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January 2018

me-mag.com

Swipe Left, Turn Right: Inside Josh Gobble’s Wrangler-iPad Masterpiece

After 25 Years, School’s Still In:

Installer Institute’s Curriculum Keeps Up With Technology

Vegas Trip:

•How the Top 12 Get the Most from CES •Innovations Winners Kick Off 2018 Tech


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Volume 35// Issue 1

Ad Index 38 FEATURES 12 // What’s Happening: The Winner’s Way

Prepping for big shows like SEMA and CES can be daunting. But for some of the Top 12, including Installer of the Year, Chris Pate, making the most of them is all a matter of planning and following some simple guidelines. Find out how the Top 12 conquer Las Vegas.

Accele Electronics...................................... p. 2 & 3 Firstech....................................................................p.59 Harman: JBL .......................................................... p. 9 HD Radio .................................................................. p. 5 Hybrid Audio Technologies.......................... p. 46 InstallerNet ......................................................... p. 25 JVC ..............................................................................p.15 Kenwood....................................................................p.7 KnowledgeFest Long Beach............... p. 29-32 Memphis Audio .................................................. p.34 Metra: TurboTouch .......................................... p. 35 Orca: Focal ............................................................. p. 11 PowerBass............................................................p. 23 Scosche ................................................................. p. 10 SounDigital.............................................................p.19 VAIS Technology.................................................p.47 Voxx Electronics............................................... p. 60

26 // Real World Retail: Main Street Stereo

While some stores have a focused product and service offering, such as servicing only high-end clientele or being hot rod-centric, Main Street Stereo has made its bones by saying yes to all opportunities, even if that means outsourcing work to keep the client happy.

38 // The Support Team: Installer Institute

Since 1992, Metra’s Installer Institute has been providing an option to installers who wanted to join the 12-volt work force but didn’t know where to start. With a major shortage of qualified installation techs in the field, this accredited school might just be what is needed to continue building new generations for years to come.

44 // Strategy & Tactics: Store and Staff Performance Evaluation

With the New Year upon us, it’s important for every retailer to have a strategy for both how to improve productivity and increase profitability. One of the best ways to do both is through an evaluation of the previous year’s successes and failures, learning from all and implementing changes based on what was discovered. Find out how toptier retailers like Bryan Turvaville and John Haynes handle this critical retail staple.

48 // Tech Today: The Jeep and the iPad

Joey Knapp sits this one out by relinquishing the reigns of the feature to a respected fabricator and friend, Josh Gobble, who takes readers through the trials and tribulations of installing an iPad Mini into a Jeep Wrangler. Gobble covers everything from creating mounts to the challenges of functionality when the vehicle drives on rough terrain.

16 ARTICLES 16 Retail News/Who’s Who 54 Installs

On the Cover We wanted to mix it up this issue and create a cover that reflected every element of our featured retailer, Main Street Stereo. Creating a cover like this requires knowing everything about the company, what makes them tick, what their focus is on and how we can reflect that to the readers. Since this company is all about saying yes to customers, we wanted to show that on the cover. Hopefully we did our job. Happy New Year! COVER DESIGN: Ana Ramirez

4  Mobile Electronics January 2018

DEPARTMENTS 6 Editor’s Forum 8 Feedback 10 Helpful Stuff 20 Hot Sellers 58 From The President

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editor’s forum

Want to Win in 2018? Start in 2017

If you’re trying to prevail in the Industry Awards, you’re already four months behind schedule. Two years ago, after a promising contestant narrowly lost the Installer of the Year contest to a well-deserving guy with an imminent newborn delivery, that contestant came up to me and said three words: “I’m starting today.” A year later, that same contestant was hugging his wife and kids with tears in his eyes before taking the stage to claim our industry’s highest technical honor. Ask him what he did (and he’ll gladly tell you), and he will say that everything he did from that day forward in some way increased his chances of winning. Helping other technicians and fabricators online. Participating in KnowledgeFest. Asking clients for positive reviews. Elevating the knowledge level of his staff. Keeping pictures and notes of his builds, and of course planning for the perfect entry vehicle for next year’s competition. It was a plan, though not a disingenuous one. He’s always been a helper, a perfectionist, a good guy. But he is also a competitor, and his plan simply took the things he did naturally and dialed them up. The Mobile Electronics Industry Awards competition isn’t easy. It’s not about buddies or popularity or reputation. Every year it starts over. Every year, another technician, fabricator, sales professional, retailer, rep or supplier has the opportunity to be noticed, recognized or applauded. So as we begin 2018, ask yourself: is this your year? If so, it’s past time to get started, so let’s get you caught up!

Every year, another technician, fabricator, sales professional, retailer, rep or supplier has the opportunity to be noticed, recognized or applauded.  • Make a commitment. As with any goal, first you must set one. You need to tell yourself that you or your business will make Top 50, Top 12, or any of the awards that end in “of the Year.” This needs to be a shared goal with everyone in your business, even if you are going for an individual award. Previous winners will tell you that having the support of co-workers, whether for physical help in developing an entry or just communal support, is vital to your effort.

6  Mobile Electronics January 2018

 • Collect email addresses. This is something you should be doing anyway, because building rapport through repeated interactions yields way better results than attracting new customers. But for the awards, having this communications avenue lets you get your customers excited about your goal and participate in helping you achieve it.  • Solicit and save reviews. It’s not a bad thing to ask a customer to give you a good review. In fact, there are software options that make it easy and enable them to do it in store. You can then reference these reviews in your award submissions.  • Keep a record of all the cool things that have happened through the year. Make it part of your routine once per week to record significant events in your business or career. It’s a lot easier to reference a OneNote or Evernote file with all your year’s accomplishments than to sit around prior to award time scratching your head and trying to remember.  • Take pictures. Another thing that should already be part of what you do. Use Dropbox or OneDrive and set your smartphones to automatically upload images to it. That way you’ll have a library, sorted by date and location of everything you’ve done for easy reference.  •  If you’re going for an installer award, plan your featured install. Don’t wait until the Industry Awards start to work on a car. Your customers may not be there when you are finally ready. And don’t use the excuse of not getting a good enough job in the bay to show your creativity. If this is something that’s really important to you, use your own car or someone else’s. Remember: you’re investing in your profession.  •  Give in to your natural inclination to help others. We all want to help. But some of us put roadblocks in the way. Remove these mental roadblocks and answer a question or two online.  • And finally, be proud of yourself. Take a look at the list we’ve created. If you did everything on this list, how much better of a business or professional would you be? That’s probably the most fulfilling thing I hear from the Top 12: even though they are planning for an award, the true prize is the insight they gained about the business, themselves and their potential in the process. If you haven’t started already, now’s the time. Whether I end up sending you a certificate or you end up joining me on stage in Dallas, the effort will definitely be worth it. facebook.com/MobileElectronics


 feedback

Rep of the Year

(A Retailer’s Perspective) Joe Cassity says Bill Freeman takes the cake thanks to his intimate involvement with his business, while Kenny McCardie picked Scott Boughman due to his help with various product line support. Who would you pick? “Scott Boughman; he helped us grow our Focal business and provided support to the other lines we offer that he reps.” Kenny McCardie, Auto Sound Tint World, Union City, Calif.

“Thom Lerch. I speak to him weekly. He always keeps me on top of any specials going on. Some reps I don’t speak to for months at a time.” Anonymous “Bill Freeman with MAG sales is my number one rep. Bill is our Kenwood, RF, VOXX, 5-axis and AudioControl rep. He’s intimately involved in our business and goes above and beyond, ranging from negotiating deals to physically helping us around the store when needed. Bill certainly takes excellent care of us and clearly values our business with all his lines.” Joe Cassity, Tune-N-Tint, Lakeland, Fla. “Thom Lerch of Memphis audio. He visits the store regularly, calls often and is helpful when problems arise.” Anonymous “Brian Cargile of AVR Distributing. He goes way above being a rep and will help with anything.” Anonymous

8  Mobile Electronics

January 2018

“Justin Smith at DAS. He is our rep for accessories like Stinger, Metra, PAC, Attends, NAV-TV, etc. He always goes above and beyond to help locate odd pieces in a timely manner. If he can’t get it he suggests a replacement option, even if it’s not something he carries. He truly wants our business and cares about his customers.” David Phillips, The Sound Shop, Indian Trail, N.C. “Don Geiger visited the shop more than any other rep. He called the shop to see what he could do more than any other.” Anonymous “Fred Isensee. He has been great with Sony. Always finds the info I need and keeps me up to date on promos and special buys.” John Schmitz, Mach 1 Audio, Washington, Mo. “Lester Kahn. He is in my shop a lot, there when I need him and he gets things done.” Anonymous “Matt Julius. Matt got me onto the Memphis brand and we’ve had great success. In working with him and Davis Distribution, it has been nothing short of exciting.” Brett Hall, Crist Motorsports/Mobile Sound Solutions, Angola, Ind.

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

EDITORIAL Solomon Daniels 978.645.6463 • solomond@mobile-electronics.com Ted Goslin 978.645.6466 • tedg@mobile-electronics.com Creative Layout and Design: Ana Ramirez Contributing Editors: Jamie Sorcher, Joey Knapp, Laura Kemmerer and Rosa Sophia.

Published by TM

mobile electronics association

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 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

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 helpful stuff Book:

The Financial Diet: A Total Beginner’s Guide to Getting Good with Mone By Chelsea Fagan and Lauren Ver Hage

This is the time to honor those New Year’s resolutions—to eat healthy, to get to the gym, and to start a diet. A financial diet, that is. Maybe you have a healthy savings account, 401(k), a great credit score, and no revolving debt. Or maybe none of that is true and you need a tune-up. To make the best decisions with your dollars, this is a great book to give yourself. What makes it an easy read is that it’s a book about personal finance for those out there who just aren’t wired for personal finance. Whether you need to curb your overspending, pay off a student loan, or just figure out how to pay the bills on an entry-level salary, this book gives you the tools to make a budget, understand investments, and deal with your credit. Read this book to get good with money, to establish a budget that you will stick to, and what it means to invest. It will be an investment of your time with many returns.

10  Mobile Electronics January 2018

Sites To See:

TRENDHUNTER.com www.trendhunter.com

As a retail store owner, salesperson or installer, it can’t hurt to keep up with trends. With more than 60,000,000 monthly views, TrendHunter.com is the world’s largest, most popular trend community. Based in Toronto, Canada, the site is fueled by a global network of 155,000 members and 3,000,000 fans. It is a unique source of inspiration for industry professionals, aspiring entrepreneurs, and the insatiably curious. Each day, Trend Hunter features a daily dose of innovative ideas, viral news, and sometimes wacky pop culture. Visitors to the site look at an average of 20 articles each visit. Some recent pieces included: 40 Fidget Toy Gifts, Tech-Fueled Smart City Developments and Parcel-Delivering Robots.


App: Sorry Free for iOS ILaunched by Greta Van Susteren, the former CNN, Fox News and MSNBC host, and with more than a year in development, this new free app helps you feel better about asking for forgiveness. As we all know, saying you’re sorry can be a humbling and vulnerable act. Basically, the app teaches you how to make things right with the ones you’ve wronged. View real apologies from real people who’ve messed up, took charge, and are turning the page. Leave and receive feedback that you can learn from. Learn to make amends and inspire others along the way when you begin every apology with Sorry!

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 what’s happening

Trade Shows for Retailers: Here’s How the Top 12 Conquer Las Vegas. WORDS BY TED GOSLIN

T

ravel takes work. Whether you’re traveling for work or play, there’s always more involved than just packing a bag and jumping on a plane. There are costs, time constraints, the hotel reservation, and scheduling to consider, among other things that might pop up. Now imagine doing it all as an entrepreneur. The obstacles might as well triple. This month, CES takes hold of Las Vegas, along with various companies that showcase throughout the city. Along with it comes hundreds of thousands of people, overbooked flights and hotels, expensive cabs or rideshare rates, full schedules with reps and spotty cell phone service due to the number of calls and text flowing through cell towers by the second. But like everything else in life, you can bet someone out there knows how to navigate the murky waters of a trade show trip to make it work for them. For Top 12 retailers Ata Ehdaivand, Ethan Blau and Chris Pate, who’s also the current Installer of the Year, there is no trade show that can’t be conquered on the way to retail supremacy.

Pre-Show Prep There are many reasons to attend a trade show like CES or SEMA. Perhaps a store is losing to a competitor and needs to find a new product or line at a more competitive price point. Perhaps they just need to know what’s new on

12  Mobile Electronics

January 2018

the market so they can keep up with the latest technology. Maybe they don’t have a reason and it’s a spur of the moment trip because a friend is going and it might be fun. All of these reasons are acceptable for a retailer headed to a big trade show, according to Top 12 Retailer, Ata Ehdaivand, owner of Absolute Electronix. “I go to SEMA because I’m a car guy and there are more advantageous things at that than me sitting on my computer. I get the experience of people and I don’t have to wonder about what the product is. I can see it, feel it, touch it. It’s the same reason I have showrooms in our store,” Ehdaivand said. “I’m trying to get a fresh idea of what’s going on in the actual marketplace. All these companies do research of what’s coming or

happening. We try to get out in front of it.” To prep for a trip, Ehdaivand believes the first thing a retailer should do is reach out to industry colleagues. Doing so allows you to know who else you can connect with when you’re there, and gives you an idea of what booths to check out while you’re on the show floor. “Some of the best information I get is from some of my colleagues in the industry. You can’t do CES or SEMA by yourself and get every nugget there is,” Ehdaivand said. “Instead of doing all the leg work at the convention center, you find out what else was cool if you skipped it or missed it.” If possible, going with someone from the start is also a good way to go, according to Installer of the Year Chris Pate, who travels to shows with his wife


The Winner’s Way

Attending other parts of a trade show is an important way to stay ahead of the technology curve since everything in electronics could potentially impact a retailer’s bottom line.

each year. His strategy, however, differs from others in that he already has a grasp of new products on the market thanks to his connections with manufacturers. “We approach things a little differently. We don’t so much worry about the products and stuff. We know what products are coming out from beta testing. We use it for networking and set up special deals,” he said. However, traveling with staff is typically not needed, according to Ehdaivand, since there are few trainings to attend and most work can be done solo. Both Ehdaivand and Pate use credit card points to purchase airline tickets and hotel rooms, which makes trips to Las Vegas much more affordable. They recommend accruing points on credit cards for that very reason. “The convention center is not that far from almost anything. I try to stay where it’s reasonable,” Ehdaivand said. “Wherever I stay, had I gone to CES, I’d stay at the same hotel. You get into a hotel room that smells like cigarettes then you’re not really having fun.”

Speaking of fun, another tip is to ensure that you remember why you’re attending. Here’s a hint: It’s not just to gamble and drink—but that’s not out of the question. Ethan Blau, owner of Sound Wave Customs in Virginia Beach, Va., believes both are possible and necessary during a big trade show trip, but require just a little discipline. “I’m more about waiting until dinner, networking and having some fun, depending on what I have planned the next day. You don’t want to go overboard because it’s Vegas,” he said. “There’s so much to see that I’d like to get there when the floor opens. That’s what brings you back every year.”

Floor Strategies If the purpose of your trip is to fill a hole in your product line, the trade show is the place to be. Not only will you see the best products companies will likely have for the year, but you’ll get the opportunity to purchase deals that you won’t find the rest of the year—if you have the money to spend, that is.

“All the manufacturers usually have great discounts at CES. It’s a great place if you have the ability to make a large inventory purchase. It’s not unusual to buy $15,000 worth of product and get a 10 to 20 percent discount on it,” Pate said. “They’ll also offer you extended dating for when the bills are due. We’ll probably do $60,000 in orders at CES and we’re not a huge shop.” Knowing when to make a change to a product or line for Pate comes down to the price point. “Is it going to fit into the slot we’re replacing? Can we buy at a similar margin?” he said. “Also, you should do research on how bad the returns are. You don’t want replace one line with another to find out it has a higher defective rate. I recommend talking to other vendors who have sold the product and find out what their experience is.” For Blau, planning is less important than walking the floor once to get a lay of the land and see if anything stands out enough for him to learn more. “I have general ideas, look at maps and facebook.com/MobileElectronics

13


 what’s happening

Some retailers choose to attend one show over another (SEMA Show above, CES bottom left) based on how it might impact their business.

Networking at events like KnowledgeFest (pictured here) is one of the best ways to make the most of major trade shows like CES and SEMA.

times, mark what I don’t want to miss, see if there are other things I’m not aware of. There’s not enough time to see everything you’d really like to see,” Blau said. “I feel like I drink five Red Bulls without drinking one because it’s nonstop. I get energized just by being there because there’s so much to do.” When at booths, Blau looks for what’s new, which direction a company is moving in and likes to chat with the reps since a one-on-one experience usually delivers more information than just browsing on your own. “See what they can offer you and your customers and how it fits your business model,” he said. Sometimes the hype of a product might not meet expectation, despite how much research you do. “One issue was the hype on the Phoenix Gold DSP. It was a brand new category to them and we were super excited about it but it didn’t end up panning out how we

14  Mobile Electronics

January 2018

thought it would. They’re a great company and offer other great products and support, but sometimes you get excited and invested in these things and they don’t end up working out for whatever reason.”

Lights on the Horizon When it comes to keeping up with new tech, there’s no better way than to walk the show floor, even outside of the 12-volt zone. “I like to broaden my horizons. In all of 12-volt, it’s a known fact that the industry continues to change. You have to stay current,” Blau said. “I know plenty of shops that have been successful with truck accessories and other categories. We do a lot of lighting. It’s a huge category for us.” “We’ll scoot through the other halls,” Pate added. “At one point, we wanted to buy a 3D printer, so we researched it. It pays to know what’s going on. You

might not know what little item you might find that will make a key difference for your store.” Knowing more about technology can also help sell products, according to Ehdaivand. “It translates to the client because when you’re sitting around chatting, you can talk about new tech and look more like a professional in front of clients,” he said. “The more you know what you’re talking about, the better.” Overall, Blau believes that the best strategy for attending the major trade shows is to never dismiss an idea or product because it might be just what you need to change your store for the better. “You’ve got to have an open mind and think outside the box,” he said. “Make new relationships, network, try new categories you might be interested in. You never know where those relationships can go, either short-term or long-term.”


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 retail news

Coastal Connections

By attending the Coastal Virginia Auto Show, Sound Wave Customs has broadened its customer base and community involvement one car lover at a time. WORDS BY LAURA KEMMERER

16  Mobile Electronics January 2018

The Coastal Virginia Auto Show recently celebrated its third iteration, clocking in at 300 cars present, along with a variety of vendors. For Ethan Blau of Virginia Beach-based Sound Wave Customs, this has proven to be a unique opportunity for both community building and getting involved with an event from day one. Blau’s involvement with the Coastal Virginia Auto Show started with an old friend who is an on-air personality for a local radio station. “He’s a big car guy. He loves custom stuff, different things.

Because he’s pretty high up in the station, they just decided that this area needs a better car show.” While Blau emphasized that there was nothing wrong with the car shows already in place, they seemed to more focus on a niche, rather than something larger. This year was the third iteration of the Coastal Virginia Auto Show and there was a focus on keeping it classy, according to Blau, while still keeping a little something for everyone. He noted that Sound Wave Customs has been “involved since before day one.”


Some of the celebrities present included Joe Kenda of Homicide Hunter fame, among others. The show itself also included a lineup of charities. “For the outside show, a lot of the proceeds when to the local foodbanks,” Blau said. For the inside show, proceeds went to the Thomas Foundation. Even though the car show had something of a slow start, the numbers built over time, totaling at a presence of over 300 cars this year. The trick to making the show a success? Not letting a slow start be a deterrent to future growth,

according to Blau. Another vendor that attended this year’s show was Eastern Truck and Accessories—a local premiere off road truck and accessories shop. “They had a huge booth, a lot of demo stuff. There’s a lot of people: Do It Yourself Garage, AG Wraps and Sumo Speeds,” among others, Blau added. For Sound Wave Customs, being involved with such a show definitely helps increase brand awareness, as the shop itself is relatively small compared to other well-known

companies at the show. In the long term, Sound Wave Customs’ presence at the car show has “brought in customers who went to that event and came back to have something done later,” Blau said. The shop also set up a few displays demonstrating its capabilities, which also helped to draw customers. Blau sees the event as a means to help build a community around the shop, opening the door for local network opportunities and staying in touch with older friends.

Speaker of the House By partnering with a local speaker box company, RPM Speed & Custom has improved its operation in more ways than one. WORDS BY LAURA KEMMERER

Business success can sometimes come from unexpected places. For Josh Mertzig of RPM Speed & Custom in Sheboygan, Wisc., a partnership with a local speaker box manufacturer has both enabled him to keep a low inventory and gain access to custom-made

speaker boxes whenever needed. Mertzig said that he has known Jeremy Weber, owner of Sound Mekanix, for close to 25 years, and the friendship began with Weber as a customer of Mertzig’s. As the Sound Mekanix business continued to grow, Mertzig went there for custom speaker boxes. “More recently, in the last couple of years, he got into doing speaker adapters. With the speaker adapters, we do a lot of the prototyping for him,” Mertzig said. “So, if we get a car where we need to replace the speakers and we open up the door and find, hey, there needs to be an adapter here, we’ll call him up and either he’ll run

over and take pictures or we’ll take one of the factory speakers and bring it over to him. We’ll get stuff figured out and we’ll get something made.”

“Whenever we get a car to replace its speakers, we provide Weber at Sound Mekanix with input for new speaker adapters. From sizing, to fitment, we help determine what vehicles they fit and increase his catalog offerings.” Josh Mertzig, RPM Speed & Custom facebook.com/MobileElectronics   17


 retail news

Who’s Who Faces in the Industry Luke Farley

RPM Speed & Custom saves time during installations like this by outsourcing speaker box work to Sound Mekanix.

Lynx Customs, Ltd. Denver, Co. Years of industry experience: 10 Hobbies: Family What You’re Best At: Running a business

Stan Clark

Absolute Audio, Ltd. Bel Air, Md. Years of industry experience: 25 Hobbies: Fishing What you’re really good at: Being A dad and husband

On its website, Sound Mekanix has a list of offerings, including speaker adapters, enclosure accessories and custom box creation, which RPM uses regularly.

For Mertzig, the partnership with Sound Mekanix made sense: it both saved time and would result in a better end product. Mertzig, who is an installer, can focus on getting installs done with this arrangement, and he does not have to worry about taking the time to build the speaker box itself. “He’s cataloged almost every single speaker box he’s built in his life,” Mertzig added. “So he knows what worked, what didn’t work, what’s the perfect size for each woofer, and has all the brands listed so he knows what brands work with what woofers for a majority of dealers he works with.” When it comes its customers, Sound Mekanix seeks to deliver a consistently high-quality product that is handmade in the U.S. “Whenever we get a car to replace its speakers, we provide Weber at Sound Mekanix with input for new speaker adapters,” Mertzig said. “By outsourcing our speaker box and CNC needs, it allows us to focus on installing, and scheduling more work.”

18  Mobile Electronics January 2018

James Halter

Stereo and Video Center Tyler, Texas Years of industry experience: 23 Hobbies: Bike riding What you’re really good at: Installation and fabrication

Jeremy Czech

Muntz Audio Video Green Bay, Wis. Years of industry experience: 19 Hobbies: Running, camping and yard work What you’re really good at: System design


facebook.com/MobileElectronics   19


ďƒŽ hot sellers

Fresh Tech The 2018 CES Innovations Awards saw winners from across the 12-volt and connected car landscapes, from a new heads up display to a creative take on the rear view mirror and dash camera concept. 20  Mobile Electronics January 2018


Ac2ated Sound - Speakerless Audio System by Continental Audio Systems Inspired by the functional principle of string instruments, Continental seeks to reinvent the car audio system by replacing conventional loudspeakers with actuators that create sound by vibrating certain surfaces in the vehicle. The speaker-less audio system brings many advantages, including lower weight, reduced box volume and lower electricity consumption. The invisible car audio technology can be integrated into any car model from high end sedans to small electric vehicles.

Ray Digital Rear View Mirror & Dash Camera by Papago Inc. Ray has incorporated a rear-view camera that renders a real-time feed of a driver’s surroundings onto its 7.8-inch screen. Ray’s field of the view is designed to be superior to a traditional rear-view mirror, which helps to reduce blind spots and enhances traffic safety by providing a clear view of a driver’s surroundings. Ray is also a dash camera and is capable of recording both front and rear views in case of an incident.

GEKO PanicSafe Emergency Locator and Fast Charger The PanicSafe comes equipped with Bluetooth technology to allow pairing between it and the WISO app. It syncs with any phone and app via Bluetooth and that allows texts/emails/ call to be sent once PanicSafe has been activated. The app uses a device’s GPS signal to include location on the texts and emails. When PanicSafe is activated, friend or loved ones will receive the SOS alerts containing simple and discreet location info on a map straight to their phone or email. Thereafter, the WISO app will update your contacts with your current location every three minutes, until alert is deactivated. Other features include the option to create an audio recording, an internal power supply if the in-car power supply is disrupted, and four-times faster charging than other chargers on the market.

PiLOTHUD by Futurus Technology Co. This new heads up display offers crystal clear images, enhanced performance during both day and night to increase safety, customized antennas and chips for enhanced communication features and ease of use through both voice and remote control to be compatible with the dashboards of different vehicle brands. Other core features include OBD connection, 4G network compatibility and social communication capabilities.

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 hot sellers LOOK-IT Wireless Rear Vision System by VOXX Electronics The LOOK-IT backup camera connects wirelessly to any smartphone. Its technology ensures optimal connectivity speed and image quality at all times. The device is designed as do-it-yourself, replacing the license plate using a screwdriver. No wiring or hole drilling is necessary. Users only need to download the smartphone app to calibrate grid lines and establish the preferred warning distance. Features include backup lines to help with parallel parking, a 45-degree swivel camera and the device’s ability to be configured to automatically switched on when the vehicle is placed in reverse.

Dragon Drive Auto Assistant With MultiModal Collaboration by Nuance Nuance, a leader in conversational interface technology, has introduced an artificially intelligent automotive assistant does more than just listen. The Dragon Drive platform uses AI and natural language understanding to go way beyond interpreting simple commands. It understands human speech and meaning to analyze what’s being said and delivers a response. Dragon Drive’s entire stack is powered by innovative machine learning and contextual reasoning to create an AI platform optimized for the connected car.

Edge3 Ambient Sensing Node

Transformer Dual Dash Cam The Transformer is a pocket-sized dash camera DVR with two independent cameras and a split screen micro LCD screen for playback/review. The detachable rear lens can be attached beside the main unit to record the inner view of the car or be placed on the rear windshield to record what’s happening behind the car.

22  Mobile Electronics January 2018

This new product detects, monitors and alerts car owners of children or pets that may be left behind inside vehicles. The Ambient Sensing Node is a first of its kind, employing sensor fusion, a networked topology and Artificial Intelligence in order to provide the Automotive Industry a complete solution for eliminating tragic events. When embedded into a vehicle, this small, low-cost, artificial intelligence-powered device enables a multichannel monitoring system that can analyze movement in the vehicle, including minute movements such as breathing or heartbeats. Should a potentially hazardous condition arise while the vehicle is parked with an unattended child or pet inside, or if an unauthorized intruder breaks into the vehicle, the system will alert the vehicle’s owner via text or telematics notification.


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 hot sellers Raven by Klashwerks Inc. Raven is an all-in-one connected car solution. With built-in cellular LTE, cameras, sensors, displays and a high performance six core processor that gives users and their vehicles new capabilities. Features include cabin and road-facing cameras, that monitor activity in and around the vehicle day or night, a six core processor that handles real-time data efficiently, an always-active LTE cellular connection and use of telematics through the vehicle’s OBDII port. The device is compatible with smartphones via the Raven app.

MAT - Magnetic Assisted Tap by SITAEL S.p.A. The MAT (Magnetic Assisted Tap) docking station with handlebar remote control and smart lock for e-bikes, connects the most used e-bike systems and smartphones wirelessly. With its magnetic technology, it provides total control of the vehicle in one single gesture, using the smartphone both as bike key and display. It is also combined with a handlebar remote control for safely managing assist levels, e-bell and app screens, and a smart lock that recognizes the user app, disables the anti-theft and unlocks the e-bike rear wheel.

InnovizPro High Definition Solid State LiDAR Innoviz Technologies is a leading provider of cutting-edge LiDAR remote sensing solutions to enable the mass commercialization of Autonomous Vehicles. The InnovizPro™ delivers high angular resolution at a high frame rate for high quality scanning performance. Highly resilient to sunlight and all weather conditions, InnovizPro’s advanced solid-state technology ensures high durability and long life expectancy. The product will be commercially deployed in Q1 2018.

24  Mobile Electronics January 2018

AWR mmWave Radar Sensors by Texas Instruments These innovative radar sensors are used for analyzing dynamic operating conditions. Features include less than 5 cm resolution accuracy, range detection to hundreds of meters and velocity of up to 300Km/h and the ability to detect changing operating conditions and adapt to dynamic driving scenarios on the fly. TI’s AWR family of mmWave sensors enables automotive applications ranging from proximity sensing, ultra-short and short range to front long range radar.


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real world retail

Anything Goes Main Street Stereo maximizes profits by offering a vast number of product categories and by saying yes to ever opportunity that comes through the door, finding a way to make it all work. WORDS BY TED GOSLIN

26  Mobile Electronics January 2018


Anything Goes

J

im Carrey once starred in a movie called “Yes Man.” The film followed a bank clerk who found that he was missing out on life by saying no to everything. After being dragged by a friend to attend a seminar, Carrey started saying yes to every opportunity. While hilarity ensued for the sake of comedy, his character’s life changed for the better, resulting in his meeting a new love, learning new skills and getting a big raise at work. For Main Street Stereo, success came in a similar way thanks to the company’s slogan, “Yes We Do!” which tells customers that any and all service requests are welcome. The store, located in Sayville, N.Y., is comprised of five full-time employees and one part-timer. Service offerings include car audio, truck accessories, window tinting, marine and power sports offerings, rims and tires, remote starters, alarms and selling LED lights wholesale to other companies. On its way to becoming one of the hottest aftermarket retailers on the East Coast, Main Street Stereo began its journey to dominance in 1974. Having originally opened on Main Street, the shop moved to Sunrise Highway and eventually became a household name in that area. By 2005, a former employee of tech giant LG, who had an engineering background, was looking to get into 12-volt. He’d always loved car audio and electronics. Soon enough, Soo Choi bought the company and the building, then began a renovation. That same year, General Manager Steve Salvio was hired to run the daily operations. His journey to the company began with a love of both music and cars. “I started building cars with my friends in high school. Through that, I was in bands as a musician. I’ve got a love for car audio with customization and the audio with my musical background,” Salvio said. “I bounced around in a couple jobs in college. I worked for American Racing for six years then rep’d for a couple of wheel companies facebook.com/MobileElectronics   27


real world retail

FAST FACTS MAIN STREET STEREO mainststereo.com

KEY STAFF Soo B. Choi - Owner

Steve Salvio - General Manager

Number of Stores: 1 Address: 5520 Sunrise Hwy, Sayville, NY 11782

James B. Geddes - Sales Manager

Facility Square Footage: 5,000

Garrett Bergersen - Senior Technician

Store Type: Boutique

Thomas A. Little - Technician

Number of Employees: 6 for the next four to five years, worked for another stereo shop for a couple years and ended up here. It’s all for my love of custom vehicles.” To round out the management team, sales manager James Geddes was hired in 2011. While Steve handles rims and tire sales, James handles general sales of everything else in the store. “I’ve been in mobile electronics since 1996,” he said. “I found out about vehicle possibilities when I bought my first car. I decided it was what I wanted to do.” Thanks to this dream team of auto lovers, the store developed a reputation for selling everything under the

28  Mobile Electronics January 2018

sun and knowing how to sell different categories as well as properly install every category they have.

Natural Progress Selling a diverse product offering requires great knowledge, skill, proper tooling and facilities, which the company has in spades. The two-story building boasts a 4,000 square foot installation bay, which is split into three sections: a wood shop, a show room with product displays for each category sold, two stock rooms upstairs with an office and second showroom that features even more product displays. Among the myriad displays are

the LED lights that the company sells wholesale. The lighting business was established thanks to Choi’s previous relationships with various Chinese factories. “As I go to the SEMA show every year, that’s how it developed naturally. The LED wholesale business started with everyone knowing we had them so they started to contact us,” Choi said. “Three years ago, everyone was struggling with HID headlights, which were notorious for returns. We’re educating a lot of stores on how to sell LEDs. It happened gradually. We sell to local shops, some dealerships and have a plan for more serious business on the


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real world retail

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.

Show Schedule

Friday, February 23 Registration .......................................................................... 7:30 am - 5:30 pm Education Workshops ....................................................9:00 am - 12:20 pm Lunch Concession Open ............................................... 12:20 pm - 1:45 pm Lunch Keynote .................................................................. 12:30 pm - 1:30 pm Manufacturer Training .................................................... 1:45 pm - 4:00 pm Mobile Electronics Show ............................................... 4:00 pm -8:00 pm Beer & Biz Networking Event ..................................... 5:00 pm - 8:00 pm Saturday, February 24 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, February 25 Registration ......................................................................... 8:45 am - 3:00 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: OEM Integration System Design Production High End - Building Systems On-Time & Profitable High Res 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 Business Plan & Budgeting Workshop Absorption Costing: Calculating Your True Hourly Rate A Day in the Life of a CEO: Organizational Structure Troubleshooting your Business: Learn to Ask the Right Questions HR Systems & Processes: Recuiting & Performance Management

Join your peers at our industry’s top learning e

30  Mobile Electronics January 2018


Anything Goes

ed to Mobile Electronics Professionals! Network.

Connect.

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) 10 Ways Independent Dealers Can Take Advantage of the Evolving Retail World and Compete with Amazon Conflict Resolution: Dealing with Difficult People & Profitability Building Confidence during the sales process Sales and Marketing Track Leadership in Sales: Building the Best Customer Relationship Marketing Types: Finding Your Next Best Customer To the Point: What is Important to Your Customer Room for Growth: Emulating Successful Retail Models The 12 Keys of Sustainable Selling: The Four Rules The Four Modes The Four Steps of the Sale Bidding and Building a Profitable Sales Ticket Retailer Types: From Single Store to Large Chain

Vendor Training Friday, February 23rd thru Sunday, the 25th For Specific Schedule, go to KnowlegeFest.com

AAMP Global Accele ADS Alpine AudioControl Crimestopper DD Audio elettromedia USA Escort Firstech Focal iDatalink Illusion JL Audio

JVC K40 Kenwood Metra Mosconi Omega Research PAC & Echomaster Phoenix Gold & Stinger Rockford Fosgate Sony SounDigital Voxx Electronics Waylens

Additional Vendor Training Sessions to Be Announced

event! Register today at KnowledgeFest.com

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Join Our Sponsors & Exhibitors at KnowledgeFest! Diamond & Platinum Sponsors:

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Anything Goes The company sells a wide range of products and services outside the normal scope of 12-volt, including truck accessories, wheels and tires and wholesale LED lighting.

The company maintains a solid customer base through its two biggest strengths: customer service and presentation.

wholesale side of LED.” Maintaining that organic approach to business is a big part of the company identity that has allowed it to grow over the years. That same approach is used during customer interactions to ease them into transactions without seeming pushy. “The most important thing is to immediately break that barrier between salesman and customer and be as inviting as possible. We use quick greetings with no closed-ended questions,” Geddes explained. “Customers are invited to look around the store. We don’t want it to look like a warehouse where we’re looking to move boxes. We want it to have a homey

atmosphere, very warm.” Tours of the facility are given upon request. Vehicles that relate to the job in question are shown to customers to highlight that style of work, when possible. “We’ll show systems that we’ve done, showing photos all the time. During installation they can’t hang out in the bay. We show them the clean shop and they’re impressed by the size,” Geddes added. “We encourage dropping off to manage the shop correctly. If the customer is not able to make that work, we have waiting areas in both parts of the store. We offer rides as well.” One of the company’s biggest beliefs is that the shop is a reflection

of the work performed. For this reason, the installation bay is cleaned before and after every installation. “There’s a tray for every screw and a place for panels to go. Attention to detail before and after installation is very important and a big strength in our shop,” Geddes said. “Our installers are very aware of issues with the vehicle when it comes in. We like the factory look. Instead of electrical tape, we use TESA tape. It costs a little more but the look helps with wire layout.” All vehicles are inspected before and after installation to take note of any vehicle damage, possible upgrades and to check the battery. Once the job is facebook.com/MobileElectronics   33


real world retail

Plugged In “What’s worked well for us marketing-wise has been our website and social media. We have consistent posts of customer installations, announcements of new technologies, up-to-date online business listings, Google Adwords, Yelp and Yellow Pages advertising. Our marketing tag line has been ‘Internet Price, Real Service!’ “Initial goals of the plan were to reach both existing and new customers through the most current media platforms available. We had a strategic discussion with third

party search engine providers about target location and demographic, plus having a friendly but accurate description online and in social media (website, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter) for our many friends and followers. “The major components of our plan were to have fun, post current and consistent content on social media, provide customer follow-ups, request feedback on Google and respond to all feedback (positive or negative). The main issues we encountered were a delay in obtaining premium search engine positioning and trying to remove or overshadow any negative posts or feedback. The negatives were handled by making requests to the search engine providers to have the content removed, by responding honestly to the feedback, or by just having enough positive feedback to push back the negative. “To meet our goals we ask all our clients how they heard about Main Street Stereo and can monitor the reactions to our online content so it is easy to see the effectiveness of this marketing campaign. However, in the constant search for new business, the goal is always more and always better. It’s a hard goal to achieve because there is always more and it can always be better!”

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Anything Goes complete, every customer receives a call or email the following week. “Our focus is not only making sure the customer is happy when they’re here, but keeping them happy after they leave,” Geddes added.

Homegrown To handle the wide array of products and services, the store has two sales staff and three installers, two full-time and one part-time. But finding staff as the store has grown has been a challenge due to the shortage of qualified, trained people in the industry. “Because we are in an industry that’s not growing a lot, we don’t have good installers around much, so that’s always an issue. There was a natural progression from the 1970s to 1980s; car electronics was big in Manhattan. This was back when you could make $1,000 to $1500 per car with a line out the door. Because of this popularity, installers left, turned

the key and now they had a business,” Geddes said. “On Long Island, this business in general has a lot to do with why the talent left. When the business struggled, they didn’t know how to manage their business. If they were salesmen, they would let go of their key salesman. You would have guys working hands-on who lost the ability to run the business. Some of the talent that existed early on in Long Island left and didn’t come back. Good installers are hard to find.” Despite the regional struggles, management has found enough qualified staff to maintain proper procedures and keep customers coming back. The installation techs were all found through either wordof-mouth or being former customers themselves. The average tenure of staff is five years, according to Choi. Retention incentives include paid vacation, medical insurance, monthly spiffs on specific inventory items,

plus quarterly and annual bonuses based on sales performance. New employees are on-boarded using a combination of dense employee manuals full of procedures and shadowing veteran staff. While there is no formal continuous training, the whole staff attends as many trainings as possible from vendors who come to town. “We’re constantly trying to make each other better throughout the day,” Geddes added. Employees are rotated out to different industry events like SEMA and KnowledgeFest for further training throughout the year. To keep spirits up during busy periods, management treats staff to dinners and drinks periodically. They also treat them to Christmas dinner and Saturday lunches. “We’re fun and serious when we have to be serious. Nobody wants to come to a job where they’re miserable and want to leave,” Geddes said. “We keep it fun and friendly to a certain extent. We create

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real world retail

Reciprocation Denied “An unsuccessful marketing campaign we did was our customer appreciation day. The initial goals were to thank our loyal customers for all their support over the years. We sent out mailers, ran a radio ad, arranged for food and entertainment and spread word of mouth from within the store. “The idea was to show new product and technology

a fun atmosphere. Our customers feel it too. We are all smiles and create a good rapport with customers.”

Talking Points Marketing strategies vary with every company, usually dancing between a mix of advertising and word-of-mouth. For Main Street Stereo, only about two to three percent of the budget goes toward advertising, with the majority of its efforts centered on digital promotions. The company advertises using Facebook and Google Adwords, while targeting new customers with Groupon promotions and posting pictures with hash tags on Instagram.

36  Mobile Electronics January 2018

displays while offering food, music via a live DJ and sale merchandise. But customer attendance was poor. Not enough people were reached. Instead of a day customer appreciation sale, it will be changed to a three-day weekend sale, centered around a holiday weekend, with email blasts and flyers, which are critical.”

“Everything we do is focused on education. If we do an install, we are looking to describe the customer experience. Everyone can do a photo,” Geddes said. “We’re looking to solve a customer’s problem. That’s how we address Google, with customer reviews and keyword advertising to reach our customers in search.” All marketing work is managed in-house, except the website, which is outsourced. “Our website has a couple of products at sale prices. It encourages them to input contact information, which gets an immediate call the next day,” Geddes said. “We just want to get them into the

store. That’s when they can get the best experience.” The staff also attend a local car meet, called “Monday Night Takeover,” during the summer months. It’s one of the largest events of its kind, according to Salvio, with between 3,000 and 5,000 cars per night in attendance. The meet is convenient since it takes place only 10 minutes from the store.

Finest Hour What Choi, Geddes and Salvio are proudest of these days is the consistency they’ve managed to produce with regard to their product and service quality. “Soo has had a vision from the second he took over


Anything Goes The facility is located in a busy part of town, with about 80,000 vehicles passing by per day and 25 to 50 people passing on foot.

Long-time Partners “One of our key vendors is Kenwood (20 years). We have a very solid relationship with the current reps. The top selling products are the double-DIN multimedia head units. Customers like the quality, reputation, functionality, ease of use and the warranty. “The newest product we are excited about is the multimedia head unit with Apple CarPlay/Android Auto. It has a capacitive touchscreen and front camera/DVR capability. “Kenwood supports us as a retailer by providing discounts, co-op funding, literature and POP, sales rewards programs, fast tech support and prompt attention for warranty situations and defective merchandise.”

To ensure a minimum of slow periods, the company credo is “Yes We Do!” which means no customers are turned away, even if that means work is outsourced occasionally.

here. As hard as it’s been with stores closing every year around here, if you don’t have a plan, you can have big ups and downs,” Geddes said. One such down happened in 2012. Two years after Hurricane Sandy destroyed parts of Long Island, and after a store renovation, a fire nearly took out the store, burning out a 30-year-old neon sign during the blaze. Luckily, the store survived, thanks to an off-duty fireman who happened to be across the street when it happened. “The fireman said we were about two to three minutes from it really catching to the rest of the building. Electronics and water don’t mix,” Geddes said. “The off-duty fireman

who helped put it out was also a customer. The next thing we knew, I was selling to firemen while they congregated outside the building.” Aside from being popular with local firefighters, the store has garnered attention from environmentalists for having solar panels on the roof. “It’s environmentally friendly. We don’t do oil any more. It’s all electric heating and A/C,” Choi said. “We’re a pretty green business. It’s a big investment but it’s worthwhile. It helps the store’s image.” Choi believes retailers looking to stay in business as long as Main Street Stereo should be mindful of presentation, especially with regard to the showroom experience. “The

interactions and displays need to reach the customer at an emotional level,” Choi said. “We’re in a tough business, dealing with complex items. Many shoppers need help. That’s all blended into the showroom experience.” “As many things that can go right during a sale, the one thing that’s not right is what they remember,” Geddes added. “We try to put out fires as they arrive. We plant the seed with the customer so the last thing they remember is positive. Retailers should exhibit patience so the customers never know what’s going on behind the scenes. Treat every customer like they’re your only customer and your last customer.” facebook.com/MobileElectronics   37


ďƒŽ The Support Team

A Class Act

With its many programs, accommodating academic schedule and on-campus housing, the Installer Institute is a smart investment for schooling. Back in 1992, The Cartoon Network started broadcasting, the Mall of America opened and airline TWA declared bankruptcy. There was no Facebook, Twitter, or any social media and certainly no smartphones for installers to be tinkering with inside vehicles. Even though it was a simpler time, it had become more imperative for installers to ramp up their skills or risk falling behind with advancing automotive technology and potentially suffering professionally because of that. The only issue was that they

38  Mobile Electronics January 2018

had nowhere to go for any formal type of training. Bill Jones, owner of Metra Electronics, took up the reins and pioneered the Installer Institute, a technical training facility based in Holly Hill, Fla. The synergy made perfect sense with Metra being an aftermarket car audio installation accessories company. Today the Installer Institute is a 10,000 square-foot training facility with comprehensive programs yearround and on-campus housing. More than 5,000 students have graduated

from the school. In 2016, the Installer Institute reached a milestone with its accreditation by the Accrediting Council for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET). The school has also branched out from vehicle training and now includes home theater installations and marine applications in its curriculum. Most importantly, the school continues to adapt every year to keep in step with the always-evolving aftermarket automotive industry, according to Monica Anderson, director of the Installer Institute.


“Our comprehensive mobile electronics training program covers more than just fabrication,” Anderson said. “We teach students advanced installations, OEM integrations, leather interior installations, welding, window tinting, security systems, remote start, home automation and control, structured wiring and more. These topics are taught in workshops where students receive hands-on training, and our curriculum isn’t offered anywhere else.”  For 2018, the Institute has implemented a major change by making sure

there is more time for real-world experiences to complement class training. “We started with a four-week course. We now offer two different six-week courses, a 12-week program and a 26-week comprehensive program, along with offering exams for the MESA and MECP certifications,” Anderson said.

Setting Course The program schedule for this year is more installer friendly than in the past, but that has meant a few modifications. The class day has been shortened to

allow students additional time after class for internships or part-time jobs. In turn, the length of the programs has been extended. The total amount of instructional hours still remains the same, but now the five-week courses run six weeks long, and the 23-week comprehensive installations course— which equates to 900 hours—is now 26 weeks long. The Basic Installations Program is being offered at three different times throughout this year: February 12 to March 23, May 14 to June 25 and August 16 to September 27. facebook.com/MobileElectronics   39


 The Support Team

The school’s facilities are expansive, boasting over 10,000 square feet, including classrooms, installation bays for hands-on training, and test equipment for students to use throughout their training.

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Get Connected Installerinstitute.co 1-800-354-6782

This introductory course focuses on basic electrical knowledge, car audio enclosure design, proper installation techniques, integration of advanced security products (like GPS navigation and remote starters) and more complex installation skills that are required to obtain the Audio System Installer and Security Systems Installer certifications. The Advanced Installations course, also six weeks, can be combined with the Basic course or enrolled in separately for more experienced students. This program provides instruction on leather interior installation, custom fabrication and fiberglass, interior panel design and construction, and custom painting and metal work. It also introduces students to the basics of home audio installation. Program dates are March 26 to May 4, June 26 to August 8, or September 28 to November 8, 2018. This course offers classroom instruction in addition to hands-on training, allowing each student to build their own pre-designed projects. The more intensive 26-week Comprehensive Installations course includes all of the classes offered in each of the two six-week programs,

@InstallerInst

facebook.com/ Installer-Institute

but adds hands-on workshops where students can develop their skills, learn to effectively market themselves to further their career, and learn the process for starting and operating a small business. There are two different start dates for this course. The earliest opportunity is January 22, 2018. Completion date is August 3, 2018. The course will be offered a second time on August 20, 2018 and will run through March 15, 2019. Not only do students enrolled in this expanded program learn all of the skills covered during the school’s six-week Basic and Advanced Installations courses, but they also have the opportunity to participate in workshops to improve job skills, as well as learn the process of owning a business as an installation professional. MESA and MECP certifications are also offered through the school’s programs.

Welcome Home

Once students enroll at the Institute, it’s important that they can focus on completing their studies to the best of their abilities. Where a student lives can have a huge impact, which is why the Installer Institute offers student housing— fully furnished apartment style

youtube.com/ watch?v=kghTmNZ61ME

villas—conveniently located on campus. The Installer Institute housing facility is located directly behind the school making it a 50-yard walk to class each day. Providing both the education and safety of its students is a top priority at Installer Institute. Once off campus, students are right next to Daytona Beach. Daytona is home of the Spring Break Nationals car audio competition, the famous Daytona 500 NASCAR race, IASCA and Bike Week/Biketoberfest.

Open Arms Students at the Installer Institute come from all over—not just the Florida area. Some have recently graduated high school, others are coming out of the military, and still others are from shops that want to acquire new skills. The Institute has admissions representatives who can assist with a transition from the armed forces to a career as a skilled mobile electronics installer. Veterans receive a 10 percent discount on their tuition. Financing is also available for just about everyone. There are options that offer low interest rates, low monthly payments, and even an option for as low as $800 down.

Certifiable The Installer’s Institute curriculum is certified by the following organizations:

ACCET: Accrediting Council For Con-

MESA: Mobile Electronics Schools

tinuing Education & Training

Association

BBB: Better Business Bureau

MECP: Mobile Electronics Certified

SBCA: Satellite Broadcasting and Communications Association

Professional Florida Association of Veterans Education Specialists facebook.com/MobileElectronics   41


 The Support Team

Testing 1, 2, 3 According to the website, exams from organizations like MESA (Mobile Electronics Specialists of America) and MECP (Mobile Electronics Certified Professionals) are offered at Installer Institute, along with courses on a variety of 12-volt topics, as listed below:

MESA EXAMS OFFERED AT INSTALLER INSTITUTE: Installation Knowledge Exam (IKE) - This exam covers five fundamental areas of mobile electronics installation. Students take the exam during the first week of class. The Installation Knowledge Exam is a prerequisite to the other MESA exams. Audio System Certification (ASC) - This exam covers the day to day installation skill that an installer will need to become a valued asset to an installation retail shop. Students take this exam at the end of the 5th week of class.

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Security System Certification (SSC) This exam covers the area of vehicle security and remote starters, this is a specific talent and the exam gives the student the skills to be profitable in the installation bays.

MECP EXAMS OFFERED AT INSTALLER INSTITUTE: Basic Installation Technician This certification tests the student’s knowledge on a broad range of apprentice-level mobile electronics topics. This exam requires less than 1 year experience and the certification is valid for 2 years. Advanced Installation Technician This certification is designed for installation technicians who have

a comprehensive understanding of vehicle electronics and practical applications. This exam requires 1 year experience and the certification is valid for 4 years. Master Installation Technician This certification is the highest level of achievement. Individuals who achieve this certification are considered leaders in the industry. This exam requires 3 years hands-on experience in installation and an Advanced Installation Technician certification. This certification is valid for 4 years. Mobile Product Specialist This exam is designed for sales representatives and offers in-depth knowledge into technology, products, and system design. The certification is valid for 4 years.


“Our comprehensive and mobile electronics training programs covers more than just fabrication. We teach students advanced installations, OEM integrations, leather interior installations, welding, window tinting, security systems, remote start, home automation and control, structured wiring and more.” Monica Anderson, School Director, The Installer Institute Graduate Alex Sinclair, a custom fabricator who works at West Coast Customs in Corona, Calif., was able to find a meaningful direction and important skills for his career when he attended the school. “I started as a father at an early age and had to get a job,” Sinclair said. “I took anything out there. I started doing roofing. A year later, I found it’s not for me.” He was a waiter, a cook, everything he could think of to earn a living. Nothing clicked and he was completely frustrated. “I needed to find something I enjoyed doing,” he said. “My mom noticed my frustration and asked me what was wrong. I told her, ‘I hate bouncing from job to job to job. I’ve got to start over. I need to do something I enjoy doing.’ So she said, ‘Why don’t you do something with cars? The first thing you do when you come home from work is go to work on cars. Why don’t you take that seriously and go to school for it.’ I never thought that could be something I could have a future in.” Sinclair started researching options, but couldn’t find anything in the way of schooling. “I could not find anything in the area where I could go to school,” he said. “I used to read PAS Magazine. At the end of the magazine I saw a little article for Installer’s Institute. I thought, ‘I’m going to give it a try.’ My mom was supporting me a lot at that time. So I went to Florida to the Installer Institute. I learned everything from

wiring to enclosures. I started to learn the process of it. The more I learned, the more interested I got. I took a second course. After that I started pushing myself to become better and better and better. After that I started getting better jobs and raises. Thank you, Installer Institute. If it wasn’t for you guys, I wouldn’t be who I am right now.” The Institute also offers continuing education courses including Intro to Formal Installations, Enclosure Design and Construction, Beyond Basic Installation, Advanced Mobile Security and Navigation, Complex Installations, Leather Interior Installation and Advanced Fabrication. After a student has gotten his or her education, the Institute offers guidance to getting that first job. Based on a student’s academic performance and desire to work in the mobile electronics industry, the opportunities are out there. The Installer Institute is a valuable resource for many shop owners, managers and manufacturers who are always looking for qualified technicians. Additionally, each graduating class spends a day developing résumé and learning the skills needed for a successful interview. Students have a one-on-one mock interview session with their instructor in which they are evaluated on how well they present themselves to a potential employer. The graduates are also advised

about the alumni dashboard area of the Installer Institute website where an alumni account is created and résumé posted. At any time after graduation, they can view available jobs from employers across the country. “It’s a win-win because it helps people find jobs a lot faster,” Anderson said. “And it has helped the industry as a whole. The idea behind it is that there’s a huge need for skilled installers.”

Knowing All A key effort for the Institute going forward is to continue its efforts reaching out to 12-volt installers and making sure they know this educational opportunity exists. “We’re reaching potential students on social media and through grassroots marketing, and by going to all the automotive shows like SEMA, PRI, CES and Spring Break Nationals,” Anderson said. “We also visit high schools to introduce students to the options available in 12-volt careers.” The Institute also looks to industry publications to continue to spread the word about its career dashboard and continuing education courses. “As automotive technology changes, we want installers to invest in their education to help further their careers,” Anderson said. “We can’t stress enough how important it is to keep training and expanding your skillset, because knowledge is power.” facebook.com/MobileElectronics   43


 strategy & tactics

12-volt retail heavyweights like Al & Ed’s Autosound and 806 Autoworks discuss strategies they use to improve store and staff performance to prep for the year ahead.

WORDS BY ROSA SOPHIA

1: Evaluating Daily, Monthly, Yearly

In order to know where you’re going, it’s important to know where you’ve been. With the 2018 now upon us, it’s retails have already begun setting their plans in motion for the year ahead. John Haynes is general manager of car audio franchise giant, Al & Ed’s Autosound in Los Angeles, Calif. “Any company not tracking their sales and looking at past and present and breaking things down to see where it can be improved … that becomes luck,” Haynes warned. And luck, while it might work for a little while, isn’t guaranteed. Here are five key factors that business owners can focus on to help them improve store and staff performance from year to year:

Rommel Miranda of Car Audio, Radio, & Security in Charleston, S.C. continuously tracks and analyzes all aspects of his business from marketing to sales. “I track everything through QuickBooks, on my point of sale system,” he said. “I always look every day to see how we’re doing versus last year. Every year we’ve come up 10 to 15 percent overall. I always look at every day, month and year, always analyzing the different factors. I know what the goal is for that day and I try to exceed that.” Haynes added that he also looks at industry trends. “We track our sales every day. We compare that against the prior year to see how we’re doing in terms of sales performance,” he said. “I can tell this year to last year exactly what’s going on in all areas. If you’re

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improving in categories A, C and F, but B, D and E are down, look and see how we attack those categories. Maybe we get out of those categories. Where were you, where are you, what can you do to effect change? One of our strengths is that we can move quickly. We make a decision and go.” For Bryan Turvaville, owner of 806 Autoworks in Amarillo, Texas, building his new business relies on other tools for measurement. “Since we just hit our one year mark, I don’t have anything to measure my success against on a year to year basis,” he said. “I do, however, utilize some very nice tools provided to our industry. TSS is my point of sale system and it helps me keep track of my inventory and invoicing everything out. I recently purchased QuickBooks and that will be my main accounting


LEVEL UP! software, but the one thing that helps me track progress the best is a service provided by Avidworx. Their BusinessWorx system helps me track daily goals, as well as monthly goals. It provides me very nice tools to measure my success, and as I grow, I will be able to compare year to year with it.” “KnowledgeFest opened my eyes this year to a world of things I was doing wrong and we are actively learning and fixing processes as we go,” Turvaville said. “Budgeting and Accounting were two major items that we have been working on since August. Right now I have no procedure or system to evaluate my accounting, but that is changing with the addition of QuickBooks. We hope that it will allow us to create the systems we need to get on track with our accounting. I know our CPA will appreciate it.”

2: Examining Trends Haynes looks at the business’s categories and how they’re doing compared to trends in the industry. When he was still working at the store-level earlier in his career, Haynes recalled running ads and the company would want to know how many of each radio or speaker sets were sold. “Stores would send that in to the corporate office and they would tally it and say, ‘Wow, that was a good sale, we sold X amount.’ That hasn’t worked in a long time.” “We do branding advertising and not so much call-to-action advertising. We’re not counting the radios anymore. Instead, it’s, ‘Is our business trending upward? Are we developing categories?’” Al & Ed’s uses email blasts, social media marketing, website ads, Yelp and more. Examining trends, according to Haynes, is the best way to measure progress because it can be difficult to track the success of a social media marketing campaign or other advertising campaign. Miranda focuses mostly on social media campaigns. “We are on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus—you name it, we are out there,” he said.

Keeping tabs on the success of social media campaigns to help promote events like the car show seen here are part of the strategy for companies like Al & Ed’s Autosound. “We can tell how many views things have had,” Haynes added. “We can tell how many shares or followers [there are]. We know this translates to sales because our company is bucking the trend compared to the industry on average, but I would have a hard time telling why. That’s the frustrating part about marketing today. You go out with your best efforts and you can’t track one particular campaign to find out why something happened.” However, by looking at numbers and industry trends, Haynes can better measure progress. “When I look at those numbers, if the industry is down 10 percent and we’re up 10 percent, then we’re up 20 percent roughly,” he said. “That’s the only metrics I can really use.” It’s not enough to say that a business is doing well. Such a statement has to translate into numbers, and this involves looking at a business’s trends in comparison with the industry as a whole. “It’s a team effort for marketing campaigns,” Haynes said, adding that Al & Ed’s has a social media marketing manager who also coordinates events. “We have an advertising committee of four people who meet every week.” This gives them a chance to discuss marketing campaigns and share ideas or concerns. “We have these discussions internally and that guides the marketing.”

3: Looking Your Best Appearance is essential to a business’s image, especially for 806 Autoworks, which made it a huge focus recently. “Until November 17th, I had no working displays in my store,” Turvaville said. “Everything was sold by word of mouth and showing pictures. Customers had to trust me in the fact that I was giving them great sounding equipment. That has changed. We have built a display that showcases several radios we offer and allows customers to hear the speakers before they buy them. Our display is small and is meant to drive customer engagement and add that element we were missing: sound.” The layout of the showroom has been completely redesigned as well. Miranda stated that he hopes to move to a larger location sometime in the future, giving the business a chance to update its appearance. “[We have made] no changes recently,” he said of the appearance of Car Audio, Radio, & Security. “I think it always can be better.” First impressions tend to make a huge difference. “Any owner of a single store or company needs to have an understanding of what consumers are looking for in terms of a retailer, a buying and purchasing experience,” Haynes said, adding that this includes simple factors such as cleanliness of the store. “Doesn’t facebook.com/MobileElectronics   45


 strategy & tactics

Posting shots on social media that showcase the cleanliness of a store can greatly increase its notoriety to customers, as seen here with a shot of Rommel Miranda’s store, Car Audio, Radio, & Security. matter what kind of store it is. If you’re a retailer, you have to have a certain face you put on for your customers. If you understand that, you start setting standards of excellence.” Are the floors and windows clean inside the store? Are the

46  Mobile Electronics January 2018

sidewalks clean? These items should be part of a checklist, according to Haynes. “You have to hold the employees to a high standard, and let them know what the standards are. With most businesses, the fail starts at the top,” he said. “Set

high standards, communicate what they are and coach employees on how to achieve them. Always inspect, retrain and then sometimes replace. And if you do this as a philosophy, your store will always look good, be functional, safe and legal. You have to define this and execute the standards. Employees have to be held to the standards.” If the shop looks messy, as if it doesn’t function well and has items stacked everywhere, “customers might still leave their car there, but it won’t be as easy to sell products,” Haynes said. “We have a guy who sweeps the floor. I’m not afraid to pick the broom up myself. We empty trashcans, we mop the entrance to our building,” Haynes added. “When we open up at nine and people start coming in—we want the place to look professional.”

4: Evaluating Staff Staff evaluations are an ongoing process, according to Haynes. “When you see something that’s not right, you have to immediately correct and coach,” he said. “Does the person continue to make the same mistake? Then it’s ongoing. Am I starting to see a pattern with this employee? I evaluate whether someone is coachable or even wants to do it. You say, ‘We have a policy, you’re not doing it, we’ve talked about it and I want you to do tell me if you’re capable. Do you not know how, do you need help, or do you just not care?’ Get feedback. Decide at that point if this is someone who is workable into a team, or do I cut my losses? If they aren’t going to be a long-term success, I start doing corrective write-ups, documenting the conversation, and when I have enough I terminate. Getting mad at people when they don’t know what they’re supposed to do is not good business. Car Audio, Radio, & Security has five employees, including Miranda. The majority are commission-based employees. “My daughter works here, too, but I pay her hourly,” Miranda said. He added that he does one-on-one meetings with employees about every other month. “We talk. If there’s something I’m lacking here at the shop, or if it’s,


LEVEL UP! ‘You need to improve’ [on this or that] or, ‘You need to speed up,’ or ‘You’re doing a good job,’ I talk to each individual person.” Employees need to know the standards before they can carry them out. “Make sure they know what they need to do first. Do it in a nice way. Maybe they need to understand why,” Haynes said. “If it’s an owner or manager, it comes to developing people. Are you willing to give up the reins a little bit? Teach them. If I can train someone to take my job or move out of my company to something better, then I think we as a company have done a good job. When an employee moves up to work as a manufacturer’s rep, even though we lost the employee I look at it as a positive. We changed a life.”

Bryan Turvaville makes sure to publicly thank his customers, including Mr. Darby, who was his first customer after opening 806 Autoworks.

5: Customer Care To evaluate the effectiveness of his store’s marketing, Turvaville asks his customers how they found 806 Autoworks. “You never know unless you

ask. I only market in a couple of places and it is all online,” he said. “Social media and Google are the extent of my marketing, so when I’m with a customer, I ask them how they found us. It’s allowed me to focus on growing those marketing tools.” “Every vehicle gets a check in/out sheet,” Turvaville added. “We go over every inch of the vehicle, making sure that we hold to the highest standards. When I do hire an installer, they will be trained in what is expected and will also be expected to get and maintain an MECP Certification status.” Haynes noted that a survey was commissioned years back by manufacturers. “They discovered only about five percent of consumers knew you could make changes to your car. Of the people who did know, almost 50 percent had had a bad experience,” Haynes said. “Understand what the standards should be, set, communicate and enforce them. As long as it keeps working, keep doing it.”

facebook.com/MobileElectronics   47


 tech today

The Jeep and the iPad

Tech Today returns to its fabrication roots with a discussion on fabrication techniques by Josh Gobble, owner of Dynamic Audio Design. WORDS BY JOSH GOBBLE

Earlier this Summer I received an inquiry from a client who was interested in integrating an iPad mini into his Jeep Wrangler. He did a lot of research as to what method of mounting would work best for him. He couldn’t decide on an existing mount available for purchase. Off-roading is something he frequently likes to do and most of the mounts on the market now solely rely on magnets to hold the tablet securely in place or are just plain ugly. He stumbled upon a video I made of an iPad install I did a couple years ago, and called me to see what I could come up with. I was able to make a mount

48  Mobile Electronics January 2018

where the iPad housing opens and closes to dock and remove the iPad without the risk of riding over bumpy terrain and losing it out of the window! I assured him that those magnets are a great solution, but we both preferred a more permanent and secure mount.

Design Decisions When the Jeep arrived in the shop I noticed a couple issues. One, the iPad would have to be slightly higher than the actual trim bezel as it comes OEM, otherwise serious modification would have to be done to move the climate controls to a lower position, and ultimately rebuild the entire bezel.

Secondly, I wanted to be able to change the radio to aftermarket with a direct USB connection for charging and audio playback. That meant that the radio would need to be recessed further back in the dash so the new mount would fit flush for a proper finish that didn’t look like an add-on piece. Since the iPad was going to protrude above the top point of the dash, I didn’t want to create a trim ring that was just blended with the rest of the bezel that sloped from the top of the dash to the top of the trim ring of the mount. I thought that creating a modern style look (similar to new Mercedes Benz instrument displays) would be the way to go. The interior of the Jeep is black with silver


The Jeep and the IPAD painted accents on the vents. I figured I could match the mount with the existing color scheme to keep it looking factory with an all black housing assembly with the outer ring painted silver to match.

Mounting Possibilities Once I figured out where the mount needed to be seated for proper fitment, it was time to make sure that it was going to be feasible. I needed to take the dash apart and make sure there would be clearance for the new mount and the head unit behind it. Once the stock radio was removed I was able to set the new head unit in place to see how much room I would have. I noticed right away that I needed more depth in order for the mount to nestle into the dash bezel. The back of the head unit was hitting the ‘Y’ portion of the vent duct that splits into the driver and passenger vent. It was fairly large in size with large diameter ducting and I knew that there would be plenty of room left, even if I had to modify it slightly. I only needed to gain half an inch or so. Instead of cutting and trying to rework the ducting, I chose to use a heat gun to soften the plastic slightly. I pushed a DIN-sized piece of wood into the soft duct to make more space by stretching the plastic back. I held it in place long enough for the plastic to cool back down and hold its new shape giving the new head unit plenty of clearance while also leaving enough of the vent intact so it did not restrict the air flow substantially. After testing it wasn’t even noticeable.

Finished assembly painted and ready to be attached to the dash bezel.

Finished dash bezel with mount ready to go back in the Jeep.

Constructing the Mount After test-fitting the radio, it was time to focus on the mount itself and the materials it was to be constructed with. In the past I have made parts using ABS plastic for mounts, pockets, switch panels, etc. However, I felt this needed something even more durable and less likely to soften and warp from sun exposure. I chose 1/8-inch acrylic for the all the housing parts, the trim ring, and the new mount for the head unit. I also used Methylene Chloride for adhering each piece.

Shown in the closed position. Docking cable and suede flocking also shown.

facebook.com/MobileElectronics   49


 tech today I chose to use 1/8-inch material because I knew that the mount needed to be as low profile as possible and using any thinner material may have been too flimsy. My plan, like other installs I have done, was also to add suede flocking material to the inside of the slider to prevent any damage to the iPad when taking in and out of the vehicle. The client noted that he would be using a glass screen protector so that was also taken into consideration. The first task was to take some measurements of the iPad itself. I used masking tape around the iPad to make sure there wouldn’t be any scuffs or scratches throughout the process. Since the iPad was to slide in from the side, I knew I would need a slight gap around it so it would slide freely from left to right without catching or getting stuck and having to use excessive force to take it in and out. At this point I didn’t know exactly how big it needed to be so I just used an oversized piece to get started. I attached the iPad to a sheet of acrylic using double sided template tape. I then used another layer of acrylic on top of that. The masking tape served a dual purpose as well. It was also used to ensure that when the flocking was added it wouldn’t make the slider action too tight. I didn’t know the exact thickness of the flocking when it was applied so I made an educated guess and used several layers of masking tape around the iPad. It was approximately 1/16-inch in total. After I made an iPad sandwich, I measured the space between the two layers of acrylic, which would then become the top, bottom, and left side of the slider. The right side would then be left open to pull the tablet in and out. Once I had those strips cut I placed them around the iPad and glued them in place using the Methylene Chloride. It sets very fast which is a bonus when it comes to efficiency. These strips would then become the outer edges of the iPad mount, and because they were only 1/8-inch in thickness, they maintained a very small profile, or footprint, around the iPad. But instead of having squared corners, I overlapped the front and back pieces a little

50  Mobile Electronics January 2018

Sony head unit accessible behind iPad mini.

Finished product shown in the open position. Tablet can slide out easily from here.

Finished product in the closed position. No chance of losing a tablet while off-roading.


The Jeep and the IPAD farther the edges so I could use a radius template to round the corners. I believe I used a 1/2-inch radius template.

Window for a Screen After I had all the pieces cut it was time to create the viewing window of the tablet itself. This was done easily on the router table. One benefit of using acrylic is that is clear. When the pieces were temporarily joined and the iPad was in place, I was simply able to use template tape and flat-edged templates to outline the tablet screen size onto the acrylic and then routed them on my router table. On the backside, I used 1/4-inch acrylic and made a DIN-sized sleeve where the head unit would end up being attached to using the ISO mounting style. After test fitting in the vehicle, I was able to determine where the head unit face would align with iPad mount and marked it down. I then used the sleeve as a jig and routed the back panel of the mount using a 1/4-inch flush trim bit. At this point I was ready to glue all the pieces together to get ready for the next step, which was to make the trim ring/ housing for the iPad holder to fit in. After all the pieces were adhered, front, back, top, bottom, and left side all together, and the corner radius’ routed, I had a complete part that the iPad could slide in and out of freely. I then used a drill bit to ream the opening on the left side that would allow for the docking cable to be attached and accessible.

Bending the trim ring around the MDF.

You can see the 1/16-inch gap around the holder inside the trim ring.

Housing Issues Now it was time to make the trim ring. I started off by laying the holder down on a new sheet of acrylic as a base layer that would become the back of the entire assembly once completed. I had to figure out a way to gap the holder from the trim ring so it wouldn’t rub at all. I ended up template taping the holder to a piece of MDF and used a panel resizer router bit to offset the cut 1/16-inch to make the MDF panel oversized a 1/16-inch larger than the acrylic holder. That gave me the perfect size to build the trim ring around. I cut a long strip of acrylic 1-inch-wide to start and long enough to heat and bend all the way around the MDF jig.

Attaching the hinge mount.

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ďƒŽ tech today I used more template tape all the way around the MDF border, then starting at the bottom of the perimeter, I attached the 1-inch strip to the MDF. I made sure that the strip was flush with the bottom of the MDF. That way, once it was bent into shape, it could be attached to the backer plate of acrylic. I then used my heat gun on medium/ high setting and started heating up the acrylic strip where it needed to curve around the jig. I waved the heat gun back and forth to slowly make sure the heat was penetrating the acrylic evenly and not too fast. If you heat it up too much it can bubble, warp really badly, and ruin the piece. Slowly and steadily I was able to make the first bend around the jig. As I continued around the jig the template tape would hold the acrylic to the MDF. There may be a better alternative than standard template tape, but this seemed to work well enough without altering the spacing substantially. Critical Application Tape from 12vTools may be a better alternative as it can withstand higher temps. Once I bent the strip all the way around the four corners I had to mate the ends. I basically just aligned them as close as possible, trimmed the excess, then used the Methylene Chloride to fuse the ends together by clamping from both directions. After that was dry, I test fit the two parts. But before I could attach the trim ring to the backer plate, I used the 1/4-inch sleeve again to route the backer plate open for the head unit to be accessible. I then attached the trim ring to the backer plate.

The cabinet latch and hinge shown. The front of the latch is magnetic and a neo magnet is attached behind the holder.

Notch shown in hinge point to allow free movement. It also prevents the holder from rubbing the inside of the trim ring.

The Swivel Point The next part was a little trickier, but I thought of a pretty clever way to accomplish the task. With the iPad holder and the trim ring completed I needed to figure out a way that the iPad holder could swivel open and closed without rubbing or falling apart. With the thickness of the iPad and the acrylic holder sitting inside a trim ring, a hinge at one end would cause it to bind and rub on the side that the tablet would slide into. I then figured out if I moved the hinging point about 1/3 of the way in from the left

52  Mobile Electronics January 2018

Grafting the iPad assembly to the factory dash bezel.


The Jeep and the IPAD

Suede flocking for a smooth home for the iPad.

I could have full mobility. In other words, just left of center, with the opening at the right would be the best hinging point. Also, with the hinging point about a 1/2-inch out from behind the backer I was able to move the holder inside of the trim ring with as little rubbing as possible. The mounting for the hinge was very simple. I used a 1/4-inch piece of acrylic that was glued to the back of the holder and a 1/4-inch slot cut out from the backer with another piece glued to the backer on top to sandwich the part that slides through from the holder. This would eliminate any twisting or wobble because there was much more surface area along the horizontal plane. To eliminate the rub entirely I reamed a ‘C’ shape into the hinging point to give the holder a way to move left and right as it hinged open. The hinging point itself was eyeballed. As I would manually move the holder open and closed, I kept an eye where the mount and the holder moved as little as possible to find a fulcrum point. From there, I drilled through all

After some minor sanding, the dash bezel is taking shape.

the layers and inserted a metal rod that was bent to be held in place without any permanent mounting for serviceability. A magnetic cabinet latch was mounted on top of the sleeve from the back side. The arm that extends in and out protrudes through the backer plate. The tip of the latch arm that is magnetized is attached with a neo magnet to the back side of the mount. That way when the latch is in the closed position the assembly would be closed. Then when you push in the holder from the front, it would disengage the latch and push forward extending the holder forward to access the opening on the side. I then had a finished iPad mounting assembly.

Assembly Required The next step was grafting the assembly into the factory bezel. That was fairly simple. All I needed to do was align the mount, mask off the bezel, and use a sharpie to mark the perimeter of the mount onto the bezel. I used my air saw to cut the excess plastic on the bezel. Once

that was done I reinstalled the bezel back into the Jeep. I inserted the mounting assembly into the dash opening and secured it in place. This was done so that everything was perfectly aligned before using fillers to blend into the mount. At this point, the factory bezel was flush with the mount. Once everything was dry some minor sanding was done to get the shaping just right. The parts were disassembled to begin the finishing process. All the parts were painted before the flocking was done. I felt this way was just easier clean up if I made a mistake or got any adhesive on the paint, rather than possibly getting paint on the flocking. Again, after everything was sanded, painted and flocked, it was time to wire the radio and do the final assembly! I had a great time with this project. Everything seemed to fall into place with proper planning and execution. If you have any questions you can reach out to me on Facebook or Instagram. Thank you for reading! facebook.com/MobileElectronics   53


 installs

Connect Four

Submitted by: Oscar JL Rodriguez, Oscar’s Garage, Corpus Christi, Texas After seeing some of Rodriguez’s work on Facebook, client Richard Sanchez asked him to deck out his 2015 Dodge Ram Dually with a powerhouse sound installation. Taking it a step further, Rodriguez decided to fabricate an enclosure to house the four JL Audio 12TW3-D4 12-inch subwoofer drivers and two JL Audio XD1000/1v2 mono subwoofer amplifiers. The result was something straight out of a Hasbro board game, complete with LED lights to emphasize the design.

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 installs

Signature Sound

Submitted by: Cameron “Chimpo” Powell, LIS Audio Workshop, Spring Hill, Kansas Wanting more output and clarity than what came from the factory, a client asked for their 2014 Ford F-150 to be transformed audibly, while maintaining the factory interior and adding a little flash with the flip of a switch. Powell considers this type of job what he calls the “LIS Signature Installation”. That type of build uses all AD Designs for the audio equipment. In the front doors, the team added the AD Designs 3100 Series 6.5-inch component speakers, with Hushmat on the inner and outer door skins to provide an ideal environment for the mid-range woofers. They then relocated the 6.5-inch Coaxial Hertz mid-driver’s to the rear doors and decided to add Hushmat to the  inner and outer door skins to reduce cabin road noise. Under the rear seat is a custom LIS Audio amplifier rack that houses the AD Designs 1500.6 Premium amplifier and 700.1 Premium amplifier, which powers the 10-inch subwoofer. A six-channel amplifier was used to run the entire front stage active in a threeway setup. A custom enclosure was made for the center console, plus a custom A-pillar tweeter relocation. Other product installed included the AudioControl EQS Equalizer, Stinger HPM OFC wire and Stinger 6000 Series RCAs.

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from the President

Don’t Miss Out

KnowledgeFest is Your Place to Learn and Connect with the Mobile Electronics Community If you missed attending CES 2018 then take heart in knowing that you have another chance to discover your favorite brands at KnowledgeFest West in Long Beach, California, KnowledgeFest East in Indianapolis, Indiana and KnowledgeFest Dallas in Dallas, Texas. KnowledgeFest is the only industry event dedicated to the mobile electronics specialist, the installing dealer. These events combine a trade show floor with educational workshops and manufacturer trainings for added value to you, the attendee. The next event is just around the corner in Long Beach California, February 23-25, 2018. This city is a great destination for West Coast dealers, especially those in the Southern California market. The Long Beach Convention Center is a downtown venue with lots of nearby hotels and restaurants. And February is a great time for manufacturers to showcase their new products and provide the best information and education to sell and install them. The KnowledgeFest experience is designed to provide you with the information you need to provide that experience. Here’s how: Education Learning from the best in our industry provides an unequalled educational experience that now occurs three times a year. Make plans to experience the next event in your area. These events combine educational workshops and manufacturer trainings with a trade show floor. No other event provides the quality and hours of training targeted to mobile specialists. These education events are designed provide you with the latest information to help you advance the professionalism and profitability of your business. Employees of MEA member companies attend all KnowledgeFest events free of charge. The three-day event is packed with more than 40 hours of topnotch educational workshops, great networking opportunities, over 50 hours of manufacturer training sessions, and an exhibit floor on which new products and categories are available to discover. Educational workshops and manufacturer trainings will empower you to deliver exceptional customer experiences and grow your business. Information Mobile Electronics Association publishes Mobile Electronics® magazine, the best read for business, sales and installation. Mobile Electronics magazine, our Hotwire e-newsletter and various websites keep you in the know and ready for action. MEA member companies and their employees receive free magazines, e-newsletter subscriptions and access to MEA digital media. Social media sites like the Mobile Electronics Facebook page also offer ways to connect with the industry. Empowerment

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Mobile Electronics Association is the only industry group dedicated to the 12-volt specialist. Our primary focus is help you build your business. The MEA community is comprised of retailers, manufacturers, sales reps, distributors and service providers. The Mobile Electronics Association is committed to growing the mobile electronics industry and ensuring a future for mobile specialists. You can support that through your membership. Become a part of our community. Be empowered. Let your voice be heard and ensure your interests are represented. Learn by Profession The education at KnowledgeFest is comprised of three tracks that focus on each area of expertise. For the installer, there is the Technician and Fabricator track. This track provides a balance of the top techniques for making physical modifications to the vehicle as well technical expertise for key topics like remote start and audio upgrades. The Sales and Marketing track will appeal to owners, managers, sales professionals and those responsible for marketing. You will learn tried-and-true processes taught by retailers who use these techniques effectively in their own businesses. Also, for the entrepreneur there is the Owner and Manager track. This year the focus will be on essential practices that every CEO should live by. Topics will include: a day in the life of a CEO and learning the best way to calculate your true hourly rate. In addition to these business building topics, a special keynote address will help you define what success in your business and life should look like. Peer Advice, Meet the Makers KnowledgeFest provides the best networking opportunity in our industry! Talk one-on-one with people with whom you do business (or should be). Participate in your choice of 50-plus product training sessions to get real insight on product characteristics and selling strategies to make you the expert in your market. Whether you’re a seasoned veteran or a relative newcomer to mobile electronics, KnowledgeFest has something for you. Learn from the experiences of others in our industry who have dealt with both failure and success. Many social activities after hours add fun to the mix. I challenge you to join us this February in Long Beach for our first KnowledgeFest on the West Coast. On behalf of myself, and of the entire Mobile Electronics Association team, we thank you for being part of the only industry event dedicated to the Mobile Electronics Specialist, the installing dealer!


Mobile Electronics January 2018  
Mobile Electronics January 2018  

Mobile Electronics Magazine January 2018