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January 2021

me-mag.com

Justin Kush’s artistic vision, dedication to high standards and commitment to self-improvement have earned him a highly sought-after title—Installer of the Year

Cyber Explorers Due to COVID-19 limitations, MEA took KnowledgeFest to the virtual stage for the first-ever KnowledgeFest.LIVE

PLUS

Listen, Listen, Listen: Sales experts share top strategies for closing the sale Got Your Back: Is your store selling blind spot monitoring systems? If not, it’s time to get started


Volume 53// Issue 1

Articles

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18 Retail News 56 Installs 60 From the President

FEATURES 12// What’s Happening: On Another Level While attendees missed out on the usual in-person networking in Dallas, the online platform allowed for virtual meet-and-greets and the announcement of the latest Industry Award winners at KnowledgeFest.Live. 22// KnowledgeFest.Live: On the Circuit KnowledgeFest.Live saw the transformation of the show floor into an interactive virtual experience as manufacturers shared new products, show vehicles and training sessions with thousands of registrants. 32// Installer of the Year: Artist by Design Installer of the Year Justin Kush brings a background in art to his custom audio builds, continuing to grow and evolve by learning from those around him.

40// Learning From Leaders: The Silver Lining

After 25 years at VOXX Electronics, Aron Demers celebrates a silver milestone as he reflects on the wild year that was and his hopes for 2021.

44// Strategy & Tactics: The Art of the Sale

During KnowledgeFest.Live, industry experts shared tips and strategies on listening, qualifying the customer and closing the sale. Here are 5 methods salespeople can start utilizing today.

50// Tech Today: Vehicle Safety and Blind Spot Monitoring, Part 1

Blind-spot monitoring solutions inform drivers of nearby vehicles, providing lifesaving alerts. To enter this category, begin by understanding what’s available—and outfitting a shop vehicle to use for demonstrations. On the Cover COVER DESIGN: Ana Ramirez Justin Kush, who specializes in fabrication at Mobile Toys in College Station, Texas, has been handed the Installer of the Year award at this year’s online Industry Awards celebration. With a visual eye for design and a background in art, Kush dedicates himself each day to continued self-improvement and education, with the hope of eventually teaching classes himself and sharing his knowledge with others.

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Departments

4 Editor’s Forum 6 Feedback

Ad Index

Alpine Electronics..................................p.3 AudioControl.............................................p.49 DD Audio.....................................................p.47 Escort...........................................................p.7 Firstech - Compustar..........................p.61 Harman - JBL............................................p.27 InstallerNet...............................................p.59 JVC.................................................................p.15 Kenwood.....................................................p.17 Kicker............................................................p.5 Knowledge Fest.live .............................p.9 MECP............................................................p.37 Metra Electronics...................................p.53 Orca - Focal...............................................p.25 Sirius XM.....................................................p.10 Sony..............................................................p.35 SounDigital................................................p.21 Vais Technology......................................p.11 Vision Zero.................................................p.55 Voxx Electronics.....................................p.43


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TO NEW HEIGHTS Alpine Halo11 Multimedia Receiver with 11-inch Floating Touchscreen Display

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Alpine’s Largest Display EVER! facebook.com/MobileElectronics   3


EDITOR’S FORUM

LEADERSHIP REQUIRES YOU TO TAKE THE TIME TO REFLECT ON YOUR ACTIONS PRIOR TO CHOOSING A DIRECTION.

TRUST, BELIEVE & KNOW THREE WORDS FOR LEADERSHIP GROWTH. As leaders, your mission is to…well, lead. Lead your business, your family and in some cases your community. Regardless of our station in life, all of us should consider how best to lead in any situation. As leaders, you will be looked upon for direction. How you respond goes a long way toward establishing your leadership type and ability. Your words, and more important, your actions, will be the measure of your leadership. Leadership requires you to take the time to reflect on your actions prior to choosing a direction. Think about how your response or directive will be received before just blurting it out. This does not mean proceeding with trepidation. It means taking the time to consider the effect of your words. And again, I cannot stress enough the importance of your actions. People often give your actions more weight than the things you say. And this is where trust enters the equation.

LEADERSHIP REQUIRES TRUST The first thing you must achieve is trust in yourself and in those with whom you lead. Without that trust, it will be hard to move forward in your business or your personal life. For this article, we will focus on your business. You can choose to lead in life—or not. To gain and maintain the trust of others, you will need to be consistent with your message. You will also need to be humble enough to admit when you are or have been wrong. Yes, leaders do at times make bad decisions. Knowing how to recover from them will be important to maintaining the trust of others.

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YOU MUST BELIEVE

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Ask yourself, “Do I believe in who I am and what I do?” Here is an example: You left your employer and decided to open your own business. To do that, you may have felt you could do it better. So, can you? If that was your conviction, then own it! Believe you can and lead your way through it. Asking the advice of those who went before you does help, but taking your own direction can be satisfying, as well knowing you’re charting your own course. Both success and failure will be yours to learn as you embark on your leadership journey. Make sure you take the time to think through your actions to gauge whether or not you’re moving toward the desired outcome.

MY

KNOW BEFORE YOU GO You are the only one who can lead your business. Yes, you could hire someone to lead for you, but why miss all the joy of learning your own lessons? Knowing the outcome of each of your decisions would be great. This is where your ability to know before you go comes in. Having done your homework of reviewing the path of each of your decisions, you can arrive at an informed conclusion. Leadership requires this of you. Know that others are depending on you for direction. Think about that every time you lead, and back it up with the appropriate actions. Those who follow your lead will begin to build trust knowing you’ve taken great care when making a statement that effects them and their future. Then, having done all of this, learn and live like the leader you know you can be!

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 feedback

SKY-HIGH During the second KnowledgeFest.Live keynote, Retailer of the Year nominees discussed increases in ticket amounts, a higher volume of customers and a greater focus on the powersports category

ADVERTISING SALES sales@mobile-electronics.com

EDITORIAL Rosa Sophia Managing Editor 978.645.6466 • rosas@mobile-electronics.com Chris Cook Editor-at-Large Creative Layout and Design: Ana Ramirez Contributing Editors: Jamie Sorcher and Laura Kemmerer

Published by TM

mobile electronics association

Chris Cook, President 978.645.6434 • chrisc@mobile-electronics.com Richard Basler, Dir. Technology Solutions 978.645.6449 • richb@mobile-electronics.com

“We have a higher volume of customers. Our typical sale hasn’t changed, but the volume has increased. Everything comes back to high-end audio, which is what we specialize in. I try to get more business in different areas, but we just get more audio.” Nick Apicella, Apicella Auto Sound, Stony Point, NY “Volume has increased, and I think that’s because more clients have more expendable income. They are taking more family trips and driving versus flying. They might have put up with nonfunctional radios or no GPS before, but now they are upgrading their vehicles.” Adam Devine, Devine Concepts, Naples, Fla. “The average ticket amount has increased considerably. We never know what will come in—a motorcycle, ATVs, boats. We even do tractors. Each job can range in amount. If you’re ready and willing to share all ideas and possibilities with the customer, the average ticket can go much higher because they may not have known those options were available to them before.” Kimberly Trainer, Car-Tunes Inc., Greenville, Miss. “We’re seeing an exponential increase in full systems. I’m seeing more guys spend, 30, 40, or 50 grand more than ever before. We just finished a Toyota Tacoma that was over $100,000. We’re seeing people who are more willing to push boundaries in terms of spending, more than they would have before. We’ve seen a lot less low-end. The average ticket is way up.” Chris Pate, Mobile Toys, College Station, Texas

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Tony Frangiosa, Chairman of the Board, MEA 1) Title of publication: Mobile Electronics. 2) Publication No.: 957-170 6. (ISSN#1523-763X) 3) Copyright © 2019by the Mobile Electronics 4) Date of filing: Oct.1, 2019.5) Frequency of issue: Monthly. 6) No. of issues published annually: 127) Annual subscription price: $35.00. 8) Periodical postage paid at LawrenceMA and additional mailing offices. 9) Complete mailing address of known officeof publication: 85 FlagshipDrive, Ste F, North Andover, MA 01845. 10) Completemailing address of the headquarters or general business offices of the publisher:85 Flagship Drive, Ste F, North Andover, MA 01845. 11) Full names and completemailing 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 0184512) Owner: MERA, Mobile Electronics Retailers Association, 85 Flagship Drive,Ste F, North Andover, MA 01845. 13) Known bondholders, mortgages, andother 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 ofPublication: Mobile Electronics. 16) Issue date for circulation data below: October2018. 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) Paidsales through dealers, etc.; Average: 0. Single issue; d) Requested distributed byother classes of mail: Average: 435, Single issue: 520. Total paid and/or requestedcirculation; Average 6039. Single issue: 7346. e) Nonrequested distribution bymail; Average: 3593Single issue: 4223. Free distribution through other classesof mail: Average: 0, Single issue: 0. f) Non-requested distribution outside the mail;Average: 267. Single issue: 750. g) Total nonrequested distribution; Average3860, 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; 507j) Total; Average: 10,237. Single issue; 12.826Percent paid and/or requestedcirculation; Average: 61.01%. Single issue 59.63%. 17) POSTMASTER: Please sendaddress changes to Mobile Electronics, 85 Flagship Drive Suite F, North AndoverMA 01845-9998


 stats

The Mobile Electronics Association shares the survey results from attendees at the first ever virtual event.

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RETAILER COMMENTS: “While I believe in-person events will always offer the best value to attendees, as a professional in Australia, the online format allowed me to participate in this event where I have never been able to before, and without any industry-specific training whatsoever in Australia, I cannot overstate how valuable it was for me.” “Very well-organized event, and it was a great learning experience for us from Canada.” “Thank you for putting this virtual event together instead of just canceling the event all together.” “Easier to navigate, and I love the fact I can watch seminars later.” 8  Mobile Electronics January 2021


Make Time to Learn, Connect and Celebrate.

.Live

TM

The premier virtual conference and trade show for the mobile electronics industry.

Now Available On-Demand

Explore Exhibitors Booths and view the latest products Watch hours of education workshops & vendor trainings Watch Keynotes and the Mobile Electronics Industry Awards KnowledgeFest.Live features top industry experts delivering valuable knowledge for owners, managers, salespeople, marketing personnel, technicians and fabricators.

On-Demand at KnowledgeFest.L Live

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 helpful stuff

PODCAST: Stuff You Should Know Also known as SYSK, this podcast will motivate you to learn something new every day. The hosts cover everything from beekeeping to the science behind break-ups, to why aspirin is a wonder drug to what exactly a hangover is, plus so much more. There are over 1,400 episodes that range from 20 to 60 minutes. Check it out! Available through iheart.com.

BOOK: Brand Failures: The Truth About the 100 Biggest Branding Mistakes of All Time BY MATT HAIG

We’ve all seen it before—some products are runaway hits and others land with a resounding thud. Failures are just a part of doing business. Companies big and small have to take risks to stay competitive, hoping the gamble pays off in the end. Failures can be products that just aren’t selling, or ones that have been discontinued. In some cases, it can take quite a while for a product that fizzles to be completely gone from the market. Betamax might come to mind. Some just make you shake your head—Coors Rocky Mountain Sparkling Water, Harley Davidson perfume, Microsoft’s Zune MP3 player and McDonald’s Arch Deluxe hamburger. This entertaining read takes you through many others, offering insights as to what works and what doesn’t so your brand will thrive.

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APP: The Johnson & Johnson (J&J) Official 7-Minute Workout FREE ON IPOD AND ANDROID BY ABBY SCHNEIDERMAN AND ADAM SEIFER WITH GENE NEWMAN

The new year is all about resolutions, plans or goals. One of the most important commitments you can make is to your health. The pandemic has meant too many hours in coach-potato mode, so the start of 2021 is the perfect time to kick off some healthy habits. The right app can be a personal trainer keeping you motivated and accountable. This one guarantees you’ll have enough time (11 minutes total with warm-up and cool down) and space, because it can be done anywhere. The workout library has 22 presets varying in duration and intensity. What are you waiting for?

PODCAST: It’s Been A Minute If you don’t have time for the news, try this. NPR (National Public Radio) reporter Sam Sanders talks with writers, actors, musicians and listeners to give you an understanding of what’s going on in the world through engaging conversations. The podcast releases two episodes each week, including a “deep dive” interview on Tuesdays, and a Friday wrap of the week’s news. Look for it on NPR.org

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 What’s Happening

On Another Level

While attendees missed out on the usual in-person networking in Dallas, the online platform allowed for virtual meet-and-greets and the announcement of the latest Industry Award winners at KnowledgeFest.Live. WORDS BY ROSA SOPHIA

SounDigital offered training on their new amplifiers during December’s KnowledgeFest LIVE event, including discussing the small size and versatility of the 2-channel 1 200.2 EVOX.

When COVID-19 interrupted gatherings of all kinds, the Mobile Electronics Association brainstormed how to continue bringing the best in education and networking to the 12-volt industry. The result: KnowledgeFest.Live. Taking place in December, the event attracted thousands of registrants from across the country and around the globe, making it one of the most successful events yet. According to Chris Cook, president of MEA, KnowledgeFest.Live had a record number of attendees totaling over 2,500. Virtual booths received almost 13,000 visits, and over 45 sales reps were able to interact with attendees on a user-friendly

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platform. “The event featured more than 30 brands, 24 show cars displayed in the online platform, five keynotes and events, and 57 manufacturer trainings and educational workshops,” Cook said. To top it all off, the Industry Awards live-streamed on YouTube and Facebook, and had over 4,000 views. Industry Leaders Discuss Increased Consumer Spending Participating in the first keynote were Cook, Rick Kojan of Sony, Alex Camara of AudioControl and Aron Demers of VOXX. Kojan stated that Sony experienced a

record year. “Everyone will tell you about the great business and the backorders,” he said, adding that in his opinion, upper middle-class customers accounted for much of the additional spending. “They couldn’t go on vacations, and they were stuck in home offices. This all adds up to discretionary income burning a hole in their pockets.” As a result, consumers decided to upgrade off-road vehicles, trucks, cars, motorcycles and even RVs. Kris Bulla of Sony Car Audio hosted three live trainings. Additionally, the company presented two show vehicles—a Subaru with a virtual walk-around and a 1967 Chevy Nova, according to Kojan.


ON ANOTHER LEVEL

Tom Malone: This Year’s Recipient of the Career Achievement Award

Alex Camara stated the year was also strong for AudioControl. “This is a resurgence of our industry,” he said, adding, “It won’t end with COVID. We have an opportunity to reestablish our business. There is a lot of demand.” Aron Demers announced that VOXX recently acquired Directed Electronics, as well as Rostra. The company offered four trainings on Directed, Rostra and VOXX, discussing ADAS products and cruise controls. “We will get through this together,” he said. “It’s been good to see our 12-volt community come together as friends and partners, sharing good practices and situations we’re all dealing with.” Education Sessions Now Available On-Demand Select educational sessions and trainings will remain available for viewing through the end of 2021. Greg Boylan of Focused Marketing Solutions noted that some of the sales classes were good refreshers, adding that he feels it’s important to review “tried-and-true selling practices.” Boylan’s favorite class was “Selling With Your Brain and Your Mouth,” presented by Andy Wehmeyer of Audiofrog. “His perspective on some selling methods opened my eyes,” he said. “There’s so much more to the sales process, when there are so many online buyers these

days. He had some great thoughts on how to approach certain selling scenarios that most classic selling methods don’t discuss.” Some classic sales methods, Boylan added, don’t touch on more modern scenarios because they were conceptualized prior to the advent of social media as a marketing tool, and the increased popularity of online purchasing. “Also, Tony Dehnke and Elias Ventura did a great job, and Tomas Keenan’s approach was also eye-opening for me, especially when it comes to ideas about time management,” he added. Kevin Hallinan of Winning, Inc. presented classes geared toward sales and management, including “The DNA of High Achievers.” In spite of the circumstances, Hallinan stated that KnowledgeFest.Live was a positive experience for him as well. “As I’ve gotten to know more and more people in the industry, I’ve seen the passion that drives their perseverance to be successful, as well as the compassion for each other that spreads from person to person, company to company, and lifts everyone,” he said. Other classes included “Selling Yourself: How to Beat the Competition,” presented by Jayson Cook of Columbus Car Audio & Accessories, “Level Setting in Modern Audio Systems,” presented by

According to VOXX International, Tom Malone first joined the team in 1986 as a product manager for the new vehicle security group. At the time of his passing on March 18, 2020, Malone was president of VOXX Advanced Solutions. Chris Cook of MEA stated that Malone “helped create and grow the car audio and ADAS driver safety market.” His daughter, Caitlin Marinaro, accepted the award on his behalf during the KnowledgeFest.Live Industry Awards. She began by stating that she worked with her father for twelve years. “He was motivated by something bigger than himself. He wanted to provide for his family, and he used everything as a teaching moment until his last day with us. “Everything was a lesson in how you can do better or push a little harder,” she said, adding, “He worked and lived with intention. He said if you can align your passion with intention, you will find your purpose. “His real passion was his family. When it came to VOXX and the people he worked with, he truly considered them an extension of his family.” Cook relayed words from Pat Lavelle—director, president and CEO of VOXX—which stated, “Tom was a driving force at VOXX. I’m very happy he’s being recognized.”

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 What’s Happening comfort zone is scary, but if you don’t jump in and go for it, you’ll never know” how things might turn out.

AAMP Global presented a training on Stinger and Phoenix Gold, led by Jeff Smith.

Andy Wehmeyer of Audiofrog, and “Focus is a Superpower,” presented by author and business owner Tomas Keenan. KICKER also presented its “Unmasked LIVE: KnowledgeFest Edition,” which has been an ongoing show for about nine weeks, taken direct to reps, dealers and consumers to discuss products and happenings in car audio. Retailers and Installers Doing “Better Every Day” As KnowledgeFest.Live moved closer to the grand finale—Sunday evening’s Industry Awards—Saturday’s keynote was the “Retailer of the Year Roundtable,” hosted by Ben Woo of Canadian Mobile Audio. Top industry retailers Kimberly Trainer of Car-Tunes, Inc.; Adam Devine of Devine Concepts; Nick Apicella of Apicella Autosound; Chris Pate of Mobile Toys; and Philip Lindsley of Titan Motoring discussed their nominations and how it impacts their respective businesses. “Every day, you’re back at zero, and you

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need to do better every day,” Pate said. “It sounds cliché, but if you become stale and complacent, so does your business.” All those present agreed that an award of this magnitude is validation for the hard work dedicated to fine-tuning business strategy. This year, both Devine Concepts of Naples. Fla. and Car-Tunes, Inc. of Greenville, Miss. were named Retailer of the Year during the Industry Awards. Devine noted that his focus is always geared toward the customer experience. “It comes down to knowing your business and always changing your atmosphere and the dynamic of sales, and staying on top of what’s going on in the industry,” he said. Both businesses have also grown a lot from word-of-mouth.“This year, our adventure is a new installation facility and we’re under construction right now,” Trainer said during the Roundtable. “That’s going to allow us to have a new fabrication area. Getting out of your

Sunday’s keynote featured Matt Schaeffer and Gary Bell of the Old-Fashioned Car Audio Podcast, interviewing Installer of the Year candidates in an openended discussion. Dean Beyett, Adam Devine, Jaime Palafox, Marty Adamschek, Phil Cantu, John Brettle and Nick Frazier all shared their thoughts on the nominations. Finally, Chris Cook kicked off the Industry Awards, noting that although 2020 was a difficult year, retailers and installers should reflect on the experience and remember how the industry adapted to changes while continuing to move forward. During their acceptance speeches, award recipients shared messages of thanks and lessons learned. NVS Audio of Roselle, NJ was awarded Best Online Presence. Business owner Carlos Ramirez took time to share words of advice. “You have to look at social media marketing as part of the job and book it like any other appointment,” he said. “Treat it as a job you have to do both professionally and consistently. If you do, you’ll get more clients and it will make you better.” Ramirez also advised retailers to accept any criticism and use it to further deliver the best product possible. During the awards presentation, Cook took a moment to remember those who’ve recently passed on—including Lucas Abraham, Joseph Andrews, Jay Kent, Chris Fierek, Lukas Louw, Tom Malone and Steve Fahlmark—adding, “You are loved and missed.” Top-Tier Industry Professionals Take the Stage According to tradition, the previous year’s Installer of the Year passed the torch to the latest recipient. But this time, it wasn’t on stage at Dallas. Via the Facebook livestream, Installer of the Year Tim Baillie noted the life-changing aspects of one of the industry’s most prestigious awards. “It is career-changing,” he said, “and it opens a lot of doors. You’re looked


ON ANOTHER LEVEL

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 What’s Happening

INSTALLER OF THE YEAR Justin Kush Mobile Toys Inc. College Station, Texas INSTALLER OF THE YEAR RUNNER-UP Dean Beyett Five Star Car Stereo Clearwater, Fla.

at differently. Get out there, help people, embrace it and remember knowledge is given to us—we don’t own it, we use it and we continue to pass it on.” Baillie encouraged the next Installer of the Year to lift others up “to where you are now.” Justin Kush was announced as this year’s Installer of the Year and began by thanking everyone “who believed in me and helped me grow as individual.” Most of all, he added, “Thank you to my wife, Ashley, the driving force of why I am successful.” (Readers can learn more about Kush and his career in this month’s Installer of the Year cover feature.) Kimberly Trainer, owner of Retailer of the Year Car-Tunes, Inc., stated, “I don’t think there’s any way to replicate the excitement we’d be feeling if we were at the awards banquet in person.” She went on to add, “I learned so much about myself and Car-Tunes during the awards process. When I started collecting everything to submit, I was overwhelmed and proud at what we do every day.” Hallinan noted that he’s optimistic about the future and feels the industry will come out of these recent difficult times “more resilient and innovative than ever,” adding, “Let’s leave 2020 in the rearview, both mourn and celebrate those we’ve lost, and expect good things to come our way” in the new year. Dean Beyett of Five Star Car Stereo, who was awarded Installer of the Year Runner-Up, thanked everyone for the support and said, “Mostly, I want to give this industry a hug.” He echoed the sentiments of everyone listening in and participating when he continued, “I just can’t wait to see everyone in person again.”

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SALES PRO AWARD WINNER Jason Kranitz Kingpin Car & Marine Audio Henderson, Nev. TRUSTED TECH AWARD WINNER Chris McNulty Kingpin Car & Marine Audio Henderson, Nev. RETAILER OF THE YEAR Car-Tunes Inc. Greenville, Miss. RETAILER OF THE YEAR Devine Concepts Naples, Fla. RETAILER OF THE YEAR RUNNER-UP Mobile Toys Inc. College Station, Texas RETAILER OF THE YEAR RUNNER-UP Traffic Jams Motorsports Buford, Ga.

ROOKIE OF THE YEAR Oscar Rodriguez J’s Tint & Car Audio Dallas, Texas MOST IMPROVED STORE OR CHAIN KarTele Mobile Electronics Waterbury, Conn. BEST ONLINE PRESENCE NVS Audio Roselle, NJ BEST CUSTOMER RETENTION PROGRAM JML Audio of St. Louis Fenton, Mo.

DISTRIBUTOR OF THE YEAR DOW Electronics REP FIRM OF THE YEAR Marketing Pros Arlington, Texas REP OF THE YEAR Mike Rundel, Sony Vendor of the Year AudioControl TOP VENDOR: Autosound & Processing Sony TOP VENDOR: Security, Safety and Driver Assistance AAMP Global

BEST CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE Elevated Audio Denver, Colo.

TOP VENDOR: Accessories and Materials Metra Electronics

BEST STORE CULTURE Traffic Jams Motorsports Buford, Ga.

TOP VENDOR: Infotainment & Multimedia Sony

CUSTOMER CHOICE AWARD Mobile Toys Inc. College Station, Texas CAREER ACHIEVEMENT AWARD Tom Malone EXPEDITOR OF THE YEAR American Radio

TOP VENDOR: Powersports & Marine JL Audio


ON ANOTHER LEVEL

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 retail news

Matt Schaeffer and Gary Bell Educate Car Audio Customers with New Podcast WORDS BY LAURA KEMMERER

On The Old Fashioned Car Audio Podcast, hosts Matt Schaeffer and Gary Bell are helping mobile electronics customers make more informed decisions about what to look for in a shop. According to Schaeffer, these customers will have had something installed that they’re not happy about, or they might be looking to begin again. Often, he noted, customers call in to the shop where Schaeffer works—Sound FX in Lewes, Del.—without any knowledge. Explaining things thoroughly can take up to half an hour. “A client will bring us a car and they might want us to add to it and there’s a lot of things wrong with it, like maybe the left and right channels are flipflopped,” Schaeffer said. “And from the starting point his car wasn’t done correctly even though he didn’t know

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that. They just want it to be louder and clearer, but they might not understand sound stage.” The podcast aims to revitalize the passion for car audio we often see in the older demographic. The majority of the work Schaeffer does is for the 40 to 70 crowd. These clients grew up in the heyday of car audio and are looking to revisit that with their current vehicles but won’t trust just anyone to do the work. Schaeffer noted that Bell had worked for Alpine doing demo vehicles with Steve Brown and other people, and that they’d been friends for a long time and had also done a lot of Mobile Solutions trainings together. “Any time we go out, we always enjoy an Old Fashioned, the drink, and that’s where the name came from. It’s paying homage to the old-fashioned side of car

audio, the evolution of it, while giving a comparison or a nod to us drinking an Old Fashioned on air,” said Schaeffer. Though there are several different enterprises doing this kind of content on different platforms, like YouTube and Facebook, Schaeffer considers the podcast angle a more personal touch. The hosts tell real stories, talking to people in the industry. With the first season available for streaming now and a new episode dropping every week, The Old Fashioned Car Audio Podcast also features guests from time to time. In one episode, the show’s first guest, Steve Brown from Alpine, and the hosts talk about Brown’s evolution in car audio. Schaeffer noted that a lot of these kinds of stories resonate with people who have a lifelong passion for cars.


“It’s just another way to give someone the tools or education or build excitement, it’s all of the above, and there will be installers and manufacturers listening too. Shops can also use a lot of what we say as a sales tool for their own clients,” said Schaeffer. “I think it’s good for the entire industry and I saw it was a hole that was being unfilled because when I go to work, I put on my headphones. I don’t listen to music at work. I like to learn throughout the day, so I listen to different podcasts throughout the day. Anyone in our industry who has done a car related podcast, it’s very niche.” In terms of promotion, Schaeffer films a video promoting the podcast, puts it on his YouTube channel, then posts the same thing to Instagram. As a bonus, most of the jobs Schaeffer does currently come from out of state, with the customer alluding to the fact that they’ve been a long-time fan on YouTube or Instagram, and that they’d finally decided to pull the trigger on getting work done. “I see [the podcast] evolving organically as the conversation. There is no real goal. In the era of [corona], being stuck at home, it’s nice to connect with people, chat, catch up, learn about things I didn’t previously know about on-air guests. It’s fun,” said Schaeffer. On the final day of this year’s KnowledgeFest LIVE, Schaeffer and Bell hosted the Keynote event, the Installer of the Year roundtable in which candidates for the award were interviewed. The Old Fashioned Car Audio Podcast is available to stream on all podcast services, with plans for up to season three and a new episode dropping every week.

Traffic Jams Motor Sports Welcomes Two New Members to the Team

Due to an increased demand in business, Traffic Jams Motor Sports, based in Buford, Georgia, recently welcomed two new professionals: Chris Ott, a former Installer of the Year, will serve as a fabricator, and Dustin Daigle will serve as the shop’s sales manager. In the photograph, Daigle stands on the left, and Ott on the right. For now, Ott will be focused on larger projects like custom door panels and pillars, though he may eventually help with the enclosure side of the business. According to shop owner Ron Venable, both Daigle and Ott are well known in the industry and have great resumes, making them a good fit for Traffic Jams. Moving forward, Daigle will also help with organizational management. With

such talent on the team, Venable is confident the business will continue to grow. “[Daigle and Ott] bring a lot to the table,” he said. “We worked hard to get them, so we are bragging a little bit that we have them.” Venable added that the business is a full-service shop, offering lift kits, wheels, tires, accessories, car audio, fabrication and an enclosure department. “We’re booked out two months now and it’s been amazing,” he said, adding that Traffic Jams has also had issues with inventory recently, like many other shops. “We keep a large inventory here, so we get a lot of dealers calling and asking for help, which is fine—but now we’re so slim that it’s even hard to do that.”

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 retail news

Mobile Electronics Specialist Celebrates One-Year Anniversary at Auto FX Josh White, the head of the mobile electronics department for Tacoma, Washington-based Auto FX, recently celebrated his first year working for the company. White, who has a couple of techs working under him, is also an integration and fabrication specialist. “I started out with Best Buy. I was with them for 10 years or so. Then I worked in technical support at Compustar for four years,” White said. “I worked at Car Toys for a couple of years, the local corporate chain in the Pacific Northwest. I went to Auto FX last year. They reached out to me, and I went from there.” Auto FX has been in business since 1996 and offers services such as window tinting and full vehicle paint jobs. The business also does leather and upholstery work. Like a number of other industry businesses in the pandemic, Auto FX has had

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to change the way it operates to keep things moving. Last January, going right into 2020, White was doing $15,000 to $20,000 jobs, and since those large-scale jobs aren’t happening as much lately, both White and the business have had to adapt and go for new kinds of business and learn new skillsets. “We were invited to go to Connecticut and learn about lithium batteries, charging and alternators, how to upgrade power systems to lithium, so we brought that back and we’ve been doing a lot of Winnebago type off-grid vehicles,” White said. “I had a couple clients who were bird watchers and they wanted to upgrade their systems to lithium so they could be out there for a week. People spending money on solo vacations so they can avoid flying anywhere. We take the AGM batteries out and there’s a big weight

reduction as well, so they can use that weight elsewhere for carrying gear. Space-saving and increasing efficiency is off the charts.” White also helped with changes made to the building, which included the construction of a sound room. White went on to add that the shop signed up with MSC America, and brought in a Helix display, as well as a BRAX display. Now, the shop has a nice demo room. Auto FX wanted to have a shop car, so White built it with MSC. These days, White isn’t doing as much audio as normal, which he misses. But when that business comes back, the new employees can use their knowledge of lithium technology and fold it into new jobs, with hopes of growing the business, rather than just staying afloat. “We’ve grown a lot in a year and stayed constantly busy and it’s been very rewarding for me,” White added.


150A / 301A

150A / 301A

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ďƒŽ hot sellers

KnowledgeFest.Live saw the transformation of the show floor into an interactive virtual experience.

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Manufacturers shared new products, show vehicles and training sessions with thousands of registrants. facebook.com/MobileElectronics   23


 hot sellers AudioControl ACX All-Weather Amplifiers The ACX line of all-weather amplifiers started shipping less than a month before KnowledgeFest LIVE. The ACX -300.4 offers a two- or four-channel system. These amps are ideal for a UTV, motorcycle, boat, or other outdoor application. Users are able to add a subwoofer with independent level control to the ACX300.1 and an optional ACR-1 remote. The amplifiers also offer heavy-gauge quick connect wiring.

INFINITY BeTA Series 2021 6 ½-Inch Component System Harman Audio The new 6.5-inch mid has a 2-inch V/C and carbon fiber cone with cast basket construction. It offers a highend bi-ampable crossover network with beryllium tweeters for a true hi-res audio experience.

JBL ARENA X Harman Audio This product is available after 75 years in the making. This is a three-way active component system, 6.5-inch midrange with two-inch voice coil and the flattest response midrange JBL has ever built. Plus, a three-inch sealed midrange and a beryllium Wave Guide tweeter. It also includes some great install tools to assist in mounting ideas.

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 hot sellers Firstech KL1 Vehicle KeyLocker This product will be available in early 2021. Complete a Drone system by adding key management for simple car-sharing and secure key storage. The KeyLocker works with all key types and almost all vehicles, with primary controls through the DroneMobile app. It also includes a Kp1 Keyless Entry Touchpad. Powered by AT&T/ Verizon LTE for industry-leading coverage and reliability. The MSRP is $159.99.

Sony XS-AW7 Compact Powered Subwoofer The slim design of this eight-inch subwoofer allows installation in restricted spaces, and fills the vehicle with 160-W peak (75-W RMS) of clean, dynamic bass. A supplied wired remote enables convenient level control from the driver’s seat.

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Auto Oxide from VOXX Electronics Created to help protect both your customers and your employees, Auto Oxide is an EPA-registered disinfectant that’s safe to use on all surfaces and is effective against COVID-19. Also available: A high-pressure spray gun specifically designed to work with Auto Oxide, as well as a rechargeable handheld fogger meant for off-site or smaller jobs.


TAKE ORIGINAL JBL PRO SOUND ON YOUR NEXT BIG OUTDOOR ADVENTURE. CRUISE X delivers high-output distortion-free audio. MARINE rated to hold up when things get wet.

COMPLETE FOUR-SPEAKER AND AMPLIFIER KIT 80 Watt 4-Channel Amplifier IPx5 Marine Rated Bluetooth Smartphone Control 360 Degree Locking Ball-Joint Bracket System

FOR MORE INFORMATION AND A TEST DRIVE PLEASE CONTACT SHAWN SPEDDING 816-385-1944 Shawn.Spedding@harman.com facebook.com/MobileElectronics   27


 hot sellers VOXX Electronics POWV3.5 Power Systems This battery backup system can be easily installed under a seat, behind a seat, or in the trunk, and allows the user to get a jumpstart when the vehicle’s battery is dead—thereby avoiding Roadside Assistance or messy jumper cables. Easily start the car using a Smartphone and on-demand power, whenever its needed.

KICKER SoloX L7X Subwoofers New for 2021, these subwoofers provide KICKER’s latest in advanced bass technology and performance, with Forced-Air Cooling and continuous power handling. They offer a three-inch aluminum voice coil with dual-spider suspension and come in several sizes.

Directed DS4 T-Harness Solutions These T-harnesses drastically reduce the time spent on an install, and offer the most coverage for compatible vehicles. While aiding on the installation side, consumers also benefit by gaining an easy upgrade to Viper SmartStart and other security features, plus Viper smartphone control.

Mobile Solutions Dust Shield The Mobile Solutions Dust Shield is a router table accessory intended for use with Jessem ‘Rout-R-Lift’ table mounted router lifts. It greatly reduces airborne dust up to 40 percent by directing it back into the vacuum opening in the router bit area. This accessory allows easy, secure positioning on the phenolic router lift surface, yet allows it to move if the work piece makes contact. The end result is less airborne dust and much cleaner fabrication areas when using a router table.

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Race Sport Lighting RSUKIT Aluminum Channel Underbody Kit The RSUKIT is extremely durable with recessed aluminum channel RGB LED lighting. The kit comes with two remote styles for the user, and all the hardware needed for the install. This has been a number one selling product in North America for four years straight.

Metra PowerSports® Dash and Door Panel Speaker Pods Now Shipping The latest speaker pod solutions from Metra Electronics are designed to fit Can-Am® and Polaris® UTV and ATV models. First introduced at SEMA360, all three of these products are available now. The MPS-RZRDP1 is a pair of speaker door panels designed to add an aftermarket 6.5-inch speaker and tweeter to 2014-2020 Polaris® RZR 900 and 1000 models. The MPS-GENDP1 is a set of speaker pods designed to fit 6.5inch aftermarket speakers under the dashboard of 2016-2020 Polaris® General 1000 models. And finally, the MPS-CAMX3SP1 is a pair of speaker door panels designed to add an aftermarket 6.5-inch speaker and tweeter to 2017-2020 Can-Am® Maverick X3 models.

The Vision Zero Automotive Network This 501(c)(3) non-profit is dedicated to educating and encouraging the saving of lives through the addition of collision-avoiding vehicle technologies. By promoting Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) and technologies developed for the automotive aftermarket, the industry has the power to make an impact and save lives. To become a Preferred Retailer, sign up on the Vision Zero Automotive Network website: (www.vzan.org).

LinksWell 2019-2020 Dodge Ram T-Style Radio This new product features a 12.1-inch HD touchscreen Android tablet, with an optional iGO NextGen Navigation System. The radio supports Google Maps and WAZE, and offers three USB inputs and five-volt RCA preouts with a PhoneLink System that’s both Apple and Android compatible. Touchscreen climate controls help to manage features such as A/C, Dual Zone Climate and seat heaters or coolers. This product also features lane departure warning, Stop-N-Go traffic alerts and collision warning. Additionally, the user can retain the factory reverse camera or add aftermarket front, right or rear cameras.

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 hot sellers Cobra ESCORT Redline 360c Portable Radar Detector For high-end performance, the Redline 360c offers extreme range, letting the driver know what’s ahead, behind and all around them. Provides accuracy against false alerts and a powerful processer for rapid response.

SounDigital EVOX Amplifiers The EVOX line of amplifiers was designed to take advantage of the shift in focus from car-audio specific amplifiers to a more versatile and wide-ranging product lineup. These amplifiers, due to their high power and small size, are popular for the powersports category. There have been a number of improvements to the line, including smoothing out frequency response, and increasing copper on all the boards to help with current flow.

PAC AmPRO SUB Subwoofer Solutions for OEM Radios Now available from PAC, the newest version of the AmPRO series for subwoofers offers two channels of low-pass output to make standard subwoofer installs faster and easier for modern vehicles. AmpPRO SUB products seamlessly integrate with the Databus, allowing for full control and optimum sound from a factory radio when adding aftermarket amplifiers. The MSRP for this product is $179.

Stinger SPXM1 Powersports and Marine Media Player This product has a 2.7-inch color display, built-in Bluetooth, camera input and a two-piece mounting system, among other features. Marine specialty features include a voltage gauge with low voltage alert. The MSRP is $399.99.

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Ground Zero GZPA 4SQ This 4-channel high-end amplifier offers integrated active crossover, BIAS adjustment and high quality parts for dedicated music lovers. It also comes with an efficient heatsink with illuminated Ground Zero lettering and fulfills high-resolution audio demands.

Audiofrog Testgear UMi-1 Audio Measurement Interface This new USB measurement interface is a complete microphone kit designed to work with most PCs, Macs and tablets that include a USB port. The adjustable microphone stand is designed to mount easily to the car’s headrest using a VelcroŽ strap and places the microphone in the ideal location for real-time frequency response measurement and analysis. For more information, visit testgear.audiofrog.com.

Focal Harley-Davidson HDK165 Speaker Drivers Designed and developed for motorcycles operating in a noisy environment, this product integrates a K2 inverted dome compression tweeter for high power. Offers simplified installation with mounting accessories and custom Harley-Davidson grilles to integrate seamlessly.

Mosconi Gladen Pro 210 Amplifier This amplifier offers a high-level input with autosense power-on, and crossover with independent high-pass and lowpass filter. Also offers an optional remote volume control RTC.

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installer of the YEAR

Installer of the Year Justin Kush brings an artistic background to his custom audio builds, continuing to grow and evolve by learning from those around him. WORDS BY ROSA SOPHIA

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ARTIST BY DESIGN

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installer of the YEAR

Justin Kush brings his skills as an artist to Mobile Toys, where he draws concepts for clients. The concept shown here was for a build in a 1960s Cadillac Eldorado, which combined a modern touch with a classy look

After his first time pursuing the Industry Awards, Justin Kush was named Installer of the Year during December’s KnowledgeFest.Live event. Kush specializes in fabrication at Mobile Toys in College Station, Texas, where he’s now one of three team members who’ve earned the illustrious title. “I’m an artist. I draw a lot and I paint. I went to the Art Institute of Seattle and got a degree in 3D Animation,” he said. “The art side of it, the fabrication, the vision has always been there for me. Being able to explain to a customer what I’m seeing and being able to draw a quick sketch helps out a lot.” Kush has also taken the reins when it comes to creating renderings for clients so they can get an idea of what the end result will look like. He added that the things he learned about video editing while in college also helped him in the process of submitting material for the

34  Mobile Electronics January 2021

awards. He uses Procreate to give clients an idea of what he can do for them. “It’s the closest thing there is to drawing with real pen and paper,” he said, though the program provides tools that, once mastered, can also help someone who isn’t an artist accomplish their goals. The user’s hand doesn’t need to be perfectly steady, for example. “The program will fine-tune your work. You just need to know the techniques to bring out your vision. It’s like fabricating: You have the strategy. You just need to apply it.” Thirsty for Knowledge About 15 years ago, Kush began his career working at Circuit City. “I knew nothing,” he said, adding that he stayed there for about five years. “Anthony Lyons showed me the ropes—Steve Brown’s stuff, the Alpine vehicles and the custom side of the industry. I always liked

building things.” Kush’s automotive interest initially led him into the 12-volt industry, and it took time for him to discover his passion for car audio. Shortly after he left Circuit City, the business closed its doors. After accepting a position at Car Toys, Kush worked there for five years “with guys who had tons of experience,” he added. “In the bay, total, we had over 100 years of experience between all of us—that’s a lot.” After leaving Car Toys, Kush joined the staff at a shop called Epic Customs, where he continued to grow professionally. He applied the knowledge he’d accumulated by working on large custom builds, including big rigs. “We built an entertainment system with four woofers in the bed of these trucks,” he explained. “I did two of those, and then I did a sound quality build in a Toyota 4-Runner, and that was my first DSP.”


ARTIST BY DESIGN

More bass. Less space.

Introducing the new XS-AW8 compact powered subwoofer.

www.sony.com ©2020 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. Features and specifications are subject to change without notice.

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installer of the YEAR

In this 2018 Ford F-350, Kush completed the door panels, while Chris Pate built the enclosure and the A-pillars. The truck received four of the Focal 40th Anniversary speaker boxes, with four 3-inch Focal drivers.

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Recalling the build, Kush added, “I had no business being in that car as far as sound quality goes. I got on the phone with buddies of mine who’d done it before. If I could go back in time and re-tune that car, I would.” But with lessons learned, and having made a commitment to continued education, Kush was well on his way and thirsty for as much knowledge as he could absorb. By the time Epic Customs closed its doors, Kush was secure in his passion for car audio. He went back to Car Toys briefly, then left again and finally found himself at Mobile Toys where he’s been for a year as of this past October. Seeing the work of other installers, such as Matt Schaeffer, made Kush even more determined to hone his craft. His time at Epic Customs sparked his growth, he explained, adding that his drive to keep learning and improving hasn’t stopped since. Striving for Higher Standards in the Bay While Kush said it’s important that DSP and integration are done correctly, he feels the biggest flaw in the industry involves inconsistent standards. “If you do a speaker install, there are a few ways to do it, and most are right— but there are some absolutely wrong ways,” he explained. “Shops may not care, or don’t have the right stuff to do it the right way.” As an example, he said that making speaker spacers out of MDF wood is incorrect because they swell, crack and break apart over time. “There needs to be more of an industry standard,” he said, noting that MECP continues to promote proper high standards, but “there are still a lot of shops out there that say, ‘If it plays, it’s good to go,’ regardless of presentation.” While he feels this is an issue that requires more attention, Kush said there probably isn’t a good way to hold businesses truly accountable industry-wide unless it relates to encouraging a kind of personal pride. “It would help if shops prioritized MECP certification,” he said. “You have to do good work.”


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installer of the YEAR Kush still comes across clients who are concerned about someone touching their new car because they’re afraid it will be ruined by a technician. He noted that if shops held themselves to higher standards, the clients’ fears would likely lessen. For example, he recommended that shops stay away from wire nuts and T-Taps. “It comes down to little things like that. People need to care more,” he said, adding that an increased commitment to higher standards should lead to more passion in the industry over all.

After removing the factory seat in this pontoon boat, Kush rebuilt the base with fab enclosures to house a JL Audio 13 W7, and designed a grille to match the other grilles in the boat.

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Prioritizing Constructive Criticism Part of working toward higher standards involves staying humble and prioritizing a willingness to listen to constructive criticism from peers, according to Kush. While working on a project he planned to highlight in his video, Kush said his coworkers took a look and offered their suggestions. “Chris Pate, Matt Vowell and David Cruz all inspected my work. They critiqued everything and told me what I had to fix. It was overwhelming,” he said. “I learned something: Even though you might think you’re ready to go, there’s still more in the details that you can be better at. It doesn’t hurt to get someone else to critique it.” He stressed the importance of constructive criticism and being willing to listen. “Just because they’re pointing out things that are wrong, it doesn’t mean it’s bad,” he said, adding that all it means is that the project needs additional work. In this particular case, “It was the body work I was doing on the dash piece. My inlays didn’t quite meet up all the way in certain spots, or I had a rolled edge in one spot and elsewhere it was sharp.” In the past, Kush said he had a tendency to “eyeball” things, and his peers demonstrated different techniques he could use to measure odd shapes. “At one point, I had an inlay piece where the speaker goes, and David Cruz taught me how I can fill that with body filler and sand it to make it look better,” he explained, adding that it all


ARTIST BY DESIGN

goes toward increasing efficiency. “I’m a very visual learner, so I’ll see David or Chris working on something, and I’ll try to figure out how they did it. I learn little things here and there. I’m watching them because I want to learn [better ways of doing things].” Now that he’s Installer of the Year, Kush feels an increased responsibility to promote high install standards and pay close attention to details. “While I’m shooting for perfection now—say, a 10—I’ll have to bump it up past that because every once in a while, something slips through the cracks.” “Give it Everything You’ve Got” Earlier in his career, when he first started learning DSP, Kush got on the phone with friends Cory Stocklin and Antonio Ghirardelli. “Cory worked for Alpine at the time,” he said. “He helped me when I wasn’t even using his product. That says a lot that he was willing to help even when he didn’t need to.” Kush added that it’s important to him

to pay tribute to those who gave him a chance and helped him get started. “Chris Pate is really good at DSP tuning,” he said, “and I feel like I’m good at everything else I’ve accomplished so far, but I’m lacking in my ability to tune systems as well as he does. These guys are in a league of their own. I want to be around them to learn from them.” Kush hopes to share what he’s picked up by teaching—perhaps fabrication techniques, or even drawing instruction to help other installers hone their skills when it comes to creating concepts for potential clients. He added that 12-volt professionals should think of themselves and their personal brand as an essential selling tool for their team or company. And when someone’s shooting for the Industry Awards? “If I had any advice to pass on, it would be this: Even if you think you aren’t going to win, give it everything you’ve got,” he said. “I didn’t think I would win at all. When I made Top 12, I was super pumped.” Kush said he joked with his coworkers about it,

saying he probably wouldn’t win, but they encouraged him to get involved. “I spent three weeks on the video, about four or five hours each night,” he added. “I almost feel like I haven’t fully earned it.” Now that he’s been named Installer of the Year, Kush said he hasn’t thought too much about what’s next, though his main focus will be studying for the MECP Master certification exam and continuing to improve his skills. “MTI Acoustics just purchased a new building, and we’re moving all the guys from our two locations into that,” he said. The company has several techs who want to improve their skills, and he feels they’ll learn a lot from being able to work in the same building as some of the industry’s top installers. Kush said he wants to continue getting better every day. “It’s about promoting higher standards and education,” he said. “I still have so much to learn about DSP and fabrication. I’m still growing. I’m not done yet.” facebook.com/MobileElectronics  39


 Learning From Leaders

SILVER LINING 40  Mobile Electronics January 2021


The Silver Lining

After 25 years at VOXX Electronics, Aron Demers celebrates a silver milestone as he reflects on the wild year that was and his hopes for 2021. WORDS BY JAMIE SORCHER

Last July, Aron Demers, senior vice president of VOXX Electronics Corporation, was featured on Mobile Electronics Association’s Learning From Leaders podcast. With a 25-year career at VOXX, Demers has experienced some constants during that span—like travel and meetings. But it’s also been a journey filled with continual change. Last year alone brought a pandemic and an acquisition. At the time of his interview, VOXX had just completed the purchase of its main competitor, Directed, which brought together two of the industry’s most powerful brands. “Things have calmed down for sure since then,” Demers said, explaining that when the deal was closed, the company had to onboard all the new employees and get inventory out to the supply chain. “Directed was pretty lean on inventory when we bought them,” he added, noting they prioritized ordering product to ensure there was enough stock for the remote start selling season. Directed’s brands, led by Viper, along with Autostart, AstroStart, Automate, Avital, Clifford and Python are now owned by VOXX along with Directed’s accessory lines. Not only did combining assets provide VOXX with stronger offerings for customers, and expand its distribution network, but it also brought over Directed’s top-tier engineering team comprised of 40 folks who remain based in Canada. “We haven’t been able to get up there and break bread with them like we would

normally do when we have new members join our team,” Demers said. “We want to show them we’re invested in them for the long-term. For us, this acquisition now means we’re able to control our destiny a bit more by having those resources.” The company now has more control over its future in terms of products, planning and vehicle application, he added. VOXX Narrows the Focus in the Midst of a Pandemic One area of increased focus will likely involve the connected car. Demers said VOXX is exploring how to leverage this platform for use with other products and technologies. “For example, you can use your phone as a digital key using an app. We think that will be important with any ride-sharing or connected fleet products that we look at in the near future,” he explained. Most recently, ride-sharing has been impacted by the pandemic. Consumers have been forced to rethink daily routines such as taking an Uber or a Lyft, which has increased the benefits of having one’s own vehicle. Demers pointed out that COVID-19 has caused consumers to look at many things in a different light. “I’m a perfect example of that. We used to Uber on a pretty regular basis,” he said. “We don’t do that as much anymore.” He noted that he has a new level of comfort about being in his own vehicle instead of someone else’s. “I know who has been in my car. I know when it was last sanitized or cleaned, and all that stuff that goes along with it.” The mentality about ride-sharing versus owning a car may be changing a bit more, he added, at least for the immediate future. “How long this will last is yet to be known.” Looking back, Demers said he couldn’t have anticipated what 2020 would have in store especially with a strong start to last year. VOXX’s first quarter was last March. “We came out of the gate right on track. We were halfway through the month, tracking at 50 percent, and then COVID hit and everything came to a screeching halt until April when the stimulus came out,” he said. “Then we saw a lot of the independents pick up quickly.”

Demers noted a few reasons for that bump in business: For example, some of the big box stores were shut down. This, he explained, contributed largely to the boom in business for specialty retailers. “As COVID continued, and staying at home became the new reality for so many people, there was nothing to do.” People who ordinarily frequented restaurants or went out for entertainment had extra spending money. “They might have had an older vehicle they wanted to update, or a boat in need of new gear and a lot of products being sold were a subset of that,” Demers added. “With our rear-seat entertainment, we saw that business really kick in during the summer—a bit higher than years before. A lot more consumers were driving rather than flying for their summer vacations.” Frequent Communication Leads to Efficient Travel Decisions COVID also altered Demers’ rigorous travel schedule. In any given year, he said he flies more than 100,000 miles domestically. “I’ve only had two trips since COVID started spreading that were essential.” Face-to-face visits with dealers help Demers and his coworkers understand different trends, markets and needs, he said, adding that it’s important to interact face-to-face with dealers as well as end-users. “You may be hanging around in one of the shops waiting to see the buyer or the store owner, and you meet a consumer in the showroom. I always like to talk to that consumer and understand why he came in, find out what he was looking for and get a sense of what’s going through his mind. That’s hard to do when everything is virtual.” On the other hand, the pandemic has inspired new ways to connect. “The level of communication on a regular basis has gone up tremendously,” Demers said. “We found that we don’t necessarily need to go see and touch a territory two times a year—to do what we’d call a milk run— just because that’s what we always did in the past. It’s more important to figure out what needs to be done and determine why we are going.”

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This means any travel going forward will be a bit different, he explained. “It will be more laser-focused. I don’t know that a lot of dealers or consumers are going to want to see a lot of people faceto-face for some time until we’ve settled into whatever the new normal is going to be.” The trade shows that were sacrificed last year were also an important part of VOXX’s visibility—and hopefully will back on schedule when it makes sense. “The days of shutting the office for an hour, going to lunch or dinner, talking about a program or price and cutting a deal—that has definitely dropped off, too,” Demers said, noting there just isn’t the same level of personalization involved in the sale right now. While the wheels are still turning in terms of sales, he said a large focus for the near future will be how dealers and their employees gain access to training: “There will be a lot less in-person trainings available.” Dealers Must Adapt in Order to Survive and Thrive Above all, Demers said the pandemic has demonstrated that strong retailers who already communicate well with their customer base will get through these difficult times. On the other hand, he added, “Dealers who didn’t adapt are definitely feeling the pinch. My guess is the dealers who were already making changes

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will continue to make it through. Then you have another set of dealers who will unfortunately die off slowly.” For VOXX, the new year brings new opportunities. Demers said the company already had a good direction before acquiring Directed. “When Directed came on board, we focused on folding the two companies together and making it seamless for our customer base,” he explained. As VOXX continues to release new products, and now works with Directed, Demers added, “We are looking at all the synergies, taking products and making them work with other products. Just think of the connected car: With all the assets we now have at our disposal, we can look at developing new products and new integrations.” VOXX has been working on a new product for the last 18 months called the VOXX Power System, which Demers explained is an on-board jumpstart for a vehicle. “It wires into your battery and gets a trickle charge from the battery while the vehicle is on and in motion. It’s basically like having a portable jump pack at your disposal that’s charged at all times.” The Power System provides power-on-demand. If the battery dies, he said, “From a security standpoint, you don’t have to ask someone to jumpstart your vehicle or call AAA. This takes vulnerability out of play. We ship that product in the first quarter of this year.”

Starting the New Year Stronger Than Ever Demers got his start in the 12-volt world selling ads at a magazine called Mobile Electronics Specialist—which at the time was a competitor of Installation News. After that, Demers went to work for John Phillips, who then started a small amplifier company called Phillips Sound Labs. Eventually, Demers got a job at Audiovox as the west coast regional. As the new year begins, he noted he’s very grateful for the positive highlights in 2020. “I would like to thank my team on both the Directed and the VOXX sides for coming together,” he said, adding that the two companies started out as competitors, “and seeing them come together was admirable. We were able to exchange a lot of war stories and compare notes, and we learned a lot.” Demers also noted the brand loyalty he’s witnessed in Directed’s dealer base. He acknowledged the likelihood of hesitation among dealers when VOXX first brought on Directed, as people wondered “what would happen to distribution, what would happen to the product—and the answer to that is nothing,” he added. “We’re leaving them the same.” Demers went on to thank Directed dealers: “Thank you for trusting us and hanging in there with us. We’re going to continue to get in a good stock position going forward.”


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ďƒŽ strategy & tactics

During KnowledgeFest.Live, industry experts shared tips and strategies on listening, qualifying the customer and closing the sale. Here are 5 methods salespeople can start utilizing today. WORDS BY ROSA SOPHIA

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The Art of the Sale Selling is nothing more than teaching, according to Vincent DeStefano of DeStefano & Associates. During one of his presentations at KnowledgeFest. Live—“The Ancient Secrets of Retail Selling”—he underscored the importance of the salesperson teaching the customer to trust them, teaching them about the product and teaching them “why your store is the best one to do business with.” People learn through hearing, seeing and touching, he added, noting, “Talk about it. Show them the product. Put it in their hands. The more you incorporate all of that, the more successful you will be in getting them to buy.” According to DeStefano and other presenters who discussed sales during December’s KnowledgeFest.Live, salespeople must learn the art of the sale and how to turn clients into repeat customers. DeStefano said the secrets of retail selling aren’t really that secret, though retailers should always remember to sell their brand and their store so that customers come back. #1: Greet and Qualify the Customer Experts agree the first step in a successful sale is properly greeting the customer. A good greeting can be the first step in qualifying them, according to DeStefano. “Qualifying involves finding out who they are,” he said. “This is more important than what they want. How basic does your presentation have to be? How much do they already know?” While many customers have wants— such as a desire for an expensive car or a stellar high-end sound system—he noted that people will still buy what they need. And when a salesperson qualifies a customer, this translates to finding out what they need. “To find out what they want, ask them. To find out what they need, listen. Listening shows your customer that you aren’t just interested in selling something, but finding out their true needs,” DeStefano explained. Andy Wehmeyer of Audiofrog delivered a presentation entitled, “Selling With Your Brain and Your Mouth,” which touched on similar points regarding qualifying the customer. Wehmeyer said the

In his classes, Andy Wehmeyer of Audiofrog discussed the differences between using a display board and using a demonstration in a car to sell a product.

salesperson’s job is to introduce the client to something they need even if they don’t know how to ask for it. He described a scenario in which a customer comes into a shop asking about a Bluetooth handsfree speaker for an older vehicle. When the staff at the store hear “older vehicle,” Wehmeyer said they might make the mistake of assuming the vehicle is a mid-90s Taurus wagon, when instead it turns out to be a 1968 Camaro SS which has just undergone a detailed, expensive restoration. Making assumptions without first looking at the car can be an easy mistake to make, according to Wehmeyer’s presentation. Instead of going out to look at the car, he said the salesperson could have easily sold a $99 Bluetooth hands-free speaker. “But if we look at that car, and it isn’t initially what we assumed, now we have something else,” he said. “What’s the coolest thing we can show this guy?” That small sale can instead become a CarPlay radio installation with a custom console designed to match the factory style of the vehicle. To make these discoveries, DeStefano recommended asking questions that work from the general to the specific in order to narrow the qualifying process. For example, “What kind of equipment have you owned before? This tells you how basic your presentation needs to be. What are you trying to improve? This can tell you what they really need. What kind of

system do you have in your home? They might be there for car audio, but this can tell you how serious they are about sound quality,” he added. Listening gives the salesperson everything they need to close the sale. “Qualifying is good selling and demonstrates your expertise,” DeStefano said. #2: Build Trust When it comes to building trust between the salespeople and the customers, retailers return to branding and consider the best way to reach their core demographic. Dean Beyett and Fernando Lopez of Five Star Car Stereo in Clearwater, Fla. presented “Digital Business Cards” at KnowledgeFest.Live, during which they discussed how retailers can reach a target demographic using online promotion and videos. “Videos give you the ability to control the situation,” Beyett said. “You set the tone, you tell the story your way and show people what you want them to see. You create the environment.” Beyett invited attendees to imagine a customer coming in with only 15 minutes to spare. “You don’t have time for the sales pitch you want to do. What if you had a playlist to continue the conversation?” he suggested. “You might say, ‘Let me get your email, and I can send you videos on that so you can watch them.’” A retailer can create videos on subjects such as services offered, a store tour or

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 strategy & tactics new products. If a potential customer views a video before coming into the store, Beyett said, “They already know who we are. This is about building trust. If they trust you, they’re more willing to open their wallets.” To begin building that trust in a virtual environment, Beyett and Lopez recommended first cleaning up the area and considering what the camera shot looks like. When filming a vehicle, use seat covers, steering wheel covers and fender covers. Beyett said Five Star Car Stereo will even put a kids’ sock on the gear shifter. “You can get a pack of them. When customers see this, it helps build

trust because they can tell you care about their vehicle.” #3: Tailor Your Presentation DeStefano recommended tailoring the presentation to the customer’s knowledge, and always remembering they are more likely to make the purchase if they have the product in their hands. “When you put that thing in their hands, hold on to it for just a second longer,” he said. “If you’ve done a good job and you slightly tug back, and they don’t relinquish it, they’ve just told you something important. That product is theirs now.” During the presentation, DeStefano

Dean Beyett and Fernando Lopez of Five Star Car Stereo gave a lively and fun presentation on “The Digital Business Card.” Here, they demonstrate the importance of referring to team members in the video, and using watermarks for brand recognition.

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said salespeople should get the customer involved by offering an experience. “Have them choose the music. Let them work the equipment. Continue to ask them questions and use their feedback. Let them make decisions on their own.” It’s important to concentrate on tangible benefits, he said, and to remember that customers don’t buy things—they buy benefits. DeStefano also taught an education workshop on first impressions, advising retailers to keep their stores clean. “A guy once told me, ‘I don’t want my store to be too clean because my customers will think I’m too expensive and won’t buy from me,’” he said. “That store is no longer in business. Clean stores help create more sales. Check your displays. If it’s broken, fix it. If it’s missing, replace it.” He recalled a creative solution for missing product in a display: A store that didn’t have a replacement product instead posted a sign over the hole in the board, stating, “Future attractions coming soon: Look for it.” #4: Create a Package There are many mistakes salespeople can make that will cause them to lose a sale, according to Wehmeyer. He explained that salespeople may feel the need to further establish the value of a sale. “Instead of waiting for the customer to ask questions, we offer answers they may or may not need,” he said, adding that contrary to some commonly held beliefs, there is no one sales process. “Sales processes are about using the tools you need to help a customer be comfortable.” However, the salesperson will sometimes default to acting in the interest of their own comfort rather than the comfort of the customer. “Every time we offer more information, we offer more opportunities for objection,” he explained. “If we just use a flat price—a package price—he can ask questions, and we can answer them.” Creating an itemized, detailed list offers too many opportunities for objection which can wear out the customer. “Often, we do this because we’re trying


The Art of the Sale

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 strategy & tactics

Jayson Cook on “Selling Yourself” and How to Beat the Competition An important aspect of the art of the sale is distinguishing yourself from the competition, according to Jayson Cook, sales manager of Columbus Car Audio and Accessories in Columbus, Ohio. Cook is also the founder of the 12Volt Sales Pros

to justify charging this person a lot of money and we’re anticipating he won’t pay for it.” Instead of offering an itemized list, Wehmeyer advised retailers to write a lengthy description of everything they’ll do with the vehicle, highlighting the things that matter most to the customer. It details “all the times we listened to him.” DeStefano agreed that packages should be created from the very beginning of the presentation. Once the salesperson finds out everything the customer needs—a head unit, an amp or speakers, for example—they should create a package tailored to that customer. “It makes buying easier,” he said, “and it limits the amount of choices they have to make,” which minimizes confusion “and brings us to closing the sale.” #5: Ask for the Sale If a salesperson really believes in the product they’ve offered to the customer, DeStefano said it’ll be easier for the customer to make that purchase. They see the salesperson’s passion, and it makes them believe in it, too. He recommended using assumptive closes, such as by asking “Which credit card do you plan to use today?” or inquiring about the customer’s schedule so the car can be dropped off.

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“This assumes the customer has already chosen to buy and puts it on them to say no,” DeStefano explained. “From my experience, ‘no’ sometimes means ‘just not that.’” The objection can be related to either the price or the product, and the easiest way to find out is to ask. Wehmeyer stated that it’s important to take a customer away from all the other options and props in order to close the sale. “Take them away from the demo board. Use an office or a designated place for closing sales,” he said. “If the customer has gone with us away from the sales floor, he’ll likely be ready to buy. Writing the ticket becomes the way to close the sale.” DeStefano added that it’s important to always have fun. “Life is too short. This is passion made real—when you have fun in your store, with your fellow employees, and with your customer, that’s where the passion begins.” Finally, he noted, not every customer will be the right one. Some potential customers will have unrealistic expectations that a salesperson or a 12-volt specialty retailer can’t possibly meet. “A wise salesperson knows how to tell the difference,” DeStefano said. “My best customers stopped being my customers and became lifelong friends—because we had fun together.”

Facebook Group, which is focused on growing the industry in the sales sector. He explained during his presentation at KnowledgeFest.Live that he feels there’s a lack of professionalism in the industry when it comes to selling. “A lot of us are passionate about installation, and we want to see the cool cars, but we don’t always know how to get there—and that’s where professional sales come into play,” he said. “Don’t be afraid to be the most expensive, but the key is to create the experience. If you just have an expensive product, they’ll go to the cheapest shop instead. Sell the solution, not just the box.” Cook said this involves demonstrating to the client the benefit of “purchasing from you,” adding, “You’ll get a warranty. I can show you how it works. I can take care of those things for you.” He noted that if a customer purchases a product online, and it doesn’t work, they have to return it, hope they get a good replacement and pay again to have it installed a second time. Cook described a situation in which a potential client discussed a project with him, then visited another shop to compare prices. When he quickly returned to book an appointment, the client explained it was because the salesperson at the other shop hadn’t taken the time to go out to his car or ask him about his experience. “Create a unique buying experience,” Cook added. “If they shop around, and you’re the most expensive—make sure you’re creating an experience they can’t get anywhere else.”


The Art of the Sale

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 tech today corners of a vehicle to monitor adjacent lanes for object motion. The sensors transmit a microwave-frequency radar signal, and then look for the reflections of those signals from nearby objects. When driving on a road or freeway, the system creates a monitoring pattern that’s approximately one lane wide (12 feet) on either side of the vehicle with a coverage distance of 30 to 40 feet from the B-pillar. When the system detects an object entering or leaving these areas, it will illuminate the indicator that either you or your technicians have installed on or near the A-pillars. These indicators let the driver know that someone is traveling beside them and that they shouldn’t attempt to change lanes.

Vehicle Safety and Blind Spot Monitoring, Part 1 Blind-spot monitoring solutions inform drivers of nearby vehicles, providing life-saving alerts. To enter this category, begin by understanding what’s available— and outfitting a shop vehicle to use for demonstrations. WORDS BY DAVE MACKINNON

profitable upgrades to your clients.

Continuing our deep dive into collision avoidance system brings us to a discussion of blind spot monitoring systems. Before we get into the nitty gritty, it’s worth noting that most consumers don’t know these systems are available as an add-on to their vehicle. As we move through the discussion of the technology, function and installation, think about how you can market these

What is a Blind Spot Monitoring System? There are two classes of blind-spot monitoring solutions: camera-based and sensor-based. This article will discuss sensor-based solutions, and we’ll save the camera systems for the next issue. Sensor-based blind spot systems typically use a pair of relatively short-range radar receivers mounted in the back

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Active Warnings In a similar fashion to the parking sensors we talked about in the last issue, blind-spot warning systems provide an active warning to the driver if they activate the turn signal when there is a vehicle in the adjacent lane. In this scenario, the system will produce a clearly audible beep warning. Some solutions will flash the visual indicators to let the driver know not to change lanes or turn. As a reminder, the benefit of an active warning solution is that the driver doesn’t need to remember to use it. There are no screens to look at. If there is danger of an accident, the system attracts the driver’s attention. False Alarm Prevention Technologies Historically, blind-spot warning systems had issues with false alarms. They might have falsely indicated there was a car in an adjacent lane when in reality, the vehicle was two lanes over. All of the solutions currently on the market are well into their second or third generation. As such, the radar field shape and sensitivity have been fine-tuned to provide reliable alerts. Many of the current offerings integrate with the vehicle through the CAN data system to acquire turn signal and vehicle speed information. Likewise, these systems begin monitoring once the car is traveling above 15 miles per


Vehicle Safety and Parking Sensor Systems hour to eliminate false warnings when parking or maneuvering.

Custom indicator mounting options present an opportunity for you to show off your skills and creativity. Adrenaline Autosound in Clayton, North Carolina, integrated these indicators into the sail panel tweeter pods in this 2008 Lexus IS250 sedan.

A blind-spot monitoring system uses low-power radar signals to detect the motion of objects in adjacent lanes in order to prevent accidents.

Application Limitations Both factory-installed and aftermarket blind-spot monitoring systems are typically concealed behind the plastic bumper cover on the rear of a vehicle. Just like the signals from the police radar gun, the signals from these systems can travel through the plastic with little to no loss. However, this means that pickup trucks and vans with metal bumpers aren’t suitable applications for this type of solution. VOXX Electronics offers a license plate frame-based blind-spot monitoring solution for vehicles with metal bumpers. The coverage field doesn’t extend as far up the sides of the truck or van, but the overall functionality remains the same. Depending on the application, this system can use CAN data or hard-wired connections from the turn signal and reverse lights. In the hard-wired installation, a GPS receiver integrated into the control module provides vehicle speed information. This information is used to activate the system once the vehicle is above 20 miles per hour. A dedicated reverse light connection switches the system to cross-traffic alert warning mode. Proper Alignment is Crucial to Reliable Operation The detection area patterns that these systems monitor is fixed based on the position of the sensors. It’s essential to ensure the sensors are installed as per the manufacturer’s directions. There are minimum and maximum mounting height limits, and the angle the sensors face relative to the vehicle and the horizon needs to be correct. Many retailers will create templates on their shop floor using masking tape to ensure the systems are aligned correctly. Once the sensors and indicators are mounted, and the system is wired into the vehicle, it’s worth taking the time to do a functionality test. Many solutions have a test mode that will activate the sensors while the vehicle is parked. You may also want to, with the permission of the vehicle owner, go for a drive around the block to make sure everything is

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 tech today

The VOXX ACABSDLP is a blind spot monitoring solution that’s integrated into a license plate frame for pickup trucks and vans. Other companies offer vehicle-specific solutions to trucks and vans in the way of replacement light assemblies or modules that attach to the corner of the rear bumper.

working flawlessly and the coverage is what the client expects. Understanding Blind Spot Monitoring System Operation Not every system on the market functions in the same way. Some only provide warnings if an adjacent vehicle is moving relative to your client’s vehicle. If someone pulls up beside the client’s car or truck, then holds that position, the indicators may turn off. Likewise, some systems don’t provide warnings if you are passing a vehicle slowly. If the car beside you is traveling only a few miles per hour slower, the indicators may not activate. Before offering a solution to your clients, make sure it will function the way they expect. Testing the system on a company vehicle may prevent a lot of headaches. Cross-Traffic Alert Monitoring Many of the blind spot monitoring systems on the market include a Cross Traffic Alert mode. Cross-traffic alerts use the same radar technology, but with a wide and shallow beam pattern

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The RDBS-1520 from Brandmotion is a blind spot monitoring system designed specifically for 2015 through 2020 Ford F-150 pickup trucks..


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 tech today

Most Systems will switch to a cross-traffic alert system when backing up. In this mode, the driver will receive an alert if a vehicle is approaching long before they have backed up enough to see them.

that watches for vehicles or pedestrians approaching from the side as the driver backs out of a parking spot. Drivers backing into traffic on the road or in a parking lot have a notoriously difficult time seeing an approaching car or truck. Once the driver can see past an adjacent parked car or van, it’s likely that the rear of the vehicle is already six to eight feet into the active lane. In cross-traffic alert mode, these systems provide both visual and audible warnings when they detect an approaching object. Just as with blind spot modes, they typically don’t produce false alarms from other parked vehicles, parking curbs, light posts or walls. The coverage pattern can extend as far as 90 feet on either side of the vehicle. Selling Vehicle Safety Solutions If you are interested in selling blind spot and cross-traffic alert systems to clients, demonstrating their capabilities and benefits is a great starting point. Set up one or two employee vehicles with systems so you can take prospective clients

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for a drive around the neighborhood. Seeing the system in action is better than any image or video could ever be. During the drive, you can explain the intricacies of how the system functions relative to the movement of other vehicles on the road and discuss different indicator mounting location options. You’ll want to update your website with content related to vehicle safety and collision avoidance solutions. Well-written articles that explain the benefits of these products will keep Google algorithms happy and bring people searching for that information to your store. Finally, if you are serious about selling vehicle safety and collision avoidance solutions, sign up to be a Preferred Retailer on the Vision Zero Automotive Network website (www.vzan.org). Vision Zero and its partners aim to eliminate the 10,000 deaths that occur each year through the use of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) like backup cameras, parking sensors and blind-spot monitoring systems. There is no cost to join, so what are you waiting for?

Dave MacKinnon has worked in the mobile electronics industry since 1988 in almost every capacity, including roles as a Retail Salesperson, Installer, Sales Representative, Technical Trainer and Product Development Manager for some of the largest car audio companies in the world. Dave started his writing career in 2000 as the Technical Editor of a Toronto-based car audio magazine and has reviewed more than 450 products. Formally trained as an Electronics Technician, Dave is considered an industry expert when it comes to explaining how mobile audio components work, and he has crafted thousands of articles to share that knowledge. He’s currently the Head Writer for 1sixty8 media and the Editor-in-Chief at BestCarAudio.com.


It's all about saving lives

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 installs

While completing an audio system and build in this Tesla Model 3, the aim was to create a work of art worthy of this show car—while still retaining storage space and practicality for the everyday. Submitted by: Matt Schaeffer, Musaic Audiophile Design,

Lewes, Del.

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 installs

The focus of this Tesla Model 3 was to finish the audio system and the build with practicality and functionality at the forefront of the design, according to Matt Schaeffer of Musaic Audiophile Design and Sound FX in Lewes, Del. Once the build was complete, Schaeffer said there was still enough room for a stroller to fit in the trunk with all the gear. “Starting with the front stage, we fabricated custom a-pillars to house a set of Illusion Carbon C3CX. The shape of the factory dash grille gave us the inspiration and ability to fabricate the a-pillars on axis.” On the side that is exposed to the windshield, the pillar was split and matching grille cloth was used to create a seamless transition, which made the pillar appear sleek rather than bulky. “A set of Illusion Carbon C8 midbass woofers were used in the lower door location,” Schaeffer said. “The doors were sound treated with a combination of Hushmat and Sound Shield.” The subwoofer enclosure was built from Russian Baltic Birch and mounted to the

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frame of the vehicle. An acrylic lit panel using RGB lighting was placed over the subwoofer, which is highlighted using a bright white LED. A Mosconi 8 to 12 Pro DSP was installed, and the system is powered using multiple relays and battery isolators. “We built a panel which mounts into the OEM subwoofer location which houses our DSP, isolator, system fusing and cooling fan,” he added. “Our Mosconi DSP then set its signal to a Focal FPX 4.400 SQ (Class AB which powers front tweeters and midrange) and a Focal FPX 5.1200 (which powers front mid bass, rear, and subwoofer). The amps were mounted under the OEM removable floor panel.” This area, he noted, is generally used for overflow storage. Since it’s a show car, Schaeffer said, “We wanted to create something that would really grab attention. Finally, the OEM headliner and pillars were removed and recovered with gray Alcantara suede.” A panel with a similar design was created to hide the VIAIR compressors under the hood.


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From The President

LET’S START THE NEW YEAR WITH CONFIDENCE Believe in what you do and who you are. The calendar has changed to 2021, leaving 2020 in the view of our recent history. We can learn from the past, or regret it based on the decisions we make. What we cannot do is change it. Each year, as the calendar shows January first, we take stock and look back. We have the responsibility to review successes and failures, as well as factors that influenced both. Our best efforts may have produced our current position. We can look forward to resolutions for a New Year that will hopefully make the coming year better for you and those in your charge. Regardless of the past, the future is now firmly in front of us. It always is!

Take Time to Review Your Business

Lessons learned should serve you well as you formulate a plan forward. Then take some time to review successes.

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Self-examination can be a tough task, as it requires you be critical of yourself and take responsibility for your actions. This may be both good and not so good. To get started, I recommend objectively reviewing your business first. List the positives and negatives. You should also take time to review your suppliers. Look at each of them objectively, and know that they too have had a situation thrust upon them without a rulebook that outlines how best to manage. Many of your suppliers experienced inventory shortages due to factors well beyond their control. Look at what they did that was within their control. Reward those who truly treated you as a business partner, and treat them the same way. I also recommend doing a separate review of those on your team, taking care and understanding that they, like you, have never experienced an event such as a pandemic. Do not excuse bad behavior, but make sure you consider the additional stress which may have

had an adverse effect on their performance. Also, look for great examples of those who stepped up despite their circumstances. Make sure to review these points with them both individually and as a team. Look for teachable moments that will serve to strengthen your team and your business. Lastly, turn the spotlight on yourself. This will either be an easy or a daunting task. I suggest eliciting feedback from your team during their review time. Depending how you ask, you may be able to get some key insights that will help you with your own evaluation. As you praise your accomplishments and those of your team, apply constructive criticism to any failures, as well.

Create an Outline for the Coming Year With the information you gleaned from your review, start outlining what you could do this year to make your business better. List your failures first and offer a suggestion for each that feel you should have done, or will do in the future, knowing what you know now. Lessons learned should serve you well as you formulate a plan forward. Then take some time to review successes. What did you do right and how can you expand on those successes in the future? Lastly, I would challenge you to review all of this against your current mission and goals to see if it might be time to shift based on your newly acquired wisdom. Once complete, share your findings with your team and others in the industry as both can benefit from your experience. This exercise will allow true reflection and set you up for greater confidence to make this year the best year ever.


Profile for Mobile Electronics

Mobile Electronics Magazine January 2021