Page 1

July 2019

me-mag.com

WE BUILD LEADERS

Sound FX elevates its people as it grows new revenue streams 50/50/20: Tops for ’19! The Industry celebrates the best retailers, installers & sales pros

Hot Sellers: Closing Strategies for Amps & Speakers Tech Today: The Continental Converted Makers: Face Time from Florida


optimize your senses

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Volume 44 // Issue 7

Articles

20 20 Retail News / Who’s Who 70 Installs

Departments

14

6 Editor’s Forum 8 Feedback 74 From The President

FEATURES 14// What’s Happening: Top 50 Installers and Retailers This year’s Top 50 and Top 20 are the first to include international recipients. Final awards will be announced at KnowledgeFest in Dallas this coming August.

36// Real World Retail: Sound FX By promoting and supporting the work of its team members, Sound FX has become a nationally recognized business in Delaware, drawing clients from coast to coast.

50// Difference Makers: Dynamic Sales and Marketing By logging face-to-face visits and connecting with customers, John Schneid—founder of Dynamic Sales & Marketing—keeps it real by taking to the road.

56// Strategy & Tactics: Finding Balance Learning to balance work life and family life is a common issue among industry professionals. To keep from getting overwhelmed, schedule family time as well as time for yourself, and be flexible whenever necessary. If you’re a business owner, encourage your employees to find a balance, too.

62// Tech Today: Mobsteel Suicide Slab Gets Audio Makeover A repeat Simplicity in Sound client drops off the keys for his 1960s Lincoln Continental for his biggest stereo system upgrade yet.

On the Cover COVER DESIGN: Manny DeJesus Sound FX is a nationally recognized brand, drawing clients from coast to coast. This award-winning business is a Top 50 Retailer this year, and continues moving forward by celebrating the talents and accomplishments of the entire team. This month we feature the team on the cover, honoring their hard work and dedication to the industry.

4  Mobile Electronics July 2019

Ad Index AAMP Global: PAC AmpPRO….....................p. 39 Accele Electronics…......................................p. 2&3 Alpine....................................................................…p. 33 Arc Audio............................................................…p. 43 AudioControl.....................................................…p. 35 Audiomobile......................................................…p. 55 Aurigin…..................................................................p. 57 Author Alarm....................................................…p. 55 DD Audio.............................................................…p. 12 Directed…...............................................................p. 45 DOW Electronics…............................................p. 59 DS18…......................................................................p. 54 Escort Electronics..........................................…p. 31 Firstech…................................................................p. 75 Harman: Infinity..............................................…p. 23 HD Radio.............................................................…p. 25 Hertz.....................................................................…p. 44 InstallerNet.......................................................…p. 67 Instrument Sales & Service (ISS)..........…p. 57 JL Audio…................................................................p. 19 K40 Electronics…............................................... p. 17 Kenwood................................................................…p. 7 MEA: KnowledgeFest...................................…p. 51 MECP................................................…p. 27 and p. 65 Memphis Audio...............................................…p. 53 Metra: AXXESS …...............................................p. 21 Nemesis Audio.................................................…p. 61 Orca: Blackhole...................................................…p. 9 Powerbass….........................................................p. 49 Rockford Fosgate.............................................…p. 11 Rostra....................................................................…p. 61 SiriusXM..............................................................…p. 13 Sony.........................................................................…p. 5 SounDigital........................................................…p. 29 SQL Audio..........................................................…p. 59 VAIS Technology…............................................. p. 41 VOXX Electronics: GENTEX......................…p. 76 Wet Sounds.......................................................…p. 47


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.

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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.

facebook.com/MobileElectronics   5


editor’s forum

What Comes After

Being recognized during the Industry Awards is an honor, but roll up your sleeves. You’ve got more work to do. As much as this industry is a community, it is also a collection of individual people and businesses. We collaborate nationally and compete locally. That’s what makes the Industry Awards so fun, because it totally bucks this trend. We take what we’ve accomplished locally and put it up against others to compete nationally. And if you see this year’s Top 50 lists, we’re now competing internationally. The Mobile Electronics Industry Awards is a big stage with a big spotlight. It has launched careers and created heroes from relative unknowns. As editor for the magazine, my vision for the recipients of this award is very simple: If someone were to ask me to show them the best of what our industry has to offer, I should be able to point to the winning brands, businesses and individuals and say, “There you are.” This means that the awards are about more than skill, experience and expertise. These alone don’t build businesses. It’s the ability to talk about them, promote them and build trust from those who listen, and then fulfill that trust. That’s why the awards process starts with self-nominations rather than people nominating other people: it mirrors the requirement to tell who you are and why you should be deserving of the award. So what am I building up to here? This is an industry in which we survive and grow by identifying and emulating good examples. That is the whole objective of this magazine and one of the three core components of KnowledgeFest. There is no more direct identification of those good examples than the winners presented throughout the Industry Awards process. We all want to get better at what we do, so if you are a Top 50, Top 20, Top 12, Top 5, Top 3, Runner-Up or ultimate winner, you are now an example of “better.” Biggie famously said, “Mo’ money, mo’ problems.” What he is really saying is that everything is relative. In our application, it means that winning and being recognized carries additional responsibility. You’re no longer the business or individual existing within four walls. Your four walls now include a saloon door that swings both ways and can’t be permanently shut. As the entity that provides the platform for your recognition, we encourage you to live up to this responsibility. I am all for using your award to build more trust from your customer base. But I also want you to invest in making your industry better as well. Here’s how you do it. First, overcome your fear to share … it’s obsolete. Our own experience has shown us that strong customer relationships play a larger part in gaining and maintaining customers than skill and expertise. So we’re past the point of hoarding secrets for fear of losing customers. (If you lose them that easily, it

6  Mobile Electronics July 2019

means they didn’t trust you in the first place.) To that point, there’s no reason you can’t present examples of your expertise for others in your industry to learn.

If someone were to ask me to show them the best of what our industry has to offer, I should be able to point to the winning brands, businesses and individuals and say, ‘There you are.

Let people know what you’re really good at. We are all jacksof-all-trades, but there are some things in which we excel. Do you manage and anticipate your inventory needs expertly? Are you a wiring guru? Do you have non-existent turnover? These individual abilities can make a significant difference in helping another business. Make yourself available to answer questions. Get on Facebook and join groups in which industry professionals are looking for solutions. Offer your thoughts and experiences, and let participants know they can contact you offline if they need more information. Recognize others for their good works. If you come across an article, post or picture that shows another store’s or individual’s accomplishment, take the time to comment, even if it’s a short “Great job!” Relay your good and bad experiences. If you find the time (haha!), write down an experience you’ve had with your business or profession that you feel could help others. Post it in the appropriate groups and be prepared to answer questions or provide more detail in the resulting dialogue. Try to get better at something else. Leading by example doesn’t just move in one direction. Progressive companies and proactive individuals also lead by showing they can still learn. Use these same groups and gatherings to improve your own expertise. I want to congratulate the winners we have so far and wish you luck as we work toward the final awards in Dallas. But don’t wait to be that good example the industry looks up to. Your time in the spotlight starts now.


TALK. TEXT. NAVIGATE. ROCK-OUT & DRIVE.

Be safe! Wirelessly control your phone and keep your focus on the road.

Android Screen Mirroring

www.kenwood.com/usa Š2019 Kenwood and Kenwood eXcelon are registered trademarks of JVCKenwood in the United States and may be a registered trademark, or trademark, in other countries. All other third-party product names, brand names and logos are trademarks of their respective owners.


 feedback

Positive Perspective When business is slow, see it as an opportunity instead of a downfall. Retailers recommend being prepared and continually improving processes and procedures.

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

EDITORIAL Solomon Daniels Editor-in-Chief 978.645.6463 • solomond@mobile-electronics.com Rosa Sophia Managing Editor 978.645.6466 • rosas@mobile-electronics.com Creative Layout and Design: Manny DeJesus Contributing Editors: Jamie Sorcher, Joey Knapp and Laura Kemmerer

Published by TM

mobile electronics association

“Execution of the processes we have put in place have drastically helped improve the efficiency of the entire business. Although we still have a lot to improve on getting them in place and making sure they are followed through on has proven very helpful for the day to day operations. Coming from an installer background it has been a long road to learn this (and I still have a long way to go) but there is no other single thing that has improved the overall business more.” Brandon Green, The Car Audio Shop, High Ridge, Mo. “If you are in an area where natural disasters are possible (hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, etc.), make sure you have loss of income coverage. You’ll be glad you did.” Bill Sommers, Sommer Sound Systems, Panama City, Fla. “Try to take as many [educational] classes as possible.” Tony Tummillo, Advance Electronics, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada “Don’t say, ‘Business is slow.’ Instead, say, ‘We have been working hard to catch up with the newest and latest products that are due to arrive at our store in a couple of days.’ It all starts with a conversation to inform your customers. Show them the new products you can get for them. Be more interactive with your customers, and they will tell their friends, family and relatives about the experience they had at your store. This will create more revenue, product experience and knowledge about the products you have to offer.” Adrian Manrique, Mid-State Distributing, Broadview, Ill. “Don’t be afraid to charge for your time: They are coming to you because you have the knowledge and expertise to complete the job they are inquiring about.” Matt Kouyoumjian, Luxury Details Inc., Southborough, Mass.

8  Mobile Electronics July 2019

Chris Cook, President 978.645.6434 • chrisc@mobile-electronics.com Kerry Moyer, VP Strategic Partnerships 978.645.6457 • kerrym@mobile-electronics.com Solomon Daniels, Dir. Media and Communications 978.645.6463 • solomond@mobile-electronics.com Richard Basler, Dir. Technology Solutions 978.645.6449 • richb@mobile-electronics.com Tony Frangiosa, Chairman of the Board, MEA 1) Title of publication: Mobile Electronics. 2) Publication No.: 957-170 6. (ISSN# 1523-763X) 3) Copyright © 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


 stats

Are your partners & product a match for autosound demand? HEAD UNITS AMPLIFIERS Number of Brands:

Number of Brands:

NONE - 1%

3-

1 - 1%

9%

11%

1 - 8%

5+ -

4-

NONE - 1%

2- 31%

15

%

5+ -30% 0%

3 - 40%

2-

% 23

3

- 15

%

er w Fe

11-15 - 21%

45

SPEAKERS

– 64 % 11+

Same – 39%

6-10 -20%

Fewer - 29%

SUBS / LOADED ENCLOSURES Number of Brands:

Number of Brands:

1 - 4%

2 - 8%

NONE - 1%

3

5 - 40%

5 - 18%

8% -1

4 - 26% 4 - 33%

Number of SKUs:

3 - 18%

Compared to Last Year:

Number of SKUs:

Compared to Last Year:

7%

-1

11-15

Same - 38%

More - 34%

- 10%

16-20 - 25%

10  Mobile Electronics July 2019

16-2

0-1

% - 10

21+ - 40%

10 6-

2 - 34%

21+

1-5 - 7 %

NONE - 1%

M

%

33 %

19%

1-5

More – 16%

6-10 - 32%

14

38

%

1-5 -

e– or

+12%

Compared to Last Year:

NONE - 2%

%

21 16-20 -

Number of SKUs:

Same -

Compared to Last Year:

NONE - 1%

4-

Number of SKUs:

6%

More – 18%

1-5 - 27%

11-15 - 25% 6-10 - 22% Fewer - 28%

Same – 57%

Fewer – 25%


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 helpful stuff

1501 Ways to Reward Employees BY BOB NELSON

Author Bob Nelson, Ph.D., who is president of Nelson Motivation, Inc., and a founding board member of the National Association for Employee Recognition (NAER), knows a thing or two about this topic—employee recognition. His books on management and motivation have sold over three million copies. Today more than ever, businesses in an ever-evolving workplace—which often means remote or virtual employees, freelancers, sales reps and others who are on temp basis—need a way to creatively motivate everyone. The low- and no-cost rewards and strategies in this book are taken from thousands of companies across the globe. There are informal concepts to more outrageous ones. For bosses, entrepreneurs, small business owners, consultants—really for anyone out there trying to make a living—this is required reading!

Inspire Box BY SUCCESSORIES

Employee rewards are a no-brainer to keep everyone motivated and happy! But how to do it? This subscription service from Successories is a great option because this company does all the work. Once a quarter, for $15 per employee, Successories sends out what’s called an Inspire Box™, packed with a variety of thematically appropriate items. Best of all, it’s an easy program—no software and no time-consuming coordination. Let Successories know how many team members are to be motivated and inspired and they do the rest.

12  Mobile Electronics April 2019


Make Their Day: Employee Recognition That Works BY CINDY VENTRICE

Companies spend big bucks on employee recognition programs, yet 65 percent of employees say they feel underappreciated. According to Ventrice, it’s due to the fact that few organizations understand what makes an employee feel truly recognized. It isn’t about perks and privileges. It’s about integrating recognition into the daily routine of the workplace. The keys are praise, thanks, opportunity for growth, and respect. With a foreword by Robert Levering, coauthor of Fortune’s annual “100 Best Companies to Work For in America” and cofounder of Great Place to Work Institute, this is a revised and expanded second edition. It provides examples of recognition programs and includes two new chapters on differences in reward preferences and on ensuring that reward practices are perceived as fair and equitable.

Bonusly

You want employees to feel a sense of purpose and progress at work, right? Here’s an app that offers options to make it happen. Bonusly is a rewards and engagement service that lets employees and teams reward one another for the great work they do every day. Founded in 2012, it is based on the power of frequent and timely positive feedback. With recognition in the hands of those closest to the work, Bonusly motivates teams and makes sure no vital contributions go unnoticed. Also, employees get an allowance every month to give small bonuses to their colleagues to recognize their contributions. Bonuses appear in a public feed so that everyone can see the important work happening across the team. The service allows employees to use points to buy gift cards from popular brands, as well as cash and charity donation options that are instantly available. Bonusly’s extensive digital rewards catalog makes rewarding employees simple and impactful.

Everything You Love To Hear. Right Here. Kelly Clarkson on

SiriusXM subscription sold separately by SiriusXM. facebook.com/MobileElectronics   13 © 2018 Sirius XM Radio Inc. Sirius, XM and all related marks 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.


 What’s Happening

QUEST FOR THE BEST

806 Autoworks Amarillo, TX

DC Car Audio Electronic & Acc Sarnia, ON

Hi-Pro Audio Victoria, TX

Absolute Electronix Derwood, MD

DES of Wilmington Wilmington, NC

JC Audio Jackson, TN

ACT Audio Vernon, CT

Driven Mobile Electronics Chantilly, VA

JML Audio of St. Louis Fenton, MO

Adrenaline Autosound Clayton, NC

Elevated Audio Lakewood, CO

KarTele Mobile Electronics Waterbury, CT

Al & Ed’s Autosound Los Angeles, CA

Explicit Customs Melbourne, FL

Audio X Florence, AL

Extreme Car Audio Marrero, LA

Kartunes Auto Stereo and Alarm Seaside, CA

AudioWorks Newark, DE

First Coast Auto Creations Jacksonville, FL

California Audio West Valley City, UT

Foss Audio & Tint Tukwila, WA

Cartunes Atlanta Atlanta, GA

GNC Customs Goshen, IN

Car-Tunes, Inc. Greenville, MS

Greg’s Custom Audio & Video Pikeville, KY

Certified Autosound & Security Abbotsford, BC

Handcrafted Auto, Marine and Off Road Chandler, AZ

14  Mobile Electronics June 2019

Lakes Audio Baxter, MN Lakeside Audio Conroe, TX LIS Audio Spring Hill, KS Loud and Clear Audio & Tint Wylie, TX Mobile Toys College Station, TX Mobileworks & Tintworks Santa Maria, CA


Quest for the Best NVS Audio Roselle, NJ Ocala Car Audio Ocala, FL Prestige Car Audio & Marine Metairie, LA Seismic Autosound Concord, CA Showtime Audio Chicago, IL Solar Pro Tint n Tunes Warrensburg, MO Sonic Sound Arlington, VA Sound Connection Waite Park, MN Sound FX Lewes, DE SoundsGood Auto Coquitlam, BC Stereo & Video Center Tyler, TX The Car Audio Shop High Ridge, MO The Sound Shop Indian Trail, NC Titan Motoring Nashville, TN

Tim Baillie – Trick Factory Customs Maple Ridge, BC

Dan Castro – The Car Audio Shop High Ridge, MO

Pierce Barrett – Soundscape Car Audio Carrollton, TX

Jeff Cheek – Traffic Jams Motorsports Buford, GA

Melinton Benavides – Speed of Sound Technologies Milford, CT

William Coats – Mobile Toys College Station, TX

Dean Beyett – Five Star Car Stereo Clearwater, FL Michael Bischoff – Traffic Jams Motorsports Buford, GA Johnny Bouldin – Loud and Clear Audio & Tint Wylie, TX

Traffic Jams Motorsports Buford, GA

Josh Bowen – Sommer Sound Systems Panama City, FL

TunesNTint Lakeland, FL

John Brettle – Cartunes Atlanta, GA

Westminster Speed and Sound Westminster, MD

T.J. Carlson – Musicar Northwest Portland, OR

BJ Curcio – Broken Silence Custom Car Audio Stamford, CT Adam Devine – Devine Concepts Naples, FL Nik Edmonds – Handcrafted Auto, Marine and Off Road Chandler, AZ Ata Ehdaivand – Absolute Electronix Rockville, MD David Evans – Adrenaline Autosound Clayton, NC Nicholas Frazier – iNNovative Concepts West Springfield, MA

facebook.com/MobileElectronics

15


 What’s Happening Gabriel Perez – NVS Audio Roselle, NJ Adam Perkins – Sound Wave Customs Virginia Beach, VA David Phillips – The Sound Shop Indian Trail, NC Cameron Powell – LIS Audio Spring Hill, KS Aaron Garcia – Perfectionist Auto Sound and Security Anchorage, AK

Callum Martin – AV-DC Pty Ltd Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

Bobby Gately – Gately Audio Antelope, CA

Colin McAndrew – Brian Reimer Audio Winnipeg, MB

Joe Giallombardo – Abt Electronics Glenview, IL

Keith Price – Tint World 011 Apex, NC Carlos Ramirez – NVS Audio Roselle, NJ Daryl Reetz – Lakes Audio Baxter, MN

Christopher McNulty – Driven Mobile Electronics Chantilly, VA

Jeovani Rojas – Showtime Audio Chicago, IL

Rob Miller – JML Audio of St. Louis Fenton, MO

Kelly Rush – Traffic Jams Motorsports Buford, GA

Jesse Mitchell – Safe & Sound Mobile Electronics Manassas, VA

Aaron Schildknecht – Solar Pro Tint n Tunes Warrensburg, MO

Bryan Huston – Stereo Installs Mentor, OH

Tyler Neault – Certified Autosound and Security Maple Ridge, BC

Mike Schwitz – Sound Connection Waite Park, MN

Aaron Iwane – Elevated Audio Lakewood, CO

Joseph Norton – Sound Wave Customs Virginia Beach, VA

CJ Silvey – Foss Audio and Tint Puyallup, WA

Roop Gossal – Inc Ridez Surrey, BC Adrian Herrera – 806 Autoworks Amarillo, TX Justin Hosek – Hi-Pro Audio Victoria, TX

Dak Kosechata – 806 Autoworks Amarillo, TX Dave Koz – Unique Upholstery Gilbert, AZ Christopher Labonte – Vibe Car Audio Red Deer, AB, Canada Justin Marks – Titan Motoring Nashville, TN 16  Mobile Electronics July 2019

Dalton Trainer – Car-Tunes Greenville, MS

Jeremy Owen – Highdown Car Audio and Security Worthing, West Sussex, United Kingdom

Miguel Vega – Titan Motoring Nashville, TN

Ryan Oxenhorn – Ox Audio Philadelphia, PA

Matt Vowell – Mobile Toys College Station, TX

Jaime Palafox – Agoura Autosounds Agoura Hills, CA

Dan Wilson – Columbus Car Audio & Accessories Reynoldsburg, OH


Quest for the Best

facebook.com/MobileElectronics

17


 What’s Happening Justin Red – Tint World The Colony Arlington, TX Chris Rossi – Tunes-NTint Lakeland, FL Parish Tanner – Ocala Car Audio Ocala, FL

Nick Akin – Musicar Northwest Portland, OR

Chris Loynes – Sound Depot and Performance Gainesville, FL

Jayson Cook – Columbus Car Audio & Accessories Columbus, OH

Mike Maltais – SoundsGood Auto Coquitlam, BC, Canada

Thomas Craig – Elevated Audio Lakewood, CO

Corbin May – Visions Electronics Grande Prairie, AB, Canada

Zayd Khan – Traffic Jams Motorsports Buford, GA

Josh Mojica – GNC Customs Goshen, IN

Robert Kowatch – Perfectionist Auto Sound Anchorage, AK

Adam Pate – Mobile Toys College Station, TX

Joshua Landau – JML Audio of St. Louis Fenton, MO Brian Layton – Sound FX Lewes, DE

18  Mobile Electronics July 2019

Caleb Paulson – Audio Garage Fargo, ND Brett Payne – Traffic Jams Motorsports Buford, GA

Bryan Turvaville – 806 Autoworks Amarillo, TX Ronald Venable – Traffic Jams Motorsports Buford, GA Elias Ventura – Safe and Sound Mobile Electronics Manassas, VA Melvin Washington – Monster Customs Marietta, GA


Quest for the Best

Simplify.

VXi amplifiers with integrated DSP

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 retail news

WORDS BY LAURA KEMMERER

Sommer Sound Systems Celebrates 23rd Anniversary Panama City, Florida-based Sommer Sound Systems celebrated its 23rd anniversary in mid-May, and with things being so busy, the shop did not have the time to set up a special sale for the event. Shop CEO Bill Sommers noted that while he wanted to do a sale to commemorate the event, Facebook was not the tool to make such an event effective. “We didn’t really do anything out of the ordinary this year,” Sommers said, “and not only that, we’re shorthanded so we’re backed up.” Since the shop is booked out a month and a half as of this writing, Sommers didn’t feel compelled to generate more business. And though business is good, Sommers noted he’s still

20  Mobile Electronics July 2019

trying to catch up with the business performance he had in 2017, a year that was among the shop’s best. Though the shop fell short that year and that trend continued into 2018, the CEO hopes to reach the benchmark of “all time” for his shop. “We’re pushing very hard,” Sommers said. “We’re really close to that 2017 number. […] I’m confident we’re going to accomplish this goal if business stays the same.” Looking ahead, the shop hopes to attract new help—even an intern, Sommers noted. Sommer Sound Systems, like many other shops, is feeling the pinch of a limited pool of available potential employees. Last year’s hurricane season also had a direct impact on local population and opportunities.


facebook.com/MobileElectronics   21


Who’s Who

 retail news

Faces in the Industry Marilu D’Sanz D’Sanz Tint N Zound Position: Owner City: Escondido, California Years of Industry Experience: 12 Hobbies: Reading, sky diving and travel. What you’re really good at: Educating myself on anything that interests me, as I like to be resourceful.

Mike Hudson Boomers Audio Position: Owner City: Tulsa, Oklahoma Years of Industry Experience: 31 Hobbies: Classic car, dirt bike riding and gambling. What you’re really good at: Living Life to the fullest.

Mauricio Jaimes High Output Audio Position: Owner City: Garner, North Carolina Years of Industry Experience: 18 Hobbies: Fabrication. What you’re really good at: Working as a team.

22  Mobile Electronics July 2019

Mobileworks Shifts Business Focus to Truck Accessories Santa Maria, California-based Mobileworks / Tintworks, which moved into its current location six years ago, recently shifted focus into doing business with truck accessories, though the shop generally focused on other accessories once the move was complete. “We went to a SEMA show,” said shop owner George Smith. “WeatherTech had a raffle going on, and we won. […] We got a bunch of displays, [among other stuff.] We also contacted Truxedo, which is a [tonneau cover] company, and they sent us a couple displays. […] Gradually, little by little, we merged into the accessories business.” While the customer demographic has largely remained the same over the past six years, these same customers

are starting to realize that the shop also carries options like WeatherTech. “It could be a Chevy 2500 or Dodge 2500, 3500, F-350, they’re all tall trucks,” Smith said. “They take a leap and a jump to get into.” Needless to say, on a truck like those, you need runningboards. The shop also offers front camera options. “About our fourth year, we started looking at Rhino Linings,” noted Smith. “We started doing more and more trucks.” Many companies will provide a shop with one display at first, but once the shop is doing business in volume, the companies will step in with further display offerings. “The one thing I would recommend for everybody is trying to get on board with distributors,” said Smith. “Talk to these guys.” Shipping is also the same in terms of cost, regardless of how many items there are. Delivery dates also occur a couple days a week. “Reach out to these distributors. As business fades off, this is the other part of the customer that’s buying. Check it out. Your distributor is right there and they need the business, too.”


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 retail news

Layfette Custom Automotive Hosts Second Alpine XPerience Event Layfette Custom Automotive, based out of Layfette, Louisiana, recently hosted its second Alpine XPerience event, a continuation from the first event. XPerience also helped rake in over $10,000 in sales despite inclement weather. The first one was held in February, and this one was held the Friday before Father’s Day. As for Layfette Custom Automotive itself, the business has been open since 2005, and shop manager Shane Douet has been with the business for eight years.

24  Mobile Electronics July 2019

An Alpine representative originally reached out to the shop about hosting these events, noting that the purpose was to raise awareness of the product, specifically the X product line. The shop was up to the task. “Generally, we’ll have multiple people from Alpine, our sales rep and another sales rep as well,” Douet said. “We had one of their demo vehicles. They have a few type X XPerience vehicles across the country that they bring out for these events. They


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 retail news have one in Texas, the Tundra, and they brought that out.” A few customer vehicles featuring similar products also made a showing. “We also have the NOBEDSLED, an old Nissan hardbody pickup that has no bed. We built a custom frame for it for the

front. We have casters on the back and wheels on the front. […] The whole interior’s been redone. It’s all type X stuff,” Douet said. As a result of hosting the event, the shop has drawn in new customers, which means that customers learn more about

what the shop actually offers. Another business also donated food for the event. The shop also gave away a set of Alpine Type X 6-1/2-inch speakers. The shop plans on hosting another XPerience event, though a date for the next one has not yet been set.

SoundsGood Auto Welcomes New Hires Coquitlam, British Columbia-based SoundsGood Auto recently welcomed a number of new hires, including Wayne Oberst, now serving as the shop’s outside business development manager, and Benjamin DelGrosso, who is now serving as the shop’s operations manager. The two are collaborating on something that shop owner Keith McCumber was not yet ready to reveal, though he promised it would shake the shop’s outside sales. Oberst has been in the industry for 30 years, and has held roles in install, management and sales. DelGrosso is also an industry veteran. McCumber attributes the recent hires to a decision to take an outside-the-box growth tactic.

26  Mobile Electronics July 2019


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 hot sellers

Building Trust, Offering Quality By selling quality products and building trust, retailers are able to increase revenue and nurture lasting relationships with clients who keep coming back.

SounDigital 800.4D Marine 800-Watt 4-Channel Amplifier Submitted by: Michael Hughes, Speed of Sound, Lake Havasu City, Ariz. Main Selling Features: “This is an extremely efficient amplifier.”

Rockford Fosgate Motorcycle Audio Systems and Kits Submitted by: George Smith, Mobileworks / Tintworks, Santa Maria, Calif. Main Selling Features: “Rockford Fosgate Harley systems’ fit and finish matches the motorcycles and the audio level. The sound amazes customers, and they’re proud to show off their systems to Harley dealers and friends, which refer more customers into our store. We teach customers about better sound quality and control over each area of their vehicle, and how we can dial the sound in for the front rear and subwoofer. This has helped improve sales over the last year. Moving from a 4-channel amp to a 5-channel amp brings invoice dollars up.” Primary Objection: Price. How to Overcome: “Overcoming the price issue involves starting at the top and working down. We create the value and help them understand how they can use this product and how it’s going to help them enjoy their motorcycle even more. The product will make it better than what they have now.”

Pioneer AVH-W4500NEX In-Dash Multimedia Receiver Submitted by: Marilu D’Sanz, D’Sanz Tint N Zound, Escondido, Calif. Main Selling Features: “One of the features that most appeals to customers is Apple CarPlay, along with the ease of use and clean presentation.” Primary Objection: Compatibility. How to Overcome: “I encourage customers to buy better quality data cables instead of knock-offs, as well as watching tutorial videos and becoming familiar with their product. I also offer free of charge software upgrades in order to get the best out of the product.”

28  Mobile Electronics July 2019

Kicker L7T Shallow Square Woofers Submitted by: Craig McGinnis, Chronos Specialty Auto Works, Omaha, Neb. Main Selling Features: “The woofer is able to fit in many different places easily.” Primary Objection: Size / Color / Style How to Overcome: “Gain the customer’s trust.”


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 hot sellers

Kenwood DDX8905S 7-Inch DVD / CarPlay/ Android Auto Receiver Submitted by: Bill Sommers, Sommer Sound Systems, Panama City, Fla. Main Selling Features: “The product offers the unique feature of a GPS antenna, although it’s not a GPS receiver, combined with numerous sound quality features. The user is able to hear the music as it was intended with a sound stage.” Primary Objection: Price. How to Overcome: “I point out this product has the features the customer relayed to me as important to them, which led us to this piece, as well as the two-year warranty.”

Waylens Secure360-4G Dash Camera Submitted by: Nathan Dunn, Cartronics, Madison, Tenn. Main Selling Features: “Customers like having a connected car.” Primary Objection: “There is no rear-facing camera for rear-end collisions.” How to Overcome: “We can also sell a different dash camera with a rear camera channel.”

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DD Audio D4.75 Mini 4-Channel Amplifier Submitted by: Troy McGregor, McGregor Auto Styling, Pagosa Springs, Colo. Main Selling Features: “I can hide the D4.75 under a dash, console, glove box or under almost any seat.” Primary Objection: Labor cost to install. How to Overcome: “Showing true quality installation procedures and the reasons why I do what I do.”

Submitted by: Cody Lanoue, Andres Car Audio, Kelowna, BC, Canada Main Selling Features: “This isn’t something customers really get a choice in. If they are doing a full system upgrade, they are getting it. If it’s just a sub upgrade, I tell them the benefits of using it. Most will buy it.” Primary Objection: Price and learning curve. How to Overcome: “We are the best at what we do, and this is the right way to do the job the customer is asking for.”

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Main Selling Features: “A demonstration always helps. Demo one preset with EQ and time alignment. Demonstrate another preset with none.” Primary Objection: Price and labor cost to install. How to Overcome: “We show how passionate we are about what we do.”

Main Selling Features: “Our knowledge of the product and how to properly install it, and also before selling the product spending time with the client/customer to understand his/her needs.” Primary Objection: Price. How to Overcome: “We always give the customer every option available to them.”

30  Mobile Electronics July 2019


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 hot sellers

JL Audio TwK-88 DSP

Phoenix Gold RX2 750.5 5-Channel Amp Submitted by: Jeff West, Benchmark Audio Inc., Springfield, Ill. Main Selling Features: “This is a single amp solution for independent front speakers, rear speakers and subwoofer, versus separate amps which cost more to install, and have more wiring requirements as well.” Primary Objection: Size / Color / Style How to Overcome: “If I haven’t already seen the customer’s vehicle interior at the presentation stage of the sale process, I show the customer the various locations that the amp can be located in order to properly dissipate heat, as well as offer good serviceability.”

Submitted by: Jaime Palafox, Agoura Autosounds, Agoura Hills, Calif. Main Selling Features: “Quality and ease of use.” Primary Objection: Price. How to Overcome: “I tell them the price is forgotten long after the quality is remembered.”

Alpine ILX-F309 Halo9 Head Unit Submitted by: Keith McCumber, SoundsGood Auto, Coquitlam and Burnaby, Canada Main Selling Features: “The look, the feel, the performance!” Primary Objection: Price, additional parts required and labor cost to install. How to Overcome: “Have you seen this unit? It’s incredible. How can you not have it?”

JL Audio FiX 86 Submitted by: Chuck Allen, Warehouse Car Stereo, Stockton, Calif. Main Selling Features: “This allows you to keep your OEM head unit and get outstanding sound quality with factory appearance.” Primary Objection: “We don’t get any objections.” How to Overcome: “It’s not very hard to sell this product once you qualify the customer on what their sound improvement goal is. We also explain what the FiX 86 can do to improve their listening experience.”

32  Mobile Electronics July 2019

Alpine X-A90V 5-channel Type X Amplifier Submitted by: Shane Douet, Lafayette Custom Automotive, Lafayette, LA Main Selling Features: “This amplifier has great power, has a small footprint and brings out the great sound of the Type X speakers!” Primary Objection: Price. How to Overcome: “The price is still more competitive than buying two amps that would equal the same power.”


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 hot sellers

Audison AP8.9 bit Prima 8-Channel Amplifier Submitted by: Jayson Cook, Columbus Car Audio and Accessories, Columbus, Ohio Main Selling Features: “Power and size. Most of our clients like the fact that we can fine-tune and really dial in their audio system to make it sound exactly the way they want.” Primary Objection: Price. How to Overcome: “To overcome the price objection, I explain what it is capable of doing, how the installation process works and how that will benefit the client.”

Sony XAV-AX5000 CarPlay / Android Auto Submitted by: Adam Devine, Devine Concepts, Naples, Fla. Main Selling Features: “Functionality is simple. You are utilizing a user interface that you are already familiar with. And you have the added benefit of safety between the voice activation of navigation, music and text. This allows you to keep your hands and eyes on the road and off the radio.” Primary Objection: None. How to Overcome: “I have yet to receive an objection to this radio. Everyone I have explained and offered this unit to has purchased and had it installed.”

34  Mobile Electronics July 2019

JL Audio VXi 800-8 Multi-Channel Amp with Built-In DSP Submitted by: Brandon Brown, Columbus Car Audio and Accessories, Columbus, Ohio Main Selling Features: “We are able to fine-tune the audio signal to their liking and ensure they will love the sound of their upgrade.” Primary Objection: Price. How to Overcome: “We review the features customers can get with this amplifier that they will not get with others.”

K40 Electronics RLS2 Portable Radar / Laser Detector Submitted by: Kimberly Trainer, Car-Tunes Inc., Greenville, Miss. Main Selling Features: “A one-year ticket-free guarantee is offered.” Primary Objection: Size / Color / Style How to Overcome: “We offer a custom system that hides the components.”


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real world RETAIL

HEROES

36  Mobile Electronics July 2019

from


HEROES FROM WITHIN WORDS BY ROSA SOPHIA

WITHIN By promoting and supporting the work of its team members, Sound FX has become a nationally recognized business in Delaware, drawing clients from coast to coast.

Later this month, Sound FX will be opening its second location in Bridgeville, Del. Owner Brian Layton attributes the company’s achievements to its employees, whose talents and hard work attract clients from outside the Delmarva peninsula and beyond. Layton started his own journey as a customer in 1994, an avid supporter of the business which first opened in 1992. Largely inspired by his father—who was a drummer in a rock and roll band— Layton fell in love with music and developed a passion for car audio. After being a customer at Sound FX, “Mike [Wright] invited me to become a salesman in 1998,” Layton said. “Mike was already an owner. Our business relationship developed as we continued to grow together.” Today, both co-own the business. The Lewes store is situated in a very busy area near the intersection of Route 9 and Route 1, which helps increase visibility. Sound FX makes it a point to celebrate the accomplishments of its employees, Layton said, adding, “I’m trying to do my part to give them a platform. The aftermarket is their lynchpin to send their kids to college, to give them a great retirement, to buy their kid a car. As an industry, I don’t think we talk enough about how we’re helping our employees plan for the future as individuals. It’s a passion of mine to have a bigger Sound FX platform,” he noted, “but that stems directly from the employees.”

Driving Business Through Musaic Design and Online Marketing To help celebrate the work of one installer, Layton teamed up with Matt Schaeffer, the 2016 Installer of the Year who joined Sound FX in 2017. “There wasn’t much of a celebration of his work beyond YouTube,” Layton said, adding that Schaeffer promoted his work on YouTube prior to coming to Sound FX. Musaic Design (www.musaicdesign. com) was Schaeffer’s idea, and it’s just his work on the website. “The inspiration behind Musaic is Matt’s,” Layton said. “The website was a push on my part to be facebook.com/MobileElectronics   37


real world RETAIL

FAST FACTS LOCATION: Lewes, Del. NUMBER OF LOCATIONS: 2 LEWES SQUARE FOOTAGE: 16,500 BRIDGEVILLE SQUARE FOOTAGE: 10,000 TYPE: Traditional Retail NUMBER OF EMPLOYEES: 29

MAIN FOCUS

41.5% Car Audio and Musaic Division 45% Off-Road and Accessories 3.5% Window Film 10% Vinyl Wrap and Graphics

Despite the company’s numerous ventures, 12-volt remains the foundation of Sound FX. Pictured is Aaron Crooks, one of three 12-volt technicians. able to take the idea of Musaic and actually have a library of his work, in addition to video formats.” The online portfolio is used to help sell builds. “If we have a client talking about hidden or custom radar detectors in a Mercedes, I can send them a recent video from YouTube.” The videos on Schaeffer’s YouTube channel, he noted, have over one million views. “Then we can say the video is tied to this picture album [on Musaic. We show them Matt’s] behind the scenes work. On the custom side, there are different levels of packages and they relate

38  Mobile Electronics July 2019

to the quality of the equipment and the design time.” Schaeffer is able to demonstrate what a build will look like if a week is spent on it, and he’s also able to show clients what it will look like if he’s allotted two weeks’ time, Layton added. “We’re selling based off design and end-result looks. [The website] is a fantastic selling tool.” Potential clients will see Schaeffer’s work online and call about their own vehicle. One such client came all the way from Huntington Beach, Calif. last summer. “This guy was following Matt on YouTube. He flew into Baltimore, bought his Tesla

in Maryland, drove it to Delaware, and spent about a week and a half here. I gave him a loaner car for free. He got to enjoy a vacation at the beach,” Layton said. When the work was completed, he drove his Tesla back to California. Additionally, Layton added, the client had a vanity plate designed for the front of the vehicle that says “Sound FX.” Matt Schaeffer has had a lot of success with Instagram as a marketing platform, Layton said. Much like YouTube, Instagram is drawing clients to Sound FX. “We’re getting a lot of good leads from Facebook, website chats and Instagram


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real world RETAIL

Hundreds of 5-Star Google Reviews Provide Boost

Before a potential client meets with a salesperson, they’re first greeted by a receptionist who gathers their information and finds out what they’re interested in.

“We currently have over four hundred 4.9-star reviews. I have given the team a challenge of hitting 500 reviews by the end of July. [To get more reviews] we just talk to customers. [Dealerships] are encouraged to do that, and it’s the same thing here. Customers have made the decision to give us an opportunity based on the volume of great reviews. “I’ve heard that a lot: ‘I haven’t done business with you before, but I found you on Google, and that’s why I’m calling you.’”

The company pays for employees to attend trainings at venues such as Mobile Solutions, SEMA, Window Tint School and KnowledgeFest. Pictured is Russel Goehringer, one of four accessory technicians. direct messages,” he added. “We get a lot of direct messages on Instagram. I just landed a $3,300 accessory job on Instagram the other day. That’s the power of Instagram.” The business continues to draw clients from other states, as well, including a recent job that came from Kansas City.

Added Reception Area Leads to Improved Sales Refining the customer service process has helped Sound FX grow, Layton said. “Our sales team is not on the sales floor. A major catalyst to our growth has centered on the refinement of our service process, led by our service manager, Heather Kauffman.” Guests are greeted by service team members in a reception area in the front of the store, separate from the showroom.

40  Mobile Electronics July 2019

Before the potential client interacts with a salesperson, a service team member takes their contact information and asks them what they’re interested in. Whether the visitor decides to purchase or not, Sound FX still gathers their contact information. “Service team members [in the reception area] greet our guests, load their information into our CRM, and call the best-qualified sales team member to serve that guest,” Layton said. “This refinement has eliminated the immediate ‘fire drill’ of the front door opening, and the barrage of phone calls that our sales team once managed. A more focused sales process has led to outstanding results.” The reception area is its own separate entity, according to Layton. “The receptionists aren’t salespeople. A lot of the business is proposal-based now. It takes

time to put something together on the larger projects,” he said. “I have a door dinger that tells you someone is coming in. They are greeted by the service team. They feel welcomed. We’re also gathering why they’re here, what brings them in. That’s sent through a rotation based off what the request is.” The customer’s name has already been sent to the salesperson, so “they’re going to walk out and address them directly,” Layton said. “The other members of the sales team can focus on customer quotes and follow-up without interruption until they’re summoned to the front. It’s a service team summoning, versus being summoned simply by the door opening.” This allows for more consistency in the focus of the team members. Additionally, although receptionists are not trained in sales, they are able to sell smaller things such as accessories and window film. Revenue has also increased with the recent addition of no interest financing for 12 months, Layton added.

Expanding Business to Municipal Fleet Vehicles Promoting the work of all team members is something that’s done in each department, according to Layton, who added that Sound FX is a “one-stop-shop” for automotive aftermarket. “We recently launched the vinyl wrap and graphics division with Tom Cahall,” Layton said. “Vehicle wrapping has been a big success [for us] in the commercial market.” Fleet


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real world RETAIL

Too Difficult to Pinpoint ROI of Radio Advertising “The questions I have are: What’s the right budget? What’s the right time of the day? What’s the right frequency? To pinpoint a solid return on my investment is very hard to do with radio. I can say, ‘We’ll be on four times or eight times from Friday at five to six on a rock station when people are driving home,’ but to me it’s hard to measure that ROI. I have pulled back from radio altogether. I tried it a year and a half ago. I find more conversations are had with Facebook and Instagram.

Sound FX continues to attract audiophiles from across the country, including one client (right) who recently traveled from Huntington Beach, Calif. to work with Matt Schaeffer (left).

Key Vendors Always Willing to Go the Extra Mile “We had a customer with a Jeep audio build that had a previous year’s model JVC that he had bought from Best Buy. He already had the radio installed. We upgraded his Jeep audio and did a custom enclosure. He had issues with the radio that we were already aware of, and even with a firmware update, it wasn’t perfect. We weren’t getting what we needed from the sound output. “I reached out to Steve Cote, the eastern regional from JVC, and my rep, Steve Gallagher. Even though we didn’t get the radio from them, I asked if we could get credit for it, and the answer was an instant yes. That’s what I mean by taking care of customers. “We would like to give a personal shout out to Steve Gallagher from AR Marketing (JVC and JBL), Dominick Butta from Focus/Bravo Marketing (JL Audio and Alpine), and Chuck Ottati from OPUS Marketing (Focal/Directed). These gentleman go above and beyond to make sure our clients and employees are taken care of and well-informed.”

vehicles or company vehicles are able to have lettering and logos put on their vans or trucks. “There’s a synergy between the divisions. A contractor might bring us a van to install a ladder rack. We can do

42  Mobile Electronics July 2019

The vehicle wrapping and graphics division has increased its revenue under the direction of Tom Cahall (pictured). The department will be housed entirely at the new Bridgeville location. interior metal or steel bins so he can store all his painting materials or hardware. We can wrap the vehicle, or letter it,” he explained. “And then we have the opportunity of discussing things like cameras, alarms, GPS, with the client.” A new category, “tactical and safety,” is adding another branch to the business’s offerings. Layton stated that he’s applying the term “tactical” to any police and emergency vehicles. Sound FX is able to fully outfit municipal fleet vehicles, and team member Matt Bishop has been made director of this department because of his previous

experience upfitting police cars. “There are a lot of local municipalities that don’t have a centralized hub where they can take their cars to be up-fitted,” Layton added. “It’s not a market where there’s a definitive leader here.”

Second Location Will Feature Vinyl Wrap, Car Show Planned for Opening For the last five years at least, Layton said, Sound FX has been “bursting at the seams.” “We found an unbelievable property in Bridgeville, Del. which is about 45 minutes inland from Lewes,” Layton said. At the new location, they’ll have eight installation bays with 14-foot tall doors and 10,000 square feet on three acres.


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real world RETAIL

Justin Smith, the retail operations director, leads an hour-long sales meeting once per week to celebrate accomplishments and discuss challenges. At Sound FX, every team member’s contribution is celebrated.

The biggest challenge in reaching goals has been time, Layton noted. Andy Tavolario has been overseeing the process of opening the new store. The vehicle wrap and graphics department will be based out of the Bridgeville location because there’s more space there, Layton added, although “we’ll do everything [else] that Lewes does. The showroom and reception area will be set up the same way.” While the new store opens this month, the car show to celebrate the grand opening will take place in August. Besides having more room to work, Layton said the new, larger location will provide future opportunities for Sound FX to host additional car shows—something they couldn’t do until now. For the grand opening celebration, they’ll have a DJ, entertainment for the kids and catered food and refreshments. Past and current customers will be invited. “We’ll also reach out to big car clubs,” Layton said, adding that overall presentation of the vehicles will be judged and awards will be given.

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44  Mobile Electronics July 2019 | Elettromedia USA | 16691 Noyes Ave. Irvine CA 92606 | (877) 567-3030 |


HEROES FROM WITHIN “We don’t do car shows often,” he added. “The challenge has always been space. I’m not a big fan of off-site events because it takes a lot of effort to make it really special. We’re blessed with enough work to not have to stretch ourselves thin, even if it was over a weekend. Now, with three acres, we’re going to have room for customers to really enjoy themselves.” Layton said they might even have a Cars and Coffee event in the future, “maybe on a smaller scale, to give the community something to look forward to a couple Saturdays a year.” For now, the grand opening car show is expected to draw a large crowd.

Nurturing a Healthy Life / Work Balance for the Team Each new employee is onboarded with COO Andy Tavolario, Layton said, and the company’s extensive employee handbook is covered. Highlights of the handbook include company policies, 401K and health insurance enrollment, vacation

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real world RETAIL

The Sound FX Team Owners: Brian Layton and Mike Wright COO: Andy Tavolario Accounts Payable / Receivable: Dawn Garrette Accounting: Boni Myer Service Manager: Heather Kauffman Service Advisor: Jessica Eadie Service Advisor / Inventory: Jason Buchanon Retail Operations Director: Justin Smith Off-Road Sales Director: Bryson Dewalt Sales Specialists: Travis Hovatter, Steven Coonelly, Scott Thomas Vinyl Graphics Division Director: Tom Cahall Vinyl Technicians: Randy Gallaway, Vance Daniels Window Film Technicians: Stephen Loeffler, Demetrius Wright Fabrication / 12-Volt Techs: Matt Schaeffer, Paul Kauffman 12-Volt Technicians: Dave Ellers, Aaron Crooks, Dylan Burk Tactical and Safety Director: Matt Bishop Accessory Techs: Rob Killeen, Darrin Payne, Russell Goehringer, Michael Steve The Road Warrior: Adam Lewis

time and paid time off. Communicating a healthy life and work balance is essential at Sound FX. Team members also attend trainings at a variety of venues, including Mobile Solutions, Window Tint School, SEMA, KnowledgeFest, CES and more. Rather

46  Mobile Electronics July 2019

than sending the entire team at once, employees will alternate, Layton added, and the company foots the bill. “We’ll send two to three guys to SEMA, four to KnowledgeFest, Dallas, three to KnowledgeFest Indy,” he said. “It’ll be a rotation based off what’s fair for them in that

segment. For example, I don’t need to send a vinyl wrap guy to a 12-volt conference, but he might enjoy SEMA.” In-house training is always on-going. “Our retail operations director, Justin Smith, leads a once-a-week, hour-long sales meeting with our 12-volt sales team,” Layton said. “Recent successes are celebrated. Challenges are coached so improvements are implemented. New solutions are discussed and new sales leads are tackled.”

Celebrating and Supporting Employees Ensures a Brighter Future About a third of all Sound FX employees have been with the company for over ten years, another third for two years or less. Following on the company’s decision to celebrate and support employees as they plan their future, Layton said that Sound FX “covers a large percentage of monthly health insurance costs, and provides up to a four percent 401K match. In addition, combined with the free use of the facilities after hours, we offer a company-financed, employee-purchase program. Sound FX is passionate about helping employees accessorize their personal dream ride.” Installation team members are given generous hourly wages or salaries, Layton said, adding, “As Adam Lewis, our Road Warrior says, ‘We work for each other.’ Technicians are the backbone of this industry. It is our sole intent to provide for them and their families with the best path to financial freedom.” Day to day challenges can be the most trying, according to Layton. “Let’s say I have a customer call in and say the radio in their 2013 Altima has no sound. It’s not enough to just close a diagnostic appointment. You’re touching on what might be a customer pain point. What if the radio is indeed bad? As an extension, they might be pre-selling the customer on a possible upgrade.” The team can’t meet every client the same day they call, so they schedule it, Layton said. “We try to find a resolution. If there’s an issue with the radio or speakers, we need to be prepared to move forward. We also have to be prepared


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with the product as if the customer is going to say yes.” The challenge is ensuring they’re prepared with both processes and product, he explained. “That’s always a work in progress. It’s not just about diagnosis, but

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sharing experiences. I want to minimize the customer trip back to the shop, so we make sure we’re prepared with everything up-front.” Focusing on the team as the catalyst behind the business’s achievements is

an important aspect of the business, and it’s a main reason why they’ve received national attention, Layton said. “Andy Tavolario’s entrance as our COO in August has enabled us to drive this company forward. Stephen Loeffler has enabled us to expand into offering home and commercial window film. Tom Cahall helped us bring in vinyl wrap and graphics,” Layton said, adding that the vehicle wrap department has expanded and brought in more revenue under Cahall’s direction. Layton noted that each and every team member has helped revitalize the company. “Bringing in Matt Bishop set the foundation for our entrance into the emergency vehicle up-fitter market. Dave Ellers has taken on a larger mentorship role in the last year to our younger techs. Adam Lewis is Superman. Matt Schaeffer and Paul Kauffman are building the best-sounding cars in our 27-year history,” he said, adding, “Our growth and success is the direct result of our team and their hard work—period.” Putting employees first is always the main focus. “I want to give them a platform to showcase their talents,” he explained. “They get a sense of pride in jobs they landed. I [used to think] I had to be a one-man army. But the army is the team. I have to make sure my team has a pathway to their own financial success.”


HEROES FROM WITHIN

facebook.com/MobileElectronics   49


 Difference Makers

Ramblin Man By logging face-to-face visits and connecting with customers, John Schneid—founder of Dynamic Sales & Marketing—keeps it real by taking to the road. WORDS BY JAMIE SORCHER

Known for its diverse wildlife, retirees, and citrus, Florida is also home to Dynamic Sales & Marketing in Port Richey. Covering Florida and Puerto Rico, Dynamic also does some business in the Caribbean. The predominance of the action is in Florida which Schneid said can sometimes feel like more than one state. “I always tell people that Florida is like three states within itself,” he said. “You have Dade and Broward County which has a very different culture than the Panhandle and Jacksonville region, and that is completely different than the whole I-4 [Orlando] corridor. From the rep’s point of view, it is three different cultures in this territory at a minimum.”

Sales Consultants Manage a Vast Region Territories are managed by sales reps, but Schneid uses a different term. “I call them sales consultants,” he said. “That’s

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a big part of it—the consulting—as well as the sales. Half my time, I work for the vendor and half my time I work for the dealer. Some people might tell you that the vendors are more important because they’re the ones who send you the check, but in this business everyone is equal in the relationship. One is not more important than the other. I may represent the best product, but if I don’t have any customers to buy it, than I’m not going to make them any money.” JC Iglesias has handled the Miami territory for nine years. He is bilingual and has experience that runs deep in both the retail and distribution channels. In Orlando, sales consultant Bruno Maffucci oversees the region. “I worked with Bruno prior to starting my company,” Schneid said. “A long time ago, Bruno had a retail store and an expediting business in Miami. He ended up back in the Orlando area and has worked with me for over 17 years in that marketplace.” What Schneid said he strives for with vendors and dealers is to be a good

partner. “I want to be in business for the long term,” he said. “It’s not about hitting a quota this month or a quota this quarter—it’s about long-term business.”

The Next Generation of a Family Company Formed in 2002, Dynamic Sales and Marketing evolved from Ron Schneid & Associates, a sales rep firm founded in 1975 by John’s father, Ron. “He started in the mid-70s and then evolved into the mobile electronics business,” Schneid said. “He was selling Citizen Band (CB) radios and when that was transitioning out, he started getting into mobile audio.” At 16 years of age, “I was the young guy who was passionate about car audio,” Schneid added. “I was around my dad’s business, so met all of these people when they came in. I would go on the road with my dad for trainings and I would even do installations. Yeah, I was installing car stereos when I was in high school.” Schneid graduated high school, went to college for a few years and then the


Ramblin’ Man

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 Difference Makers

AudioControl dealers are trained on the importance of DSP technology. more people, and I moved the office from where my dad lived to where I lived.”

Connecting In-Person to Build Relationships Some things come naturally to Schneid and traveling is one of them. “I have always done it,” he said. “I like to do four days on the road and three in the office. That From left to right: Roy Meyer, JC Iglesias, Bruno Maffucci, John Schneid and can vary a bit, but Mike Anderson. you’ve really got to inevitable happened. “My dad asked me Schneid’s father passed away in 2002, have the face time. That’s what the venif I wanted to start traveling—and I said he said. “The business was run as a sole dors want us to do, otherwise they could yes—so I was on the road. I attended my proprietorship. When the sole proprietor just hire people to telemarket. We need first CES in Las Vegas when I was 20. dies, so does the business. So almost 17 to go out, get into the stores, give advice Eventually, my father started to take a years ago, I went to the vendors we repre- and make recommendations—along with more reduced role in being on the road, sented and said, ‘Here’s your opportunity: show the gear and talk about it.” hired another guy and essentially made I’m going to start a new company.’ Well, Schneid said things are more complex me the sales manager.” all the vendors stayed with me, I hired because they’re presenting the product

52  Mobile Electronics July 2019


Ramblin’ Man

on a weekly basis rather than installing it. “Today it’s becoming more of a responsibility to completely understand the technology and the application.” To take it a step further, Schneid said, vendors must step up with things like tech support. “If a guy is putting in a car alarm or a remote start for the first time in a 2019 vehicle and he asks me to help him, the reality is that I can’t because I haven’t been in that situation myself,”

Schneid explained. “I have to rely on the manufacturer who has an incredible tech staff to support me with that. This is a big part of where the business is with brands you represent. I have to rely on my manufacturer to be able to provide that extra advice and guidance to cover where we have our limitations.” Above all, Schneid said, honesty is what rules with vendor relationships. “When I am contacted by a vendor who wants to develop a relationship, I first look at how viable a product is, and how much business there is in the category.” Then he has to be sure the vendor leaves enough profit for the dealers he’s calling on, he added. “I don’t have an Internet monster. Amazon doesn’t buy in my territory. Crutchfield doesn’t buy in my territory. I don’t want to take anything away from them. They are very good at what they do. But the problem is that you must have a vendor who looks out for the specialty dealer or expediter— and who is knowledgeable.” According to Schneid, dealers are wary of products that can be shopped

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 Difference Makers

Dynamic has a long-standing 30-year relationship with Kicker. Here, the manufacturer displays its marine tower speakers. aggressively online. “When you sit down with a dealer to present product to him, the first thing he will do is go to Amazon, which is what the consumer does, to find out how much he would be paying for that widget, Schneid said. Once they establish whether the line is profitable, he added, they address what’s important to the buyer at the time. “We start with profit, then we might talk about what the programs are—how much do they have to do to buy in—how much the freight program is, how warranties are handled and tech support. With any unique product that might be more difficult to install, there is the question of how we address those challenges. Once all of that is worked out, we partner with the dealer on how to merchandise the product. How do they present it to the consumer? How do we help them market it not only in the store, but on social media?”

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Combining Top-Tier Product with Solid Partnerships Dynamic represents 10 brands: Alpine, Arc Audio, AudioControl, Directed, Dynamat, Redenso Radar, Kicker, Orca (Focal, Mosconi, Gladen, Illusion and Blackhole), Wet Sounds and XS Power Batteries. “If you look at my portfolio of brands, I have an A-tier, Japanese source unit, amplifier and speaker company in Alpine, and that is a pretty big anchor right there,” Schneid said. “We put a lot of energy into that relationship to get it in the right direction. I represent one of the premier security companies in Directed who I have had for nine years. I have the brand that is synonymous with sound-dampening—Dynamat.” Redenso Radar is a recent addition. “I’ve personally worked with Kicker for over 30 years, a long-standing relationship with A-tier speakers and amplifiers.


Ramblin’ Man

We are new to Orca—within a year—but I have always had a specialty type brand in my mix. We have worked with Wet Sounds for almost eight years.” In Florida, he added, the marine category is mandatory. “XS Power Batteries is an accessory company. It’s a smaller category, but one that you have to offer.” At the end of the day, Schneid said, product is product. “When you make a cake, all the ingredients make it taste great,” he said. “It’s the same thing with my relationships with my dealer base. I represent 10 brands and I have to look at the positives these brands bring. We have resigned multiple lines or parted ways with certain vendors in the last year, but if the fit isn’t right, you don’t force it.”

Offering Solid Support to Retailers For retailers who want to work with Dynamic, it’s pretty straightforward. “Here’s what I ask them: Are you ready to buy directly from a manufacturer?” Schneid said. “I’m not a stocking rep. In my territory, you are either a good rep or a good distributor. Very few guys have perfected it to where they can do both well simultaneously. In Florida, I just don’t think there is a successful mobile electronics stocking rep firm. It has been done successfully in a number of territories, but not in the state of Florida.” Trainings are a big part of what Dynamic offers its dealers. “We constantly invite our manufacturers to come down because they have the resources,” Schneid said. “We also have a brand specialist that lives in my territory. We can give a lot of fine-tuned training with Alpine just based on having a brand specialist based in Florida. It’s a major resource. We did a grand opening with a retailer and had Directed here for three days of training.” More than the trainings or tech support, though, it’s about building relationships and nurturing connections by stopping in to see dealers as much as possible. “We could just post pictures on social media or send out emails, or text everyone—and all of that works, but you still have to visit the dealer,” he added. “You can’t sit in an office and do everything remotely. You have to be able to do all of the above.” facebook.com/MobileElectronics   55


 strategy & tactics

FINDING BALANCE Learning to balance work life and family life is a common issue among industry professionals. To keep from getting overwhelmed, schedule family time as well as time for yourself, and be flexible whenever necessary. If you’re a business owner, encourage your employees to find a balance, too. WORDS BY ATA EHDAIVAND

It is that time of year again. Industry awards videos are popping up on every group on Facebook. This year, there seemed to be a common theme among the contestants. It appears we are all struggling with the same issues: staff, space, and chiefly, the incomparable father time. Time. It is a marvelous concept when it is on your side. However, with looming deadlines, increasingly complex projects, and endless “to do” lists, it is usually the

56  Mobile Electronics July 2019

opponent on the other end of a losing battle. We all face similar struggles in the race against time. Why not start a dialogue and create a space to exchange ideas? Find me on social media and let’s talk about it.

We Have to Nurture a Healthy Work / Life Balance I asked a few of my industry friends, including owners, installers, and traveling sales representatives to weigh in on this topic so that I could offer their feedback,

as well, in this article. Many voices contributing to this one difficult part of our work and personal lives may bring some enlightenment to us all. Personally, one of the biggest obstacles I face as a small business owner is finding quality time to devote to both my loving family and my second “child”—my small business. Splitting time between a bustling (ahem...needy) small business as well as a growing young family is exhausting. Exhausting but rewarding, of course. Many people have found ways to do it,


Finding Balance

and I too have managed to find a balance, although it is a circus act at times. While I am by no means an expert, I am experienced, and I think it’s only fair for me to share my thoughts in the hope that it may help someone else.

Accept Support and Help When it’s Offered to You Realistically, the demands of running a business may seem more pressing than the demands at home. I am fortunate enough to have a fantastic, devoted partner who keeps the business of the home running smoothly. Your partner might also take up some of the parenting duties for you as work demands pile up seemingly without end. I am grateful for the support I have at home, and I do not take it for granted. I have found there are three crucial things I do in order to be intentional about striving toward being a strong presence in my household as well as in my industry. I’d like to share those with you. 1. Eat one meal at home, preferably dinner. When work demands and deadlines are beating down your door, it is very tempting to “plow through” and work late onto the evening. This leads to missing precious time with loved ones during mealtime. In my role, I frequently have to work 16 or more hours per day. To combat that, I treat those additional hours like a second job. I work until six, head home, spend time with my family, put my daughter to bed, and then go back to work later in the evening. This obviously adds additional time in the car, and it may not seem as efficient as finishing my work, but the rewards of seeing my family each day are worth the sacrifice. 2. Schedule specific family time and family days. Let’s face it, anything that’s important makes it onto a “to do list” or a calendar entry. If it is really important, it will be in both places. Having family time or family days built into my schedule keeps me honest. I know I cannot plan work activities during that time, and my family can be guaranteed I’ll be fully present with facebook.com/MobileElectronics   57


 strategy & tactics

Supporting and encouraging your team is also a big part of creating a healthy balance. If you are business owner, make an effort to help your employees develop plans to manage their time and find balance in their lives.

them. Yes, it is important to delineate that time at work is for the business, and time at home is for family.

3. Carve out time for yourself, too. Scheduling time for yourself is vital. It’s akin to putting the oxygen mask on yourself before placing it on others around you in the event of an airplane crash. We have to be reminded of that on every

58  Mobile Electronics July 2019

flight. I think we should bring that concept down to earth. Make time for your hobbies, exercise, enjoy healthy meals, selfcare, and whatever it takes for you to be your best self for your family and your business. I am always shocked at how much more productive I am after a workout. My employees and clients also reap the benefits of my kinder disposition when I have taken care of myself first.

You May Be Thinking, “Who Has Time for This?” Of course, these are suggestions, guidelines, perhaps even benchmarks to work toward. I still work hard to make these

things a part of my own life. Emergencies and problems come up with both family and work that require flexibility. Sometimes I miss dinner. Those days suck. On occasion, I have an employee who needs to attend to a personal matter, and when that happens, I provide flexibility. I want my team to have the same balance for which I am striving.

Industry Professionals Comment on Creating Balance None of this is a perfect science, of course. I am one captain steering two ships. These guidelines are like lighthouses to keep me focused in the right direction. In the spirit of lighthouses, I polled a few people within our industry on how they deal with this conundrum of time management. Here are some direct quotes from them. Ryan Oxenhorn, owner of Ox Audio said, “What I have done to improve family life is make sure I leave my shop


Finding Balance

The First Step in Learning to Manage Your Time WORDS BY ANDY WEHMEYER

If you want to learn time management, try this: Set aside one hour a week in which you do nothing but sit quietly. Don’t plan what you’re going to think about for an hour. Just sit. Do it where no one will interrupt you. Get up an hour early. It’ll be really difficult. In the beginning, you’ll think about all the productive things you could be doing. All the “catch-up” that could be happening because you’re so far behind. Do it anyway. Once you can do it for an hour a week, try two hours. What you’ll discover in a few short sessions is that this hour or two a week that you spend quietly will be the hour or two a week that changes your life. This will be time during which you’ll figure things out, when solutions that have eluded you will become clear. Your brain needs time to put the puzzle pieces together, and you can’t do it when you’re just grinding and sleeping. by 5:00 p.m. or earlier every day, unless a day doesn’t go as planned. I also do not answer my phone after I get home. If it’s important, they will leave a message or call back, or we will call them back the next day.” He also added, “Money does not equal happiness.” Joel Joseph of Joseph’s Auto Toy Store was less optimistic. In his response, he facebook.com/MobileElectronics   59


 strategy & tactics

For most business owners, life at work and at home tends to overlap. To find a balance, implement careful scheduling that takes family time into account. Pictured: Ata Ehdaivand’s daughter visits him while he’s working at Absolute Electronix in Rockville, Md.

Family time at the shop: Ethan Blau’s oldest son Mason (far left) celebrated his seventh birthday at Sound Wave Customs, and brought along friends Robby and Grant to build things on the CNC.

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stated, “As far as my work / life balance goes—honestly, as an owner, I feel it will always be horrible. I literally grew up in this industry. It was engrained early on in us that the store was our life and livelihood. Obviously, as life changed and [I had] kids, that perspective had to change, but it is still a struggle to completely put the shop aside and focus on family. Sundays are family day, without the pressure of

worrying about what was left to do for the next work day.” He also says he has closed his store on Mondays to get more personal things done. Chris Bennett of Audio Control has a more mathematical approach. He describes it as a chart. “I manage my time like a pie chart. Work gets the largest portion of the pie, just because of what is necessary to build our brand and support the growth,” he explained. “Direct family comes next, with extended family after that. Religious stuff would be next, while hobbies and personal rest get the least amount of time. It’s a struggle, but once one area of the pie takes up too much space, that’s when life starts to become out of whack.” Everyone in our industry seem to have our work cut out for us to accomplish what needs to be done in a single day or a week. JT Torres of HB Autosound tries to manage with a bit of creativity. “I work as if I’m trying to go on vacation,” he said.


FMVSS 111 Finding Balance

“By doing so, it makes me put a time and a date on a particular project.” Ethan Blau of Sound Wave Customs in Virginia Beach, Va. stated that his team is able to help handle different aspects of the business, allowing him to take off weekends. “My significant other asked me to take a day off for years, and I would squeeze one in when I could, but it was never a scheduled day,” he said. “Now I take off Saturdays. Before that, I took advice from a great friend and industry peer to at least come home on time for dinner, and if I had more work to do, to go back to the shop after the family went to bed. Blau added it’s a tough line to walk. “As we all know, this industry is demanding and sometimes nonstop or just all-consuming. If I could share any advice, it would be to always make time for family, whether that’s waking up an extra hour earlier in the morning or managing your time better during the course of the day in order to get out of the shop on time. We only get this one life, and family is very important. I think we can all do better when it comes to making more family time. We offer a very niche skill and product; sometimes clients can wait an extra day. But when you lose family time, that’s gone forever.”

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Business Owners: Encourage Employees to Create a Healthy Balance, Too Just as we need to find ways to manage our time and balance our priorities, our employees are looking to maintain a palatable work / life balance as well. If you are a business owner, make every effort to help your employees develop plans to manage the time they spend at work versus at home. Their families need them around as much as our families need us. Supporting your team and encouraging them to create a healthy work / life balance helps retain employees and nurtures a positive work environment. While we all have slightly different methods, there is a common theme: We have to intentionally carve out time from work for other priorities. Do any of these strategies appeal to you and your situation? facebook.com/MobileElectronics   61


 tech today

Mobsteel Suicide Slab Gets Audio

A repeat Simplicity in Sound client drops off the Lincoln Continental for his biggest stereo syste WORDS BY JOEY KNAPP

It’s been a while since we’ve shared a build log, so I thought I would show off a collaboration through Pinnacle Autosound and Simplicity in Sound. The car belongs to a Simplicity in Sound client we’ve worked with in the past. This one is a ’64 Lincoln that had a bit of a resto-mod done by the Mobsteel guys. The tired, original motor came out, and a hot Coyote motor was installed along with a modern fuel injection system.

62  Mobile Electronics July 2019

The stance was reliably lowered (no airbags on this one) and the interior was modified, with the highlight being a smooth center console that runs the length of the interior. When our client purchased the car, it had a full Rockford Fosgate system that had seen better days. The rebuilt doors each had a 5 ¼-inch component set powered by a 4-channel Rockford amplifier. The trunk housed the 4-channel amp, and another Power series mono amplifier that powered a pair of Rockford 12-inch subwoofers. In our initial talks with the client, the

plan was to get a modest refresh of the existing system, and add in a few cosmetic upgrades. As things sometimes go, modest got thrown out the window, and the plan jumped up to a full Focal Utopia M build, with a pile of Mosconi Pro series amplifiers to power the system. The preliminary meeting with the client came shortly after I had gotten my CNC up and running. After looking at the car and seeing the materials and finishes used in the interior, I came up with an initial plan for the doors. There were a number of polished aluminum accents in


Mobsteel Suicide Slab Gets Audio Makeover

I experimented with a number of different designs for the grilles. The final one was very close to what the completed grille looked like. To add a little more detail to the grilles, I planned on incorporating the Lincoln name as well as the Continental Star logo. A final layer of detail would be flooding the engraved areas of the star and grille with black epoxy before polishing.

Creating the Door Grille Design

o Makeover

e keys for his 1960s em upgrade yet. the interior, so my plan was to machine some aluminum accent pieces for the door grilles. The door panels were made in two parts, with the center lifting off and being easily secured with a single screw. After talking with Bing about the plan, we decided the center of the doors would be shipped to my shop in Florida and I would fabricate and install the grilles there. My draft sketches kept with the feel of the existing work in the car. A thin exposed aluminum ring would be bordered by a black painted outer ring.

but also allowed me to draw on the door to determine a shape. It took quite a bit of time to come up with a shape that would fit the existing speaker cutouts as well as the differences in the front and rear panels. When I had a general idea of the shape, I opened up a photo of the door panel in Adobe Illustrator and worked on the design of the piece. I tried a number of possible options for the star

I would be modifying the inner part of the door panels, and leaving outer part as it was. By designing my grilles to fit within the confines of the existing speaker cutouts, I would be able to keep the material and stitching a perfect match. My plan was to design a single grille shape that would work The final grille template would work on front and rear on both the front doors and leave enough upholstery around the and rear doors. The perimeter to be able to wrap it. existing speaker cutouts in each door were a little different, in addition to the front and rear doors being slightly different, too. To determine what the shape would be, I taped up the grille areas of one of the front and rear panels. It took a few different samples to come up with the final This not only propieces that would work. tected the panel,

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 tech today logo, the Lincoln type and the aluminum and acrylic painted piece layering. By creating the shapes in Illustrator on the photo of the door it gave me relatively accurate scaling for the pieces I would cut out on my CNC. With just a few measurements on the door panel, I would be able to properly scale the parts I had designed. I went through a couple iterations of how I would attach the grilles to the The top layer of the acrylic pocket had a lip to help hold the pocket in place and facilitate more doors. What I decided on easily blending the panel to the pocket. was an acrylic pocket with a 1/16-inch thick by 1/8inch wide lip at the top. I would cut the panels to the size of the pocket and then the lip would hold the pocket in place. The lip would also give me a clean line to blend to with body filler. Before I cut any parts out of aluminum or acrylic, I first cut the proposed shapes from ¼-inch MDF. I typically will cut samples from MDF to make sure they are just how I Holes for pockets were designed into the bottom layer of the pocket to help hold the grille in want them. MDF cuts very the door panel. quickly on the CNC, so I find it’s better to check parts I am unsure of with an inexpensive and cheap medium first. I was glad I checked first. I ended up cutting a number of MDF pieces before getting the correct shape. Sometimes the digital version of designs does not always translate well to the actual piece, and this was the case with the grilles. After cutting the layers out of MDF, I found some of the corners and the top angle had to be adjusted. I had to make sure I would have enough material to cover the profile of the grille, and with the size of the tweeter hole The eight acrylic pieces were assembled to make the four door panel pockets. cut in the door panel, it was very close. Cutting out the samples

64  Mobile Electronics July 2019


Mobsteel Suicide Slab Gets Audio Makeover

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ďƒŽ tech today allowed me to fine-tune the shape so it would work on all the doors.

Making the Door Grille Pockets

I test fit each of the grille ring samples and refined the shape until I had one that would perfectly fit on both the front and rear panels.

Black epoxy was used to fill the recesses in the grilles and star logos.

66  Mobile Electronics July 2019

With the shapes set, it was time to start cutting the pieces that would form the grilles. Each grille would be composed of three different acrylic pieces and two aluminum pieces. The pocket for recessing the grille was made from two pieces of acrylic. The top layer was the previously mentioned piece with the thin lip. The bottom piece would have magnets embedded in it to help hold the grille securely. After many years of drilling magnet holes by hand, it was nice to have a machine do it for me! Once I glued in all the magnets, it was time to bond the two acrylic layers together. The top layer of acrylic was very thin, and had to be glued to the bottom layer. To keep the shape from distorting while being glued, I used the MDF insert sample to hold the shape. Once all the pockets were glued together and had time to dry, I moved on to integrating them with the doors. First I had to carefully peel back the upholstery from the fiberglass panel. Luckily, the material was mainly just glued along the edges. With enough of the raw panel exposed to fit the pocket, I traced the perimeter of each pocket carefully on the door. I opted to cut the shape with an airsaw instead of a router because the panel still had the material attached at the top. The acrylic pocket I fabricated had the lip at the top, so there was a little bit


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 tech today

The acrylic pockets dropped into the openings and I found uniform spots for each pocket to rest on to ensure they were all at the same angle.

The acrylic pockets were bonded to the doors with a mixture of duraglass and polyester resin.

When wrapping the panels, I had to be careful to make sure there was enough upholstery to cover the entire perimeter of the opening.

I broke the panel re-upholstery into two steps, the area around the grille, and then the rest of the panel. of wiggle room for any cut areas that weren’t perfectly straight. Next, I glued the pocket into the new opening. I test fit each pocket as I cut the doors, and noticed the pockets didn’t sit completely flat. I was concerned that when I molded them in, they might warp. The pocket was only ¼-inch deep, so any slight amount of deflection would be very visible with the grille inserted. To

68  Mobile Electronics July 2019

keep them completely flat, I decided to make the aluminum inserts. That way I could secure the aluminum pieces in the pocket to help keep them from warping.

Door Grille Aluminum Bits I’d only cut a few small keychains out of aluminum on my CNC. I did some research and found that a single flute bit was supposed to be superior for cutting

aluminum. In making these rings, I would use the single flute bit, and also a 90-degree V-bit for the etched details. While laying the piece out in VCarvePro, I realized how much empty space there was in the middle of the grille opening. To keep from wasting that space, I inserted the four Continental Star logos in one of the grilles. I didn’t know what the design of the trunk would be yet, but I knew I wanted to incorporate the star logo there, too, so in another one of the grille centers I inserted three large star logos. This would give me the ability to have matching accent pieces in the trunk. Once all the aluminum pieces were cut, it was time to add the epoxy to the engraved areas. I shared a few photos of this process in my CNC article a few months ago. One important thing I learned about epoxy is to let it sit a few days before sanding it. Otherwise, it won’t adhere as well to the aluminum. Not giving it enough time to cure increases the likelihood that it will gum up the sandpaper. Another trick I have learned is to mask off the surrounding areas before applying epoxy. Protecting the non-epoxied areas helps reduce sanding and cleanup time. I mixed the two-part epoxy and added the black dye. It takes just a very small amount of dye to color the epoxy. Depending on the piece and how precise I need to be with the epoxy application, I apply it with either a syringe with a large 16-gauge tip, or just a popsicle stick. While the epoxy self-levels, I will typically smooth it out with a filler spreader.


Mobsteel Suicide Slab Gets Audio Makeover

I was thankful that the grille pressed cleanly with no tears or distortions.

I did multiple presses, covering the whole grille surface to make sure the grille pressed cleanly.

them in the acrylic pockets to help hold their shape while bonding. To protect the upholstery, I pulled it up over the top of the panel, and taped up any exposed The test fit of the aluminum layer, logo and the parts. The bonding agent grille mesh looked good. The final piece to be I chose was duraglass madefor the grillesis the painted outer layer. mixed with a bit of polyester resin. I have found Since I haven’t had to polish any larger this mixture works well for adhering and pieces before, I worked on a single grille filling. When I placed each grille on the first, so I would know what to expect. As I panels, I made sure they touched at the have in the past, I waited for the epoxy to same points, so each one would have the cure and then started working on sanding same angle. the excess down with 180-grit sandpaper. I moved to finer grades of paper and Door Panel Upholstery then attempted to polish the surface. The When the filler had hardened and all assortment of polishing gear at my shop the rings were bonded, I knocked down was not producing the results I wanted, the highpoints and edges of filler with so I contacted my aluminum guru buddy, some 60 grit sandpaper. I applied and Shon Besharah. Shon suggested polishing sanded two coats of USC White Gold wheels and supplies by Zephyr. I ordered filler, taking care to blend smoothly into a kit from them and gave it a shot. the panel. Now it was finally time to I had a very hard time polishing the apply the upholstery back on the panel. open center grille frame on the polishing The tolerances I left for the grille layers wheels. After a few close calls with the did not include upholstery under the grille getting wrapped up in the polishgrille. Because I wouldn’t have any mateing machine, I decided to phone a friend rial on the contact surface of the acrylic again. This time I called on the help of a pocket and grille, I taped up that area of local friend of mine, Charlie Thornton, the panel. This would allow me to remove who is an excellent auto body technician. the tape after I sprayed the contact adheWith Charlie’s help, all of the grilles and sive on the door. Not having glue on that star logos were polished to an almost area would make it easy to trim and mirror shine. remove the upholstery. Now that the tedious part of the aluI knew some areas would be very close minum work was done. I could focus my to not having enough upholstery to cover attention back on the door panels. I taped the pocket. To make covering the panel up the aluminum inserts so I could place easier, and to make sure I could position

the material more precisely, I started by only gluing the area directly around the ring. Once the glue dried, I removed the tape from the contact point of the pocket, so no upholstery would stick there. When all the pockets were covered, I sprayed the back halves of the panels and upholstery and covered those parts. The final project for the doors was to make the pressed grilles go into the grille trim rings. In the past, making the parts for pressing the grilles would have required me to under- and over-size pieces using flush-trim and rabbet router bits and different sized bearings. Since I had designed the grilles in the digital domain, it was only a matter of clicks to make the files for cutting the larger and smaller pieces on my CNC router. The grilles would have a center spot for the star logo to sit in. That piece was also easy to add, because I had a digital file for it as well. I chose to make the plug for the star logo in acrylic instead of MDF. I was afraid the thin points of the star might deform or break when pressing if they were MDF. With the help of the CNC router, making pressed grilles has never been so easy! At this step in the project, I had completed what I needed to at Pinnacle Autosound, in Lake City, Fla. To protect the grille pieces, I put each one with the different layers in the acrylic recess pockets in each door and taped them in place. I didn’t want to fully assemble them until I got to Simplicity in Sound, in Milpitas, Calif. I bubble-wrapped the panels a number of times, and sent them off to meet me in a week. facebook.com/MobileElectronics   69


ďƒŽ installs

DROP-IN MEETS DIALED IN

SUBMITTED BY: MATT SCHAEFFER, MUSAIC, LEWES, DEL.

This month we have another excellent submission from Matt Schaeffer. The vehicle getting the Musaic touch this time is a BWW M3. The front stage was kept simple with the BMW-specific Focal Integration speakers. The speakers are actively powered by a JL Audio VX800/8i amplifier that features an onboard digital signal processor. Matt used the preamp output from the VXi amplifier to send a processed signal to a JL Audio RD500/1 amplifier to power the Focal Flax sub in the trunk. To make sure the bass from the subwoofer fills the passenger cabin, Matt added a custom Musaic grille in the ski passthrough. Giving the trunk an appearance to rival the great sound is a series of trim layers that include the M logo as well as the Focal logo. To keep the bass sounding good for years, grille mesh is incorporated into the design to protect the subwoofer from any potential damage.

70  Mobile Electronics July 2019


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ďƒŽ installs

SUBMITTED BY: BOB MICKONIS, SOUND WAVE CUSTOMS, VIRGINIA BEACH, VA.

Typically when an Impala is featured in this section, the work is focused on the trunk. This Impala features work in a different area of the car: the center console. Bob Mickonis of Sound Wave Customs shared these photos of a console that he and Adam Perkins recently built. Adam was tasked with the fabrication of the console, while Bob handled to duties of the laser work on the acrylic. The new console provides a mounting location for a Pioneer double-DIN radio. In addition, the console also houses a pair of coaxial speakers and numerous cupholders. To enhance the comfort in the Impala, the Sound Wave Customs crew incorporated an armrest in the middle of the console. Making the great-looking console look even better when the sun goes down is a copious amount of RGB LED lighting. Lighting was used to highlight the trim pieces on the console, as well as the laser-engraved Impala and SWC logo just below the radio.

72  Mobile Electronics July 2019


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from the President

Over Two Decades of Educating The past informs the present. As we move into the future, let’s take a look back at twenty-five years of KnowledgeFest™. Celebrating 25 years of service to the industry, the Mobile Electronics Association (MEA) is proud to continue the important mission of those who came before. KnowledgeFest began with the premise of 12-volt retailers helping other 12-volt retailers. In 1992, a manufacturers’ representative from the Midwest, Randy Strunk of Creative Sales & Marketing, organized a meeting between three retailers. The objective was to convince them to upgrade their stores. Joe Cavanaugh, of Stereo West in Omaha, Nebraska, shared his idea for integrating a “WOW factor” into store design.

Looking Back at the Beginning of KnowledgeFest As a response to known issues in our industry, the founders held a meeting to understand the need and how best to address it. As a result, one of the Kansas retailers made major changes to the interior of his store, as well as marketing changes, and held his first-ever private sale for preferred customers. The overwhelming success of the sale, coupled with changes in the store, prompted Strunk to arrange for other retailers in Missouri and Kansas to visit this retailer’s store in February 1993. Over 20 retailers attended this networking meeting, the first of its kind. Over the next few months, other meetings for networking and the sharing of information were organized. All of them met with increasing success. Finally, in 1994, the first “KnowledgeFest” was held at a Lake of the Ozarks resort in Missouri. Over 150 independent mobile electronics specialists attended this, the first major industry event held specifically for 12-volt retailers. By 1996, over 300 people were in attendance. The event’s primary purpose was to educate and train retailers, especially installers on installation techniques, and to provide a place for networking and the exchange of ideas and best practices in business. The events became so successful that many retailers in the area closed their stores and brought all their employees. Success and growth of the event continued over the years, including the addition of a trade show floor where manufacturers’ products could be exhibited. A membership association, the Mobile Electronics Retailers Association known as MERA, was created to serve the mobile electronics specialists and support the KnowledgeFest event. As retailers looked for new business opportunities to expand their product mix and complement 12-volt electronics, other product categories for vehicle enhancement were added to MERA’s focus and the association changed its name to the Mobile Enhancement Retailers Association. The Future of KnowledgeFest in Flux Then, in 2009, things took an unfortunate turn: the event was cancelled due to waning support brought about by a tough

74  Mobile Electronics May 2019

economy and its impact on the retail marketplace. After considering several options, the association and the event were eventually sold to the owner of InstallerNet who chose to make an investment into the organization to restart the KnowledgeFest event and redefine MERA as simply MEA. That new association’s membership is now vertically integrated to include those who make, sell and install the product. To enhance communication and support MEA and KnowledgeFest, an established trade publication, Mobile Electronics® magazine, was added. Other media holdings, including Hotwire and websites were also added.

The Rebirth of An Industry Tradition One date will live on in my mind: October 10, 2010 (10/10/10). It was my first KnowledgeFest as president of the organization. Expectations were high. The industry needed continued education and organized vendor training to invigorate growth. The event launched in a new location, as well—Dallas, Texas. The Dallas event launched with 33 exhibitors and over 500 attendees. The rest is history! Established for Our Future The MEA mission is to educate, inform and empower the industry. Our primary focus is help you grow your business. Our educational events are designed to provide you with the latest information to help you advance your business. MEA is the only association dedicated to the specialty retailer channel. Our industry is filled with passionate people who have a strong desire to learn from one another. KnowledgeFest was born from the desire to make our industry better and to have that shared knowledge translate into an awesome experience for the consumer. It’s become the destination for new products and new technology shaping the 12-volt industry. KnowledgeFest is now coast-to-coast with events in Indianapolis, Ind.; Long Beach, Calif.; Dallas, Texas; and beginning in 2020, Orlando, Fla. Don’t Miss It! Hearing success stories from retailers drives us to expand opportunities for learning. That’s why we made the decision to have more KnowledgeFest events. Having multiple events opens opportunities for every employee of a specialty retailer to connect with others, learn new things and network with both new and existing vendors. Don’t miss our celebration at the Dallas event starting August 9th. Make an investment in yourself and your business to learn, connect and grow both professionally and personally. I hope to see you there!


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Mobile Electronics Magazine - July 2019