because I had a plan to quickly clean up the shape. During the green curing stage, I removed the tape, exposing the clean and smooth ¼-inch lower perimeter. Once the filler had cured, I set up a top bearing (remember that we refer to router bits as if they were being used in a hand-held router, so a top bearing bit in a router table has the bearing on the bottom) flush trim bit with the bearing set to ride on the clean ¼-inch MDF perimeter. I made a pass around the piece, and then one more cleaning pass. The result was a quick way to perfectly shape all the corners and curves. To finish off this piece, I made the final red accent piece. This piece was a ¼-inch acrylic part that would provide a ¼-inch red border around the bottom of the amplifier cover. I made this piece by using the bottom of the amplifier cover piece as a template to router the acrylic shape. The next, and last, trim piece was the front underside trim piece. This piece would need to have threaded inserts in it, as well as a good bit of radius on the edge, so I used ½-inch
A little time saving tip. I needed the inside of the front underside trim piece to be curved. I was able to quickly achieve this with a minimal amount of work or sanding. I first taped off the areas I did not want to be part of the curve. Then I taped up the surface of a scrap piece of 2-inch dowel. I filled the area with body filler that had been thickened with glass beads and then placed the dowel in the corner. I clamped the dowel in place while the filler began to cure. When the filler hit the green stage of the cure (began to firm up a bit), I used an Olfa knife to cut away the excess filler, and then removed the dowel and protective tape from the piece. From there it was just a bit of sanding to shape the ends and clean up the transition.
Final test assembly before the roll cage was installed back into the car.
MDF. The outer portion of this piece was made of two pieces of ½-inch MDF that sits flush against the metal amplifier rack. Two additional spacers were added as contact points for the vertical amplifier supports pieces. These spacers would also serve as the installation points for two of the four threaded inserts. The remaining threaded inserts were on the top of the trim piece. Before we move on to the completed pictures, I wanted to detail how all of the pieces go together and come apart. I always try to make all the things I build be very serviceable. By serviceable, I mean that they can come apart fairly quickly and easily, and go back together the same way. The tool required to disassemble this entire project is a single #2 Phillips screwdriver. The top amplifier trim piece had a matching ¼-inch acrylic spacer. This spacer screws into the amplifier trim piece and has four neodymium magnets flush mounted in it. There are also two centering pins to keep the whole assembly aligned properly. The front underside trim piece has corresponding magnet locations and holes for the pins. So, removing the cover to the amplifiers
is as simple as lifting it off. Replacing it is just as easy; line up the pins and put it in place. Assembly or disassembly of the bottom half of the cover pieces is a little more complicated. It requires the removal or installation of two bolts. I chose bolts with a flathead, so when installed they would be flush with the surface of the piece. The first step is to attach the front underside trim piece. It is attached by securing it via two 8/32 bolts through a metal tab welded onto the amplifier-mounting frame. Then, the bottom back trim piece is put into place. Two bolts go through the bottom back trim piece, through the amplifier vertical spacing legs and into front underside contact spacers. The contact spacers have threaded inserts installed into them for the bolts to thread into. Tightening the bolts joins the whole assembly together. If any of the wiring were to need servicing, it would be as simple as lifting off the top cover and then unbolting the two bolts and removing the bottom back trim piece. This was a fairly simple project, just a little amp rack and some trim pieces. I hope you were able to pick up a new
trick or two. If nothing else, maybe you saw a different way to do something that could save you some time. I tried to walk you through not only the construction, but also the thought processes behind building the assembly. I know many installers struggle with the custom fabrication debate with their shop managers and owners. Installers want to build cool things and managers and owners want to make money. If a custom fabrication job turns into a headache because it isn’t serviceable when there is a problem, it is going to leave the managers and owners with a negative outlook on custom fabrication. If a custom fabrication job takes too long because it wasn’t planned out ahead of time, this will further reduce the willingness of the manager or owner to book these sorts of jobs in the future. My hope would be that everyone is happy in what they are doing, and if they desire to be a custom fabricator, that the doors remain open for them to do so. That is an underlying theme for many of these articles—helping those who are trying to increase their custom fabrication opportunities.
Best in the Galaxy SUBMITTED BY BRENT LEAVITT, LOW NOTES GARAGE, BOISE, ID.
In honor of the release of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Top 12 Installer Brent Leavitt submitted this logo build of bounty hunter Boba Fett from Star Wars. Leavitt does many custom fabricated Plexiglass logo builds at Low Notes but they are typically car audio brand related. Customer Phil Rowe at Unique Sounds had seen many of Leavitt's previous builds and initially had him design and fabricate a large wall hanging store logo for his car audio shop. After receiving that first build he mentioned that he had seen Leavitt's Youtube video highlighting a Stormtrooper logo he had previously done and wanted something similar with Boba Fett to display in the back of his 1998 GMC Yukon. Rowe's arm tattoo of Fett served as the basis for the design. Leavitt began building a 24-inch tall Boba Fett from Plexiglass. The logo is hand-routered out of multiple pieces of 1/2-inch and an 1/8 Plexiglass. The Yukon, still being built at time of this printing, has a wall with six 15-inch subwoofers that will be used to highlight the amp rack in the back once completed. Over 100 LED lights were embedded between the multiple layers before final assembly. Each piece was designed and cut from MDF to create the initial templates, then transferred to the final Plexiglass pieces, which were all done on a router table. After completion, an LED light controller will be used to display the logo in multiple colors, or it can be music-activated with a built-in microphone sensor.
54 Mobile Electronics January 2015
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Corvette Conversion SUBMITTED BY JOHN GAFFNEY, MY AUDIOWORKS, MILFORD, CONN.
This 2009 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 is one of many audio builds the shop has done for the car’s owner. To set the build apart and impress the client, the team used only hi-quality parts including five JL Audio amplifiers, a set of Hertz Mille components, a Kenwood DNX9990HD head unit and Hertz Energy Coaxials. A fiberglass sub enclosure was built to include Corvette and JL Audio logos. The two-tiered amp rack was made with Plexiglass and Red LED accent lighting. A custom speaker terminal plate was made using sliding van door contacts.
56 Mobile Electronics January 2015
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µ guest editorial
How To Up Your Business IQ Six Tips To Help Improve Your Business Management Skills For many years, Zig Ziglar, highly acclaimed motivational speaker, shouted this mantra to his audiences, “To earn more, you must learn more.” Although he has passed on, his words remain true. Today’s highly competitive marketplace demands that business skills must always be expanded upon and sharpened. Your mobile electronics business can only grow from what you know. It starts with training. Introductory and advanced training on topics critical to business management will help you to refine and develop the skills you need to manage your business more effectively.
What’s the Plan? Business management training will help you avoid one of the biggest mistakes many business owners make: starting a business, or a new fiscal year, without a plan. Some mobile electronics dealers do make a plan, but they neglect to create a strategy. A plan without a strategy will only provide you with a narrow, limited view of your business. Training will show you how to write a smart business plan that includes a mission statement, goals, strategies and tactics on how to make your plan succeed. How far out should you plan? A business plan should have a strategy that covers the next three years, and the planning should begin with the question, “Where do I want to be five years from now?” In today’s world, that’s almost impossible to do. No one knows quite what the future holds, and it’s important to be able to shift gears fast. Today, the experts will teach you how to plan for the next three years, and how to consistently evaluate how well your plan is working.
Show Me the Money! For example, understanding the various principles of business finance can make a big difference in your bottom line. Training on the financial side of the business can help you obtain financial discipline, maintain positive cash flow, identify where and how to cut costs and control overhead. Once you have received training and are “in the know” about money, you will be less impressed with volume and more focused on profit. You will know that cash is king, and that you should always have enough cash reserves to keep your business going for one year. You will refrain from reinvesting or spending whenever you have a profitable month. You will also know your break-even number with your current overhead. You will even have a retirement plan!
help you recognize that if you want a significant return on investment (ROI), there are three elements of a successful ad campaign. 1. It must be eye-catching and have an attention grabbing headline so that people feel compelled to read it. 2. It must be very different from the ads of your competitors. 3. It must appear three times before people will remember it.
Superior Selling Skills are Key Business experts have stated that 85 percent of your overall success is in direct proportion to your ability to communicate. This is especially true in today’s world, even if you have state-of-the art products and can produce phenomenal audio sound. If you don't possess highly effective communication skills, you'll lose business more often than you'll win it. Sales training will teach you how to communicate the value of what you offer, the right words and phrases to use and how to build profitable business relationships.
Employee Motivation–Whose Job is it Anyway? Like a professional racecar driver, your business is only as good as your pit crew. Managing and motivating your team is critical to your success. Everyone in your company should recognize that they too impact your bottom line. They must all think and act with the highest level of professionalism, as they are the ones developing your reputation. Leadership and management training will teach you that it’s up to you to keep everyone in your company motivated and performing at their highest level.
Never Stop Learning The success of your business does not hinge only on making enough money to keep yourself, your family, and your employees happy. What matters most is that you are profitable, can keep your employees gainfully employed, maintain a nice lifestyle, and have enough money for when you are ready to retire. Business management training is essential. The books you never read, the skills you never applied, the trade show you never attended, the class you never took and the effort you never made to learn will hold you back from business growth, competitive excellence and prosperity. Mark the date to attend the next show in Indy.
Obtain a Little Ad Sense! Creating and placing an ad is not a hard thing to do. But a business management course or advertising seminar can
58 Mobile Electronics January 2016
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Up to 3-Mile Range
Stay connected to your car on the slopes, on the lake, and on your next outdoor adventure!
The PRO T11 is water proof at a depth of up to 1 meter for 30 minutes.
Fall on it, drop it, or even throw it. The PRO T11 is built tough, just like you.
An industry-leading solution backed by an industry leading remote warranty.
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Build Your Business with Viper. Become a Viper 5-Star Dealer and get hot qualified sales leads sent directly to your in-box. All you’ll need to do is connect back to them, close the deal and cash in on the profits. Connect, Close, and Cash in.
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NO ONE DARES COME CLOSE.
Mobile Electronics magazine January 2016