Mobile Electronics Magazine March 2023

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PLUS INSTALLS A throwback to the past meets modern sound and inspired style in this 1928 Hudson Essex Super Six. STAND OUT AND BE REMEMBERED How can a business attract new clients? A few of the Top Sales Pros in the industry share their strategies. INSTALLER OF THE YEAR Brian Mitchell talks work ethic and determination, offering advice for any technician who wants to take their craft to the next level. THE DRIVING FORCE February/March 2023


12// What’s Happening: How Can the Industry Attract New Talent?

At KnowledgeFest, retailers, manufacturers and educators—including Installer Institute and Skills USA’s Mobile Electronics division— discussed the future of 12-volt education.

36// Installer of the Year: From Start to Finish

His father’s encouragement and his own dogged determination brought Brian Mitchell to the stage at KnowledgeFest Las Vegas, where he was named 2023 Installer of the Year.

48// Strategy and Tactics: How to Find New Clients

At KnowledgeFest Las Vegas, a business development class shared strategies for drawing in new customers. Here are five approaches shops can begin working on today.

At KnowledgeFest Las Vegas, Marty Adamschek presented the Installer of the Year award to Brian Mitchell of Liquid Trends Modesto. Pictured with Brian on the cover are his two dogs, Chewy and Princess, who spend time with him in the shop and travel with him to shows and events.



Rosa Sophia MANAGING EDITOR 978.645.6466



Contributing Editors Jamie Sorcher and Laura Kemmerer Published by

Chris Cook PRESIDENT 978.645.6434

Richard Basler DIR. TECHNOLOGY SOLUTIONS 978.645.6449


Volume 55 Issue 2
Retail News 52 Installs DEPARTMENTS
Editor’s Forum 6 Feedback ON THE COVER:
AD INDEX Alpine Electronics 7 Firstech-Momento ..................... 57 HKI USA - SounDigital 24, 25 HKI USA - TURY .................. 42 , 43 Infinity Kappa 21 Kenwood .............................. 5 Kicker 3 Mobile Electronics Industry Awards .....11 KnowledgeFest Orlando 31 MECP ................................ 51 ME-TV 29 Pixel Technologies ...................... 9 SiriusXM 10 Snap Finance ......................... 47 Sony 17 TM mobile electronics association 12 2 Mobile Electronics February/March 2023
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Once, when I was enrolled in automotive school and studying drivability, our instructor couldn’t get the students to quiet down. Eventually, he just gave up and stopped talking. One of the students—who might be the managing editor of this magazine—rose from her seat and shouted at everyone to shut up. The room fell quiet, and we moved on with the lesson.

No, it didn’t work a second time.

After that, I couldn’t help but notice that my classmates who slacked off the most during lessons later complained the school didn’t offer enough hands-on experience; the textbook could’ve been better; or the classes were too expensive.

Whenever I hear a negative remark about a school or a certification program— including my own when I was studying for my degree—I can’t help but think to myself, “Isn’t education also what you make of it?” In other words, we only get what we put in.


In Dallas last summer, Monica Anderson of Installer Institute provided insight on how the school helps connect employers with new hires. The conversation reminded me of my own college experience. Educational institutions must stay ahead of the curve to provide the best knowledge possible, but students have to make the most of it, too.

This month’s What’s Happening column focuses on education—specifically, how can the industry attract new talent into its bays and showrooms?

KnowledgeFest Las Vegas also added a new dimension to education by providing a fresh set of hands-on classes on the show

floor that incorporated vehicles and a CNC laser. We all have a responsibility to educate ourselves, just as a school or a program has a responsibility to present the material.

Sometimes a lesson or a class is just a refresher. Sometimes we learn a couple of “nuggets” here and there. Regardless of how much you learn, the effort and time spent is always worth it. And if you find the knowledge is something you’re already applying, why not share it to help your peers?


Whenever I attend an industry event, I feel energized by a sense of comradery. There’s a willingness to connect, to share information and to improve the industry as a whole. At KnowledgeFest Las Vegas this past February, the sense of positivity seemed heightened. Some businesses shared how they approach training those who are brand-new to the industry, and others wondered if there’s a better way to collaborate with high schools and technical training institutes.

Both in Las Vegas and in Dallas last summer, both retailers and educational bodies shared perspectives. It’s up to all of us to stay informed and to help each other along the way.

As Jayson Cook states in this month’s Strategy and Tactics column, “If one of us fails, we all fail.”

My impression? As we face challenging questions about the future, the industry continues to exhibit renewed strength. Regardless of how we fine-tune our approach, it’s this uniting force that will certainly ensure longevity.

4 Mobile Electronics February/March 2023
Whether it’s a training program, a certification, or a simple determination to learn, we only receive based on the amount of effort we put forward.
“ ”
We all have a responsibility to educate ourselves, just as a school or a program has a responsibility to present the material.



“Always go above and beyond, even if it takes a few more hours out of your day. The-long term payout of a loyal customer is worth it. Quality products secure a good reputation, ensuring customers for life. I now have customers willing to transport vehicles across provinces to have me work on them. This is a result of the trusting relationship I created from previous builds.”

“Recently, I was privileged to be part of a sales training class through an outside company that helps me come up with new and creative ways to help me with my sales process. I think that I’ve always been pretty good at selling car audio and accessories, but I felt like there was room to grow. This was one of the best decisions I ever made. My eyes have been opened to so many great closing techniques and great ways to overcome customer objections. I highly recommend attending trainings. I wish I had looked into it sooner. We do lots of discussions and role-playing.”

“I will help and work with all local shops, together, the same way. We are a small, tightly knit community. Working together, rather than seeing each other as competition, allows us to provide better service to the end user and build each other’s shops up.”

 feedback 6 Mobile Electronics February/March 2023
trainings, build relationships, work together and have fun: Industry professionals share their perspectives on what’s most important.


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KnowledgeFest Las Vegas

As an attendee based on your overall experience, how likely are you to recommend attending KnowledgeFest to someone in our industry?

Would recommend it.

Since 2018, how many KnowledgeFest events have you attended?

26% 55% 19%

Did you take advantage of show specials from exhibitors at the event?

In terms of your career development, how valuable were the networking oppor tunities at KnowledgeFest Las Vegas?

Retailer Comments

“The most valuable thing about KnowledgeFest is the connections and meeting other industry members face to face.”

“We need to focus on our showrooms first Impression.”

Las Vegas 2023 was my first KnowledgeFest

I have attend two (2) to five (5) events

I have attended more than five (5) events

The Mobile Electronics Association shares survey results from retailers across the nation regarding KnowledgeFest Las Vegas 2023.

How helpful was the content presented at KnowledgeFest Las Vegas?

How likely are you to attend a KnowledgeFest event again in the future?

Thinking about your time on the KnowledgeFest Las Vegas Exhibit Floor:

What was the single most valuable thing you learned at KnowledgeFest Las Vegas?

“How important it is to put policies and procedures into place in my business”.

“A new perspective on how others successfully accomplish expansion of their business.”

“That there are so many people passionate about helping customers in their 12volt needs, just like me!”

“The resiliency of our industry. We aren’t going anywhere.”

 stats
TM mobile electronics association
How would you rate the value for the money of
Extremely Helpful Very Helpful Somewhat Helpful Not So Helpful Not At All Helpful 57% 30% 12% 1% 52% 20% 16% 35% 95% 16% 2% 0% 30% 0% 72% 26% 2% 0% I Spent Time on the Exhibit Floor all three days I Spent Time on the Exhibit Floor just two days I Spend Time on the Exhibit Floor just one day Somewhat Likely Not So Likely Not Likely Extremely Likely Very Likely Extremely valuable Somewhat valuable 47% Excellent 80% Business Owner or Manager 2% 18 to 24 35% 35 to 44 9% 55 to 64 28% Very Good 14% Technician or Fabricator 14% 25 to 34 30% 45 to 54 9% 65+ 16% Good 6% Sales or Marketing Professional 7% Fair 1% Poor Not so valuable Not at all valuable Very valuable I Did not visit the Exhibit floor 21% 0% 0% 73% 7%
Overall, how would you rate KnowledgeFest Las Vegas? 58% 28% 12% EXCELLENT GOOD 2% FAIR VERY GOOD I placed orders (or my company did) from my current vendors for products during the event. I placed orders (or my company did) from new vendors for products during the event. I committed (or my company did) to placing future orders as a result of information presented at the event. For Classification Purposes, survey respondents are: For Classification Purposes, survey respondents age groups are: 8 Mobile Electronics February/March 2023

Fall in Love with the Problem, Not the Solution: A Handbook for Entrepreneurs

In this book, one of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs—Uri Levine, co-founder of Waze—empowers you to build a successful business by identifying your consumers’ biggest problems and disrupting the inefficient markets that currently serve them. Waze, the navigation app with more than 700 million users to date, was acquired by Google in 2013 for $1.15 billion. Today, Levine is committed to spreading entrepreneurial thinking. He shares an inside look at the creation and sale of Waze and his second unicorn, Moovit, revealing the formula that drove these companies to compete with industry veterans and giants alike. He offers tips on firing and hiring, raising funding, making scale-up decisions and more. Levine also calls himself a teacher. This was the next step: to write a book and share his knowledge with others.

Chicago Auto Show February 11-20, 2023, Chicago, Illinois


After a few years of downscaled events and low attendance, big events are back. The Chicago Auto Show, held at McCormick Place, is the nation’s largest and one of the oldest automotive events in the country, if not the world. Started in 1901 by Samuel A. Miles as a way for manufacturers to get in front of consumers who were new to the world of automobiles, the Chicago Auto Show has become known for vehicle debuts and revolutionary concept cars. Notable debuts include the Dodge Viper RT/10 concept, the Escort GT and the Ford Mustang SVT Cobra. This year, attendees enjoyed seeing over 300 vehicles from 20 different manufacturers.

 helpful stuff 10 Mobile Electronics July 2022
EVENT BOOK Visit for Offer Details. Minimum subscription term required. Save $50 plus get 3 Months Free of our best package with subscription activation via rebate. SCAN HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION. Create Pandora stations Xtra channels SiriusXM video

Buy Back Your Time: Get Unstuck, Reclaim Your Freedom, and Build Your Empire

Time is a precious commodity. How you use your free time will make or break your success. It’s not about working harder or finding more time to do the work. It’s about designing the freedom to engage in the high-value work that brings you energy and fulfillment. Dan Martell founded, scaled and successfully exited three technology companies within a 10-year period. In 2012, he was named Canada’s top angel investor, having invested in more than 50 start-ups, such as Intercom, Udemy and Unbounce. In 2016, Martell founded the SaaS Academy and grew it to become one of the largest coaching companies in the world. He’s also an Ironman athlete and philanthropist. In his first book, Buy Back Your Time, he teaches entrepreneurs how to scale their business before burning out. Reading this book will help you learn the secrets to working less and playing more and also how to invest your newfound time wisely—both at work and at home.

W.B. Mason Interiors


Don’t underestimate the value of your kitchen or break room at the office, shop or place of work. A break room can be beneficial for reasons you may not even realize. Giving employees a chance to take a break at their leisure during the workday increases overall productivity. It also helps employees to develop relationships and friendships within the workplace. To get your break room revamped for 2023, consider creating an environment where your employees feel valued and appreciated. W.B. Mason, the second largest privately owned workplace products dealer in the country, offers all the essentials like water, candy, gum, coffee, plates, straws, napkins and much more, but also an interior design division that provides you with contract furniture direct from over 400 manufacturers. W.B. Mason Interiors has a team of designers and project managers to oversee each phase of your project— from concept to installation—to create a space that is functional and aesthetically in line with your business.



At KnowledgeFest, retailers, manufacturers and educators— including Installer Institute and Skills USA’s Mobile Electronics division—discussed the future of 12-volt education.

At KnowledgeFest Dallas last August, a panel discussion took place among educators and store owners to share ideas about how the industry might attract fresh talent.

Monica Anderson, director of Installer Institute in Holly Hill, Fla., was one of the panelists. Installer Institute is a fully accredited, completely hands-on technical college which offers six-week, 12-week and 26-week programs, as well as financial aid. It offers classes on a range of subjects, including basic installation, woodworking, welding and tinting. Anderson said there’s been an uptick in enrollment

12 Mobile Electronics February/March 2023  what’s happening

due to advancements in technology and changes in the industry. She said Installer Institute endeavors to ensure that shops can accept students.

“We shop the employers,” she said, explaining that they sit down with the potential employer, review their goals and use that information to seek a suitable employee. “Every technician is different due to their experience levels. We get a lot of students who are already in the industry and they just want to educate themselves.”

The training conversation continued this month at KnowledgeFest Las Vegas: Chris Jack, Technical Chairperson of the Mobile Electronics division of Skills USA took to the show floor to speak with manufacturers about a program that helps prepare technicians for the work force. Additionally, as part of the KnowledgeFest education track, attendees enjoyed a new set of hands-on workshops taking place on the show floor—giving students an opportunity to explore these subjects a bit differently.


Dan Bowman of Titan Motoring in Nashville, Tenn., who was present for the panel discussion in Dallas, noted that some people who are interested in cars and attend vocational school may discover they don’t really like getting dirty. Mobile

electronics might be a better career path for these individuals, he said, adding that not everyone knows 12-volt is its own industry. “Let people know they have that avenue.”

Philip Lindsley, owner of Titan Motoring, agreed, adding, “Talk to high schools. Get in front of them. What if we reached out to guidance counselors? ‘We just want you to know we’re here.’”

14 Mobile Electronics February/March 2023  what’s
Chris Jack (left) met with exhibitors on the show floor at KnowledgeFest Las Vegas to talk about Skills USA’s Mobile Electronics division.

The Skills USA Mobile Electronics division has garnered support from multiple manufacturers, including Kicker. Students are also encouraged to earn MECP certiifcations.

Another participant suggested that many shops want to hire someone who already has the experience, so they’re less inclined to bring in a student. Lindsley agreed this is an issue, but suggested starting a new employee on something small first:

“Kids come out of school and they don’t know how to take cars apart,” he said. “[If you have] easily repeatable work, start small. They’re learning to pull bumpers so the technician can do backup sensors. Then they show the initiative to move up.”

At Titan Motoring, he explained, new employees start out as car runners, picking up and delivering vehicles from dealerships. “We have multiple departments. People see a path to grow and they stay,” he explained.


Dan Bowman suggested a brandnew employee might start working with leather instead of electronics: “You don’t have to have someone super-skilled to get them into doing leather,” he said. “This is how you make a path so you can grow employees.”

Attendees agreed that when it comes to taking on an employee who’s brandnew to the industry, some shops may be unprepared. “This is what I’m hearing,” Lindsley said. “So, it sounds like we need to train shops to know how to do that. Myself or Dan [Bowman], or any other shop that’s doing that with some success—we can show people how.”

Jason Kranitz of Kingpin University in Las Vegas, Nev. also underscored the importance of training retailers. “I get calls monthly,” he said. “A retailer will

ask, ‘I’ve got a guy who’s been with me two years. I want to get him to the next level. Do you have a program [for this]?’

I say yes. This program is two hours of class time a day, working side by side with them. A lot of people can’t teach. I give a price for teaching, and they say it’s too expensive.”

Additionally, Kranitz said that some retailers express concern that when their technician attends classes, they might be recruited elsewhere. “You have to start training retailers how to handle these situations,” he said.

A new employee won’t start out knowing everything, according to Anderson: “If you want people to come in,” she said, “you need to change the mentality of them needing to know everything.” At the end of the panel discussion, everyone agreed that

16 Mobile Electronics February/March 2023  what’s happening
At KnowledgeFest Dallas this past August, Monica Anderson of Installer Institute spoke with attendees on the show floor and took part in a discussion panel that focused on getting more technicians into the industry.


This year’s contest for the Mobile Electronics Division of Skills USA will be held at the Georgia World Convention Center, June 21-22.

According to Chris Jack, Technical Chairperson, it costs about $15,000 a year to run the contest. Anyone who is interested in assisting in any way—whether it’s helping with the contest or donating—should reach out to Chris Jack via email before June 10:

To learn more, visit and search for “Mobile Electronics Contest.”

When it comes to simply getting more students interested in 12-volt, Jack encouraged retailers to talk to local technical schools and let them know there’s a need.

He also encouraged retailers to have their own little car shows, and to get involved in their local communities to attract interest.

“If there’s a job fair anywhere in schools, get involved. You can also retrain an automotive student. There’s not enough of a push to qualify, identify and educate those interested in working in the industry. It often falls on shops to educate those who are totally green, which costs them money.”

retailers must also demonstrate the initiative to put processes into place that would be conducive to hiring technicians. The problem, they concluded, had to be approached from all angles. Additionally, Lindsley said, not everyone does well in a school environment: “I wasn’t happy with school when I was a kid,” he said. “Some need school, and some need to somewhere that can train them.”

Installer Institute offers an alumni portal, according to Anderson, who said any graduate can join the portal to view job postings. Retailers also come to the Institute seeking employees. “We’ve grown a lot in the last two years, and we’re holding a 94 percent placement rate for our students.” She encouraged business owners to call or visit the website——to learn more.


COVID-19 led the Mobile Electronics division of Skills USA to close temporarily due to lack of funding. Recently, awareness was raised and a number of manufacturers stepped forward to help revitalize it, including Sony Car Audio, Cerwin-Vega and Kicker. Chris Jack, the program’s Technical Chairperson, attended KnowledgeFest Las Vegas to speak

18 Mobile Electronics February/March 2023  what’s happening

with exhibitors on the show floor. An industry veteran, Jack once worked as a regional service manager for Al & Ed’s Autosound.

Jack explained that Skills USA offers job training in numerous fields, including mobile electronics. Currently, he is working to involve more states in running contests in which the best 12-volt students from various technical high schools and trade schools will compete. The program has recently added Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Virginia and Texas to its list of participating areas.

“We might have 30 people in the contest,” Jack said. “There are chapters in each state. If they want to enter students, the students have to know the basics of what they’re doing.” The end goal, he said, is to get them working in shops. Winners receive prizes, as well as gold, silver and bronze medals. In the past, Snap-On contributed tools as a prize. This year,

Jack said, Kicker and Sony will be contributing prizes. “We’re trying to get more interest in the industry,” he added.

Contest entrants must be enrolled in some kind of technical program that teaches electronics. It can be automotive, too, if the teacher is willing to instruct them. “I’m working with two where a trainer is incorporating it into their existing curriculum.”

On the show floor at KnowledgeFest, Global Training Manager Aaron Malin of Kicker also shared his perspective, discussing how Kicker plans to assist with the project. Malin said Kicker has already offered financial and material support. Additionally, Malin served as a judge in last year’s contest in Atlanta, Ga.

“I had a great experience,” he said, adding, “I saw the potential of what we could do if we teamed up. This year, my team will proctor the exam in Stillwater, Okla. at a technology center. We’re getting heavily involved. We’re also talking about Skills USA in our trainings, and our UnMasked bi-monthly program. It’s building momentum.”

This year, the MECP program will supply vouchers, according to Jack, who said students will be able to use MECP as their study guide, and they’ll be encouraged to earn their certification. For the upcoming contest in June, there may be 20 to 30 competitors. Jack noted that registration is up, and stated the exam that students will take is one Jack wrote himself.

The goal of Skills USA Mobile Electronics competitions is to draw fresh talent into the industry, and get award recipients certified and working in shops. Above: Participants with Chris Jack, Technical Chairperson. Left: Judge Scott Dilbeck of Southern Thunder Audio with contestant.

“The main benefit of certification is that they’ll have enough to get started,” Malin said. “You’re not an expert, but you know enough. They’ll have the knowledge. They’ll need the experience.” Students must pass seven hands-on tests and one mock customer service scenario to qualify for the contest, according to Jack.

Malin said Kicker encourages young people to do something that excites them. “Mobile electronics is one of those things because you can turn your hobby into a real career. Not everyone loves their job, but in this industry, we all love what we do.”

Additionally, he complimented Chris Jack, noting, “He’s the heart and soul of Skills USA Mobile Electronics. He’s the reason we’re here.”

Jack said his intention is to ensure the division operates in every state. “The goal,” he added, “is to have qualified installers for all shops.”

As technology changes, more and more people are beginning to realize they need to stay educated to keep up, according to Anderson.

“For a long time, people were stuck in their ways,” she said, adding, “They insisted, ‘We always did it this way, and we don’t need to know another way.’ We’re not the industry we were in 20 years ago. Growth is everything. Being able to adapt is everything.”

20 Mobile Electronics February/March 2023 
what’s happening
A contestant in the Skills USA Mobile Electronics program installs a head unit. Not everyone is aware of what the mobile electronics industry has to offer: The contests help to build interest, demonstrating available opportunities.




On Sunday at KnowledgeFest Las Vegas, prior to the Industry Awards show, several hands-on workshops took place on the exhibit floor, including “CNC Laser – Set-up & Alignment” with Jason Kranitz of Kingpin University; “Modern Wire Management” with Dean Beyett and Fernando Lopez of Five Star Car Stereo in Clearwater, Fla.; “OEM Audio Integration” with Brian Mitchell of Arc Audio and Liquid Trends of Modesto, Modesto, Calif.; and “DSP Tuning Workshop” with Ken Ward of Educar Training and Elettromedia.

Hands-on classes on wire management and OEM audio integration gave students a more interactive experience.

22 Mobile Electronics February/March 2023  what’s happening

Each year for the past four years, Jason Kranitz has taught a laser class, he said, adding, “This year’s laser class is what everyone has been asking for.” Students had a chance to interact in person with a Full Spectrum laser; Kranitz noted the company is one of Kingpin University’s partners. “People will say, ‘I’m having trouble aligning

my machine, and I don’t know the settings to use for the material.’ This class covers that.”

Additionally, Full Spectrum was available on the show floor after the class to work with students and provide hands-on demonstrations. “It’s great for anyone who has purchased a laser through our program,” Kranitz said. “It’s

maintenance—the things you need to know.” While there are videos available online, he said, “We speak car audio talk and show people how to do it.” The new round of hands-on courses on the show floor allowed for another level of interaction that wasn’t previously available in the traditional classrooms at KnowledgeFest.

A class on CNC lasers on the show floor at KnowledgeFest added a new element to previous laser classes: Actual interaction with the machine and discussions on set-up and alignment.

Retailer Advocates Investing in LONG-TERM POTENTIAL

Mark Miller, owner of Westminster, Md.-based Westminster Speed & Sound, said his business has focused on drawing in younger employees and training them from the ground up. “It was too hard to find help,” Miller said, adding that three of their employees had never worked in the industry before.

The key? Look for skillsets and personalities, rather than experience. Miller started by connecting with friends of current employees, or business clients. In searching for new talent with potential, Miller also sought to build on a pre-existing relationship. Though Westminster Speed & Sound hasn’t had any referrals from local high schools yet, Miller remains receptive to bringing young potential on board.

“We might have a young person come into the store and show a lot of potential and mention they want to do a trade—and they do exist—[like] a 17-year-old automotive enthusiast,” Miller said, for example. “They start showing promise and you say, ‘What are you thinking of doing after high school?’”

 retail news 26 Mobile Electronics February/March 2023

Though Miller might hesitate on hiring young talent right after they graduate, he maintains it’s important to keep in touch and see where their potential leads as they grow. Taking this route has yielded some excellent team members for his business. But, Miller warned, “While I think other shops should do this, the variable is they have to recognize that

there’s [a long-term investment]. The first 90 days, you’re going to lose 100 percent of your money on this person. The next 90 days, you can hopefully break even, meaning that they’ll do enough work that they can cover their own salary.”

As Miller noted, the six-month mark is when a shop will finally start making money off that employee. Miller also

 retail news 28 Mobile Electronics February/March 2023

emphasized the importance of investing in trainees. By investing in young workers and offering them the chance to learn, the mobile electronics industry will likely benefit from an apprentice approach, like what is seen in HVAC, plumbing and electrical work.

“The new hire speeds up to the point that the company is billing out more money per week, and now they’re



• Shop: Speakerbox Car Audio

• Location: Huntsville, Ala.

• Years of Industry Experience: 15

• What You’re Really Good At: “My biggest strength is the ability to multitask with the many hats I wear throughout the day.”

• Hobbies: “My hobbies vary year to year on whatever skillset I would like to try, which gives me peace and serenity. The past two years I have taken on refinishing furniture as I upgrade my home.”

making money on this person. People will say they can’t do this because the person will be trained and then they’ll leave,” he said, noting two important questions for storeowners to ponder:

“Did you offer a good enough future? Do you have a store that has an environment that makes people want to stay?”


• Shop: Laketown Speed and Sound

• Location: Draper, Utah

• Years of Industry Experience: 22

• What You’re Really Good At: “I feel my biggest strength at work is making potential clients feel comfortable during their visit to our facility. I accomplish this by listening to their needs and delivering on those needs. I also make myself available to answer all questions that may arise throughout their purchase and installation process.”

• Hobbies: “I don’t have many hobbies outside my love for the mobile electronics industry. I used to regularly DJ for fun and recreation, and I wish to do it more often. I also own a 3D printer and this has become a kind of hobby outside of work. I enjoy printing non-work related items for fun. My kids like getting gifts that were 3D printed at home.”

 retail news 30 Mobile Electronics February/March 2023


This year’s Industry Award candidates share their favorite products and the strategy they use to close the sale.




“Our customers love that this radio offers wireless CarPlay and Android Auto.”


“The biggest objection is the cost of the radio. A lot of the time, it places customers right outside of their budget when cost is the bottom line for choosing a radio.”



“I show the customer the value in all the features they would gain. I get them engaged with our display and have them pair their phone and then I do a walkthrough of the unit.”

 Hot Sellers 32 Mobile Electronics February/March 2023


The AF Forza line of amplifiers has been expanded, according to Rob Wempe, VP of Sales for Elettromedia USA. The line was on display at KnowledgeFest Las Vegas, February 3-5, 2023. Three models have already been introduced, and others will be launched this year.

“We are especially excited to introduce our dealers to the 12-channel AF, which was initially only available in Europe,” Wempe said. “The AF M12.14 bit lets us bring Audison’s Fully-Bridgeable power to the 12-channel DSP amp category.”

Ken Ward, International Technical Marketing Manager for Elettromedia, said, “OEM integration can be the most difficult thing we do in car audio. The AF Forza bit platform is the most advanced OEM integration processor in the world, and we have awards and reviews to prove it. The visualization tools for simplifying phase and time alignment are a step forward in car audio, and to have them in a great-sounding amplifier is a great bonus.”

The family of “bit” DSP amplifiers offers system control capability and “companion” amplifiers which can be managed by the DSP section of the bit amplifiers. The line also includes expansion cards, external controllers, high-resolution Bluetooth receivers and plug-in integration harnesses. Forza is managed using Audison’s bit Drive PC software tool.




Adam Devine, Devine Concepts Automotive Design, Naples, Fla.


“[The aspect of my sales presentation that hits home with customers is] that it’s all about the experience!”



“Always drive benefits and how it’s going to change the experience—don’t sell features!”



Ata Ehdaivand, Absolute Electronix, Rockville, Md.


“It has a built-in DSP.”



“We just explain how it benefits our clients’ needs.”



Dan Bowman, Titan Motoring, Nashville, Tenn.


“It is easy to use with a pleasing form.”


“Zero objections—It’s only a knob.”


“We point out how useful it is.”

 Hot
34 Mobile Electronics February/March 2023


“For us, the biggest new item isn’t a product—it’s a service we can offer because of a new 12-volt product. The JL Audio Max tuner has been in our shop since it debuted. Since we were able to purchase the first Max tuner in Canada, we spent time learning how to use it and become better at tuning DSP systems. The best part is that we can instill complete confidence in the client by showing them before and after tuning capture photos of what a DSP was producing before, and what changes we made in that DSP to make their audio system sound even better.

“The main objection we hear is that the client already loves the sound of their system. For our clients, we give them the best sounding systems they’ve ever heard. They want to know how it can possibly get even better.

“We show the before and after capture photos of other clients’ systems. Also, the tune on our own shop truck, as well as the DSP units displayed in our show room. I also challenge them and tell them that if the tune isn’t better, I will not charge them for it and I’ll revert the vehicle back to the old tune. So far, not a single client has had to be refunded. They all love their new tunes immediately after we use the Max.”

SUBMITTED BY: Conrad Leduc, Sudbury Car Audio, Sudbury, ON
Installer of the YEAR 36 Mobile Electronics February/March 2023


His father’s encouragement and his own dogged determination brought Brian Mitchell to the stage at KnowledgeFest Las Vegas, where he was named 2023 Installer of the Year.

Brian Mitchell, who was named Installer of the Year at KnowledgeFest Las Vegas this February, has loved music for as long as he can remember. He was born in New York and raised in Modesto, Calif., where he’s been in the industry since 1984. Today, he works at Arc Audio during the day as an inside sales manager, then at his store—Liquid Trends Modesto—on evenings and weekends.

As a teenager, he said, he wanted to have the loudest boombox: “In the 1980s, it was all about wanting to have louder stereos. I built a boombox in a wooden box out of car audio equipment with 6 by 9s in it. It was heavy and awkward, but really loud. Then we used to breakdance in the front yard.” When he got his first car, a 1974 Chevy Nova, he installed eight 12’s in it. “It was the last year of that body style, with a hatchback,” he said, adding, “About as close to being uncool as possible.”


When he considered backing away from pursuing an award, Brian Mitchell’s father encouraged him, saying, “I think you have one more in you.” Growing up, Mitchell learned, “You always finish what you start.”

He remembered hanging out at the local stereo shop as a kid, which inevitably drew him into the industry: “I was about 13 to 16 years old. They said, ‘Sweep up over here and we’ll pay you a little money after school.’ It just went on from there.”


While growing up on his family’s farm, Mitchell said he acquired a strong work ethic from his father, who was also a music lover. “We always listened to different kinds of music together,” he said. “When we weren’t doing that, we were working. When I was very young, maybe 12, we had an orchard and he’d put me out there with a shovel and a hoe to weed

around the trees. I worked until I was done. That’s how we approached everything. You finished what you started.”

Mitchell put in his name for Installer of the Year at least five times before winning this year. He recalled how his father’s encouragement helped push him forward. “When you go for it so many times, you

lose some drive. I was ready to give up. He’d say, ‘No, I think you have one more in you.’ There are no guarantees of winning, but I knew I still had some things I wanted to showcase.”

His father, he said, loved his work. “His last years were in Sacramento,” Mitchell said, adding that the drive from

Installer of the YEAR 38 Mobile Electronics February/March 2023

Modesto is about an hour and a half. “He had a 15-inch Alexa at the house. I loaded photos onto it of whatever I was working on, and it ran a slideshow. He would see those during the day. I talked to him every other day for the last ten years, and we’d talk about my projects.”

His favorite aspect of his work, he said, is reproducing good quality music. “I enjoy the build, the design—seeing it in my head from beginning to end. I like to see how close I can get to my original thought, which is rarely the same.” Seldom does everything work out the way he initially envisioned it, he noted, adding, “There’s always at least one compromise in a car.”

In his Installer of the Year video submission, he showcased a Dodge Challenger, explaining that he’d started with an idea of where he wanted the batteries and the fuse box to go. “It didn’t look good, though,” he said, “and the color combination didn’t fit. I had to change it and build a custom fuse panel, which ended up being a huge area of the display. While it wasn’t the original thought, it became a highlighted area of the install.”



Each year that he ran for Installer of the Year, Mitchell said he learned more and more about video editing. After his first year running in 2012, he began applying his new skillset to his business, which led to an immediate increase in sales. Getting better at this, he noted, also decreased his stress when it came to making the videos.

“It helped me showcase my work on social media,” he said, adding that this helped attract higher-end clients to his shop. The most impactful example of

this was a build he completed on a Chevy truck in 2013. “It had lots of lighting and big amplifiers. It was a really big system, and it wasn’t from my area, so doing the truck and showcasing it online to show other customers was huge for me.”

Since then, he said, he’s been able to attract more and more high-end work, and even high-profile clients. Each year, he’s gotten better and better at this skill.

Most of Mitchell’s clients come to him with an end-goal: They plan to display the vehicle at a show, or enter a sound quality competition. They want to win.

Additionally, Mitchell said, they come to him specifically for his creative input. This differs from most other shops, he added, where “they have to build what the customer wants exactly.”

Mitchell said that when he’s with a potential client, “I talk about the value we can offer. They’re looking for an outcome. I have to be able to explain why what we’re doing will give them that outcome. You can create the most beautiful thing in the world, but if people don’t see the value, they won’t pay you for it.”

For the most part, he works on his

40 Mobile Electronics February/March 2023 Installer of the YEAR

own, but Mitchell also has a good friend— Robert Boyd—who comes in to help out and to learn. “We’re both big on the competition circuit, too,” he said.

Mitchell is most known for his detail-oriented work. When he begins a project, he takes a close look at the vehicle to pick up styling cues. “If I’m going to do something really dramatic, how will I pull the styling cues from the car and put that into what I’m doing? Sometimes that involves changing color combinations in the car, changing some of the interior panels to match the install in the back for ‘flow’ through the car.” He explained that it involves looking at the car from every angle, then incorporating those design cues from the manufacturer into the install.

For example, he will powder-coat amplifiers so they match the color of the vehicle. “On the Challenger, we hydrodipped the center cap for the 24-inch woofer so it matched the amplifiers, and that flowed through to the rest of the car,” he explained. “The screws


matched all the way through, which were highlighted, and then we got the color combinations just right.”

Liquid Trends Modesto averages about seven to 12 completed jobs in a year. It can take a month to five months to finish a job, according to Mitchell, who said he generally works on two projects at a time. The shop is booked out for a year.

When it comes to attracting more highend clients to any shop, Mitchell said it’s important to showcase the work and pursue as much training as possible. “Everything is trends—whether it’s cars, stereos or upholstery. This doesn’t mean you should only focus on trends, because you have to step out on your own to get to the next level, but you do have to be aware of the trends,” he explained. “You need to know what people want in order to have higher-end customers come to you.”

Installer of the YEAR
44 Mobile Electronics February/March 2023


Mitchell had some words of advice for those who might not be happy with the work they’re currently doing: “If you’re not happy anywhere in life, you should do something about it,” he said. “But before you move your family or change jobs, make sure it’s not something else making you unhappy.”

Sometimes, he said, people leave good jobs and then discover nothing has changed. “First, if you aren’t the owner, talk to the boss. Try to find more creative outlets. If you can’t build bigger, more high-end jobs, maybe start by building displays in the showroom. Get your creative juices flowing, and that can help to make things better.”

Mitchell loves his work, he said: “That’s what keeps me going. I always want to build bigger and better cars, and I have projects I want to finish.” While work doesn’t always feel like work, he added, “Remember—work always feels like work sometimes.”

Anyone wanting to take the next step, he said, should always remember that continued education and learning new skills is paramount in any field. “If you fall behind, it’s that much harder to catch up,” he added. “When someone starts learning tuning and they’ve never done it before, it’s a lot of work. Start small. Go to trainings. Move on to the next small thing, and at the end, you’ve learned a large thing.”

Following with the tradition of previous Industry Awards presentations, last year’s Installer of the Year, Marty Adamschek, joined Chris Cook on stage to present the award.

This is especially important in the face of the ever-changing automotive industry. “It’s going to get much harder,” he said. “Education and training is going to be at the forefront of that. We have to keep up with the times. That’s not just our industry, but the car industry in general. I think training starts with the manufacturers with the equipment that has to be interfaced.” To that end, Mitchell advocates for more training sites, for more places that people can go to seek continued education. While it’s easy to fill a room with technicians interested in fabrication, he said, it’s harder to get people to commit to learning about electrical and electric vehicles.

When it comes to self-improvement, he said he’s never done: “The day I stop learning is the day I quit,” he said. “Whether it’s woodworking, 3D printing, CAD drawing, or anything at all. If I go into a woodworking shop where they’re building cabinets, I can pick something up to make my projects better.” He noted that he travels a lot and visits other stores where he often sees someone applying a technique in the install bay that makes him say, “I don’t know why I didn’t think of that before.”

Each strategy—every skill, tip, or trick applied—increases efficiency. He invited others in the industry to reach out to him any time. “Few people build high-quality products in a vacuum,” he said, adding, “They get out and they see what other people are doing, and it makes them better.”

On the night of the Industry Awards banquet, Marty Adamschek—previous Installer of the Year—joined Chris Cook, president of MEA, on stage to present the award. Adamschek stated that the Installer of the Year award validates years of hard work, and also opens doors to new conversations and connections that might not otherwise occur. When Mitchell’s name was announced, he came up on stage with his two dogs, Princess and

Chewy, who have recently become a fixture at KnowledgeFest events.

In January, Mitchell said, his father passed away. “It made me think about a lot of things,” he began. “We’re all family. A lot of times, we spend more time with our industry family than with our families at home.”

He wasn’t planning to enter this year, he said, but his father pushed him to. “He told me, ‘You never give up. You put all your effort into it.’ I wanted this for him as much as I wanted it for myself,” he noted, adding, “Everyone takes some time off to spend time with friends and family. Then you go back to working 16 hours a day. But when they want you to come over and have dinner with them, and you might be just a little bit too busy, take that time. Because it might be the last time.”

Installer of the YEAR 46 Mobile Electronics February/March 2023
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At KnowledgeFest Las Vegas, a business development class shared strategies for drawing in new customers. Here are five approaches shops can begin working on today.

In “Business Development: How to Find New Customers,” Sales Pro Award Winners Jason Kranitz, Jayson Cook, Elias Ventura and Robert Kowatch shared business-building strategies from their own unique perspectives, noting that methods and application may vary depending on the type of business and location.

“We aren’t here to be clerks,” said Robert Kowatch of Perfectionist Autosound and Security in Anchorage, Alaska. “We’re here to be sales professionals.” Over the years, Kowatch also worked in sales in other industries: “Everything led me here and gave me the tools I use today.”


Jayson Cook of Columbus Car Audio and Accessories in Columbus, Ohio, said he first started working in the industry in 1998. “Every weekend, we went to cruiseins and hung out.” As a result, he said he became the go-to person for questions about car stereo installation.

“We still do a lot of events so we can get out in front of people,” he said. “You’ll get more traction. If you go outside your shop, you’re on neutral ground.”

That neutral ground, he added, can lead to a really positive experience. He advised attendees bring a vehicle to a car show and set up a booth with added focus on the shop logo to increase brand visibility.

Additionally, the shop will offer a prize: “You can register to win a $100 gift card. I get your name and contact information. You can opt out of any promotional emails, [but for the time being] you signed up for it.”

The shop also sponsors concerts and tailgating events. “We do a lot of advertising on social media and also on the radio. We do before and after parties with local rock concerts.” Every Thursday night, the shop also takes part in a bike night. “HKI was there with us last time. There’s a live band. Hundreds of people come.”

Just being out there and offering information can lead to an increase in sales, or at the very least, an interest in what the shop offers.

 strategy & tactics 48 Mobile Electronics February/March 2023


At events, Columbus Car Audio displays branded materials to keep them topof-mind, including kickstand plates for motorcycles that feature the business’s website and phone number. “They’re seeing the name no matter what. Hopefully, they’re going to find us.”

Jayson Cook said the shop aims to put its logo in front of as many potential customers as possible. “Our table cloth and tent at events has our logo. The vehicle has our logo. [If we have a motorcycle on display] it has our kickstand plate. We have pamphlets about what we do. Put your logo on everything so they know where to go. How do you get them into your store? They come

to you because you’re the expert,” he said. “Find out where they are. Social media might get you some traction, but it won’t get you to everyone.”

Even something as simple as a uniform shirt can go a long way in increasing brand awareness. “At events, it’s rare that I’m not wearing some Columbus Car Audio gear,” Cook said. “I promote my shop and I promote the 12 Volt Sales Pros Facebook group.” The Sales Pros underscored the importance of getting people to “recognize you as the expert.”


Part of being active in the local community is getting involved in organizations.

Robert Kowatch recommended the Chamber of Commerce and Business Networking International, or BNI. One of the most important aspects of the Chamber of Commerce, he said, is the opportunity to connect with other local businesses and learn how to help one another.

“I recommend looking into it in your own local areas,” he said, adding that while it takes time, it’s worth the commitment. “BNI is designed to bring in business.” There’s a yearly fee, he said, “and you have mandatory attendance based on your chapter.”

This can often lead to creating local partnerships. Kowatch noted that Perfectionist Autosound partnered with a local detailing shop, and the two shops frequently send each other business.

How to Find New Clients 49
During “Business Development: How to Find New Customers,” presenters and audience members discussed how to build trust with clients, and the importance of boots-on-the-ground community involvement for any shop.
“Just say, ‘Oh, I’m sorry to hear that.’
This is our 12-volt community. If one of us fails, we all fail.
If this person had a bad experience at that shop, they may never want to go to another shop. Keep that in mind, too.”


The leading Sales Pros also reminded attendees to never say anything negative about competing shops to clients. If a client complains about another shop’s workmanship, Cook said, “Just say, ‘Oh, I’m sorry to hear that.’ This is our 12-volt community. If one of us fails, we all fail. If this person had a bad experience at that shop, they may never want to go to another shop. Keep that in mind, too.”

Also, he noted, “They might’ve had a bad experience, but remember you only know one side of the issue.”

He recounted a situation in which a client came into the shop and shared a bad experience he’d had at another business. “We looked at the car and it was a very simple fix. We could have said, ‘This

is junk. Let’s tear it all out.’” Instead, he said, one of the team told the customer, “‘It looks pretty good. There are a few things we could change here and there, but honestly, you should go back to that other shop.’”

The customer, he said, had already spent $30,000 at the first store; it would be best if the first business resolved the issue. The key, Cook added, is that the salesperson had built trust with the client by making this recommendation.

An audience member raised their hand and shared their own experience, adding, “When you have a customer in that situation, it’s not about making a sale to make up for what’s happening. If you can make him happy—even if you’re sending him back to the other shop—then you’ve still

gained a customer. Even if he goes back and it gets resolved, he’ll come back to you [in the future] because he was disappointed by the other shop in the first place.”


According to the sales experts, it’s essential to show interest in the client’s personal story. “If you’re at a car show, you already know they’re interested. They’re into their toys. Interact with them. Talk to them,” Cook said. “Find out their story. Be passionate about it—whether it’s a rusty 1972 Pinto, or something newer. It’s still their baby. They’re showing it off.”

Ask them questions about it, he advised. “Get on their playing field.”

Whether in the shop or at a show, the Sales Pros reminded the audience about the importance of an initial greeting. They also reminded attendees to try to avoid judging a potential client by their appearance or the way they dress.

Cook shared his own experience about inadvertently making assumptions about a client. In this case, the individual was a farmer whose appearance was somewhat deceiving: “[It turned out] this client has an airplane hangar full of vehicles. You can’t judge a book by its cover,” he said, adding, “I still do it, though. It sucks, but it happens. We’re all human.”

Most importantly, “Be you. Be prepared to leave a lasting impression,” Cook said, adding, “Make sure it’s a good one.”

 strategy & tactics 50 Mobile Electronics February/March 2023
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Classes at Kingpin University carried out this unique theme build on a 1928 Hudson Essex Super Six, where students learned techniques on design and implementation from start to finish.

 installs
52 Mobile Electronics February/March 2023 53

At KnowledgeFest Las Vegas, this 1928 Hudson Essex Super Six, with its unique “steampunk and bootleg” theme, helped draw crowds to the Kingpin University booth. The build, sponsored by Diamond Audio, was completed in class at Kingpin University, with students participating across three classes. Assistant instructors were Andrew Buchok and Paul Morgan. The following students all worked on the build: Hector Martinez, David Rutledge, Kyle Mullaly, Shawn Dunn, Mario Paredes, Jorge Lopez, Colton Wadley, and Bo Yochum.

Edison bulbs were used to illuminate “whiskey barrel” housing for the subwoofers and copper piping. “I want to do an underglow with Edison bulbs, too,” said Jason Kranitz, lead instructor at Kingpin University. “Even though you’d never see them, I just think it’s fun.”

Students installed the horn drivers, as well. “There are four mid-bass drivers, three amplifiers, and the steampunk theme build continues into the back.” To bring the design to fruition, Kranitz purchased the copper piping on Amazon. “We bought

54 Mobile Electronics February/March 2023  installs

four cheap light fixtures, tore them apart and made our own stuff, and bought the knobs,” he said. “It was cheaper to do it that way.”

A careful observer will note the Kingpin University logo inside the decorative gauges. “We used a bicycle chain on the sprocket, and welding wire for the leads on the speakers,” Kranitz

continued. “There’s an acrylic enclosure on the backside.” He pointed out the discretely installed backup camera. “It’s a fulltime camera so I can see when I drive.”

Classes began by discussing and designing the build. “We did it as a class, and then we’d pair off,” he said, adding, “We showed the students the techniques to complete it.”




If you’re an entrepreneur and a business owner, you know that every waking hour can provide you with new ideas for the direction of your business. You’re the leader: Leaders have a unique responsibility to make sure all things in the business work together to fulfil the mission statement. Before you go directly to implementation, make sure the desired outcome can be achieved.

For example, you might decide your sales process should require a three-day follow-up for all customers regardless of status. Sale closed, sale walked, sale pending (not decided). You arrive on Monday morning and let it fly. There’s a quick meeting to explain the new process, even if you’re not completely sure what it will be. Your team jumps into action, still questioning why, how, and what result would be considered successful. Things get out of hand as your team is now hyper-focused on your new idea. This leads to other areas losing focus, possibly having a negative impact on your business. Does this mean it was a bad idea? Not necessarily. It could be a great idea, but without proper vetting, it will be hard to determine whether or not the results made an impact.


We all have ideas—some good and some bad. As a leader, you must decide if an idea should be set aside for another day, or if it’s ready to be implemented. Begin by reviewing the idea for relevance to your business needs. Can you envision a successful outcome? Will it make a difference over your current process or lack thereof? Are you committed regardless of success or failure? Can you identify parts of the plan that could fail, and why? Try to think of every negative outcome possible. Going back to the original example, if you wanted to follow up with every customer, or potential customer, using a phone call, what is your desired outcome? Will it take time from something else that already produces results? Will that reduction be offset by the success you envision from your new idea?


Do you and your team believe this new idea will produce revenue? There are a few ways to consider

this. Will implementing it produce direct revenue? Will it increase sales or create more profitable sales? Will it save you money, thus producing a better bottom line? Will it increase your customer base or create an environment that provides a higher average sale price or higher ticket? Will it create a better experience, resulting in greater customer satisfaction and a higher close rate?

Carefully weigh all these areas, and anything else that applies. If it doesn’t meet the criteria, you can end here and move on. Remember that it’s ultimately your decision: You are the one taking on the risk for your business. If you feel strongly, then you should be able to “sell it” to your team. If you can’t get their buy-in, there’s a good chance your idea will fail.

Both your time and your team’s time is not limitless. Use time wisely and you’ll produce the desired results for your business.


Most importantly, always remember to make sure your team is part of the process—not just following your directive. As you lead with your new idea, try to understand the effect it will have on your team and your customers. If your team is already producing great results, will this distract them from their current day-to-day process? Might it produce negative results for morale, teamwork, or customer service?

When discussing implementation, solicit feedback in a way that affirms their positive participation. Ask your team if they have any comments, whether positive or negative. Once discussed, make sure everyone is on board and ready to do their best. If you respect their input and allow them to help shape the idea, you will receive their support and loyalty. It’s important to respect the input of your team, especially if it affects their overall job satisfaction and their income.

Finally, here’s a great quote to consider from Simon Sinek: “Leadership is not about being in charge. Leadership is about taking care of those in your charge.”

56 Mobile Electronics February/March 2023
If you’re leading your business in a new direction, it needs to be properly evaluated by both you and your team.
Both your time and your team’s time is not limitless. Use time wisely and you’ll produce the desired results for your business.”
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