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February 2018

me-mag.com

CES introductions bring more wireless, better integration & tons of choice

PLUS:

RWR:

Hands-on Approach Keeps Luke on Top of Lynx

TECH:

Joey & Co. Move In to New Digs

EDITOR:

Who Asked for Driverless Cars, Anyway?


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Volume 35 // Issue 2

Ad Index

28 FEATURES 16 // CES Coverage

This year’s CES carried a theme of wireless connectivity, better integration and more choices for consumers. New products unveiled included Arc Audio’s PS8 Pro and a new Crux interfacing solution to connect cameras for Dodge Ram.

28 // Real World Retail: Lynx Customs

Accele Electronics...................................... p. 2 & 3 Alpine.......................................................................... p.5 Arc Audio.................................................................p.53 Cadence..................................................................p.47 Escort ........................................................................ p.9 Harman: JBL ....................................................... p. 25 Hybrid Audio Tech..............................................p.47 InstallerNet ......................................................... p. 39 JL Audio ...................................................................p. 51 JVC.............................................................................p.23 K40 Electronics ...................................................p.21 Kenwood....................................................................p.7 Kicker........................................................................ p.18 KnowledgeFest Indianapolis.................p.31-34 Metra: TurboTouch .......................................... p. 26 Orca: Focal ............................................................. p. 11 Rocky Mountain Radar ........................ p. 36-37 Scosche ................................................................. p. 15 SiriusXM ............................................................... p. 27 Sony ....................................................................... p. 59 SounDigital.............................................................p.15 Voxx Electronics............................................... p. 60

Luke Farley was on his way to becoming a professional poker player until he discovered a love for all things 12-volt. Now, Lynx Customs is a successful single location that offers numerous services and prides itself on making positive connections with clients.

40 // The Support Team: JL Audio

The technical services department at JL Audio has mastered strategies that put them at the top of their game, utilizing a cloud-based customer management system that helps them track technical issues and keep the business running smoothly.

44 // Strategy & Tactics: Taxes and Jobs Act

Even with changes brought about by the Taxes and Jobs Act, owners must keep business as usual—staying organized and meeting with a CPA regularly. Retailers discuss how they deal, and a CPA shares advice on what to anticipate in the coming year.

54

48 // Tech Today: Risk and Reward

Joey Knapp’s latest project is a building he’s fixing up that’s seen better days. Follow along as he shares the difficulties in evaluating work involved, calculating the cost of restoration, outfitting the bay and much more.

ARTICLES 12 Retail News/Who’s Who 54 Installs

On the Cover

This year’s CES unveiled lots of new products, including prototypes, and the driverless car was once again a main part of the discussion. We also highlighted Luke Farley of Lynx Customs and his hands-on approach for managing his business. Joey Knapp returns to talk about the building he’s restoring for a new shop, and finally, we touch on the Taxes and Jobs Act in our Strategies and Tactics feature. There’s a lot going on this time of year—and there’s even more on the horizon.

COVER DESIGN: ANA RAMIREZ

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February 2018

DEPARTMENTS 6 Editor’s Forum 8 Feedback 10 Helpful Stuff 58 From The President


The iLX-F309 brings a 9-inch screen to various vehicles without the need for custom installation. Utilizing a standard 1-DIN chassis, the iLX-F309’s screen hovers over the dashboard and has several mounting combinations to adjust for angle, height, and depth. The mech-less system includes Apple CarPlay™ and Android Auto™ with the Google Assistant and is compatible with the iDatalink® Maestro® Module (sold separately). Join us at the MEA Knowledgefest (booth 524) to see the iLX-F309 and other products for the specialist channel, including the X-Series lineup and the new PXE-0850S Wireless Digital Sound Processor. Ask your Alpine rep for details.

© 2018 Alpine Electronics of America, Inc. CarPlay is a registered trademark of Apple, Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. Android Auto and the Google Assistant are trademarks of Google LLC. iDatalink is a trademark of Automotive Data Solutions, Inc.

@ALPINEUSA #ALPINEUSA

WWW.ALPINE-USA.COM

facebook.com/MobileElectronics   5


editor’s forum

I’ll Keep My Wheel, Thanks Much of CES centered on a tech push that everyone’s talking about, but no one asked for. We snuck downstairs. I had never been so scared in my life. My brother had gone into my mom’s room, rummaged through her purse and came out with her car keys, all without waking her with the telltale jingle. As we exited our apartment and finally made it to the safety of the stairway, he said to me,”I’m going to teach you how to drive.” On a deserted 3rd Street well past midnight, a 1984 Toyota Celica GT burped, over-revved and hiccup-ed its way west, stalling every now and then for effect. I was behind the wheel taking calm instruction from my brother, working through the gears and trying to avoid my previous mistake of going from first gear to second and back to first instead of third. As I said, it was one of the scariest things I’d done up to that point, but also the most fulfilling. And you know what? I’ll be damned if I let some computer do my driving for me. The autonomous car was the media focus of CES this year. Similar to 10 years ago when just about every booth was showcasing some add-on or accessory for the small Apple device that had seemingly conquered car, personal and home audio in a single bound, several carmakers showed some form of a vehicle that utilized sensors and algorithms to mimic “ideal” human behavior to take a vehicle from here to there.

an action, rather than the other way around. The only way driverless cars can solve all of the problems that backers say they can solve is if every vehicle on the road was driverless. Human beings are just too unpredictable. But the human-machine relationship is a two-way street (pun intended). Just as vehicles must try to account for our unpredictability, we have to account for the perception of theirs. At a four-way stop, I can at least make eye contact with another driver so each of us knows we see each other. How would a driver feel sharing an intersection with a driverless car, trying to guess what the vehicle will do? You can’t tell someone to “just trust it” when you’re looking at a machine that has the weight and velocity to do harm.

“Choice is a solution to the human need to personalize.”

Don’t get me wrong: it’s a cool demonstration, and it’s one that satisfies our decades-long fascination with getting machines to do the things we do. The difference is, we typically develop machines to solve one of three problems: to do something we can’t do; to do something we don’t want to do; or to do something we normally do, only more efficiently. In my humble, caveman / layman’s opinion, driving a car is none of these. So throughout all this media coverage and fanfare that has, by the way, made CES more of a media show than a retailer’s show, I ask the question: Who ever asked for a driverless car? I know … a Google search will come up with tons of reasons why driverless cars solve problems: efficiency, eliminating accidents, etc. But sometimes you can make up reasons to support

6  Mobile Electronics February 2018

If you think I’m off-base, look at it this way. The ENTIRE REASON the automotive aftermarket exists is because consumers are willing to pay for an experience to differentiate themselves from others. Choice is a solution to the human need to personalize. And personalization is not just with products;

it’s with experiences as well. In the U.S., driving is a right of passage (unless you live in New York City, where driving is a painful, expensive, time-sucking endeavor). To have the freedom to get behind the wheel and go when you want; to change your mind mid-destination and take another route; to stop and help another motorist in need. How do you emulate these with an algorithm? But there is a good act in this circus. Along the path to teaching these cars to drive, a lot of tech has been developed to assist drivers by providing more sensory input to make better decisions, or to make life-saving decisions in a split second when the driver is unable. I absolutely applaud this. This is what we need: ways to make us safer on the road, not ways to take away the responsibility altogether (the 2006 movie Idiocracy comes to mind). Let’s continue to develop tech in which vehicles are aware of each other and their environment, and can help drivers be proactive rather than just reactive. facebook.com/MobileElectronics


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 feedback

ADVERTISING SALES Kerry Moyer 978.645.6457 • kerrym@mobile-electronics.com

EDITORIAL Solomon Daniels 978.645.6463 • solomond@mobile-electronics.com Creative Layout and Design: Ana Ramirez Contributing Editors: Jamie Sorcher, Joey Knapp, Laura Kemmerer and Rosa Sophia.

Byron Smith stresses the importance of taking a deposit Published by for every job as a means to avoid catastrophe, while Brandon Green makes sure his guys give accurate bids for custom work so as not to over promise and under deliver.

TM

mobile electronics association

“Don’t wait to the last moment. If you are not making decent money anymore, it’s time to do something else.” Vatche M, The Audio Pors, North Hollywood, Calif. “KnowledgeFest Dallas is, by far, the most beneficial investment that any company, big or small, can make. Whether it’s just the owner or the whole team, don’t miss it. I set a goal for our staff to function as a team in order to achieve a common goal while increasing productivity for the company and furthering educations and skill sets. Take pictures of the projected screens. They go fast sometimes and if you can’t type like me and take notes slowly, you’ll need them later!” Bill Sommers, Sommer Sound Systems, Panama City, Fla. “Take a deposit. Always. It secures your appointment and creates responsibility on the customer’s side of the sale. When doing large ticket builds, set stopping points for funding throughout the process, or risk the customer not paying in the end. Never release a vehicle without full payment.” Byron Smith, Distinct Beat Car Audio, Gastonia, N.C. “If you have guys bidding custom work, double check it before

8  Mobile Electronics

February 2018

presenting it to the client. And if you are new at bidding custom work, have someone check it. Don’t let your ego get ahead of your ability or you mess up everyone.” Brandon Green, The Car Audio Shop, High Ridge, Mo. “We started doing year-in-advance planning for promos, closings, etc. It’s really helped eliminate a lot of stresses and communication hiccups.” Joe Cassity, Tunes-N-Tint, Lakeland, Fla.

Chris Cook, President 978.645.6434 • chrisc@mobile-electronics.com Kerry Moyer, VP Strategic Partnerships 978.645.6457 • kerrym@mobile-electronics.com Solomon Daniels, Dir. Media and Communications 978.645.6463 • solomond@mobile-electronics.com Richard Basler, Dir. Technology Solutions 978.645.6449 • richb@mobile-electronics.com Tony Frangiosa, Chairman of the Board, MEA

“Don’t be a part of the race to zero. We all have to show customers the value in working with us.” Kenny McCardie, Auto Sound Tint World, Union City, Calif. “Keep branding your store. Mention the store name three times in every radio ad. Update your Facebook page regularly and respond rapidly.” Steve Vincent, Auto Trim Design of Fairbanks, Fairbanks, Alaska “Don’t be afraid to go with your gut.” Erick Markland, Markland Designs of Atlanta, Lithonia, Ga. “Start learning DSP and integration products. I was slow to do this.” Brian Mitchell, Liquid Trends Modesto, Modesto, Calif.

1) Title of publication: Mobile Electronics. 2) Publication No.: 957-170 6. (ISSN# 1523-763X) 3) Copyright © 2017 by the Mobile Electronics 4) Date of filing: Oct. 1, 2017. 5) Frequency of issue: Monthly. 6) No. of issues published annually: 12 7) Annual subscription price: $35.00. 8) Periodical postage paid at Lawrence MA and additional mailing offices. 9) Complete mailing address of known office of publication: 85 Flagship Drive, Ste F, North Andover, MA 01845. 10) Complete mailing address of the headquarters or general business offices of the publisher: 85 Flagship Drive, Ste F, North Andover, MA 01845. 11) 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 12) Owner: MERA, Mobile Electronics Retailers Association, 85 Flagship Drive, Ste F, North Andover, MA 01845. 13) Known bondholders, mortgages, and other security holders owning or holding 1% or more of total amounts of bonds, mortgages or other securities: None. 14) Tax Status: Not applicable. 15) Name of Publication: Mobile Electronics. 16) Issue date for circulation data below: October 2017. 6. a) Total no. copies (net press run) Average: 10,237 Single Issue; 12,826. b) Paid/Requested mail subscriptions Average: 6,039, Single Issue: 7,346. c) Paid sales through dealers, etc.; Average: 0. Single issue; d) Requested distributed by other classes of mail: Average: 435, Single issue: 520. Total paid and/or requested circulation; Average 6039. Single issue: 6024. e) Non-requested distribution by mail; Average: 3,860 Single issue: 4,973. Free distribution through other classes of mail: Average: 0, Single issue: 0. f) Non-requested distribution outside the mail; Average: 267. Single issue: 750. g) Total non-requested distribution; Average 3860, Single issue: 4,973. h) Total distribution; Average: 9,899. Single issue: 12,319. i) Copies not distributed; h1) Office use, leftovers; Average: 338. Single Issue; 507 j) Total; Average: 10,237. Single issue; 12,826 Percent paid and/or requested circulation; Average: 61.01%. Single issue 59.63%. 17) POSTMASTER: Please send address changes to Mobile Electronics, 85 Flagship Drive Suite F, North Andover MA 01845-9998


 helpful stuff Book:

Firestarters: How Innovators, Instigators, and Initiators Can Inspire You To Ignite Your Own Life By: Raoul Davis Jr., Kathy Palokoff, Paul Eder

If you’re looking to beef up your reading material this month with something motivational, Firestarters offers insights about people who make things happen versus those who only think about making an impact. The heart of the book centers around stories about successful entrepreneurs, CEOs, organizational leaders and forward-thinkers from a variety of professions. They describe factors and conditions that ignited their lives and helped them. Some names will be recognizable; others will be new. But all the stories demonstrate how these folks became—and you can become—a Firestarter. Inside are tools to help you apply Firestarter insights to your life. Group exercises and discussion guides can be shared with your staff or sales team. Whether you’re seeking ways to realize personal ambitions or trying to motivate your team, this book is a great way to kick off the year and keep the momentum.

10  Mobile Electronics February 2018

Sites To See:

The Moz Blog

moz.com/blog If you have a website, you want to be sure folks can find you, that you have the right key words to make an impact, and that you can audit the site to figure out your next moves. Moz, which started in 2004, is an SEO consulting company with a great blog with tons of useful information. The industry’s top wizards, doctors, and other experts offer their best advice, research, how-tos, and insights—all in the name of helping you level-up your SEO and online marketing skills. For instance, a recent blog post: how to ramp up your local SEO work without busting your budget. SEO expert Miriam Ellis shares over 25 free tools, spreadsheets, resources and more to make your job easier. And be sure to read the founder Rand Fishkin’s predictions for SEO in the year ahead. You can review what he got right in 2017, and get a handle on what he says will happen in 2018.


App: StayFocusd Free for iOS

These days it is more challenging than ever to sit down at your computer and be as productive as possible with so many potential distractions. Before lunch, you’ve spent time surfing around and not enough time getting stuff done. If you don’t have the self-discipline to stay off certain sites, now there is a helper with StayFocusd. This Chrome extension has a simple purpose: it restricts the amount of time you can spend on certain websites. Totally flexible, the extension lets you set up the permissible amount of time that you can allot each day for the web. It lets you determine which websites are your biggest time wasters and which ones to block completely. Once your allotted time has been used up, the sites you have blocked will be inaccessible for the rest of the day.

Services:

Amazon Go www.amazon.com

You may have to wait a few months for one of these to open in your area, but Amazon Go, the retailer’s automated grocery store, is a great way to pick up essentials for your office, shop, or home without any hassle. With its first location in Seattle, the store has hours from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. and ditches the traditional checkout line. Just head to the store, open the app, and scan your phone when you walk inside. With “Just Walk Out Technology,” you collect the items you want and then leave. Amazon sends a receipt and charges your Amazon account. More stores are sure to be on the way.

facebook.com/MobileElectronics   11


 retail news

WORDS BY LAURA KEMMERER

Eminent Evolves With Purchase of 12,000 Square-Foot Facility When business continues to grow, it requires investment in more ways than one. For Joey Schultz, owner of Idaho-based Eminent Hi-Fi, upgrading to a new facility was not only necessary to keep business flowing smoothly, but to also open the door for future economic opportunities. The first building Schultz rented and worked out of was only 400 square feet, which was all he could afford at the time, he noted. Due to local competition, Schultz’s own customer base remained somewhat small, but some time later, he had the opportunity to work with a local landlord to move his shop into a 1,000-squarefoot space with a one-car installation bay. “Once I was there, business picked up quite a bit because I was in a much

12  Mobile Electronics February 2018

better location, and I actually had a parking lot and I was taken a little bit more seriously,” Schultz said. After a couple of other moves and experimenting with different audio avenues to see what would work for business, Schultz decided to make Eminent Hi-Fi the high-end, go-to location for mobile electronics work in his area. This included moving a wood shop into a former competitor’s location, where he had fabrication and custom-built materials constructed. Once a local business expressed interest in moving into where he had his wood shop located, Schultz knocked out some walls in the location of his main shop and relocated everything to be in the same place. Throughout all these

moves, however, Schultz’s philosophy has remained one of not forcing growth before it was time. “I’ve kind of grown through osmosis, if you will,” he noted. Clearly defining the nature of his business also helped with expansion. Dubbing what the shop did as “noise for your toys” told costumers that Eminent Hi-Fi could do more than car audio. To accommodate for business growth, Eminent Hi-Fi’s new space is 12,000 square feet. Schultz noted, “I was thinking, you know, why don’t I finally, for once, get a space that’s maybe a little bit bigger than what I need and has a little opportunity depending on where things take us.” The new building is the first Schultz has bought instead of rented.


Brentwood Car Audio Tops 1,900 Toys Donated over the Holiday When the holiday season came knocking, many mobile electronics shops participated in the Toys for Tots charity program. For Joe O’Byrne, owner of California-based Brentwood Car Audio, the 2017 holiday season gave the shop the opportunity to donate 1,900 toys. What inspired O’Byrne to get involved was his own personal military experience, and as Toys for Tots is a military program, the connection seemed only natural. Brentwood Car Audio has participated every year for the past eight years, and over the past four, O’Byrne’s corporate accounts have either written him a check or donated toys outright. O’Byrne then uses the checks for other toys toward the drive. While the more customary tradition of offering customers a discount on work done in exchange for donations has not panned out for Brentwood Car Audio, O’Byrne has cultivated charity in other ways. In 2016, the local Walmart matched the $1,200 the shop had raised for Toys for Tots. While the same location did not agree to a match in 2017, O’Byrne noted that he would attempt to approach the company about it earlier in the year, most likely sometime during the summer. Since then, O’Byrne has also reached out to the neighboring Costco to inquire about working out a similar deal.

With Move, Parking No Longer a Problem for NVS The reasons behind shop owners choosing to move their business to a new facility are often multifaceted, but sometimes the basics, such as a lack of parking at one location, are enough to prompt a relocation. For Carlos Ramirez, owner otcern. “Customers would actually leave reviews on Google saying our work is great, but it was difficult or impossible to park,” Ramirez said. “We were actually losing business with not having a parking lot.” The new facility has twelve spots for parking out front. The space at the old building was also limited, noted Ramirez: the shop was over 3,000 square feet, but had only one garage door. “So if we had six cars, and we had to move the first car, five cars would have to come out.” The new facility has five garage doors, which will keep business flowing smoothly, and is 1,000 square feet larger than the last space.“The shop’s considerably more expensive, but being more efficient, attracting more customers and having more parking, we will have no problem, with the increased revenue.” Moving was also a wise choice in terms of business growth, as NVS Audio had outgrown its previous location. To keep things transitioning smoothly between locations, Ramirez scheduled everything to occur during remote start season, when minimal tools are needed.

Auto Sound Tint World Gets New Store Manager

Auto Sound Tint World has been open since 2002, and owner Kenny McCardie has worked with his dedicated team to ensure the shop’s success over the years. Recently, McCardie hired Robert Harris as the shop’s new store manager.“We started looking for a new store manger in early 2017,” McCardie said. “We didn’t find the right fit [at first], but along the way we found Robert Harris, who started October first. He’s got many years in the industry working behind the counter or as an operator, and also as a representative for multiple manufacturers.” Harris has brought years of work and dedication with him to the shop, McCardie noted, emphasizing that with Harris bringing up the rear, Auto Sound Tint World experienced a record-breaking year with the last quarter of 2017. facebook.com/MobileElectronics   13


 retail news

Sommer Sound Systems Welcomes New Install Manager Florida-based Sommer Sound Systems recently brought Steven Thompson, a new installation manager, onto the team, who, according to shop CEO Bill Sommers, has enough experience to both keep the shop running smoothly and to jump on board where needed. “He’s got, I believe, 10 years of professional experience, and he has actually worked on several vehicles featured in the CES [International Consumer Electronics Show],” Sommers said. Sommers went on to add that Thompson brought a lot of experience with custom fabrication to the table. Thompson also has sales and other managerial skills that contribute to the success of the shop. “He’s a well-rounded installer and a great guy to work with, always positive,” he said. “We like to have good morale around the shop. We like to have a fun workplace.” For the remainder of 2018, Sommers noted that he may be hiring a part-time salesperson and potentially another installer. This all relies on how the business does in its fourth quarter, however.

Who’s Who

Faces in the Industry Nik Edmonds Handcrafted Car Audio Chandler, Ariz. Years of industry experience: 10 Hobbies: Car audio, guns and related activities What You’re Best At: Showing people why they should choose the Handcrafted Difference

Nathan Jeffries

Distinct Beat Audio Builds Biz Through Angie’s List Byron Smith, owner of North Carolina-based Distinct Beat Audio, has seen the shop win the Angie’s List Super Service Award five years in a row, with the latest 2017 award just announced. According to Angie’s List, the company gives the Super Service Award to A-rated companies in their category, within their market. Each year’s winner is determined by the positive reviews left by customers. After a customer has had work done at the shop, Smith makes sure to request a review, which has helped the shop net the Super Service Award for the past four years running. Smith has also taken advantage of the advertising opportunities that can be found through

14  Mobile Electronics February 2018

Angie’s List, such as coupons. “When [the prospective customer] looks up information about companies or projects they have in the area, of course we show up because of our rating, but we also show up differently in a list because we paid for advertising,” Smith noted. If an Angie’s List customer comes into the shop, “it’s pretty much a locked-down sale,” Smith said. “They’ve already done their research, they already know who you are as a company, they know what your ratings are prior to arriving, and they’ve already made a decision about you. That’s why they’re there. We worked hard for our award, but we couldn’t do it without our awesome customers!”

Global Parts Auto Group Wichita, Kan. Years of industry experience: 22 Hobbies: Love being a dad What You’re Best At: Remodeling homes and building custom furnitur

Melinton Benavides

Speed of Sound Technologies Milford, Conn. Years of industry experience: 23 Hobbies: Drawing and playing pool What You’re Best At: Wiring and troubleshooting


facebook.com/MobileElectronics   15


 CES coverage

Forward March

Products announced at CES this year showcased seamless integration between high-end sound and more connected car capabilities— including some items that were revealed in their beginning prototype phases. \

16  Mobile Electronics February 2018


AAMP Global PAC RadioPro Advanced Interfaces

The improved RadioPro interface line is designed for easier installation. It can be plugged into the harness one way if it’s an amplified system, or turned in the other direction if non-amplified. MSRP: Ranges from $59.95 to $199.95. Ship Date: February / April 2018

Alpine Electronics iLX-F309 Multimedia Receiver The Google Assistant-ready iLX-F309 packs a 9-inch touch screen into a wide range of vehicles without custom installation. It connects to a single-DIN chassis and sits above the bezel. Entertainment includes Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, HD Radio, Bluetooth and SiriusXM compatibility. As well as an HDMI input MSRP: $1,100 Ship Date: February 2018

American Bass Neo 12 Subwoofer The Neo 12 is a competition-designed subwoofer that the company says features the world’s strongest motor. It includes a three-inch voice coil and carbon-fiber cone, and is capable of 3,000 watts RMS power handling, as well as 15,000 watts “burp” handling in competition. MSRP: $1,200 Ship Date: Now shipping

facebook.com/MobileElectronics

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 CES coverage

Arc Audio PS8 Pro DSP Amplifier The PS8 Pro amplifier is designed to upgrade factory systems. It’s rated at 50x8 watts at four ohms and can be bridged to 4 channels at two ohms. In addition to eight high-level inputs, it features and optical input as well as Bluetooth streaming with an add-on module.

AudioControl ACM Series Amplifiers This series of amplifiers is designed to integrate easily with OEM factory systems and has reversible cover plates that allow for flexible mounting. The product can adapt well to difficult or confined areas. The series includes a 2-channel, 4-channel and mono-block design. MSRP: $299-$349 Ship Date: March 2018

Audiopipe APMB Series 10-inch Woofer This APMB-1043CHF handles 200 watts RMS (400 watts peak) using a loaded compression driver, two-inch voice coil and 40-ounce magnet. A reinforced cloth surround manages a carbon-fiber cone. Replacement voice coils are available. MSRP: $109.00 Ship Date: April 2018

18  Mobile Electronics February 2018


© 2018 STILLWATER DESIGNS

KEY180.4 Auto-EQ Smart Amp

• Compact, 4x45w (RMS) amp provides amazing audio-processing power with the press of a button! • Powerful DSP and proprietary algorithms work with calibration mic, correcting and dramatically improving your audio. • Auto-EQ creates incredible enhancement in realism and soundstage. • KEY is fully compatible with vehicles using start/stop systems. 1

2

3

Your customers owe it to themselves to request a live, in-car demo and hear the difference. Ask your KICKER sales rep about KEY Technology today. facebook.com/MobileElectronics

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 CES coverage

Crux Interfacing

Dual Electronics

Multi-Camera Video Interface

Apple CarPlay / Android Auto Receiver

Six video inputs are made available for connecting to cameras on the vehicle. This device allows users to connect to front and rear cameras, side and cargo camera, or trailer camera. The different inputs are accessed through steering wheel controls. The device is plug and play. The first release is for the Dodge Ram, and other vehicles will follow at future dates.

Diamond Audio Powersports DSP and DSP Amplifier Made specifically for the marine and ATV market, the powersports DSP from Diamond Audio will feature four inputs and six channels of output. An optional version of the product has an amplifier built in. MSRP: $249.00 Ship Date: April / May 2018

20  Mobile Electronics February 2018

When released, the double-DIN multimedia receiver will have a 6.95-inch screen and can assist drivers with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto using the wired USB connection. A mic is included for Bluetooth-enabled phone calls and delivering system commands. MSRP: TBD Ship Date: October / November 2018

JVC KW-V940BW Multimedia Receiver This multimedia features Apple CarPlay as well as the new wireless version of Android Auto. Wireless WebLink allows drivers to access Yelp, Waze, YouTube and weather widgets with paired smartphone. The receiver also allows control of K40’s new integrated radar detectors with an ADS Maestro RR interface. MSRP: $699.95


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  21


 CES coverage

Kenwood DNX995S Multimedia Receiver The double-DIN unit includes a DVD player and built-in Garmin navigation behind a 6.8-inch, high-definition touchscreen. It also features Apple CarPlay and wireless Android Auto as well as Waze navigation, YouTube and Yelp. Built-in Google Assistant allows control of smart devices. MSRP: $1,500

Kicker KEY180.4 Smart Amplifier Using a built-in, 40-band EQ and 24db/ octave crossover, this small-footprint amplifier uses a microphone to measure sound in a vehicle and adjust for optimal audio. Designed for factory upgrades, it features 4x45 watts from its eight- by two-inch housing. Now shipping. MSRP: $249.95

Memphis Audio Motorcycle Pods Memphis’ new line of motorcycle pods come in eight different packages with variances including black or chrome color, Bluetooth or line-in-only capability, and two-channel or four-channel configurations. The amplifier is rated at 25 watts per channel. The kits come with all connectors and is plug-and-play with select motorcycle harnesses. Ship Date: March 2018

22  Mobile Electronics February 2018


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@JVCMobileUSA

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 CES coverage

Metra Electronics AX Series Steering Wheel Interfaces Metra has improved all of its current vehicle applications for the AXXESS AX Series, which adapts steering wheel controls to aftermarket radios and allows custom configuration. The new design allows a one-button reset to aid installers in programming and setup. MSRP: Varies by model

Orca Design and Manufacturing Focal Universal Speaker Line

Ship Date: Now shipping

Orca showed a revamped Universal speaker line which featured the comeback of the popular ISU200 shallow-mount woofer. The line consists of 11 factory power-optimized speaker kits that drop in to factory locations to improve audio with minimal complexity. Ship Date: Now shipping

Mitek

Pioneer

Polaris Ranger Kits

NEX In-dash Navigation Receivers with Google Assistant

Mitek is producing a complete audio kit for the popular Polaris Ranger. It will include dash speakers, the company’s all-weather controller, a dash kit and under-seat subwoofer. Kit options will eventually include rear-mounted pods. Ship Date: March 2018

24  Mobile Electronics February 2018

The double-DIN AVIC-W8400NEX and AVH-W4400NEX are the newest prototypes in the NEX lineup. They feature wireless Android Auto capability, as well as Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth and an SD card slot. When released, users will also be able to get information and control smart devices with built-in Google Assistant.


facebook.com/MobileElectronics   25


ďƒŽ CES coverage

Powerbass OE692-FD Replacement Speaker The OE692-FD is a 6x9-inch factory replacement speaker that provides higher-quality audio while maintaining a factory fit in select Ford and Lincoln vehicles. Its two-way design features an injection-molded poly cone, one-inch, silk-dome tweeter and 20-oz. magnet. Fits 2017-up F-Series trucks, Explorer, Expedition and Lincoln Navigator.

26  Mobile Electronics February 2018


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Voxx built radar-type blind spot sensors into replacement factory tail lights for select trucks. The installation allows for blind-spot protection without externally mounted sensors. An in-dash indicator alerts the driver of proximity to an object.

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Living the Dream WORDS BY ROSA SOPHIA

28  Mobile Electronics February 2018


Living The Dream

Lynx Customs of Centennial, Co.

opened its doors after owner Luke Farley was inspired into entrepreneurship by his first SEMA show. Now, the business has branched into numerous categories and stays visible in the community despite lots of local competition.

F

or some, it’s difficult to imagine risking it all to open a business. The concept can seem frightening because steady income isn’t guaranteed. For Luke Farley, the risk was worth it. Small business was already a way of life for his family. Both his father and grandfather had worked for themselves, so it would eventually seem natural to continue the tradition. While in high school, Farley got his first job changing oil. “I worked for a couple of slave drivers. We did a hundred cars a day,” he said. He moved around to various companies before finally landing at Best Buy, where he worked under a skilled technician for about four years. In his early twenties, Farley knew the next step was coming soon. He just never expected it to involve car audio. After all, he was close to becoming a professional poker player. Then Best Buy sent him to his first SEMA show where the concept of opening his own business grew in his mind. The show made him realize his dream, so he quit his job as soon as he returned home and left poker to pursue entrepreneurship. Farley’s experience in retail mobile electronics began in 2007, and he started his own business in 2011.

You’ve Got a Friend in Lynx Customs The marketing strategy is straightforward: Offer the best service possible and build a positive reputation. The mission statement was formulated early on: “Lynx Customs: Your best friend in car audio and tint.” Though the business

now offers many more services that the mission statement doesn’t encapsulate, Farley’s focus on making positive connections with clients remains the same. “I got a degree in business management and was president of the entrepreneurs club,” he said. When the business first opened its doors, things were rough. Farley posted ads on Craigslist, and trekked across town to install a pair of speakers. When a friend of his opened an automotive repair shop, he suggested that Farley offer his services there. “In a few months, his business was failing and I was doing okay out of his shop,” Farley said, adding that the business that had been there previously was a window tint shop. As a result, people asked for window tinting. After four days of turning people away, Farley decided that expanding into window tinting made the most sense. “I started training with 3M and landed a deal with Living Social and Groupon,” he said. “I sold almost 200 tint jobs in the first week. It motivated me to get my own store.” For a year, Farley tinted cars all day, sold stereos and connected with dealers to sell brands. “I would not have made it this far without getting those under my belt,” he said of window tinting. When a nearby store went out of business, he took over. Farley remodeled it and opened it as his own. The business has had the same main location for five years. For Groupon deals, people would come in for window tint and Lynx Customs would sell them a remote start or stereo. “The competition just got crazy. Now there’s a tint shop on every corner. facebook.com/MobileElectronics   29


real world RETAIL

FAST FACTS LYNX CUSTOMS www.lynxcustoms.com Location: Centennial, Co. Number of Stores: 1 Address: 7255 S. Havana Street, Centennial, CO 80112

KEY STAFF: Luke Farley, owner and operator Main Types of Work, Broken Down By Percentage: Car Audio – 18% Security/Remote Start – 16% General Accessories/Aftermarket Automotive – 7 % Window Tint – 30 % Paint Protection Film – 15 % Wrap – 7% LED Lighting – 4% Radar Detectors – 3% Safety – <1% We’ve dropped that marketing approach completely.” But when he first started, Farley wasn’t sure where he was headed. “I just knew that I [had been] working too hard for a company that didn’t really have any care for auto restyling and that was not satisfying at all,” he said. “I was evaluating my sense of purpose and desire, and the only satisfying thing was to channel my time and energy into something I loved.” When his instinct kicked in, Farley went all-in with Lynx Customs. “I have to focus on my goals to stay grounded. By the grace of God, I’ve been able to make my lifestyle my passion, and I get to enjoy every minute because auto restyling is just such a cool thing. Surviving the small business took a ton of hard work, though. It was very difficult in the beginning as I didn’t make money for the first year.” The name originated from Farley’s own family. “My dad’s name is Lyn,” he explained. “He has his own business called Lynx Construction.” This worked well for Farley in terms of the ease of

30  Mobile Electronics February 2018

creating a logo. He started with nothing but a small tool box and reinvested all his profit to grow the business. “Starting the business from scratch has taught me a lot,” he said. “Every service we offer, I know inside and out. I can install the tint, paint protection, remote starts, audio equipment and more. There have been times that I have been without any employees and had to do all the work myself.”

In those difficult times, Farley’s wife, Amanda, helped as much as she could. “She’s been present through thick and thin to help me keep the dream alive. Even though auto restyling is not her passion, she has immersed herself in the business and has spent countless hours working and even performing

installations.” With such steadfast support, Farley’s dream took off and became the success it is today.

Portraying a Positive Image The goal at Lynx Customs is to ensure that every client is given honest, professional feedback regarding what they are trying to accomplish with their vehicle. “We try to exude an expertise in what we offer, but we’re not afraid to tell them if what they want is not really possible,” Farley said. Guests are welcomed, introductions are made and then the client’s concerns and interests are discussed. They also ask how the client heard about them, and whether they live and work locally. The goal is to attempt to fill their need and give them a positive sales experience. “A bad word goes further than a good word. Generally we bend over backward to do what needs to be done to preserve the reputation experience,” he explained. “Most of the time, we have a standardized sales pitch or tag lines like, ‘Thanks, talk to you soon’—things we repeat or are consistent with. Any time someone


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The ONLY National Gathering Dedicate Experience.

Learn.

Here’s your chance to get hands-on with the newest gear of 2018! Talk directly with your vendors, ask questions and even give your opinions on features and applications. Walk the expansive show floor to discover new product lines and tools. Plus, check out high-end installs and get tips from the fabricators and professionals who put them together.

Expand your knowledge and expertise with over 24 classes designed to improve your skills and professionalism! Taught by technical experts, store owners and service providers from your industry, each class focuses on real-life issues you face every day and provides time-saving solutions that you can take back to your store and implement immediately.

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Friday, March 16 Registration .......................................................................... 7:30 am - 5:00 pm Education Workshops ....................................................8:00 am - 12:20 pm Lunch Concession Open ............................................... 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm Lunch Keynote .................................................................. 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm Manufacturer Training .................................................... 1:45 pm - 4:00 pm Mobile Electronics Show ............................................... 5:00 pm -8:00 pm Beer & Biz Networking Event ..................................... 5:00 pm - 8:00 pm Saturday, March 17 Registration .......................................................................... 7:30 am - 5:00 pm Education Sessions ...................................................... 8:00 am - 12:20 pm Lunch Concession Open ................................................ 11:30 am - 1:30 pm Mobile Electronics Show .............................................. 11:30 am - 4:00 pm Manufacturer Training ..................................................... 4:15 pm - 6:30 pm MEA Attendee Reception .............................................. 6:30 pm - 7:00 pm MEA - State of the Industry ....................................... 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm Sunday, March 18 Registration .......................................................................... 8:45 am - 2:30 pm Manufacturer Training .................................................... 9:00 am - 11:15 am Mobile Electronics Show ............................................. 11:00 am - 2:30 pm Lunch Concession Open ................................................ 11:00 am - 1:30 pm Education Sessions ....................................................... 2:30 pm - 5:00 pm

Education W Installer & Fabricator Track The Four Questions: Essential Tests for OEM Audio Integration Production High End - Building Systems On-Time & Profitable Higher Resolution Audio - The Next Big Thing Designing the In-Car Front Sound Stage Remote Start: Integration & Troubleshooting DSP 2017 - Essential Processes & Proceedures The Art of Building Brackets Safety & Driver Assistance - How to Quote & Build it Remote Radar Systems - Top Installation Techniques Owner & Manager Track Troubleshooting your Business: Learn to Ask the Right Questions Business Plan & Budgeting Workshop HR Systems & Processes: Recuiting & Performance Management Communicating Value to Improve Predictability & Profitability

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32  Mobile Electronics February 2018


Living The Dream

ed to Mobile Electronics Professionals! Network.

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There’s no better learning environment than being among hundreds of your peers! In addition to attending classes and working with vendors, you have the unique opportunity to get insights from—and share knowledge with—like-minded professionals. Discover strategies they’ve had success with that may work for you, and share a few of your own!

In addition to the exhibit floor, spend focused time with your select vendors in an intimate classroom setting. Get detailed training on new products, learn unique features and get tips on selling strategies that will improve sell-through and profitability. Get answers to all your questions about new products in one place, without having to wait on hold for customer service.

Workshops Owner and Manager Track (Continued) Marketing Basics for My Small Business 10 Ways Independent Dealers Can Take Advantage of the Evolving Retail World and Compete with Amazon Selling with Confidence: Remembering That YOU are the Expert Retailer Types: Traditional, Multi-Store & Boutique Specialists Sales and Marketing Track Adding Value to Make More Money Profitable Merchandising: SKU Rationalization Bidding and Building a Profitable Sales Ticket Learning What is Important to Them, Not You Marketing Types: Finding Your Next Best Customer The Winning Sales Formula Sustainable Selling: The Four Modes of Operation Sustainable Selling: The Four Steps of the Sale

Vendor Training Friday, March 16th thru Sunday, the 18th For Specific Schedule, go to KnowlegeFest.com

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Living The Dream

Above and Beyond “By volume, our leading vendor is probably 3M Distribution. “I’ve developed great relationships with the local distributors and rep firms. The best relationships are with the Dealer Direct brands. All of the mobile electronics distributors that I know are going above and beyond to earn the business of the small independents. “Our top sellers have been 3M’s Crystalline Film, and Viper Remote Start. Our clients know these brands and trust them. The products sell themselves. “I’m most excited about 3M’s Clear Protection Film, a.k.a. Clear Bra. Colorado is a huge market for Clear Mask, and the market is beginning to normalize whole car coatings. “Trainings sponsored by manufacturers are great opportunities to learn and network with other pros.”

has a response, it’s ‘I’m happy to do it.’” While the responses are informal, they are also personalized and honest, which goes a long way to creating and promoting a positive image. “That’s what works for us. We do a fair amount of custom work.” Lynx Customs demonstrates the value in the services they offer. Often, they have to give pitches to explain why products are important. “When people start doing things to their cars, we can really take them far with that. On any given car, we can write up a huge ticket,” he said. “Anything from the wheels to the roof rack. For the right customer, we’ll make it happen.” Their bread and butter, according to Farley, includes large tickets for a wide variety of services and products. With such a small operation and full flexibility to try different things, Lynx Customs is able to take on numerous categories. Building a positive reputation as a business that provides honest service is important to Farley, who stated that there’s a lot of local competition. This means it’s all the more important to

remain visible and top-of-mind, providing what can’t be found at big box retailers. “We’re like the mom and pop to the big corporate store.”

Flexibility as a Core Value Currently, there are two installers at Lynx Customs: Farley and one other person. They are able to have six to eight cars in the pipeline at the same time. “In the front area of the shop, we have walls with glass boards used for film installation to transfer film to the car. In the back, we have the tools and lift,” Farley said. Best practices and policies include safe working methods, protective tape for the vehicles and keeping the shop clean. A year and a half ago, Farley said, they invested in new flooring. The shop also does follow-up phone calls to see if the client is interested in anything else. Email blasts are used to keep in touch with previous customers and offer discounts or an incentive to return. The staff is cross-trained. “That’s one of the biggest things here: Flexibility,” Farley said. “It’s one of our core values.

I’ve heard a lot of guys that come from car audio installation that don’t want to do window tint or film install. For me, I’ve learned both and it’s been a major strength.” Lynx Customs also utilizes techniques that make the job easier. “Tinting windows is easier if you pull the door panel off,” Farley pointed out. “Most tint guys won’t do that, but if a car audio guy were to do it, it makes tinting a side window pretty easy. That’s something that’s resonated and helped me do all these types of installations.” Employees at Lynx Customs are familiar with a wide array of accessories. “With a good routine and great communication, the small staff of three is very efficient,” Farley said. “Generally, we all work together on every car as a team. I’ve really learned the hard way how to hire and retain employees.” Farley said he’s had to learn the best ways of interacting with people, as well. “The guys who work with me now are friends of mine,” he said, adding that he’s known them for years. “As a small business owner, it’s hard to find guys facebook.com/MobileElectronics   35


real world RETAIL

Maximum Rewards

“Our referral program works pretty well. There is a non-cash incentive for our clients to refer us and the rewards are cumulative. This is a great program that is essentially free. We simply print it on a flyer and hand it out. There is a spot on the vehicle check-in that asks every client, ‘How did you hear about us?’ and we track the referrals that way. “Our initial goals were to create a free marketing program that would grow business organically and encourage word-of-mouth referrals. It was also an opportunity to offer a rewards program on our retail platform. “I did some research about successful rewards programs and discovered that a non-cash incentive has the best results as far as user involvement.

“Refer in $250 in new customer sales and receive a free gift. Refer in $1,000 in new customer sales and receive a $100 Lynx Gift Card. Refer in $2,500 and receive a tint or audio package valued at $300. “There is some fine print that protects us from people manipulating the program. This is a great tool for us. Clients can hit the top level in just one referral, commonly! It basically encourages people to recommend us, and the more that the referral spends, the better for the referrer. This program works exponentially as each new customer has the ability to refer in more. “My downfall on this is not taking the time to get pictures and have people give a testimonial or something when receiving gifts that I can pump out on social media.”

who can grasp the scope of what it takes for a business to operate. They may be really good at one position, but for them to reliably manage a small business it’s a really hard thing to do.” In 2014, Farley tried to expand the business and add a second location, but it didn’t work out. “Now we operate small-scale. It lets us provide a better service to people,” he said. “The customers get to know me and the brand.” The average staff tenure is one and a half years. Farley had seven to 10 full-time staff members in 2016, and they focused on volume. “It was the biggest year the business had up to that point. Because of having such a big payroll, the operating cost went up to $100,000 and I didn’t have the sales to justify it.” Lynx Customs also has good relationships with neighboring companies. “I have a printer on one side of me and a custom sign manufacturer on the other. I’ve become great friends with both of them and have access to

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Living The Dream

their facilities,” he said. “The printer next door will print my catalog for me at no cost in exchange for trade labor for their vehicles. The custom sign shop has two tabletop routers, CNC machines, a laser, a tabletop printer and printers for vinyl wraps. The relationship with them gives me access to all kinds of fabrication type equipment.” Employees are given retention incentives that include flexible scheduling, discounted merchandise, a yearly trip to SEMA and competitive pay. Training involves full immersion, hands-on and closely supervised realworld training. “Outside training and research is also required to deepen

the associate’s knowledge about the auto industry,” he added. “Employees are occasionally sent out for training as we offer new products. Most training in-house is centered on vehicle specific nuances.” In 2017, the staff attended SEMA, and the trip proved very successful. “We also review online training videos and do quite a bit of outside research on trends and particular products,” Farley said. Furthermore, Lynx Customs continues to analyze customer interaction and situational outcomes to ensure the best possible experience for customers.

Low-Cost Marketing With A Focus On Trends Surviving as a small independent shop meant making sure Lynx Customs was visible in the local area. Farley called marketing one of the shop’s best strengths. “That’s a big reason my company has been able to survive,” he said, citing the fact that he had no investment money—just the will to keep going and grow the business to the best of his ability. “Doing all the marketing myself was valuable and didn’t cost me anything,” he added. “There’s also online marketing and pay-per-click. The best marketing is free marketing.” The business’s

if your customers drive something like this

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real world RETAIL

Trial and Error “Last year at the peak of revenue season, I opened a small store in a local high-end shopping mall that sold grab-and-go car-related items, and handed out informational literature and price estimates for our services. The goals were to pick up on a large stream of retail shoppers. It was more exposure for the brand and also allowed us to be a little closer to the footsteps of a busy big box competitor. “I knew the local market pretty well and examined the costs to open the kiosk store and the amount of traffic. It was strategically placed right outside a Tesla dealership and an Apple Store. The operation involved stocking and custom signage. We also had tons of handouts and lit for the shop. Mobile POS, staffing and other mall regulations also were considerations. “In the end, it was all about having a representative meeting and informing passersby. We sold Magic Mount, radar detector, remote start, weather tech, some audio equipment and detailing products. “It was a total bust. The sales numbers didn’t come close to covering the overhead and I had to close it down after a few months. “It might have been too complicated of a concept for a kiosk store.”

percentage of income spent on marketing is less than five percent. He’s tried radio and magazines. Now, the goal is to operate with as low a cost as possible. “We’re at the whim of the economy,” he said of the retail world, adding that he continues to work on the marketing plan whenever he can. The website is also low-cost. “We barely spend any outside the time I invest myself,” Farley said. His wife Amanda also uses her talents as a graphic designer on the website, as well as other marketing materials such as leaflets and signage.

38  Mobile Electronics February 2018

Because it’s difficult to gauge the impact of social media—and Lynx Customs has trouble converting social media advertisements to high-end customers—Farley said they don’t boost posts often. However, what works well for them is their referral program. “It’s a way to grow the customer base,” Farley said. “One thing I see as a big upcoming market is protective films. The window tint industry magazine just published the results of a study in which they found that not many people are aware of harmful UV rays and what they can do to cars. In the Asian market, they’re already doing it—90 percent of cars get a protective film. Here, it’s like 10 percent of cars.” Once people catch on to this, Farley feels it will be an important aspect of the industry. “I’ll ride that wave a little bit.” He plans to brand his film services as protective. “We’ve also seen a big hidden growth population in Denver. [There has been a] huge increase in car theft in my area,” he added. “Alarms and window tint as a protective solution are pretty popular here right now. Those markets are just going to get bigger.” This year, Lynx Customs is aiming to release a catalog. “[We’re] going to do a 12-page catalog and highlight our four or five main services,” Farley said. “We’ll distribute that catalog to dealers and others in the market.” He plans to do some advertising to bolster this. And although he has never been able to penetrate the realm of dealerships, the catalog may help. Farley intends to use it as a tool to reach out to them.

About 75 percent of the business’s clients are male, ages 26 to 65. Farley stated that the majority live or work very close by. “We have a fair amount of people who travel to us for our specialty services, but most business comes from the local community,” Farley said. “Our customers are generally highly educated and make a decent living. Most of them have new vehicles.” Farley estimates that about 25 percent of clients could be considered automotive enthusiasts. “Our focus is on high-end retail,” he said.

The Only Way to Go is Up Learning from Top 12 shops and installers has helped Farley improve Lynx Customs. “There are a few things I’ve noticed the really successful guys have in addition to superb skills. Luckily I have some of those same things, and I feel they have been key in my success.” The first aspect is a supportive family, Farley said, and the urge to be a trendsetter. The willingness to share information and resources is also important. “The staff are basically like family, and we just love that we can be here doing what we love and at our own pace. Most importantly we’re thanking God every day for the great customer base. The more cool installs, tools and techniques that I see, the more inspired I become to take it to the next level.” Due to long-term retention of key employees, the store is operating smoothly and efficiently. “It’s also matured. I’ve learned things,” Farley said. “I’ve always got something going on.”


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 The Support Team

That’s The Ticket

A cloud-based customer management system gives JL Audio a way to track all tech matters and keep systems smooth for its mobile, marine, home, and powersports products JL Audio, which prides itself on employees who are true “audio nuts,” is a place where innovation has always set it apart. Known for groundbreaking car amps and subwoofers, like the W1 Series that is now a classic, it is also a company intent on keeping pace with how customers enjoy their music in a multitude of environments. JL Audio entered the home market in 2004 and today also offers audio

40  Mobile Electronics February 2018

products for the marine and powersport industries. But passionate employees and compelling products are just part of the picture. The other integral part focuses on the technical support. Years ago, when a call or email came in for a tech issue, JL Audio immediately addressed it, but had no way of cataloging an issue for future reference or for building a database of information.

Today, the company, headquartered in Miramar, Fla., with another facility in Phoenix, Ariz., has put in place a number of strategic efforts to offer dealers, consumers and installers a comprehensive range of options to make sure all tech issues are addressed, ticketed and resolved—and become part of the department’s history for future evaluation or reference.


Mike West and his team are able to leverage data and information that not only help consumers and dealers, but can be provided to the right people internally, like engineers.

Overseen by Technical Department Manager Mike West, who has been with JL Audio since 2010, the tech support department consists of four other members—Carlos Chavez, Eric Cole, Danny Lopez, and Robert Wagner (who handles home audio specifically). “All of us came from a retail background or hobbyist background,” said West. “We have all done this for a living in the past or at least as a hobby. I know I have since 1995. With a lot of the product being built at our headquarters the speaker engineers are right here on the production line—just behind us—so that works out well.” All of the support, no matter which division, West said, is handled the same. “We are here to help end-users (consumers), dealers, reps, distributors, essentially anybody who has a question about a JL Audio product,” he said.

“Some of it is pre-purchase questions. Maybe a person is considering buying a product and has questions about it or its application. Some questions are related to the fact that a person has already bought the product but now there is a question about set-up or tuning. Maybe there is a problem so we then we need to do some troubleshooting. We handle all of those types of issues. For the most part, it is the same whether it is a rep, dealer, or consumer as long as we understand that some people might have pre-existing knowledge.”

Cloud Control What has made a huge difference in dealing with technical support has been a tool brought in about five years ago. “It is called Zendesk and it’s a cloud-based ticket system. It allows us to ticket every inquiry—every call, every email, whatever the channel is—all in one system and build a database.” West is able to manage the entire lifecycle of the issue and relationship with the consumer, dealer, or installer from the first contact to ongoing, long-term interaction. “If an installer needs assistance, we have a few avenues where they can contact us,” West said. “Installers, of course, first and foremost, can always call us. Typically an installer wants to get the

job in and out so they want a resolution as soon as possible—and a lot of times that is by phone. We also have live chat, we have email, and there is a form they can fill out if they want to provide upfront information. We have ticket forms available in our help center on the web site.” There is also social media help if someone prefers--Twitter, Facebook and Youtube. “We answer all of those—all of it comes directly to tech support,” West said. “If consumers purchase something through Ebay, that channel comes in to us as well.” The real beauty of Zendesk, West said, is that no one on the team has to physically be at their desk to handle the support. “Whether we are doing other projects in the R&D department, in engineering, or off-site at an event, we can always be available to provide tech support because is everything is cloud based.” Here’s how it works: When a support request comes in then a new ticket is created right away. “There are rules in place that push it to the right person based on certain criteria, and then if it is during business hours the resolution is same day,” West said. “Even if it is an email, we resolve it same day. The only time we cannot respond same day is if something comes in on a Saturday, we facebook.com/MobileElectronics   41


An important credential for West and his team is to maintain and stay current with industry certifications. All are MECP-certified, SolidWorks certified for CAN, and NMEA2000 for marine applications.

 The Support Team

l to r: Mike West, Carlos Chavez, Eric Cole, and Danny Lopez. Not pictured is Randy Wagner.

then resolve it on Monday.” A major advancement in the area has been the ability to track how many tech issues there are in a certain period of time. “It is one of the key values we have been able to leverage with the data that comes out of our cloud-based service,” West said. “Now we can see all of this data and run reports on it.”

Self Service Reducing the number of inbound tickets has been addressed by providing solid self-help solutions. “We have this huge knowledge base called the Help Center,” West said. It currently features 165 articles with more in the works. “It is constantly evolving,” he said. “We’re growing the center and

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improving the articles so we can help the customer and dealer find their own answers without having to contact us. It allows us to deflect a lot of those inbounds. The more robust the Help Center becomes, the less volume that we’re dealing with on a daily basis.” West said that he has seen some traction already. “Right now we’re down considerably from when I first took over—we’re at about 2,300 tickets a month and that includes all channels combined.” The Help Center features a clean layout and is easily found on the JL Audio web site. Under support, Help Center displays six separate tabs. Each one allows a person to find a variety of answers and solutions. The six tabs

are: Service, Parts & Repair; Car Audio Support, FiX and TwK, Marine Audio Support, Powersports Audio Sport and Home Audio Sport. If someone clicks on Car Audio Support, for instance, one would find a Single Voice Coil (SWC) wiring tutorial among other helpful features like Common Stealthbox Questions as well as Amplifier Status LED Colors & What They Represent. The Help Center was implemented in 2015—and was started with about 10 articles. “It was pretty bare when we started,” West said. “We migrated some existing content over from our old web site but it was only a handful of articles. We built on it from there. Every time we have a new product that comes out, we


are creating a new article. When we get questions about a given product or we have issues related to a specific situation that we do already have an existing article for, maybe that causes us to go back and revisit that article and edit it to make sure that correct and most updated answer is in there. That way the next guy can find it without having to reach out to us.” The Help Center is a great resource, but West is mindful that installers usually require an immediate answer. “They need to finish the job and get the car out of the bay,” he said. “So the phone tickets are mostly from dealers. They prefer to call and speak to someone right away whereas a consumer might peruse the site, determining what he wants to buy, and then based on what he is searching for, those Help Center articles pop up and he might have his answer already. If not, he can fill out a form and send it in or send us an email and we will get to that on the same day.” Everyone, regardless of who they are, calls into the same 800 number. “When a person calls in and presses 4 for tech support, there is a prompt for what kind of tech support. If someone chooses ‘home,’ it gets routed directly to the tech person who handles that and it creates a new ticket on their path. Once the call comes in to West and his team, it creates a ticket automatically. “All of the customer’s history pops up right in front of us in real time so we can see the previous times he has called, what those conversations were about, and that way we don’t have to repeat a diagnosis,” he said. “The calls are recorded so we can go back and listen to them if need be not only for resolution for the customer but also to better train our staff.” Social media also offers support for folks. “Some people like to use it— that’s their thing,” West said. “They’re on Twitter or Facebook every day and if that is where they want to find their information, we have those channels to help them. As for community forums like Facebook forums, that is where you really have to police the DIY experts and make sure there is no misinformation. We make sure to oversee that customers

Mike West, Technical Department Manager for JL Audio, has been with the company since 2010. He has overseen the implementation of a cloud based ticket system that has ultimately led to the creation of a robust database.

are getting the right answers.” In fact, West said, anytime JL Audio is mentioned on Twitter, direct messaged on Facebook, or commented on with a video on YouTube, that creates another ticket for support.

Professional Path The biggest change for technical support has been the ability to leverage data and not only help the consumers, dealers and installers, but also provide valuable support internally to the correct departments. “We are able to now alleviate certain concerns and then communicate that knowledge to the engineers,” West said. “If there is a problem with something, we are always the first to hear about it. So if we have an influx of product that has a certain issue, or there is the potential for an issue, since we hear about it first, and we are the first line of defense, we can elevate it faster. We have already seen a couple of times where our knowledge of certain products with certain parts allowed us to expedite a situation.” West said there are regular meetings, but with such a small department it is easier to keep things informal. “Our

day-to-day communication is constant,” he said. “And we are in neighboring offices so it easy for all of us to talk to one another at any time.” One thing West is sure to keep himself and his staff up to date with are certifications. “We have trainings to attend because our group needs to stay on top of things,” West said. His team is MECP-certified as well as SolidWorks-certified for CAN— and there’s more. “We are getting certifications with National Marine Electronics Association (NMEA) 2000 and we are always ahead of the game and up to speed on the latest technology.” Marine, in fact, is an area of huge focus for JL Audio. “We’re big into the marine products now and we recently came out with our first source unit with a few more to follow,” West said. “Because these units integrate into a boat’s CAN network—for all of their different electronics packages on the boat—it operates under the NMEA 2000 protocol. It is a sophisticated CAN network that we have to be able to speak intelligently on, diagnose and troubleshoot.” facebook.com/MobileElectronics   43


 strategy & tactics

Taxes and Jobs Act

With tax reform on the horizon, the best advice is the old standard—business owners should make sure they consult their CPA. Here, retailers share how they’re approaching impending changes and offer advice on how to deal. WORDS BY ROSA SOPHIA

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Taxes and Jobs Act

Jason Kranitz, owner of Kingpin Car and Marine Audio in Wilsonville, Ore., said the IRs is cracking down on companies that don’t separate personal expenses and mileage from true business expenses. He meets with a CPA every 45 days to ensure his business is in compliance.

JML Audio chose to take care of its staff by paying for health insurance. “That will be another bill we didn’t have in the past,” Landau said. “That’s the only thing. Hey, we’re spending—that will affect it.” It’s a good idea to try to understand the lingo and paperwork that tax preparers and accountants cope with. “We’ve got people asking [about it],” said the CPA. “It’ll probably be months before they come out with regulations.” He added that the IRS has what is referred to as proposed regulations and final regulations. “There are laws that have been on the books for a long time but we’re still running with proposed regulations,” he explained. “With all they have going on with this law change, I think it will take months before they get regulations. Despite the fact it’s simpler, there are some parts that aren’t.” When you approach your financial advisor, know that because of the newness of the situation, a lot of accountants are still trying to learn where things are going from here.

Remain Vigilant

Tax reform has taken effect, referred to as the Taxes and Jobs Act, but it won’t impact filing of 2017 taxes. Jason Kranitz, of Kingpin Car and Marine Audio in Wilsonville, Ore., said that some of his employees had already begun to notice differences in their paychecks as early as late January. “One employee got 80 dollars more,” he said. It is still too early to tell how businesses will be impacted. One certified public accountant who wished to remain anonymous said that for some small businesses, it may not make much of a difference, but for others it will. “Talk to your tax advisor now,” he urged.

Don’t wait. Consult a CPA If you have any questions about the new tax law, or any questions about taxes in general, contact your CPA. They can answer any inquiries and help you to maximize your benefits. Joshua Landau of JML Audio of St. Louis isn’t changing anything in his business in preparation for the new tax laws, at least not yet. “For 2018, we added a benefit to our company. Because that benefit cost quite a lot, that will bring down our total tax liability because it’s an expense now,” he said. “By adding more benefits for our staff, that’s a big change.”

Even if your business is very small— consisting of one or two people—don’t try to take on tax preparation yourself. Always consult a CPA and make sure employee paychecks are handled correctly. Deductions will likely become a source of confusion, according to the CPA. “What are the rules? They have passed it, but there’re no regulations,” he said. “It’s like not having instructions on how to put something together.” On the other hand, Kranitz doesn’t think anyone should worry. His business, Kingpin Car and Marine Audio, is an S Corporation. “Get a CPA. Make sure all your questions are answered. Don’t do it all yourself. [A CPA] will find you more money.” “The devil’s in the details,” said the CPA. “We need regulations to help us interpret how this stuff is going to work. facebook.com/MobileElectronics   45


 strategy & tactics

A Few Quick Facts

On the side of the tax preparer, there isFor difficulty. We don’t have anyIRS. guidance more information, visit yet.” GOV. Landau added that he’s planning on 1. same Employees shouldestimates start for the type of quarterly income taxes so there in aretheir no surprises. seeing changes “At this point, there’s so much stuff up in paychecks by February the air, we’re not changing how we pay 2018. one public taxes andAs bills,” hecertified said. “We use QuickBooks for a lot ofstated, our point“Your of sale and accountant accounting. We also have accountants tax advisor should know we meet with every month. We have a whatservice formsthat you need payroll takes careto of be payroll tofiling. our staff. Theythink handlethere’s payroll taxes, I don’t and our QuickBooks takes care of the any one form that’s more majority. A bookkeeper comes in once the other.” aimportant month. We gothan over numbers with our accountants.”

2. The corporate alternative

Handling Deductions minimum tax (AMT) has

Kranitz said that his business has a been repealed. The monthly indi- tasks. bookkeeper that handles “It goes toAMT a tax is accountant after that,” vidual still in place, he added. “We talk to an accountant however. every 45 days or so.” Everything is an expense to a cer3. A corporate tax rate of 21 tain extent, Kranitz said, adding that a percent the about 35 lot of peoplehas are replaced often confused what it really means to write off an percent rate. expense. “If I go buy dinner and I’m with theyincould say,when ‘You pay 4. Bfriends, eginning 2019, for it and we [can] talk about business.’ it’s time to file 2018 taxes, They think I get that money back at the pass-through end of the year frombusiness the government. Ifentities—including it falls under that category, you LLCs, S just don’t get taxed for it, but you don’t get Corporations, sole proprireimbursed.” etors and partnerships—will Furthermore, buying pizza for the whole staffto at deduct the shop is be able 20perfectly per- okay. But, Kranitz said, if you only buy pizza cent of business income for two staff members, or if you took a which meets the itright manager out to lunch, doesn’t work the same way. “YouConsult can’t do that,” qualifications. yourhe said. “They are cracking down on that.” CPA with any inquiries and This makes things a bit more difficult. to learn more about the for Also, it can be hard sometimes employees to understand what it’s qualifications. like to be the owner of the business. Things all the 5. Thebecome amount of more the complicated. “The federal government was deduction depends on each cracking down on vehicles. Unless business’s situation. the vehicle is inunique the business’s name, you have to take a log of your personal vehicle and pay back mileage,” Kranitz said. “It’s been in effect, but

46  Mobile Electronics February 2018

the IRS is cracking down. As a business owner, I can’t use a company vehicle for personal use. You need to write down the mileage, separate the personal from the business and just get paid for the business side. They are trying to get rid of people who are using a personal vehicle under a company name. You have to track every personal usage you did with that vehicle every single time. It’s a cumbersome thing. That was one of our highlights for the year.”

not necessarily meals or travel.” Business owners should consider how they’ve done things in the past and decide whether they need to change anything.

Know Your Challenges The CPA noted that the corporate alternative minimum tax has been taken away. “For lack of a better term, it’s a parallel tax calculation to what we call the normal tax calculation,” he said. “The higher tax is

“The devil’s in the details,” said the CPA. “We need regulations to help us interpret how this stuff is going to work. On the side of the tax preparer, there is difficulty. We don’t have any guidance yet.” When it comes to other deductions, the CPA said there will be changes in rules to deducting entertainment expenses. “I think what they call entity selection will now be important because of the change in the corporate tax rate,” he added. “They’re going to lose some deductions for entertainment. Business entertainment expenses are no longer deductible on the entertainment side. It’s the entertainment,

the one you pay. The new 20 percent deduction for owners of passthrough entities is another biggie. I can’t even begin to explain it. That is probably the most complicated part of the new law.” The CPA noted that everyone has a different idea of how things will go, at least right now. “I may think something’s going to be one way, and someone else might say it’s


Taxes and Jobs Act completely different. We don’t have a playbook yet.” For Kranitz, just getting everything together is the biggest challenge at tax time. “No matter how much you prepare, it’s like you’re in high school and you’ve got an exam the next day,” he said. “It feels that way no matter how much prep work we do.” Landau said there’s no room for panic as long as you know what’s going on. “Stay on top of your numbers every month so none of this is a surprise,” Landau said. “If you see it coming in and going out, hopefully you have an understanding and none of this should be shocking. If you need to pivot and adjust your business to be more profitable, you can make adjustments.” “We’re on top of it every month. We don’t wait until the last minute,” Landau said. “Some companies scramble at the last minute, but we’re very dialed in to the point of a quick hour-long conversation with our accountant who we see every month, so it’s quite painless as far as transactions go. Fifteen or 20 years ago, when the business ran us and we didn’t run the business, it’d be a different conversation. We have to have processes and operations that help us so we’re moving every month toward this. It’s not a challenging type of process at all. We know what’s going on each month.” Kranitz warned that it’s important to ensure that any employees—even short-term employees who stay for a week or so—have to turn in a W9 for any earnings $500 and up. “You have to have a W9,” Kranitz said. “If you get caught not doing it, it’s a $750 fine for not filing a W9.” While he could not confirm the exact amount, the CPA stated that businesses can indeed be fined for not providing a W9. “If you have someone who comes in, before you hand them that check, have the W9 filled out,” Kranitz said. “Don’t pay them until you get it. It’s your business first.” CADENCE

919 Canada Court City of Industry, CA. 91748 (800) 477-2328 (626) 465-3363 WWW.CADENCESOUND.COM

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 tech today

Risk and Reward

Joey Knapp’s latest project isn’t in a car, but a building that has seen better days. BY JOEY KNAPP

48  Mobile Electronics February 2018

B

ack in January of 2017, I purchased a small car audio shop from a friend of mine. It was part of a business that also provided home theater, security, surveillance and networking. My friend wasn’t really interested in the 12-volt side of the business and wanted someone to buy him out. I had worked with him and for him on special projects, so I was a natural choice to take over. I normally stay pretty busy, so I was a little concerned about being able to juggle a business as well. Between managing and writing for this column, processing monthly content for 1sixty8 media, and flying out to California to work at Simplicity in Sound, I don’t have a lot of free time. The good news was that the shop wasn’t very big and the single full-time employee was someone I had worked with in the past and trusted.


Risk and Reward Imperfect Pinnacle

After a bit of deliberation and discussion with my wife, I decided to move forward with the purchase. The business was profitable, so my plan was to continue letting it run the way it had been. To help keep it from taking up too much of my time I would be using a bookkeeper to handle some of the paperwork. One of the appealing things about owning the business, which was now called Pinnacle Autosound, was that we still shared the building with the home theater business, Sound Line Design, so the rent was low. It was nice not having the burden of being concerned about an expensive rent payment. The downside was that the space was very cramped. There was barely room for two cars to fit in the bay. Any fabrication was done behind the building under a roof overhang. Risky Business

A few months into my ownership of Pinnacle Autosound, things began to take another path. The owner of Sound Line Design told me he was in the process of buying a new, larger building. He suggested we both expand our businesses to this new location. This was a lot to process. The new location would offer much more room for both the showroom and install bays, both of which were areas that were lacking in the current location. The new building was also in a location that had much more traffic and visibility. If Pinnacle Autosound was going to grow, this would be a great place to have it happen. The biggest obstacle was the amount of work the new location would need. There were three large bays and a decent sized showroom area. The building, though, had sat empty for over 10 years. In order for it to be something I would be happy with, it would take not only a lot of money, but quite a bit of time. My wife and I began discussions about this new opportunity. It came out in our talks that this new location could also serve another purpose.

Bing (the owner of Simplicity in Sound) and I had spoken before about having the ability to offer Simplicity in Sound services at an East Coast location. The current Pinnacle Autosound building did not have the space for longer-term car storage for larger builds. The extra space of this new building would give me the option to explore the feasibility of Simplicity in Sound East. A fear I had, which was larger than the expense and work of moving, was that of potential regret for NOT taking a shot at the expansion. It was sooner than I wanted it to happen, but I knew I needed to give it a shot. With my wife in

agreement, I gave a verbal commitment to move into the new location. Work Cut Out

As you can see in the photos, the bays were spacious but pretty rough looking. The insulation on the walls was old and cracking and much of the fiberglass was visible. My plan was that the outer bay walls would be covered in the same metal that the building exterior was covered in. I looked at a number of potential finishing options, and the metal was the quickest, most cost effective and most cosmetically appealing. The bay side of the showroom would receive drywall and texture, for a finished look. To further facebook.com/MobileElectronics â&#x20AC;&#x201A; 49


 tech today

Thanks to the storage bins, normally messy-looking items are out of sight.

The spreadsheet helped me organize my purchases as well as see the changes to the monthly payment.

trim out the drywall I added a 12” wide strip of wood at the top of the wall and a 4” wide strip at the bottom. These strips were painted the gray accent color that I used on the vertical beams of the building. So, that is a bit of the background on how Pinnacle Autosound landed in its current location. I wanted to focus a bit on some of the planning and decisions I had to make for the new facility. We will be looking specifically at the bay and woodshop areas. The showroom is complete, but I will be remolding it with new displays in the future. Cash Calculations

Because I had a specific budget for the move, I knew I needed to map out where money was going to be spent. To keep track of what I was spending, I setup a Google sheet. I listed all

50  Mobile Electronics February 2018

of the things I knew I would be spending money on. I had a column to mark if they were completed or not. In another column, I pasted in links to the items if I was purchasing them online, so when it was time to buy, I had easy access to them. I had a few other spots on the sheet where I listed notes. One such area contained a list of all the different areas I knew we needed in the bays and woodshop. Things like the test center, paint storage and sandpaper storage were some of the items on that list. While I am not the biggest fan of “the cloud” (I have lived through failed cloud 1.0, so I remain a hesitant dinosaur), having this spreadsheet available across multiple platforms was awesome. The links came in very handy because leading up to moving in I would check the products I needed to buy when there were holidays and

sales. Doing so allowed me to save a bit of money on some of the purchases. I had a few different formulas I had made that gave me a real-time look at what I would need monthly to pay off the cost of the build in three and four years. Each time I made a purchase I entered the price and the calculations would update automatically. Building Out the Bay

The building was previously owned by a glass company. It had a very usable layout with a showroom area and bays. In looking at the bays, one thing that really appealed to me was the third bay had a very tall garage door and that bay was 50 feet deep. The height and length would be great when we had to work on RVs, Semis or boats. I made a mental note that I didn’t want to do anything in that area that would possibly reduce the


Risk and Reward

Reference this.

Experience C7 Live at KnowledgeFest

Long Beach Convention Center • February 23-25

Indiana Convention Center • March 16-18

© 2018 JL AUDIO, Inc. For more information on our complete line of products, please visit your local authorized dealer or www.jlaudio.com.

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 tech today working height or depth. Because this bay was going to be the main work area, my plan was to have most of the tools, including the toolboxes, along the long outside wall of the bay. After looking around at tool storage options, I decided I wanted to have matching toolboxes with workbench tops. After looking through the options available, I landed on the Milwaukee 60” mobile workbench. These seemed like a great value. They had nice drawer sliders, fairly robust construction, and they matched the color scheme I had planned. In addition to a hardwood top, they also had a slide up metal pegboard back. My first thought about the back was not the additional storage capability, but rather the additional amount of red it would add to the area. The wall that the toolboxes are on is visible from the door and window that allow viewing of the bay area from the showroom. I wanted the bays to look very nice from the showroom, and I felt the additional red from the pegboard would further enhance the cosmetics of the Wall O’ Boxes. Buying a total of five of those boxes was a little more than I had planned on spending, but they seemed to be a perfect fit for the bay design. The rest of that wall would be taken up by two metal shelving units. These shelves are one of the items I was able to catch on sale and save a bit of money on. It was enough money saved that I bought three and got the fourth free. The two shelves next to the toolboxes would serve two purposes. The first shelf would hold all of the tools I had that are in molded cases. In addition, I have a number of fastener and hardware cases that would be housed there. The next shelf would be the storage for all of the normal miscellaneous shop things that accumulate over time. Radio cans, radio trim rings, miscellaneous harnesses, speaker grilles and more. You know the stuff. What I did to make the area look nicer was buy matching plastic bins for all of them. I was able to find gray and black

52  Mobile Electronics February 2018

This unique wire storage rack was assembled for under $70.

The cabinets and tool box were a perfect fit for this space.


Risk and Reward bins that fit the shelves. So all of those unsightly things are now hidden in a nice looking area. The final step once everything is sorted will be to print out labels for each container. The short wall that is between the third bay and middle bay was an out of the way location that I decided would be perfect for the storage bins for screws and hardware. After looking around at the available options for bins, I chose some from Uline. The bin plastic was sturdier than the Harbor Freight bins, and the metal rack was heavier gauge steel. The bins we previously had were the smaller 4” wide models, this time I went with the larger 5.5” wide and I am glad I did. While it doesn’t look like you have as much hardware, it is easier to pick out pieces from. The extra width and height also does a better job of keeping the hardware from falling out when removing and replacing the bins. Uline has a number of colors available, but red was the obvious choice for our bay.

spool holder! When I got back home I found one on Amazon that seemed to be the perfect dimensions for our use. To keep the spools from coming off when wire was pulled from them, I also ordered some pins and clips. I was going to drill the spool pipes and insert the pins and clip them to lock in the spools. To address the mobile needs, I found a set of small, durable casters. I ordered them with locks, so the racks could be stationary while wire was being rolled off. There was also a workbench planned for that area. The addition of casters on the bench legs will mean that whole wall can be cleared out just by rolling a few pieces away. 10 Inches Shorter

The next area I focused on was the outside wall next to the woodshop. My thoughts were to have two cabinets and a workbench there. The cabinets would give me storage room for paint,

chemicals, body filler and fiberglass supplies. In addition, the cabinets could be overflow storage for hardware boxes. I knew that I needed to use another Milwaukee workbench to match the others, but I was concerned the 60” model would limit my choice of cabinet sizes. I found that they had a smaller 50” model that had the benefit of having a raised work surface that provided space for clamping. It was perfect. This box would be used to hold the airtools, accessories and abrasives. For the cabinets I again turned to Uline. While I wanted red, I was afraid that the color wouldn’t closely enough match the red of the Milwaukee tool box, so I chose black. The final piece for that area will be a piece of slatwall above the box between the cabinets. We are left with one more area of the bays, which is the metal working area. In the next edition we will look at the choices I made for that area and then focus on the different aspects of the woodshop.

Mobile Racks to the Rescue

The middle bay was almost 25 feet deep. That would mean the length of the bay could hold a full-sized truck with a hitch on the back, assuming nothing was added to shorten it. The problem was, that area of the shop was where I had initially planned on keeping the wiring. My solution was mobile wiring racks. Not only would having them on wheels allow them to be moved for vehicle storage, but it would also hopefully help reduce waste from exaggerated wire length estimating. For my primary wiring, I had previously purchase the Wirez mobile wire rack loaded with 16 different colors of wire. For the larger gauge wire I started looking around and found that the ones available that would hold the size spools we use are pretty expensive. My plan was just to make some in the future, once we had finished moving in. As luck would have it, I was visiting my sister and saw my nephew’s workout garage. In the garage he had a barbell plate rack. In my mind, though, what I saw was a wire

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 installs

57 Heaven Submitted by: Chris Pate, Mobile Toys Inc., College Station

Texas. This 1957 Chevy Bel Air roadster was a restoration build in which we were contracted to build a complete interior and autosound system. Using AutoCAD and templates from Mobile Solutions, we machined all the panel work using PVC. The only wood used was for the construction of the sub enclosures. The full KENWOOD eXcelon system features a multimedia receiver, two sets of seven-inch separates in the front doors, two 12-inch subwoofers, a monoblock subwoofer amplifier and four-channel amplifier for the separates. The system also includes Mosconi digital signal processing. We stitched the seats and added custom carpet.

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 installs

Skin and Steel Submitted by: Micah Williams, Elite Auto Salon, Colorado Springs, Colorado This 2018 Denali pickup was the recipient of a stylish center console upgrade that includes lighting, power and punch. The enclosure was part of an entire build that met the owner’s request for high-fidelity sound and an OEM look up front, along with some fun lighting accents. The entire build, which required no holes to be drilled in the truck, took two days and included a welded amp rack and stainless hardware. Audio components featured twisted pair, hand-made cables, Audison amplifiers and speakers from Audiofrog and Hertz. Finished in Napa leather, the build also included a completely recast back panel of the OEM console that retains all moving functionality.

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from the President

Decisions, Decisions

The road to success is paved with hard lessons learned. It’s not every day, but sometimes it feels like it. You start the day only to succumb to short-term gain from a hasty decision. A project went down the wrong path. A choice made without fully understanding the consequences. We have all done it and lived to regret. Don’t lose heart. There’s a silver lining if you are willing to humble yourself and own up to your failure. Then you can begin to learn hard lessons that will shape your future. You may be asking, “What did Chris do this time?” While I could regale you with many stories of decisions gone awry, my goal is to help you understand how best to avoid bad decisions and know how to recover when your intentions do not produce the planned outcome. Much like you, I do my best to run a successful business. A business that is designed to help other businesses grow. Running a trade association for the mobile electronics industry is a privilege and honor—a position I do not take lightly. To that end, your business depends on you making the best decisions for you, your employees, vendors and customers. That said, let’s review three types of decision-making.

Type One – Daily Decisions (Day to Day) These decisions are put before you daily. Taking on a questionable vehicle or customer. Pricing a job. Should I give this person a break on cost? Maybe a quick response to a question from a team member. Any of these can seem like small decisions. Making the right one should always be measured against your mission and goals. If you make the wrong one, even with the best intentions, you may need a do-over. Here’s an example. A team member appears frustrated. They come to you wanting to know why they must fix another team member’s mistake. Your answer? “Just fix it. I don’t have time to explain.” While that answer may be correct, it does not necessarily mean it’s the right answer. It may leave your team member wondering why the other person gets a pass. They may wonder whether the other person makes more than they do, or whether you somehow favor that person over them. While this was not your intention, it may mean dealing with a disgruntled team member in the near future.

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Type Two – Direction Decisions (Larger Decisions Related to Running the Business) A good example is deciding to bring in a new line of product from either an existing vendor or a new vendor. When selecting a new vendor, or a new category or line from an existing vendor, you should pause. Making the decision in haste could leave you with problems that will require tough decisions. If you’re looking at a new category, ask questions. Use the if/then method to help you think through the outcome.

Type Three – Future-Changing Decisions (Big Picture) This type of decision is reserved for when you have a well thought-out plan based on several types of information. For example, you would like to add a fabrication offering to your business. This would be a significant investment. It makes sense to make a full risk assessment that includes information on others’ experiences, equipment required, and the skill set needed to become successful. We all tend to make snap decisions based on limited information. Every decision should be measured against your mission and goals. Also, you should not be responsible for making every decision. You must empower your team members to make their own decisions. Make sure everyone is on the same page with the mission and goals of your business. This makes teaching them an easier task. Communication is the key to decision-making success. Your team must understand the big picture as you see it. Finally, ask yourself some questions. Is this something you’re already familiar with? Do you have a past decision to which you can refer? If so, the decision is made. If not, take a few minutes and think through some if/then scenarios. Again, refer to your history. What is the desired outcome? Does it align with your business goals? Do you need to make the decision right now? Put a timer on it and do more research. Data points will allow you to review and make the best decisions. A time limit is good, but don’t hit the snooze button. If you can’t decide, walk away or just make the choice and hope your best laid plans contribute to your future success


Professional grade solutions for your customer.

XAV-AX200SXM

CarPlay & Android Auto · CD/DVD Drive · 3X Camera Inputs · SiriusXM Tuner & 90 Days Programming Included · 3X 4V Pre-Outs · TomTom Navigation Input

XAV-AX100

CarPlay & Android Auto · Backup Camera Input · 3X 2V Pre-Outs · TomTom Navigation Input

www.sony.com ©2017 Sony Electronics, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. Sony and the Sony logos are trademarks of Sony Corporation. Android Auto workswith devices using Android 5.0 software or higher. Some devices may not yet support Android Auto, see the Google site for the latest list of compatible devices. Android Auto and its logo are trademarks of Google Inc. Apple CarPlay works with iPhone 5 and newer phones. Apple CarPlay and its logo are trademarks of Apple Inc. Features and specifications are subject to change without notice.


Mobile Electronics Magazine - February 2018  

Mobile Electronics Magazine - February 2018

Mobile Electronics Magazine - February 2018  

Mobile Electronics Magazine - February 2018