Top 12 Installer Jaime Palafox makes Agoura Autosounds go on a relentless desire to create
Build your Bottom Line With New Business From Existing Skills
DSP: Getting Customers on Board CNC: Making It Make Money
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Volume 40 // Issue 3
18 Retail News / Who’s Who 54 Installs
FEATURES 14// What’s Happening: How Shops Diversify
Retailers share how diversifying into categories such as paint protection, car wrapping and motorcycle audio helped raise awareness and increase bottom line profits, as well as how they’ve dealt with unexpected difficulties.
6 Editor’s Forum 8 Feedback 12 Helpful Stuff
30// Real World Retail: Agoura Autosounds Jaime Palafox of Agoura Autosounds made a name for himself through the art of custom fabrication. By strategizing and forging ahead, Palafox has turned his business into a 12-volt destination in Southern California that he hopes to pass on to his sons.
40// Difference Makers: Oliver Marketing Oliver Marketing shines in the SoCal market as it expands its west coast presence.
44// Strategy & Tactics: How to Sell DSP At KnowledgeFest Long Beach this year, Ken Ward of Educar Training presented a workshop on selling DSP. Learn who can benefit from DSP, how retailers should sell it and the right way to make DSP a profitable part of your business.
48// Tech Today: CNC Machining for the 12-Volt Industry Learn how to find a CNC that works best for you, set it up for optimum efficiency and start using it in your shop.
On the Cover COVER DESIGN: Manny DeJesus This month, we are featuring Jaime Palafox of Agoura Autosounds on the cover. Through trial and error, as well as learning from past mistakes, Palafox nurtured his business in Southern California, focusing on one-of-a-kind custom builds. While he’s mostly a one-man band (for now) he gets help from his kids and tries to encourage a passion for 12-volt in his sons.
4 Mobile Electronics March 2019
Ad Index Accele Electronics....................................…p. 2 & 3 AAMP Global: Stinger X..............................…p. 33 Audison…................................................................p. 13 Brandmotion….....................................................p. 37 DD Audio…................................................................p. 9 Directed................................................................…p. 21 Echo Sales.........................................................…p. 39 Escort….....................................................................p. 11 Firstech…...............................................................p. 59 Harman: Infinity...............................................…p. 19 HD Radio..............................................................…p. 27 Hertz......................................................................…p. 12 Hifonics…................................................................p. 37 InstallerNet........................................................…p. 47 K40 Electronics................................................…p. 17 Kicker…...................................................................p. 53 Metra Electronics…...........................................p. 29 MEA.......................................................................…p. 43 Orca: Focal/Illusion/Mosconi......................…p. 7 Race Sport Lighting…......................................p. 39 Rockford Fosgate..............................................…p. 5 Rostra...................................................................…p. 52 SiriusXM.............................................................…p. 20 Sony......................................................................…p. 23 SounDigital........................................................…p. 25 VAIS Technology.............................................…p. 57 Voxx Electronics: Prestige…........................p. 60
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If Not You, Then Who? Our customers want something from us. Unfortunately, we’re not listening. A table full of beer bottles. Raucous laughter. You’d think we were sailors on leave with the scene we were making. Of course, I hadn’t had any of the beers, but that didn’t stop the rest of the editorial team of Mobile Electronics magazine, then owned by a publishing company in California, from imbibing and enjoying the break from writing, selling and publishing. We were attending the annual in-house competition that pitted all the company’s trade magazines against one another: nail salons versus police officers, rental fleets versus limos, car stereos versus buses. Our magazine ended up with some pretty nice wins: sales percentage, some design honors, and my personal favorite, best editorial. But by time the awards ended, the school bus magazine came out on top as the overall winner … like it usually did. As a professional, you look at what you could have done better, but you also want to understand the circumstances. We had a panel of judges not affiliated with any magazine or industry that we covered as a publishing company. And yet, school buses always seemed to finish in the top three. Why? Because it’s a lot easier to relate to a school bus than an amplifier. Most of the topics covered by the bus magazine centered on safety: selecting responsible drivers, crash prevention, riding behavior, if buses should have seat belts, alarms that tell drivers a child was left on the bus. Everyone can relate to kids, whether you have them or not. You don’t have to be an expert to connect emotionally to the topic, especially as it pertains to safety. So while the judges’ eyes glazed
6 Mobile Electronics March 2019
over with talk of 12 volts, fabrication and OEM integration, the idea of kids riding buses to school safely created mental movies in which their own kids, nieces or nephews played the starring role. Simply put, safety is easy to market. That’s why just about every car commercial you see is selling vehicles based on safety features, not horsepower or 20-inch wheels. Semi-autonomous driving, automatic braking, lane departure warning, expanded camera views … these are the stories that carmakers are using to train customers on what a new vehicle represents. And guess what? It’s working. In my KnowledgeFest Long Beach class on mastering public relations for retail, we talked about ultimately becoming the go-to resource for your local news outlets when they are doing stories on vehicle technology. Everyone in the class recognized that safety is the hottest topic surrounding vehicles today, yet when I asked how many retailers in the room (about 82 people) considered themselves experts in aftermarket safety technology, I got about five hands up … actually, make that four, because one of the hands up was mine. You see the disconnect here? Customers readily relate to the concept of safety and easily identify with—and place value on—products and services that protect them, their children and other passengers. Yet, as service providers, we are ill-prepared to meet their desire to have a safer driving experience on the vehicles they already own. We don’t talk about adding cameras. We don’t trust the aftermarket versions of safety technology, such as collision alert, lane departure and blind spot sensors, because somebody said it sucked and we didn’t do our own
due diligence. Or maybe we’re concerned about the liability if our safety solution does not provide ample warning. And so we keep selling stereos. We put the camera displays in the rear of the showroom, unplugged. We bring up safety products only if the customer asks for them. And customers are left with just the “training” they received from all those car commercials: if they want the latest safety technology, they need to buy a new car. Some will do that, and along with their purchase, get a new stereo that’s “good enough” because it controls the air conditioner and works with their iPhone®. Ultimately, we lose either way. This cannot happen. It’s time for us to take the driver’s seat on aftermarket safety. Everything we do in our stores is about building trust, so that customers think of us first when they want new technology for their vehicle. How can we not be able to talk with them about high-value enhancements they hear about every time they watch the news? We must be proactive in telling our customers about technology and devices they can add to their vehicles to make their drivers safer … with our trusted expertise. This means each of us needs to be confident in our industry’s products and our own capabilities. Make safety a priority in your stores. We’re at the point where ignoring it isn’t an option … it’s a disservice.
A Shoulder to Lean On
ADVERTISING SALES Kerry Moyer 978.645.6457 • email@example.com
EDITORIAL Solomon Daniels Editor-in-Chief 978.645.6463 • firstname.lastname@example.org Rosa Sophia Managing Editor 978.645.6466 • email@example.com Creative Layout and Design: Manny DeJesus Contributing Editors: Jamie Sorcher, Joey Knapp and Laura Kemmerer.
When things get difficult—even when natural disasters strike—retailers need reps they can lean on. Bill Sommers shares how JL Audio offered support after a devastating hurricane, while others discuss their own experiences with supportive representatives.
Published by TM
mobile electronics association
“My store was devastated by Hurricane Michael, and we were closed for two months. JL Audio stepped up to the plate and was on the phone letting us know they’d be helping us out with open invoices. Who does that? No one, not in the 29 years I’ve been in this game! While others were wondering why payment hadn’t been received since the day of the storm, JL Audio said, ‘Take care of yourselves and your families. You don’t need to worry about debt right now.’ I can’t put into words the overwhelming feeling that someone out there still cares. Thank you, JL Audio, and to everyone involved in making this happen.” Bill Sommers, Sommer Sound Systems, Panama City, Fla.
Chris Cook, President 978.645.6434 • firstname.lastname@example.org
“Every time I have a customer or dealership bring me a vehicle wanting a factory-style camera or sensor solution, I can call Cris at AIS (Automotive Integration Solutions) and he will immediately know whether it can be done or not. If not, we bounce ideas off each other until we figure it out. He once helped me come up with a ‘curb finder’ camera/sensor on a 2017 Lexus RC F when everyone else said there was no way to integrate into the factory screen. After a couple phone calls, he got us hooked up with a solution from Japan. Anytime I call with a question, I get immediate answers.” Joseph Norton, Starwood Customs NWA, Bethel Heights, Ark.
Tony Frangiosa, Chairman of the Board, MEA
“Our Alpine representative is truly, as we say, one of us. Pete Bobsin keeps it real and fun.” Michael Meza, Santa Rosa Cartunes, Santa Rosa, Calif. “Last year, myself and two others from our five-store chain got to attend a master fab class at Mobile Solutions. Focal treated us like gold and made sure to show us a good time. They left nothing out, and let us focus on our classes and learning. One of the all-time best experiences I’ve ever had in car audio.” Troy Saylor, Creative Audio, Sedalia, Mo.
8 Mobile Electronics March 2019
Kerry Moyer, VP Strategic Partnerships 978.645.6457 • email@example.com Solomon Daniels, Dir. Media and Communications 978.645.6463 • firstname.lastname@example.org Richard Basler, Dir. Technology Solutions 978.645.6449 • email@example.com
1) Title of publication: Mobile Electronics. 2) Publication No.: 957-170 6. (ISSN# 1523-763X) 3) Copyright © 2018 by the Mobile Electronics 4) Date of filing: Oct. 1, 2018. 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/Rosa Sophia, 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 2018. 6. a) Total no. copies (net press run) Average: 10,237 Single Issue; 12,826. b) Paid/Requested mail subscriptions Average: 6039, Single Issue: 7346. 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: 7346. e) Non-requested distribution by mail; Average: 3593 Single issue: 4223. 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: 4973. 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
The Top 12: Ready to Learn Most Anticipated Classes and Workshops for KnowledgeFest Long Beach 2019 (by Reservation Count)
1a. Hot Rod Interior Fabrication 1b. The Four Questions: Essential Tests for OEM Audio Integration 3. Enclosure Design with a Purpose 4. Selling DSP: Technical Explanations & Sale Approaches 5. School of Sound - Know the Foundation - Part 1 6. The Technician’s Guide to the Universe 7. Tuning it Right the First Time 8. School of Sound - Building on the Foundation - Part 2 9. Branding your Business & Yourself 10. Sustainable Selling - The Four Rules 11. Local Marketing: Mastering Public Relations 12. Sustainable Selling – The Four Types of Operation
1. JVC Mobile Entertainment 2. AudioControl 3. JL Audio 4. Directed 5. Orca Design / Manufacturing 6. Alpine Electronics 7. Kenwood 8. Rockford Fosgate 9. AAMP Global 10. ADS 11. Metra Electronics 12. Elettromedia
10 Mobile Electronics March 2019
Win or Die: Leadership Secrets From the Game of Thrones BY BRUCE CRAVEN
“When you play the game of thrones, you win or you die. There is no middle ground.” — Queen Cersei The hit HBO series Game of Thrones was adapted from George R.R. Martin’s fantasy book series, A Song of Ice and Fire. The saga is filled with blood, violence, revenge and sex—and leaders planning their next bold moves. Author Bruce Craven, who teaches his popular elective—Leadership Through Fiction—at Columbia Business School, deftly analyzes the journeys of the best and worst leaders in Westeros in the hopes that leaders can create their own narratives of success. Craven considers characters including Ned Stark, Jon Snow and Tyrion Lannister as they make bad choices and deadly mistakes, but also gain victories as they learn along the way. This book will teach you how to deal with conflict and build resilience as well as develop emotional intelligence. Yes, it sounds like a lot to tackle, but this is an entertaining and informative guide to learning how to succeed—even with a dragon lurking around the corner.
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12 Mobile Electronics January 2019
Site To See: SXSW (South by Southwest) Festival www.sxsw.com
Each year in Austin, Texas, the SXSW Music Festival is a meet-up between global music industry folks, film executives and technology professionals. If you can’t be there, it’s interesting to follow along. Back in 1986, when CDs ruled and e-mail was mainly used by universities and the military, a small group of people in Austin started a series of discussions about the future of entertainment and media. Out of that came the first SXSW event held in March of 1987. In 2007, it was here that Twitter was introduced. In 2009, it was Foursquare. The list of musicians who broke into the mainstream while playing there include John Mayer, James Blunt, The White Stripes and Polyphonic Spree, to name a few. While the festival has evolved in both surprising and meaningful ways, it remains focused on helping creative people develop their careers and make stuff happen.
Service: MedExpress WWW.MEDEXPRESS.COM
Sometimes the best option is urgent care. Recently, my daughter went snowboarding on a Saturday and returned with what appeared to be a broken wrist. Instead of paying those crazy emergency room fees and waiting hours to be seen, we opted to check out the newly opened MedExpress, five minutes from our home. We saw a doctor within 30 minutes. My daughter had x-rays taken and her arm was splinted until we could see a specialist on Monday. If you need care, whether it’s antibiotics for the flu something more serious, this is the place to go. MedExpress has over 300 locations in more than 22 states. It is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day. No appointment is needed and walk-ins are welcome.
How Shops Diversify Diversifying into unexplored categories or expanding skillsets can provide numerous benefits. Retailers share how diversifying into categories such as paint protection, car wrapping and motorcycle audio helped raise awareness and increase bottom line profits. WORDS BY ROSA SOPHIA
When it comes to finding new avenues for exploration, retailers agree that diversifying can revitalize a business, but can also offer unexpected challenges. LYNX Customs in Centennial, Colo. began diversifying into car wrapping a couple of years ago, according to owner Luke Farley. In 2017, the team wrapped four or five cars, but the following year, they wrapped over 50, Farley added. “It suddenly became one of our biggest categories,” he said. “It’s had a huge impact on our bottom line, so much that we’re changing our business branding and advertising to target that market.” The shop expects to double the number of vehicle wraps in 2019. “Product diversification can always be tricky. We’ve had really good luck with it and we found that some of our skillsets transferred right
14 Mobile Electronics March 2019
over.” Farley noted that technicians who were already installing window tint and paint protection were able to pick up car wrapping techniques quickly. Other mobile electronics shops might do well to consider the category, Farley said, adding that the shop obtained specialized training. Still, he advised shop owners and managers to be very careful when deciding to diversify. “You don’t want to get stuck with products you can’t sell, or spread yourself too thin to where you’re trying to be everything to everyone,” he said. “There’s a lot to consider as far as strategy when you choose to diversify.”
Plan and Execute a Careful Strategy When Parish Tanner of Ocala Car Audio in Ocala, Fla. was thinking about what his business could expand into, he said he thought about who he most enjoyed doing business with, as well as
what category might be profitable for the shop. “I ride motorcycles myself, so I went and purchased another Harley [Davidson] in the third quarter of 2015,” Tanner said. “From 2009 to 2015, we’d only done nine Harleys. In 2016, we did 13 Harleys. In 2017, we did 26. Last year, I did 80.” Tanner attributed this to the demo vehicle, and the shop’s sponsorship of local bike nights. “I was at one every month and just started hanging out in that crowd,” he said. “We have brought in some accessory lines,” he added. “We sell seats and grips and other bolt-on stuff.” Recent growth in the Harley-Davidson market gave Tanner a chance to bring this into Ocala Car Audio. “We’ll run some advertising,” he noted, “but usually we’ll just do sponsorships.” However, Tanner said, the addition of paint protection film to the shop’s list of
Diversify to Increase Revenue and Raise Brand Awareness
services did, indeed, require marketing strategy. “It becomes an education process,” he said. “We’re doing that through Facebook and Instagram.” The shop has had positive results from Facebook advertising. “Being on the 3M dealer locator helps a lot.” Content marketing via the business’s website—articles about paint protection film—has raised Ocala Car Audio’s site to higher listings on the web, Tanner said. Prestige Car Audio & Marine in Metairie, La. is in the beginning stages of expanding marine categories, according to store manager Dustin Daigle. “By next summer, I would expect to see an increase in business,” Daigle said. “It’s a year-long plan we’re putting in place.” The shop anticipates cross-over when it comes to truck owners who tow their own boats, Daigle added. “We do a lot of marine audio, and not so much marine electronics. We’re going to try to expand into the marine electronics part of it— GSP, fish finder, power poles, stuff like that,” Daigle explained. “If someone were to drop off a boat here and say, ‘Can you put everything on it?’ we could say yes.” The shop utilizes the services of Modern Media Geeks for social media, as well as 168media for web content. “There’s still a little bit of thought process involved,” he added. “Right now, we live by word of mouth and repeat business. Eventually the word will get out, but it’d be nice if it could be faster.”
Use Market Research to Bolster Diversification Strategy Deciding what will work best for a business takes a lot of thought. Cameron Powell of LIS Audio in Spring Hill, Kan. has reached out to customers to gain overall feedback. “We asked customers, ‘What do you see that makes us different from another shop? Why would you go to us?’ We got a bunch of feedback,” Powell said. Through experience and customer feedback, he said he learned the local market in his area is lacking the kind of car audio culture that can be experienced in states like California or Texas. “From our perspective, it seemed like the new thing we bring to the table,
especially in Kansas City, is helping to create a culture around car audio,” he added. “We’re bringing that network together.” When a vehicle comes into the shop, ACT Audio tests the battery Market and reports the findings to the customer. The added revenue of research can have battery sales increases per-vehicle tickets. mixed results, said James P. Smith of ACT Audio, who into various categories over the years, noted that he reached out to clients one including on-site work and breathalyzers. year and asked them, “If you could get They also added a vehicle accessory one thing from ACT Audio for Christcategory and devoted a display in the mas, what would it be?” The results store to light bars and other items. of the survey revealed that customers But when they moved to the new locawanted an alarm as part of a remote start tion, they began exploring higher-end installation. car audio and started shifting in that “So, I went back to the store and the direction. team and said, ‘When remote start season “I think we shifted too quickly,” Smith comes along, we’re kind of bad at adding added. “We shot ourselves in the foot a on alarms,’” Smith said. “Everyone said little bit and actually lost some business. they wanted a remote start and an alarm [Since then] I’ve learned to sell better and on this survey, so let’s offer the option to read the customer better. You don’t want add an alarm to a remote start install.” to assume someone doesn’t want a highThe add-on option didn’t work as well end system. You don’t want to cut them as Smith hoped when it came to increasshort, but you also don’t want to overing revenue. “What we did do is we shoot a customer.” revamped our selling strategy,” he said. Smith noted the importance of keeping “We have a checklist now. When you communication open to find out “what come in, I’ll walk you through the remote they had, what they’re looking for, and starters, top down, and all the features. educate them on what they could get.” We have totally flip-flopped our two-way “Now, when a customer says, ‘Let me versus one-way [remote start] sales. Four think about it,’ we’re always frank with years ago, we’d sell 80-85 percent onethem,” Smith said. “We say, ‘Is it the way, and 15-20 percent two-way. Now, price? What’s the hurdle here?’” we’re more like 70-75 percent two-way, by That way, he added, they have an changing that sales strategy.” opportunity to backpedal if needed, The checklist gives them a chance to before the potential client walks out. “We review everything. “Then we might say, needed to step back.” ‘Okay, you said you didn’t want the Bluetooth, or you didn’t want this’—the stuff Connect Related Categories for we know we discussed with them—to give Greater Customer Awareness them a second chance to say, ‘Actually, I Tanner said paint protection is like a do want that.’ We started adding more natural extension of window tinting. “For rear defrosters that way, more upgrades,” people who are buying a new car, now is Smith explained, adding, “but we still a perfect time to try to protect the paint,” didn’t sell more alarms.” Tanner added. “We’re a 3M dealer, so we started with 3M Scotch Guard Pro. It is Diversifying Too Fast Can Lead to different to install than window tint, so it Difficulties does require additional specialized trainThere is a danger in losing traction if ing. Selling it is different, but it all ties not enough time is spent strategizing, together where it adds additional profit Smith warned. The shop has diversified to the bottom line.” facebook.com/MobileElectronics
If a client comes in for a window tint job, they’ll often add paint protection, Tanner noted. LYNX Customs also found that such categories draw LYNX Customs has had so much success with car wrapping in customers who that the shop plans to revitalize their branding and marketing might not ordinarily strategy to specifically focus on this category. visit the store. When it comes to car wrapping, Farley said a lot of people who aren’t necessarily automotive enthusiasts would like to change the color of their car. “With the car wrap, you can get exotic colors you can’t really find elsewhere,” Farley said. “We’ve had a lot of good feedback about it. It’s one of those accessories that I think is really going to After wrapping about 50 cars in 2018, LYNX Customs come up strong in the expects to double the number of vehicle wraps they’ll future.” complete this year. Increasing customer awareness became a focus Technicians are able to use the same when ACT Audio moved into their new plotter to cut the paint protection film building, Smith said. “I created a dealthat is also used for window tint film, ership book of everything we offer with Tanner noted. “We’re already paying for pictures and different options. I drove the resources to do it, so it just kind of around and talked to the dealerships and made sense.” promoted all the things we can do that While the shop got started in the catethey might not have known about,” Smith gory a few years ago, it has increasingly explained. “We started getting a little bit become a larger part of the business. “It’s of work from people we never got work becoming a bigger percentage of our revfrom before.” enue, and it’s a higher profit margin in a One of the more popular sellers, he lot of cases,” Tanner said. It also brings in added, turned out to be heated seats, customer that wouldn’t ordinarily come which local dealerships didn’t realize ACT to the store for other things, he added, Audio was able to offer. stating that clients who come in for clear “It’s about communication and raisbra tend to be an older demographic. ing awareness,” Smith noted, adding “That gives us the ability to sell driver that the shop plans to increase focus on safety devices like the Mobileye or blind powersports. spot cameras and detectors.” With the addition of this category, Choose a Focus When Adding Catethere was no need to alter the facility, gories or Increasing Skillsets since the team is able to use the same bay Though ACT Audio has faced chalthey use for window tinting. “Our 3M dis- lenges, the shop succeeded in diversifying tributor was good about coming in and into smaller add-on services—such as batdoing the training as needed,” he added. tery testing and replacement.
16 Mobile Electronics March 2019
“We now test every single car battery and report the findings to the customer, good or bad,” Smith said. “We created an account with Interstate and they keep their batteries here on consignment.” When a car comes in with a bad battery, the shop calls the customer and lets them know. “We sell tons of batteries,” Smith added. “During remote start season, we were selling two to three batteries per week. It’s not a lucrative business, but it’s another $150 a week on top of your normal work, just by taking the time to test a battery.” When they inspect a customer’s car prior to working on it, the shop will make suggestions about add-ons. “We’re combating our lower traffic we’ve had this year by maximizing per-car tickets.” Additionally, the team is considering offering a basic detailing service. “We’re capitalizing more on each vehicle. One of our new hires says he’s really good at [car detailing].” If things work out, Smith added, they might already have experience they can utilize. Diversifying can go well, or it can go badly, according to Farley. “You might get into something like GPS trackers and, hypothetically, there’s a need, but it’s tough if your customers aren’t demanding it. It might not be a wise move,” he said. “Sometimes you have to be honest with yourself. It’s an easy mistake to make as a small business owner to diversify into a category because you think it would be appealing and it doesn’t really work out for you.” He said he thinks of it as a risk and reward scenario, adding that he’s learned the hard way when attempting diversification at LYNX Customs. One such category that flopped was LED lighting. “It comes down to need. We had to find something else just to stay alive,” he explained. “There is a risk. If it doesn’t work out, it could cost me a lot.” He added that he’s looking forward to the future and taking care to weigh his strengths. “If I put all my muscle into something, it should work,” he said. “I diversify—but with a focus.”
Diversify to Increase Revenue and Raise Brand Awareness
WORDS BY LAURA KEMMERER
JC Audio Offers Additional Training Sometimes a good way to strengthen your business is by offering educational opportunities. For Jeff Cantrell of JC Audio, located in Jackson, Tenn. this meant offering another class in a series. “The first training in this particular series focused on the basics of using our tools to test for signals, and other fundamental topics facing today’s [mobile electronics] technician,” Cantrell said. “Ray West, our featured expert, covered basic electrical theory, enclosure tips and tricks, integration methods with modern vehicles and basics of DSP tuning.” Cantrell noted that with every training session the shop does, the shop collects feedback from students, using the information to tweak the curriculum and schedule for the future. “We’ve improved our time efficiency and tried to give the students more tangible information and resources that will help them to be more effective and profitable,” Cantrell said. “We’ve had lots of positive feedback from students about how what they learned in our classes helped them in practical ways as soon as they returned to their shops.” Upgrades to the training facility accommodate better presentation areas, and are equipped with larger LCD displays for better viewing of software programs. The training facility also has a newly remodeled fab room, and a dedicated metal
18 Mobile Electronics March 2019
fabrication area complete with a custom-built lighted exhaust hood over the welding table. This latest training was an extension of the shop’s Back2Basics class held last June. During class, Ken Ward instructed students on his four questions of OEM integration. Ward also taught “advanced tuning techniques with RTAs and tuning software to demonstrate how to tune a DSP efficiently, by utilizing a repeatable, step-by-step process,” Cantrell said. For this class, the shop strove to finetune the curriculum and schedule to use the time as efficiently as possible. “Along with lots of great vendor door prizes from Audison (our title sponsor), AudioControl, DD Audio, AAMP, Kenwood, Modern Media Geeks, Window
Tint School, Nav-TV, VOXX, AVR Distributing and Firstech, each student also received their own reference manual developed by [Ward], our featured expert, containing pertinent information and techniques that were discussed during the class,” Cantrell said. “We also implemented [two] test vehicles in order to maximize hands on time, a suggestion drawn from feedback from previous students. Each vehicle had an independent tuning station, complete with a 46-[inch] LCD monitor displaying tuning software, making it easy for everyone to see.” In the future, Cantrell plans to keep focusing training on what the industry needs. He also plans to continue partnering with vendors who believe in industry education.
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For a hands on live demo, be sure to stop by BOOTH #330 at MEA Knowledgefest in Indianapolis March 15 – 17 To Learn More Visit: www.infinityspeakers.com Or Please contact: Shawn Spedding at 816-385-1944 firstname.lastname@example.org © 2018 HARMAN International Industries, Incorporated. All rights reserved. Infninity is a trademark of HARMAN International Industries, Incorporated, registered in the United States and/or other countries. Features, specifications and appearance are subject to change without notice.
Car-Tunes Inc. Celebrates 35th Anniversary with Contest To celebrate Car-Tunes’ 35th year in business, shop owner Kimberly Trainer announced a contest for $1,000 in Memphis Audio equipment. The winner was a member of the 155th Armored Brigade combat team deployed to Kuwait with the Mississippi Army National Guard, who won Memphis Audio Power Reference 12-inch subwoofers, a power reference amplifier and other equipment. Car-Tunes held the shopping spree contest for 40 days, from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Eve. During the contest, a Memphis Audio product was featured on the shop’s page each day. Trainer noted
that posts made to the shop’s Facebook and Instagram pages had participants like and follow the pages, which allowed participants to get an entry for each new friend they shared the product post with. “The contest campaign brought
Everything You Love To Hear. Right Here. Kelly Clarkson on
SiriusXM subscription sold separately by SiriusXM. 20 XM Mobile March © 2018 Sirius Radio Inc.Electronics Sirius, XM and all related marks2019 and logos are trademarks of Sirius XM Radio Inc. All other marks, channel names and logos are the property of their respective owners. All rights reserved.
[a] lot of Memphis Audio [product] awareness to our customers [who] were given specific product info. After 40 days, [there] was a very impressive collection of Memphis Audio products to [choose] from—something for everyone and every budget, from the highend VIV series products all the way to Memphis accessories [like] the [new magnetic phone] mount with the Memphis logo. Our winner definitely got one of these, too!” Trainer said. “The contest was a big success and customer response was very positive, not to mention expanding our organic social media reach for future [Car-Tunes] engagement,” Trainer added.
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Faces in the Industry
Bradley Charboneau Best Buy Oklahoma City, Oklahoma Position: Auto-tech lead Years of Industry Experience: 9 Hobbies: Spending time with my family, video games, skateboarding and doing car stuff What you’re really good at: Remote starts, window tint, safety accessories and client relations.
Jeremy Czech Muntz Audio Video Green Bay, Wisconsin Position: Owner Years of Industry Experience: 19 Hobbies: Running What you’re really good at: Remote car starters
Audie J. Boutte
Best Buy Lafayette, Louisiana Position: MECP Advanced Lead Installer Years of Industry Experience: 5.5 Hobbies: Cars What you’re really good at: Installs
22 Mobile Electronics March 2019
Sound Wave Customs Pays it Forward with Custom Build
Sometimes the best business move you can make involves paying it forward, and that’s just what Ethan Blau of Sound Wave Customs in Virginia Beach, Va. did for a good friend who was recently diagnosed with cancer. The car the shop worked on was a 2015 Acura, something that Blau’s friend, Keith Walker, wound up getting to replace his Toyota Tundra pickup in light of ongoing chemotherapy. Keith asked Sound Wave Customs to take everything out of the old truck. It couldn’t be transferred into the new Acura, and he didn’t have the funds to pay for an entirely new build. Blau told him not to worry about it. “We built the whole custom job, and he had no idea,” Blau said, adding that the job was completed while Keith was out of town. “We did all new subs, all new amps, and I didn’t charge him a penny for it. He was almost in tears. He couldn’t believe it.” A local non-profit organization, Panda’s Fight Against Cancer, helped organize an event to raise money for Keith’s medical bills. “They planned a huge local event to raise money for him at a place called Shakas Live, and [Sound Wave Customs] sponsored and donated silent auction items,” Blau said. “I got up on the stage with him in front of a sold-out crowd and announced we were giving away another free remote start if we could get 50 more tickets sold.” The event was a success, and the shop donated a Sony radio, speakers and remote starts for the effort.
Get directions, make calls, send and receive messages, and listen to music, all in a way that allows you to stay focused on the road. Just connect your iPhone or Android phone and go.
6.4” CD/DVD receiver with Android Auto and Apple Carplay and iDatalink Maestro compatibility
6.2” Digital media receiver with Apple Carplay
7” Digital media receiver with Android Auto and Apple Carplay
www.sony.com ©2018 Sony Electronics, Inc. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited. Sony and the Sony logos are trademarks of Sony Corporation. Android Auto works with devices using Android 5.0 software or higher. Some devices may not yet support Android Auto, see the Google site for the latest list of compatible devices. Android Auto and its logo are trademarks of Google Inc. Apple CarPlay works with iPhone 5 and newer phones. Apple CarPlay and its logo are trademarks of Apple Inc. Features and speciﬁcations are subject to change without notice.
SAFE and SECURE With a main focus on security and safety equipment, retailers are concentrating on the high quality of cameras and alarms available on the market and the features they offer in order to draw in safetyconscious consumers.
Alpine ILX-F309 Halo9 Main Selling Features: “The customer can add a large screen to just about any vehicle using this product.” Primary Objection: Learning curve. How to Overcome: “We sit with the customer and explain all the features.”
Kenwood DMX905S eXcelon Mechless Media Station SUBMITTED BY: SHAUGHNESSY MURLEY, VISIONS ELECTRONICS, RED DEER, ALBERTA, CANADA
Main Selling Features: “I always bring up its amazing handling using app connect services (either CarPlay or Android Auto). Having that phone experience brought to the radio screen is a big plus for a majority of my clients.” Primary Objection: Price. How to Overcome: “We go over all the features the unit has, as well as features that are unique to the Kenwood product.”
24 Mobile Electronics March 2019
CrimeStopper CAM300/400 Backup Cameras and Frames Main Selling Features: “This is a very versatile all-in-one system for almost every application.” Primary Objection: Labor cost to install. How to Overcome: “We educate the customer. We explain how the unit is installed, and the time it takes to install it.”
JL Audio VX700/5i 5-Channel Amplifier with Built-In DSP TOMMY CRAIG, ELEVATED AUDIO, INC., LAKEWOOD, COLO.
Main Selling Features: “The value offered in this product.” Primary Objection: Price. How to Overcome: “We explain to customers that although they are spending more on the product itself than a conventional amp and DSP combo, they end up saving money because install costs are lower with less components, and there are no extra costs for wiring to connect a DSP to an amplifier.”
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Viper DS4+ Remote Start SUBMITTED BY: JOSH KOIVISTO, CAR TOYS, BELLINGHAM, WASH.
Main Selling Features: “This is the industry’s first combination of convenience features and cutting edge technology for the customer’s needs for remote start and security. The simplicity of an all-in-one solution ensures the customer doesn’t have too many choices to confuse them. Bonus Bluetooth control for their smartphone is an attractive integration feature.” Primary Objection: Price and labor cost to install. How to Overcome: “You’re purchasing a product that is designed to work with today’s complex technology in vehicles, not a combination of product innovation unchanged and stuck in the nineties. The value of flexibility and convenience to upgrade remotes or security with the same product is a money saver.”
Compustar FT DC3-LC Remote Start and Alarm SUBMITTED BY: JOSEPH NORTON, STARWOOD CUSTOMS NWA, BETHEL HEIGHTS, ARK.
Main Selling Features: “I am an installer, but I push the fact that this product is easily upgradeable for any style remote system and alarm system, any time down the road. Along with the broad range of covered vehicles, most of which have T-harnesses available. It’s a great ‘universal coverage’ piece.” Primary Objection: Price. How to Overcome: “We are higher cost than most shops in our area, but we really push the quality of the product and the installation techniques of our staff.”
Arc Audio X2 600.4 4-Channel Amplifier
Alpine INE-W960HDMI 6.1-Inch Audio/Video/Navigation Receiver
SUBMITTED BY: KENNY MCCARDIE, AUTO SOUND TINT WORLD, UNION CITY, CALIF.
SUBMITTED BY: MARIO GALLEGOS, SOUNDS LIKE SECURITY, HAMMOND, IND.
Main Selling Features: “Great sound in a compact footprint that looks good.” Primary Objection: Customer lacking product knowledge. How to Overcome: “Normally, a live demo of the unit helps them to really trust that we are leading them in the right direction based on their needs.”
Main Selling Features: “Our service is the main selling feature.” Primary Objection: Price and labor cost to install. How to Overcome: “This product delivers everything the customer expects from a reputable name.”
26 Mobile Electronics March 2019
Leading 12V HD Radio Solutions
North Hall Booth 5624
HDRadio.com facebook.com/MobileElectronics â€‚ 27
Thinkware TW-F800 Pro Front and Compustar 7200 Remote Start Rear Dash Camera SUBMITTED BY: JERIMY SMITH, BEST BUY, NASHUA, NH Main Selling Features: “The user is able to record while driving, and see what they have recorded on their phone. Also, the night vision on this camera is the best that I have ever seen.” Primary Objection: Price. How to Overcome: “We explain the benefits of having a camera that you can access from your phone at any given time. It’s like insurance; nobody likes to pay for insurance, but when you need it, you are glad you have it.”
AudioControl D-6.1200 6-Channel Amplifier with DSP SUBMITTED BY: ATA EHDAIVAND, ABSOLUTE ELECTRONIX, ROCKVILLE, MD.
Main Selling Features: “The sound quality is unreal. And the warranty makes people feel secure that they’re buying a part that will outlast their vehicle.”
Main Selling Features: “This product works with both standard and automatic transmissions. I’ve used this personally in my vehicle, and my wife’s standard transmission vehicle, with zero issues.” Primary Objection: Price, compatibility and labor cost to install. How to Overcome: “I also offer them a second solution with a well-known brand.”
iDataStart HCX Remote Start and Keyless Unit Main Selling Features: “Keep your factory remote for remote starting.” Primary Objection: Price. How to Overcome: “We offer a lifetime warranty.”
Primary Objection: Labor cost to install. How to Overcome: “We offer a warranty.”
Clifford DS4X Remote Start Brain Main Selling Features: “This model is very adaptable to product upgrades.”
28 Mobile Electronics March 2019
T-Spec V16 High Quality RCA Interconnects SUBMITTED BY: ETHAN BLAU, SOUND WAVE CUSTOMS, VIRGINIA BEACH, VA.
Main Selling Features: “Provides high quality at a fair price.”
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real world RETAIL
A LEGACY OF TAL Jaime Palafox of Agoura Autosounds made a name for himself through the art of custom fabrication. By learning from mistakes, strategizing and forging ahead, Palafox turned Agoura Autosounds into a 12-volt destination in Southern California that he hopes to pass on to his sons. 30â€‚ Mobile Electronics March 2019
FAMILY FOCUSED industry professionally, so he spoke to the owner and asked for a job. “I learned with guys who were amazing installers and fabricators,” he said. Palafox worked there for about nine months, learning techniques involving box building, welding, painting, alarm installation and wiring. His first attempt at business ownership lasted a few years and ended in 2008, he added, when the economy crashed. After working outside the industry for a little while, he returned to 12-volt, eventually becoming installation manager of another shop, where he handled fabrication, troubleshooting, tuning and system design, and started saving to open a business again. These experiences, he said, helped prepare him for ownership of Agoura Autosounds.
Nurturing a Family Business
LENT WORDS BY ROSA SOPHIA
In the 1990s, Jaime Palafox started hanging out in a stereo shop and learning through observation—then by participation. He knew he wanted to work in the
Palafox stated that his ultimate dream is for his kids to eventually take over the business. His sons are 21 and 22, he said, and his daughter—who handles office-related work and billing—is 18 years old. But for the past six months, he’s been working on his own in the bay. Rolando Palafox, who has one year of experience as an installer, recently broke his wrist in a skateboarding accident. In the meantime, Palafox took him to KnowledgeFest Long Beach this year in February. “[I want to try] to get that fire in him,” he said. “I plan to still keep building stuff and oversee the operation, but I want to get them enthusiastic about this industry. I want to see if I can instill that drive in my sons.” Palafox added that he could envision having his son Rolando handle the majority of the wiring and electrical work, while he focuses on bigger custom projects. “As soon as he’s healed, I’m going to bring him back in.” Palafox’s other son, who has previous experience as a service writer in a dealership, may come on to assist with sales. He added he also has a
friend who sometimes helps him out on weekends if he’s behind. His daughter, Michelle Palafox, takes care of all the paperwork. “I’m organized, so it’s pretty easy for her,” he said, adding that she also runs errands for him if he needs parts. “If I do get more employees, there are some things we do our way. As long as you use those procedures, it should be pretty easy.” “[My kids] see the hours I work, so they know I give it all I’ve got,” he said. “I think events like KnowledgeFest and SEMA will be helpful for them because they’ll see another part of the industry that a lot of people don’t see.” Palafox said hiring family can be problematic, adding that he also has difficulty working with people who have less experience. “I’m kind of hard to work with because I’m pretty picky. It takes me an hour to do a couple of speakers or a radio. If I give this project to my son or another installer, I have five or six hours in,” he said. “I’m sure there is someone out there [who will care as much as I do about my business]. I’m hoping it’s my sons.” The last time Palafox had another employee, he worked at the shop for a year. “Guys who work here usually leave with more knowledge than they came with,” he said. “You’re going to learn something.” facebook.com/MobileElectronics 31
real world RETAIL A Destination in Southern California When Agoura Autosounds opened, Palafox’s already active social media presence helped to spread the word. “March 15 will mark two years here at this location,” he said. “Before I had time to set up the shop, I had four or five big projects. I hired a small crew. I had my son [Rolando] come with me, and one other guy, and I set up my Yelp page, my Instagram, Facebook—all the free stuff you can take advantage of on the Internet. It’s incredible to see the growth. I have a line of cars outside the shop.” While looking for a location for Agoura Autosounds, Palafox said, it was important to him that he consider location and territory in order to add JL Audio to his product lineup. “I tried to stay as far away from the other shops as I could. I had worked with other shops that couldn’t get [JL Audio] because they were so close [together],” he explained. “I worked in this area before, which is 30 minutes from my house. I knew the area really well, and I found a location. I’m off the beaten path.” Agoura Autosounds has a large bay and the ability to fit about six cars, according to Palafox. “I put windows in my fab room so customers can come in and [look]. I have templates lined up on the board and they can see the wood room stays clean,” he explained. “[Their car is] going to be in a clean facility. You want them to feel comfortable. [Their vehicle is] their baby. Especially in Southern California. We love our cars here.” The goal is to offer an experience, Palafox added. “If you have an hour-long commute to downtown L.A., I want you to have the best experience possible.” The business has been doing well locally, Palafox said, and it also attracts people from farther away—as much as a five- or six-hour drive—making it a destination facility.
FAST FACTS Location: Agoura, Calif. Number of Stores: 1 Facility Square Footage: 2,500 Store Type: Boutique Number of Employees: 1
KEY STAFF Owner: Jaime Palafox Installer: Rolando Palafox Office and Billing: Michelle Palafox
MAIN FOCUS 75% Car Audio and Fabrication 10% Marine and Powersports 15% Security, Suspension, Misc. Repairs
Michelle Palafox serves as her father’s secretary, filing paperwork, handling billing and running errands as needed.
Customer Care Beyond 12-Volt If needed, Palafox offers additional services that go beyond mobile electronics. Customers never forget that he knows how to do other things, he said, adding that he’ll fix power door locks, power windows—and even do brake jobs.
32 Mobile Electronics March 2019
“It’s more of a service where I’m helping them out,” he explained. “They say, ‘I’ve been driving with my window down for six months,’ or, ‘I can’t roll it down and it’s 100 degrees outside.’” Palafox will check automotive codes and install
sensors, too. “Sometimes I’ll fix the car the same day,” he added. “If I’m putting in new wheels, tires and suspension, and I’ve already got the car apart and I notice the brakes are really bad, I’ll offer to do the brakes,” he said,
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Many Years of Support From JL Audio “I’ve been behind JL Audio since the 1990s. They came out with amplifiers with built-in DSPs, and that has been my number one selling item for months, or longer. One of the things I learned at these trainings is not to be afraid of these things. You have support from your manufacturers, and once you figure it out, you can make them sound amazing. “My customers are probably between 30- to 40-years-old, and they now have the money to buy the sound system they didn’t have in high school. I pitch them these amps, and although they’re very expensive, once we get them set up and tuned, it really has a good outcome and my customers are super happy. “The biggest way JL Audio supported me was by opening a little store like mine. I love that they put their trust in a guy like me to make their product look better. I think that’s supportive of a company. They could have just gone with the bigger store who might sell more. I don’t think they looked at it that way. [They saw it as] an investment, and said, ‘Eventually, he will grow.’”
Jaime Palafox envisions a future where his kids play more prominent roles in Agoura Autosounds. Rolando Palafox has one year of experience as an installer, and recently accompanied his father to KnowledgeFest Long Beach.
adding that he’s also fixed headliners that were hanging down over the driver’s head. His goal in regard to OEM integration is to make the car look like it could have come from the factory with the installation. “I’ll take their trunk and try to turn it into a masterpiece.” Palafox focuses
34 Mobile Electronics March 2019
on the theme of the car, its colors and accents. Recently, he completed an OEM integration project for a customer. “He had big systems in different vehicles. He said [of other shops], ‘It’s never right, and I always complain. They make mistakes.’ He did a lot of research to find me. I said, ‘Whatever it is, we’ll fix it,’” Palafox said.
“I’m not going to run. I’m not going to hide. If I make a mistake, we’ll make it right. No matter what it is, you can count on me.”
Many of the projects that come through Agoura Autosounds are unique custom builds, though Palafox also takes on smaller projects. The shop offers lifetime warranties and endeavors to provide 100 percent customer satisfaction.
Unique Designs Make Clients Feel Special Palafox had worked at shops that put quantity first—places with big inventory and large showrooms, he said. “I wanted to do specialty installations,” he explained, “one-off [projects] that make customers feel special.”
Agoura Autosounds makes providing an excellent experience a priority, according to Palafox. The shop also honors lifetime warranties on installations, he added, noting, “If there’s a better way to do things, I try to do it the best way possible.”
He underscored the importance of communicating in a timely way. “I try to do the best job I can to make sure they come back. It takes 100 happy clients to make you look good, and only one to make you look bad. When you go to a restaurant and have a bad meal, you tell everyone. But if you have a good meal,
Business Driven by Five-Star Reviews “I don’t spend any money on marketing at all. I hired a company that does marketing, and I didn’t see a big return on my investment. I wish I could say they were very helpful. They would post pictures on social media, but they didn’t know my business and they didn’t know me. They were a generic marketing company. “Yelp is free, and if you can get that five-star review on there, people read the reviews. I have 35 five-star Yelp reviews. People wrote stories and said, ‘He went above and beyond,’ and ‘I was in a bind,’ [and he helped me]. “They come in and say they read my reviews online [and that’s how they found me]. ‘I came here because of the reviews.’ “People will pay more because they’re getting a better service. I’m in the Top 50, and last year I made Top 12. That helps my business. I give thanks to [Mobile Electronics magazine] because I proudly post those plaques on my wall. There’s always room for us to get better.”
real world RETAIL
Shop’s Online Presence Renders Traditional Marketing Unnecessary “If I take on too much, I can get overwhelmed. Sometimes my customers get frustrated.” The shop spends zero money on marketing, but sometimes, Palafox said, the fact that he has a very large online following can backfire on him. “I would post a video or something online and get a phone call right away. The customer will say, ‘I see my car in the background. Why aren’t you working on my car?’ “One of the things I learned from where I used to work is, you take all the jobs you can. If they paid money to get that guy in the door, they wouldn’t let him walk, because that’s $200 you didn’t have before. That’s something that can haunt me. Sometimes I take the job and I get spread too thin.” Agoura Autosounds’ online presence handles spreading the word very well on its own, he said. “Some people call and before they even show up here, they’ve already looked at all my stuff. I’m slammed. They do their research.”
Jaime Palafox intends to transform his shop into a well-oiled machine, which he hopes to one day turn over to his kids as a family business. you’re probably not going to tell that many people about it.” The shop follows a small checklist to ensure customers are happy. “One of the things I want [an installer] to do [after a radio install] is set the clock for the customer,” he said, adding that he also likes to make sure the same radio station presets are fixed for the client. “I think that’s
36 Mobile Electronics March 2019
a small detail that a customer can look at and say, ‘Wow, they even put the same radio stations back [that I had on].’” Palafox said the shop will do a full inspection of the car. “When we do a big system, I have [the employee] drive the car around to make sure it doesn’t rattle. Pretend this is your car and you just had this done.” The shop will also check to
ensure the windows and door locks operate properly. Additionally, follow-up calls are an important part of the process. “I give it two or three days, and I’ll send them a courtesy message. About 50 percent of the people will say, ‘It’s perfect.’ The others will say they want to add more bass, [or something else]. It’s your
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opportunity to make a bigger sale. It’s a way for you to get the customer back.” Problems can and do arise, he said. “When my son was here, I scheduled cars in assuming he would be here to help me,” he said. “He’s not here, and it put me in a bind. Now I’m staying up late working. I have to because my customers depend on me.” While noting that he should probably be reusing some of his designs, he said he has difficulty with this. “The artsy part of me overpowers the logistical part [sometimes],” he said. “I am trying to make every car different and cater to that customer. I can’t make the same thing twice.” During a short lull in work that lasted only a couple of weeks, Palafox used the opportunity to fix up the shop, clean the showroom, organize things and work on his own vehicles. “I installed my own stereo system, and now I have a demo piece,” he said. “I like to put them in my own car and let them listen to it.” He begins with the best options available and works down from there. “When a customer comes in, I ask them, ‘What is your ultimate goal?’” They can call him anytime, he said, adding that he will go on-location to help a customer if needed. “I had a customer call me in the middle of the night. He was stranded [because] the car wouldn’t start.” facebook.com/MobileElectronics 37
real world RETAIL
The client believed the issue was the recently installed remote start, Palafox said. “I was 99 percent sure it wasn’t,” he added. “I drove out there, took a couple tools with me. I banged on the starter and started the car. I want to give them the benefit of the doubt. I offer satisfaction, 100 percent. Some of that is mobile service.” Palafox will often go the extra mile for customers, he said, adding that if he’s running late on the project and has to keep it for another day, he’ll offer
38 Mobile Electronics March 2019
additional incentives. Sometimes, Palafox will come up with another idea partway through the project and pitch the concept to the customer. “Fortunately, because the reputation is there, they’ll say, ‘I trust you.’ I love that feeling. They have confidence and trust in me, and I love that.”
Despite Uncertainties, Growth Remains the Goal With continued growth, Palafox feels he’s gotten better at scheduling and also tuning. “I spend more time doing
fine-tuning and adjusting than I used to,” he said. “I think it’s within the last year I’ve grown exponentially. I push to make cars sound better than they used to and have that edge. Now, I have other shops who call me for help with tuning.” Training is a big part of Agoura Autosounds’ growth, Palafox said, adding that he takes every opportunity he can to attend trainings. He also plans to send Rolando to Mobile Solutions.
“[Training is] beneficial to my business,” he said. “Some people say you don’t need it, and I used to be one of those people. It’s necessary for my business and for me to grow. We learn from our mistakes. The worst thing I ever did was not attend trainings. A lot of them are free and we have to take advantage of it. I think it’s critical to my business.” Growing the company is the main focus for Palafox, who hopes to get the right crew together so he can take on more jobs. “My stubbornness [could derail it],” he admitted, “[like] trying to micromanage everything. That’s bad on my part. I have to learn to let go a little bit and trust in others.” If things go according to plan, he hopes to move Agoura Autosounds into a larger facility in the next five years. “I want to make sure the shop is a well-oiled machine,” he said. If things go the way he wants them to, he added, his kids will continue to be involved. “I want to have a plan—a checklist where we come in, answer the phones, attend to the customers. I want the shop to run on its own so it doesn’t require me to be here 100 percent of the time.”
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STRENGTH IN NUMBERS Oliver Marketing shines in the SoCal market as it expands its west coast presence.
WORDS BY JAMIE SORCHER
With Amazon and Costco based right in a company’s backyard, it can be a competitive marketplace to attract the best employees possible. Bob Oliver, who founded Oliver Marketing, in Auburn, Wash., is on top of it. “From day one, we offered insurance, company benefits and retirement plans— to really establish careers for people,” he said. “To compete against Amazon as a place to work, employees need to come here every day and feel good about it, so we want to have a lot to offer.” Those core values are the foundation of Oliver Marketing and what has ultimately made it successful. After spending time as a rep in northern California, Oliver wanted to make a change. Originally from Seattle, he and his wife decided to leave the Bay area and head back to their roots so Oliver could start his own rep firm and they could raise a family. Today, Oliver Marketing is not only financially stable, but growing, which Oliver credits to his investments into the business. “We bought a 45,000 squarefoot facility three years ago to get bigger in distribution,” he said. “We totally gutted and remodeled it.” But it goes beyond the external. It’s about the just-do-it mentality that Oliver encourages. “We create more ways to do business,” he said. One method, Oliver added, is to diversify. “Being diversified means we’ve
40 Mobile Electronics March 2019
been able to change with the times, and we’re large so we can cover all kinds of accounts.”
Golden Opportunity Oliver Marketing has a sister company, Custom Plus Distributing, which offers distribution support for 12-volt and marine categories. Both dealers and retailers, Oliver said, appreciate this alternative because they can “cherry pick” products without the pressure of meeting volume requirements. Vendors gain increased channel exposure and fulfillment options for online sales. One of the biggest changes for the company came a few years back when Oliver bought out the rep company/distributorship, Cal West Marketing. “It was huge for us,” he said. “It’s a huge territory compared to Seattle, which is also a great market.” With the owner of Cal West Marketing ready to retire, the timing was right for Oliver to take the next step. “I had been friends with the guy for many years and asked him at one point to let me know if he ever wanted to get out of the business because it would be a good deal for both us,” Oliver said. “It made sense because we had always had Kenwood in San Francisco in the Bay area.” Once acquired, Oliver opened the new facility in Cerritos, Calif., kept all the people, and has been adding lines to what already existed. “I would say we are the largest car audio rep firm in California
now because of this. We do all of California for Kenwood, Rockford, Scosche and Hertz.” With more than 80 employees in total, Oliver Marketing has established a substantial presence. “We have more people on the streets calling on accounts,” Oliver said. “We have dedicated, focused salespeople and an inside support team—Peggy Harvey and Lorree Ford— to back up salespeople and interact with vendors.” Oliver finds it compelling to work with vendors who have established and maintained solid footing. “We like to work with vendors who make the best products in their category. We want to work with companies who have new and innovative products like Scosche Industries.” The flip side is bringing the right retailers into the fold. Oliver prefers dealers who are focused on their marketplace. “We like to work with those who are interested in putting on events and who like to merchandise our products in their stores as well as demonstrate them.” Oliver Marketing started out as a stocking rep, but then evolved. “We distribute products that we rep and it works well for us to do that,” Oliver said. “There are a lot of accounts that are not large enough to buy direct today so we can put them through our distribution company.” After that, Oliver explained, the same sales rep who calls on them for all their marketing is ready when they are. “When that retailer/customer gets big enough
Strength In Numbers
Oliver Marketing Team Roster www.olivermarketing.com Bob Oliver Founder, Oliver Marketing. Matt Oliver Vice President, National and Regional Account Sales, Sales Manager (12-Volt): Oliver is responsible for certain major accounts headquartered in Western Washington. With over 30 years of experience, Matt is a seasoned veteran at fostering growth for all clients, whether online or traditional brick and mortar.
Dave Furness Vice President, 12-Volt: As Director of Sales, Dave has more than 30 years invested in sales, management and business consultation. He also has a great deal of experience as a sales manager, including a stint as a regional manager for Kenwood USA Corporation. Dave’s overall approach to retail and custom sales truly sets him apart from his peers.
Mike Ellis Alaska Sales Representative: Mike has worked in the electronics industry since 1970. He has been involved in the marketing of several major consumer electronics lines in the Pacific Northwest including Hitachi, Toshiba, Emerson and Sharp. He worked with and developed relationships with all the major accounts in the marketplace. Prior to joining Oliver Marketing, he was the president of Major Distributors.
Jay Small Washington, Northern Idaho: Jay has an abundance of experience in every side of the 12-volt business, including retail, wholesale and manufacturer experience.
Dennis has over 25 years of retail sales experience, including owning a mobile electronics retail store in the Central Valley for 16 years. Prior to joining the company, Dennis was sales manager for a Northern California distribution company. He shows customers and suppliers careful attention, respect and possesses great follow-through abilities.
John Fernandez SoCal Sales Manager: John Fernandez has 20-plus years in the industry and a B.A. in Electronic Engineering from ITT. He has worked for manufacturers such as Kenwood and Magnadyne, and served as national sales manager for Autopage Inc. He also co-founded Encore Automotive Systems. As the SoCal division sales manager, he covers LA, OC and key accounts.
Ryan Rough SoCal Account Executive: Ryan Rough is an industry veteran with over 20 years of experience. Ryan has worked for companies such as: Z Marketing, Taylor Marketing, and Code Alarm to name a few. Ryan covers the following territories: San Luis Obispo, Kern, and Ventura. Ryan also handles all business with Sonic Electronix.
Rodney Shoemaker SoCal Account Executive: Rodney has over 20 years of experience in all aspects of the car audio industry. He has an extensive technical background since he owned his own expeditor business. He has worked for Western Sales and Marketing, Advanced Marketing, and Taylor marketing selling brands like Rockford, VOXX and Hertz Audison.
Chris Truman Oregon, Southwest Washington: Chris has been involved with sales, distribution and logistics of consumer electronics for the past 15 years. For the past five years, Chris was the warehouse manager at Oliver Marketing’s Beaverton, Ore. location. He’s also a custom fabricator working on all types of vehicles, especially Harley-Davidson motorcycles.
Dennis Medeiros NorCal Central Valley-NV Sales Representative:
Difference Makers Custom Plus Sales Team
Southern, Calif.-- Cerritos
Inside Sales: Kevin Hicks Outside Sales: Dennis Medeiros (NorCal South) Paul Francia (NorCal North/ Western NV)
Inside Sales: Josh Nichols Outside Sales: Wayne Krauss (SoCal Central) Mario Ramos (SoCal South) Rodney Shoemaker (SoCal North)
Inside Sales: Fred Jensen Steve Adkins Outside Sales: Jay Small
Inside Sales: Scott Ragsdale Outside Sales: Chris Truman
Robert’s brother, Matt Oliver, is the Vice President of National and Regional Account Sales, and Sales Manager of 12-volt for the company. or says he is ready to buy direct, we have that ability to convert them,” he said. “It works for smaller dealers or dealers who just like to buy through distribution—allowing them to buy more often, buy smaller quantities—and it lets them turn their inventory more. They don’t get buried in big buys.”
Spring Training Partnering with retailers is one of the company’s strengths and Oliver is proud of the quality of events and trainings the firm helps produce. “We do these Boost events designed to increase a retailer’s knowledge,” Oliver said. “We do it once a year at a hotel, typically in May.” According to Oliver, Training is critical, even more so these days. “They need to
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Bob Oliver founded Oliver Marketing after considering the kind of long-term environment he wanted to create for employees—a place they could feel good about.
know how to use the products and how to sell them,” Oliver continued. “These are full product knowledge trainings, especially instructing how to get a customer excited about the product by knowing certain features. With Kenwood product, for example, there is so much to know— there are so many features—so these trainings are a really big help.” At the Cerritos facility, on-site trainings can be hosted for up to 40 people. Both Kenwood and Directed Electronics have participated. “We invite the dealers, we provide the food and we supply the training and the facility,” Oliver said. “It’s a great space. It’s like a classroom.” Events are another way Oliver Marketing supports dealers. “We show retailers how to do social media—a big thing we are pushing right now—especially as a way to promote events. It’s important to promote on Facebook or Instagram. We teach them how to use Yelp to get good reviews.” Oliver explained they will sit down with retailers to ensure they’re promoting an event properly. “For instance, a Rockford Fosgate event might be a Midnight Madness Sale. We also have a Polaris offroad vehicle which we take to stores to help with promotions,” he said. “Our dealers can do a direct mail piece to invite their customers to come in. We supply the vehicle, the product and we come up
with the specials they can promote.”
Special Delivery Salespeople drive Ford Transit cargo vans, Oliver said. “They can bring product to dealers and call someone ahead of time if they’re going to be in the area and see if a dealer needs anything.” The vans are more than a way to transport product, he added. “They have decent systems, so we can demo products for customers.” The preferred way for reps to build relationships with dealers, he added, is by meeting in person. “They call on the phone, but they see key dealers every couple of weeks,” Oliver said. “We are aggressive with outbound sales calls and in-person selling. Between the fully-loaded Polaris, our Transit vans and our facilities, we are investing back into the company.” Oliver predicts an interesting year ahead. “Everyone’s talking about the economy softening up, so we are going to see how it goes,” he said. “We are plenty busy. The SoCal market has been wonderful for us, but there is still a lot more business for us to find.” In the meantime, Oliver is staying fit and keeping his edge. “I ride my Peloton bike every day,” he said. “I get to the office at 7:30 in the morning and start my day, but it’s 24/7 with our locations and all of our people. I love coming to work.”
The INDUSTRY Comes to Strength In Numbers
KnowledgeFest is the premier learning and product showcase event for the mobile electronics industry If you own or work for a shop as an installer, fabricator, manager or sales professional, you need to get to the Long Beach Convention Center February 23-25 to take your career to the next level! More than 75 brands are on hand to demo newfor-2019 products and answer your questions on applications, function and sales strategy. Even better: over 80 workshops, taught by the industryâ€™s most successful and talented professionals, focus on your specific job function to improve your skill, efficiency and profit-earning potential.
February 23-25, 2019 Long Beach Convention Center
August 9-11, 2019 Dallas Convention Center
March 15-17, 2019 Indianapolis Convention Center
New for 2020 Orlando Convention Center
Register Now at knowledgefest.org
facebook.com/MobileElectronics â€‚ 43
strategy & tactics
How to Sell DSP
WORDS BY ROSA SOPHIA
At KnowledgeFest Long Beach, Ken Ward of Educar Training presented a workshop on selling DSP. Learn who can benefit from DSP, how retailers should sell it and the right way to make it a profitable part of your business. often have nice home systems and they would like something like this in their car,” he added. One of the first steps for a shop that is new to DSP is to figure out “how you’re going to sell your systems. Some In order to sell stereo, Ward said, technicians must solve the of you have been three problems of car stereo—all of which are caused by where selling sound the listeners are seated in the vehicle. systems that don’t do stereo. When it comes to selling stereo, it’s a And you’ve been making money. A lot much different client than someone who’s of people just say, ‘We sell audio.’ That’s looking for a basic audio system—and a great! Because we have made millions of digital sound processor is a complex tool dollars as an industry just selling audio.” that can be intimidating to those who There’s nothing wrong with this, Ward aren’t used to working with it, according explained. “Plenty of your customers just to Ken Ward of Educar Training. want to rock out and don’t care where it A lot of times, Ward said, the client comes from. So, don’t impose them with is older and has a higher income. “They stuff they don’t need, and God knows,
44 Mobile Electronics March 2019
don’t spend your time tuning a system they didn’t pay to have tuned.” So, how can shops successfully sell DSP? “Some people say, ‘Hey, we never really thought about the difference,’” Ward noted. “Well, that’s what we are talking about [today].”
Which Customers Want DSP? Ward likened the DSP to a Swiss Army knife, which offers many different functions. “I need something that does more than one thing,” he said. “I can’t just have one [tool] for time alignment, one for crossover and one for EQ. I need something where they’re all together. That’s what we sell 98 percent of the time.” One of the sources of conflict in a shop, Ward said, involves which aspects of the DSP are actually necessary. “The salesperson sells a DSP and includes it in the kit and ships it, and doesn’t completely communicate to the bay what the expectations are,” he said. “The technician doesn’t have a crystal ball to see what was intended. Most of the time, this is what
we’re dealing with—a product that can do 90 things, but we need four of them.” Communication between the sales floor and the bay is important, Ward said. “Has any technician here spent time setting time delays to try to get the stereo image perfect in the car, and then find out the customer didn’t even expect that?” Though the industry has changed and evolved, he added, the core customer base is still there. “That’s where stereo can make a difference because a lot of people who want stereo are guys like me who make more money than we did when we were 20,” he said. “How far you go into it depends on the client.” Ward explained that a shop might say “all our systems get a digital sound processor at this level of performance.” Different shops may define that level in different ways, he added. “Figure it out for your customers,” Ward said. “My level one, two and three have really moved up and down depending on my assessment of the customer who walked in, and what they were driving.” If a customer is driving a 10-year-old Accord, Ward noted, the first level would be a little easier to get into. “If someone was driving a new 911, level one might be higher. I was profiling. It’s by the car,” he said. “I also tell them, [the DSP] lets us control the results and give you the performance you want. Nobody argues with you about that.” How the sale is approached comes down to finding out what a particular customer will need in order to make their decision, he explained. “Some customers have never heard of stereo. At that point, you’d better figure out what they’re going to listen to. I’m going to give you a tip: Never ask what kind of music someone listens to. What’s the answer? Everything.” Instead of asking what kind of music a customer listens to, Ward said, ask, “What are the first two songs you’re going to play to decide how you like [the system]? If those first two songs are really bass-heavy songs, you know you’ve got to cover the subwoofer side.” With something quieter, he added, “you probably will want to talk to him
about stereo presentation. And you may want to turn up the gain. If he’s listening to the Eagles, if he’s listening to rock or jazz or blues, those genres typically have engineers recording them that care about stereo probably more than the performer [does].”
The Three Problems of Car Stereo In order to sell stereo—rather than simply audio—technicians must work to fix the three problems of car stereo, Ward said. “The three problems are: One side is louder, one side sounds different and one side gets there first,” he said. “That is what we are fixing to create stereo. If you don’t need to create stereo, you should not [mess with that].” The problems are all caused by where the listeners are seated, he explained. “One side is louder because we’re sitting closer to it. One side sounds different because when we sit over at one side of the sofa, the relative angles of the speakers change. If you’re sitting in the center line, they’re symmetrical. Then you move, and the speakers are not pointed the same direction.” The third problem is the more complicated one. These problems do not impact home stereo, Ward said. “Solving the first problem is really easy because we can use the balance control, but with more complicated systems, we’re going to use the output level controls in our DSP,” he continued. “We can’t really do that in amplifiers on their own, because most amplifiers today have the left and the
right level control tied together with one knob.” To solve the second problem, he explained, means that one side has to be equalized differently from the other side in order to get the same response. “That means when you start your DSP software, you have to unlink the left and the right to be able to do that. If someone is singing, and they sound like they’re here, and then they go down in register, and when they move to a different set of notes, this speaker is louder than that speaker, they’re going to slide across the stage.” This ruins the illusion, Ward said. “That’s why you need an independent left and right equalizer. I believe almost every standalone DSP that’s shipping right now has independent left and right equalizers as long as we unclick the button,” he added. When it comes to the third problem, Ward said, “That is time delay. You’re trying to get the right frequency response in the center. I recommend a tape measure. If you can’t get it with a tape measure, there’s something in the OEM integration side that hasn’t been fixed yet. By and large, if you can’t get the tape measure to work, there’s something going on upstream from your DSP that you didn’t figure out.” “I recommend you EQ both sides together on a tune that you’re charging less for,” he added. “When you charge more, split them apart. You double up the cost and you’re literally doubling up the time.”
strategy & tactics Ward touched on what a shop might tell the customer. “I would say there are three problems with trying to make stereo sound good in your car,” he said, “and they’re all caused by where you sit, and we have to address all three problems. If the customer didn’t care about the stereo image, are they going to tell me at that point? Maybe. Sometimes I tell them, ‘It’s okay. I care enough for both of us.’”
Controlling the Outcome Digital sound processors are tools to control the outcome of a stereo system, Ward said. “I’m a big believer in putting together predesigned systems.” He noted, “If you look at almost any DSP supplier who makes multiple models, the way most of us have differentiated between the cheapest and the most expensive is by how many inputs and outputs they have,” he explained. “And that’s the least important difference.” Ward advised finding other differences between DSPs. “Sometimes the cheap one has a graphic EQ, and when you go through the line you start to pick up parametric equalization, which is a lot more powerful. It takes a little more to tune and you get better results.” The two most important functions, he said, are OEM correction and acoustic optimization. “We know that correction is EQ and adding things together is summing. The four big functions of optimization are EQ, crossovers, output and time. That is really the core function of a DSP.” Ward added that, very often, technicians don’t touch the factory signal. “If you’re using a factory radio, you have to fix the signal,” he said. “A lot of shops take the output of a factory radio and run it right into an amp.” Controlling the outcome means paying attention to two factors, he said: “Correcting the factory signal. If you’re using an aftermarket head unit, you don’t have to do this part. The second part is optimizing the sound in the cabin, and that’s usually what we call tuning. Everything else is gravy. I’m not saying it doesn’t matter. I’m saying that these are the core
46 Mobile Electronics March 2019
functions you have to get comfortable with.” “Good sound, to me, consists of the tone, and consists of the stereo performance. The tone is system design, the speakers you select, and the tone is also the equalization you apply to it and the tune, and the stereo performance is largely the tune.”
Building Confidence in Selling DSP When shops sell DSP, Ward said, they get a higher per-ticket average. “I think it’s a very powerful differentiator. [Say] you have a customer who goes to three shops, and two shops say, ‘Yeah, it’s going to rock, listen to this,’ and one shop says, ‘We could give you stereo,’ and they’ve identified the customer properly as someone who might be interested in stereo, [they’ve set themselves] apart from the competition. Especially when [the shop has] the experience of delivering it.” Ward advised shops consider pricing carefully, again stating, “Don’t spend time setting left and right EQ separately and time delay and [everything else] if you didn’t charge for it. I decided there’re three paths to selling DSP,” Ward added, noting that in the nine years he worked at Musicar Northwest with Tom Miller, he almost always installed DSP. “The first [path] is the demo,” he said. “[The second] is the assumption, ‘This is what we do.’ A lot of shops that do mainstream work aren’t going to take the position of, ‘We only put DSP in.’ I’m not going to tell you to do that. Assuming that at a certain level of performance, we use DSP, it’s a legitimate approach.” The third method, he said, is the explanation. “Only a small number of customers want any explanation for this sort of thing,” he added. “If you go too far that way, it’s a waste of everyone’s time. I will just say this: Customers don’t want to
know how it works. They want to be confident that you know how it works.” Ward advised taking care when attempting to make the left and right sides match during a demo. “That leads to one of the complaints about DSP, which is, ‘It doesn’t get as loud as I want it to once I put the DSP in.’ Don’t let that trip up your demo.” Explain it to a customer in a way that feels right to you, Ward said. “Tell people, ‘We make the left and right side speakers sound the same.’ Once you say that, I think it makes more sense.” Another explanation is, “We make the subwoofer blend with the front stage,” he said. “I’m not going to explain how time delay can avoid cancellation at the crossover points. I’m just going to say, ‘We make the subwoofer sound like it’s up front.’” Or, Ward said, “‘We put the center in the center, and the sides on the sides.’ If you sell DSPs, think about which [phrase] you want to use.” When a salesperson isn’t proficient at selling DSP, “People can tell you’re not confident. You don’t want to make promises if you’re not sure you can keep them. Once you get past that,” and gain confidence, Ward said, “you will be able to make it a business. And you will be able to make money at it.”
P P ORT NTENT CO
F T N GS HI
www.InstallerNet.com • 800-444-1644 facebook.com/MobileElectronics 47
MACHINING FOR THE 12-VOLT INDUSTRY How to find a CNC that works best for you, set it up for optimum efficiency and start using it in your shop. WORDS BY JOEY KNAPP
Last month, we got a glimpse into 3D printing thanks to the very knowledgeable Brian Schurg. Hopefully, Brian answered some of the questions you had about 3D printer technology and how to integrate it into your mobile electronics business. This month we will continue looking into the more popular maker tools being utilized by 12-volt fabricators. This segment on CNC machines is written by yours truly. I am the new owner of a hobbyist CNC!
Exploring the Options: From 3D Printer to CNC I have known about 3D printers, CNC and lasers for quite some time. In recent years, my Facebook feeds have been dominated by my 12-volt friends making all sorts of game-changing items with their new automated tools. It’s very exciting to see how our industry is advancing, but also a little discouraging for me because most of these technologies were financially out of my reach. The 3D printer was the most cost-effective option, and the prices continue to
48 Mobile Electronics March 2019
drop. I wasn’t sure, however, that I could see one of those fitting into real world everyday use in my shop. The main issue was the printing time. I knew plenty of friends with them, so if I ever really needed something printed, I could probably arrange it. The other challenge to a 3D printer was the software. I started learning Fusion 360 and realized it would be a steeper learning curve than I really had time for at this point. Lasers are another cool tool. There were some more affordable options, but it seemed you got what you paid for. The more inexpensive lasers were either from companies that may have questionable support, or didn’t provide enough wattage to cut what I wanted to cut. I knew I could handle the software for a laser, but there was no value at the price point I could afford. The final option was a CNC. I could see myself getting regular use out of it. I always thought it would be great to have box designs saved, and cut them at the click of a button. A few years ago, the owner of Jacksonville, Florida-based Audio Designs & Custom Graphics, Darren Fettik, invited
me to his facility to take part in the training for his new CNC. Darren had recently jumped feet-first into production fabrication with the purchase of a Techno HDS 4896. It was exciting to spend the day learning about the capabilities of that fine machine. This was my first experience seeing a CNC in action, and it was certainly impressive! The problem: Your first exposure to something this superior is that the bar is set very high. After leaving Darren’s shop, I knew the way to go was a four-foot by eight-foot machine. In my mind, that was truly the only option for a mobile electronics fabricator. As a result, I had yet again priced myself out of a new fabrication tool.
Changing the Way We Think About CNC I continued with my rudimentary caveman techniques of routering by hand, and sanding things. A few years ago, I started seeing the items one of buddies, Christopher McNulty, had been creating. He was making smaller pieces, and did not have a full-sheet CNC. He had purchased a smaller desktop model. I initially
CNC Machining for the 12-Volt Industry
disregarded it, because I’d told myself full sheet was the only way to go. Over time, I kept seeing him make very useful pieces with it, and my wall of fullsheet dogma began to erode. Bringing the wall down further was an experience I had with a local friend of mine, Brian Boatwright. Brian (http://briankb.com/) is the biggest maker fan I know. He has lasers and CNC machines and 3D printers. He is always encouraging me to embrace this technology. My wife needed a sign engraved for a bench to honor a fallen Sheriff’s deputy, so I called on my buddy Brian because I knew if anyone could help, it was him. He said his CNC wasn’t long enough to engrave the full board in a single pass, but he could tile the pieces together. Hold the bus—What? Yep, if the CNC is open on the ends, it is possible for it to handle pieces longer than the bed. This was a bit of a paradigm shift for me. Just because the bed measurements are only 36 inches long, doesn’t mean the machine was restricted to a 36-inch cut! Brian ended up doing a great job on the sign. I was captivated by the V-carved letters.
Locating an Affordable, High-Quality CNC When I saw what my friend Charles Brazil, of First Coast Auto Creations, was able to do with his Shapeoko CNC, it helped push me toward acquiring my own machine. Charles was posting photos of the work he’d been doing with the CNC, and that prompted me to ask him questions about his machine. He was using the Shapeoko by Carbide 3D. I did some research on the Shapeoko, and learned it’s very affordable (about $1,800 for the XXL model). It also had good reviews. Another appealing factor is that it had a big online presence. There were a number of Facebook groups supporting it, as well as an active forum. Carbide 3D not only makes the CNC kits, but it also makes its own controller software—Carbide Motion—along with a design program called Carbide Create. Both of those are free and can be downloaded by anyone. I chose to do that during my research on the CNC and
One of the first projects I tried was a simple six-by-nine adapter plate.
found that Carbide Create was very intuitive and easy to use. I could design things get me started. in Illustrator, which I am well-versed in, and import the vector art into Carbide Finding the Best Way to Store a CNC Create. Machine From there, it’s a matter of assigning My first major decision involved how I tool paths to the various line paths. I felt would store the CNC. Did I want to build much more confident in my abilities with a table for it in my wood room? Should this than I did with Fusion 360, because I it be mobile? I decided that rather than could use what I’m already familiar with. leave it in the woodshop all the time, I I began to rationalize that it would be a wanted the base to be mobile, so I could good idea to buy a smaller CNC and learn keep it out of a potentially dusty environthe ins and outs, in preparation for a fullment when it wasn’t being used. sheet model. This plan could potentially To save time in building a table, I save me from making the mistake of a found a modular shop table kit from larger financial commitment on someRockler. This kit would allow me to create thing that I might not be able to use. a 48- by 48-inch bench that was 32 inches It was mid-November when I decided I high (a little higher with the casters), and would make the purchase. I had begun to give me the flexibility to roll it around. see people ask about a Carbide 3D Black Friday sale, and after some research, I learned they typically do have a sale during that time. Once the sale was announced, I would make my purchase. The Black Friday sale offered a free touch probe with the purchase of a Shapeoko machine. I chose the Shapeoko XXL because it was the largest model, offering a cutting area of around 33 by 33 inches (and longer if the piece is tiled). The rolling cart makes a perfect home for the new Along with the machine, I also Shapeoko XXL. purchased a handful of bits to facebook.com/MobileElectronics 49
An additional hole was added to shift the drag chain enough to clear the X limit switch. The brace was welded in the middle, but bolted to the cart, in case it ever needed to be removed.
Rivet nuts were added toward the center to provide a spot for leveling the center of the cart top.
I planned on topping the bench with a piece of ¾-inch MDF. While doing some research on what other people were using for their benches, I found the Shapeoko XXL wasteboard has the potential to sag in the middle over time. To give me the flexibility to adjust for any future sagging, and to further support the center, I made an X brace for the top. I added four rivet nuts. Bolts would apply pressure from underneath and re-flatten the center if my top ever sags.
Assembling and Setting Up the Shapeoko XXL With my table ready, I headed off to California to work at Simplicity in Sound. It was hard leaving, knowing any day the CNC would arrive and I would be thousands of miles away! As usual, the time flew by quickly, and I soon returned home. The Shapeoko was waiting for me. While I was gone, I reviewed the
50 Mobile Electronics March 2019
Everything is neatly packaged and ready to be assembled. assembly instructions, so I had a pretty solid idea of what was required for the build. If you consider buying one of these for your shop, understand that it’s not a turnkey device. It takes hours to assemble and a few more of final tweaking and adjustments to dial it in. I think I was much better off assembling it myself instead of buying one fully assembled. The process
of building the machine acquaints you with the different parts, their names and how they interact. Items arrived neatly packaged in one large box. Individual parts were well-organized, separately boxed and labeled. Assembly was straightforward. First, I had to make a modification to the bracket for the X-axis limit switch. If installed in the manner instructed, the switch would contact the wiring drag chain. I simply added an additional mounting hole to the existing bracket to allow the bracket to shift about ¼-inch. Since the wiring drag chain is usermounted with no set location, shifting it
The spots of the drag chain mounting were drilled and tapped.
Bolting the drag chain to the rail made it much more secure than using the supplied tape.
CNC Machining for the 12-Volt Industry
and easy to figure out. Having the table already put together and ready for the machine was nice because I was able to build it and not have to move it. One of the last steps in the installation is the wiring. I chose to deviate from some of their cable management suggestions in order to route the wiring a little more neatly. There is nothing wrong with the method they recommend; just know it can be done in a more organized fashion.
Completing the CNC Machine Setup
The dial indicator made it easy to see where the adjustments were needed. slightly for clearance is no issue at all. Carbide 3D’s solution for mounting the plastic drag chain to the aluminum rail is to use VHB tape. While VHB is a great solution for some things, this is not one of them. Charles suggested I use his method, and drill and tap mounting holes for the chain. I ended up drilling and tapping holes for not only the wiring drag chain, but also the wire tie mounting squares. They were also supposed to be secured with adhesive tape, but I knew in the Florida heat and humidity that it wouldn’t hold up. Sometimes, I think, the instructions made a bigger deal about construction than necessary. It mentioned supporting the gantry on boxes when loading the Y-axis assembly; this seemed like something a normal person could do by hand. I didn’t feel like any part of the assembly was confusing or complicated. A couple of spots in the instructions skipped over relevant steps, but if you understand the end goal, they are very logical
With the CNC assembled, it was time to move to the process of squaring up the bed and tramming the spindle. The instructions from Carbide 3D cover this process, but I found a more comprehensive explanation on YouTube on Winston Moy’s channel. I had been trying to square my bed, but I had somewhat of a parallelogram. All my efforts of loosening the end plates and adjusting didn’t seem to work. Winston suggested in his video using a ratchet strap to help coax the bed into squareness. I tried it, and it worked! I have also seen instances in which rails were not cut 100 percent precisely, so make sure to check your rail length as a culprit for squaring issues. Once I had the bed square, I moved on to checking the squareness of the X- and Y-axis to the wasteboard. I purchased an inexpensive dial indicator that came with an adjustable magnetic base, and attached the base to the Z-axis spindle frame with the magnet. Once adjusted, I slid the Z-axis assembly along the length of the X and Y rails and noted the measurements at each end. I was about .009 off on my X- and about .007 on my Y-axis. The X-axis required more work.
Cleaning the powder coating out of the end bracket holes provided me with enough clearance for the necessary adjustments.
Thanks, Winston, for the ratchet strap tip!
I removed bolts from the end plate and cleaned the powder coating off the plate openings to provide a little more adjustment. With the holes slightly enlarged and some upward pressure applied to the low side, I re-tightened the fasteners. So far, I have found these tolerances to be more than accurate enough for the projects I have completed. The final step in the machine assembly was to create a secondary wasteboard. Because most pieces will inevitably be cut deeper than their thickness, whatever is facebook.com/MobileElectronics 51
tech today under the piece will be cut. It is common to preserve the factory board as long as possible by using a wasteboard on top of it. When it comes to securing items to the wasteboard, I found the following methods often used: • Simple template tape: This not only holds the piece securely, but also holds when pieces are cut loose from the larger substrate. • Clamps: This seems to be what the majority use to secure their work. Two methods of clamp attachment are most popular: using T-track, and threaded inserts. A concern when using clamps is making sure the path of the tool does not run into a clamp. • Screws: Yes, I have run across a few cavemen who just screw their pieces right into the wasteboard. This seems to be very barbaric because the screws will damage the wasteboard and throw off the flatness. I guess if the pieces you’re cutting aren’t too precise, then this might be okay.
The mounting holes for the T-track were countersunk to make sure there was clearance for bolt heads to slide the full length of the track. I chose to use clamps as my method of securing, via T-track. I used six T-tracks that were recessed below the new wasteboard surface. The T-tracks I got did not have provisions for screws, so I had to drill and countersink the screw holes. The screws need to be flush in the bottom of the T-track so that bolts can slide in unencumbered.
Bar clamps hold the T-track and wasteboard strips in place while they are screwed down.
The completed wasteboard provides secure mounting for the pieces to be cut.
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Once the T-tracks were prepped and I had the wasteboard strips cut and the mounting holes sunk with a forstner bit, I clamped the pieces together onto the Shapeoko wasteboard. The bar clamps held all the pieces square while they were being screwed in. This completed my secondary wasteboard and clamping system. Next month, we’ll take a look at what I chose for dust collection, and some of the projects I tackled using my CNC.
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Jaunty Jeeps SUBMITTED BY JONATHAN MOORE, DREAMWORKS MOTORSPORTS, ROXBORO, NC
Located in Roxboro, North Carolina, Dreamworks Motorsports has been building dream cars for years. The two Jeeps featured this month were for both an NBA player and an NHL player. Each Jeep received upgraded wheels and tires, thanks to the in-house wheel and tire team. The black Jeep was painted with a full satin paint job, while the team treated the silver Jeep to smoothed and painted door handles and fenders. Having their own paint booth and body shop allows the Dreamworks Motorsports team to keep the paint standards high. Making the interior look as good as the exterior was the Dreamworks Motorsports upholstery division.
â€‚ Mobile Electronics March 2019
The audio systems for the Jeeps was completed by yet another division of Dreamworks, their audio department. The crew of Jonathan Moore, Dustin Winn, Rodney Hairston and Matthew Little went to work creating two visually unique audio systems. Both feature gear by JL Audio and some great-looking rear storage area enclosures. One unique aspect of each enclosure is the use of background graphics for additional accent. Having a large format color printer in its inventory makes adding details like this easy. The addition of custom lighting completed the Jeeps. Both received red interior lighting and rock lights to illuminate the wheel wells. To see more of the great cars being built at Dreamworks, head over to their website at www.dreamworksmotorsports.com.
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SUBMITTED BY: ROB DECRANE, SOUNDWAVES, TAMPA, FLA.
The owner of this 2019 Ford Mustang GT recently had his audio system upgraded with the latest and greatest gear from JL Audio. Rob DeCrane, Director of Operations at Soundwaves, put his finest techs on the installation. Woody Lay and Michael Delaguila worked together to craft stylish integration of JL Audio C7 3-way speakers and a pair of JL Audio 10w7 subwoofers. Power and processing for the system is via a pair of JL Audio VXi amplifiers. The new amplifiers feature a diminutive footprint and offer loads of clean power and onboard processing. Once the installation was wrapped up, Soundwaves owner Peter Ruiz jumped in and tuned the system to perfection. Additional lighting was added to highlight the system components and interior. To integrate the lighting with the factory Ford Sync 3 system, custom lighting had to be ordered all the way from China. The results, though, are a seamlessly integrated lighting solution.
56â€‚ Mobile Electronics March 2019
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See the April issue for show coverage of both KnowledgeFest Long Beach and KnowledgeFest Indy. 58â€‚ Mobile Electronics March 2019
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