Mobile Electronics Magazine June 2023

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Rosa Sophia MANAGING EDITOR 978.645.6466



Contributing Editors Jamie Sorcher and Laura Kemmerer


12// What’s Happening: Keep Moving Industry professionals discuss burnout prevention and their personal strategies for self-care on the path to fulfillment.

20// On the Show Floor: Top Volume

KnowledgeFest show coverage continues with an array of head units, speakers, subwoofers and more.

26// Sales Pro of the Year: The Next Right Thing

What should every new salesperson know? Sales Pro of the Year Dan Bowman shares his perspective on qualifying the client, sharing knowledge and building trust.

38// Learning From Leaders: Quantum Leap

A bold move—which meant a step back—set Jody Culbertson’s career in motion and positioned him to become founder of his own retail display company.

44// Strategy and Tactics: Shaping the Experience

Presenters at KnowledgeFest talked about building trust and business expansion, all with the most important thing in mind: How can professionals work to create the best experience for clients?


52 Installs


4 Editor’s Forum

6 Feedback ON THE COVER:

In his work at Titan Motoring in Nashville, Tenn., Sales Pro of the Year Dan Bowman said he enjoys helping clients design fun builds. In this month’s feature, Bowman shares a few things that every salesperson should remember, as well as his perspective on qualifying customers and building trust.

Volume 55 Issue 4
Cook PRESIDENT 978.645.6434
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by Chris Richard
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You might’ve heard the saying, “Attachment is the root of suffering.” It’s a Buddhist concept, but regardless of your spiritual or religious background, you might relate to it. We can’t help but feel attached to the people, places and things we care about. Often, we feel attached to ideas, to our own creative pursuits. As a result, it can be difficult to make a life-changing decision, even when we know it’s for the best.

In this month’s What’s Happening feature, “Keeping an Open Mind,” business coach Jon Kowanetz talks choices. He recommends paying attention to how your body feels when you consider your situation, and using those feelings to guide your decision-making process. I really resonated with the idea of listening to the body: We carry so much tension, and that tension is worth acknowledging.


Sometimes, when we’re younger, we’re told that our interests aren’t viable. We’re told we have to work to make money, and that work is never fun. We might begin our lives as idealistic kids, but sometimes our dreams crumble under the weight of adults telling us that our dream isn’t possible as a “real” career. During my interview with Sales Pro of the Year Dan Bowman for this month’s cover feature, he recalled how his parents didn’t see car audio as a reliable career path. I’m sure many readers can relate.

Fortunately, there are so many voices in our industry who have demonstrated that it’s possible to build a career in which you can both have fun and make good money. I don’t know about you, but I find it both exciting and fulfilling to see how

many technicians and salespeople not only enjoy their work, but keep looking for new ways to make it interesting and fun.


In this month’s Learning From Leaders column, Jody Culbertson of 5 Axis Innovations shares how a leap of faith brought him where he is today. When something’s meant to be, the pieces fit.

While working on this issue, I thought about my own experiences— my own leaps. In 2014, I decided to quit my job and freelance full-time. I made very little money that year, but I felt certain that my choice would lead me in the right direction. Sure enough, I responded to a job opening for a freelance writer at Mobile Electronics magazine. I’ve been here ever since.

What if I was afraid to take the leap, worried things might not work out?

If I’d been too scared to trust myself and my own instincts, I wouldn’t be writing this article today. Fear can be poisonous. It can kill an idea. It can foster lifelong regrets.

A few years ago, I made an offhand comment to a writing mentor: “What if I wrote poems about automotive repair?” Even though I thought it was a cool idea, I was ready to talk myself out of it—after all, who would read such a thing?

Instead of letting the fear stop me, though, I moved forward with my mentor’s encouragement. Since then, I’ve had several poems published and I’m putting together a book. If you trust yourself, if you take a chance, you never know where life might lead you. Are you ready for a change? If so, what’s holding you back?

4 Mobile Electronics June 2023
Is it time for a change? Learn to listen to your instincts to find the best path forward.
If I’d been too scared to trust myself and my own instincts, I wouldn’t be writing this article today.
“ ”


Experience incredible music detail with Hi-Res Audio Playback on the Next-Gen Alpine Halo Displays

iLX-F507 iLX-F511


Mark Miller discusses how his shop aims to avoid problems through careful procedures, while Steven Paul and Nicholas Frazier share lessons learned.

“We have a detailed check-in and check-out procedure. We look for any imperfections or issues and we tell the client right away. We solder and heat-shrink. We use TESA tape. We always make sure it looks the way it did when it came from the factory. We try to make all of our work look good. However, it’s not meant to be a work of art. Our focus is on doing an install that’s reliable, serviceable and that performs well.”

- Mark Miller, Westminster Speed and Sound, Westminster, Md.

“The biggest mistake I’ve made in my career is rushing— allowing a deadline or customer pressure to affect the quality of product. I learned to not let that pressure affect the standards of our quality.”

- Steven Paul, Next Level, Inc.

“When I first started installing, I took the word of the individuals training me that some things and some cars couldn’t be done, or touched, without the car self-destructing. I learned to obtain the knowledge to know better.”

 feedback 6 Mobile Electronics June 2023
93 locations serving you nationwide and into Canada. ■ Family owned and operated ■ Personalized service ■ FREE online ordering ■ Toll free phone lines ■ Spanish bilingual call center ■ Full service IT staff to manage networks, infrastructure, phones, data and security ■ Over 900 product lines ■ Over 3 million sq. ft. of warehouse space ■ Company owned fleet ■ 500+ trucks serve 48 states direct ■ 12 distribution centers | 800.MEYERUSA

Mobile Electronics Industry Retail Sales Report Industry Retail Sales Report

The Mobile Electronics Association reports specialty retailer performance for the first quarter of 2023 as compared to 2022. Here are the findings.

 stats First Quarter (Q1) 2023 v/s 2022 2023 v/s 2019 2023 v/s 2022 by Month
TM mobile
Data owned and provided by the Mobile Electronics Association. © 2022 Mobile Electronics Association Key Observations 8% 6% 11% 8% 246 vs. 274 in 2022 January February March $35,258 vs. $38,410 in 2022 AVERAGE TRANSACTIONS PER STORE PER MONTH AVERAGE DOLLARS PER STORE PER MONTH DOWN DOWN DOWN DOWN 12%
8 Mobile Electronics June 2023
electronics association •
average dollars per transaction decreased 8% from Q1 2022 to Q1 2023. • The average transactions per store decreased 10% from Q1 2022 to Q1 2023.

10x Is Easier Than 2x: How World-Class Entrepreneurs Achieve More by Doing Less

According to Dan Sullivan—who bills himself as the world’s leading coach for highly successful entrepreneurs—achieving 10X growth is exponentially easier than striving for 2X growth. Some might ask, “Don’t you have to do 10X more work to achieve that? How is this possible?” Sullivan writes about expanding the “four most important freedoms,” time, money, relationship and purpose. As time becomes more valuable, the money multiplies. This allows you to engage with other freedom-motivated individuals. Both your professional and personal life fills up with 10X more unique and collaborative relationships, allowing the realization that your most powerful purposes in all areas become more lasting and positive for everyone involved. This book reveals that “10X” is fundamentally about quality versus quantity. The quality of your freedoms determines the results you achieve.


Love’s Travel Stops


If you’re in sales and log lots of miles on the road, then you probably already know about Love’s Travel Stops. One of the nation’s leading travel-stop networks, Love’s has more than 610 locations in 42 states. Founded in 1964 and headquartered in Oklahoma City, the company remains family-owned and operated. This is the place to stop for gas, diesel fuel, fresh coffee, restaurant offerings and more—plus it’s open 24 hours a day. Love’s motto speaks for itself: “Clean Places, Friendly Faces” at every stop.

 helpful stuff

Surf When You Can: Lessons in Life, Loyalty, and Leadership from a Maverick Navy Captain

In Surf When You Can, renowned Navy officer and former commanding officer of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, Captain Brett Crozier, reflects on his life and commitment to doing the right thing. This book celebrates the power of kindness, the importance of teamwork and the value of standing up for what you believe in. During one of the darkest times in American history, Crozier walked off his ship for the last time while thousands of his sailors saluted. This remarkable moment occurred after he made the decision to try to protect his sailors by pleading with his superiors for help when COVID-19 swept through the vessel. Two days later, he was relieved of his command. Now, he distills the lessons he’s learned, sharing how you can apply them to your personal and professional life.


North American International Detroit Auto Show


It’s not too soon to mark your calendar for September 13-24, 2023, for this mega car show held in Huntington Place, Michigan. It’s one of the largest auto shows in the world. Recast in 2022 as an indoor/outdoor event, it now takes place in the Fall, rather than its long-time January timeslot. If you want to check out prominent debuts of both new production vehicles and concept cars, this is the place to be.



12 Mobile Electronics June 2023  what’s happening

Through many conversations with 12-volt professionals over the years, I’ve picked up on a common thread: Passion for the craft. But what happens when we lose that passion? How do we find it again? What causes burnout and what’s the best way to deal with it? In her book, Keep Moving: Notes on Loss, Creativity, and Change, poet Maggie Smith wrote, “Instead of struggling at every roadblock, make a new way entirely. Keep an open mind: even the destination may change.”

Jon Kowanetz, author of Life Without Crutches: Finding the Motivation, Strength and Balance to Stand On Your Own, echoes this sentiment. Regardless of the career path or the focus, interests can change and life can surprise us. “You work so hard to build a business or a career that the things you love—hobbies, people, lifestyle—is so far gone you don’t even know what you would do if you took the time off,” Kowanetz said, adding that he’s made sure to prioritize things he enjoys, like concerts, hiking and snowboarding. “If I want to have time for those things, I can’t work 60 to 70 hours a week. I think people need to shift. Don’t force balance. Allow yourself to be drawn into it by the things you love. But if your home life or your marriage is in shambles, and you’d rather be working, that’s not a solution. You can’t run away and hide from problems in your business. I think balance is essential to preventing burnout.”


At a class at KnowledgeFest entitled “Growth Techniques for All Sizes: Scaling Your Business,” with Adam Devine

Industry professionals discuss burnout prevention and their personal strategies for self-care on the path to fulfillment.

and Ata Ehdaivand, it was impossible to discuss the main topic without touching on burnout. Both Devine and Ehdaivand have worked as a one-man shop in the past, managing all aspects of their respective businesses while handling installs. Davine hails from Naples, Fla. where he owns Devine Concepts Automotive Design, while Ehdaivand heads up Absolute Electronix in Rockville, Md.

Part of running one’s own business, Devine said, is making the decisions that shape its foundation, processes and procedures. “You don’t have to explain to anyone why you do the things you do. You’re denoting how much time it will take to do each job,” he said, adding, “If it doesn’t work, it’s on you.”

The owner creates the plan, and is also an employee of his or her own business. “That’s the bad part of ‘I,’” he said. “You’re the only one. You get sick, and does any money come in? No.” While there’s an ability to invest in one’s own business, and to look back on past progress to review changes and growth, there’s a con to the situation: “It’s hard to

manage time when you’re the only guy or gal in the business.”

In Mendota, Ill. designer Rick Bottom has built his ideal business at Rick Bottom Designs, where he has mostly worked as a SEMA vehicle specialist. Bottom was able to define exactly what he wanted his business to be—no more, no less—which has helped him avoid overwhelm and burnout.

“It’s still fun for me,” he said, thinking back to a time when things got a little out of hand. “One year, I had seven different show cars to do, and it was not fun. I was traveling and spending so much on fuel and lodging. The only way I made money from SEMA builds was when the cars were sold.” While he had fairly good luck

14 Mobile Electronics June 2023  what’s happening
Rick Bottom of Rick Bottom Designs in Mendota, Ill. is a SEMA vehicle specialist. He met his wife, Jody, at an audio competition in the 1980s. His Jeep build featuring Kenwood products was on display at KnowledgeFest Indianapolis. For those who’ve lost their passion or drive for their work, Bottom recommends creating something just for yourself to reignite that excitement.

After selling his successful 12-volt business, Jon Kowanetz aims to help other mobile electronics shop owners through his coaching business, which can be found at

selling the vehicles, it could be tough. “You might only have one pay day per year. It was tough, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything.”

Bottom recalled a build on a Pontiac Solstice: “I had the car three months before any dealers had them, which was really cool. I got to go to Detroit a lot and see things no one else got to see.”

Rather than open a traditional retail store or boutique shop, Rick Bottom chose to specialize, largely because he and his wife, Jody, wanted to stay in the town where they lived to raise their children. However, he felt the small town wouldn’t have supported a big enough client base. “All my builds are big audio,” he said. “I started back in the 1980s and competed. That’s how I met my wife.”

One build was featured in the Installs section of the October 2022 issue of Mobile Electronics magazine. The Jeep


was displayed in the Kenwood booth at KnowledgeFest Indianapolis. Interestingly, Bottom’s concrete work led him into automotive sound: “In 1996, I did a foundation for a Dodge dealer, and he offered me a new truck instead of paying me for the job. The truck was worth $30,000 and I had about $12,000 in the job, so I said yes.”

Bottom customized the truck and took it to a national sport truck show where it won awards and was featured in several magazines. After being invited to display the vehicle in a manufacturer’s booth at SEMA, more doors opened: “I met some people from Ford and ended up doing my first Ford project in 1999.” From then on, the projects kept coming. His work with MTX led to further connections. “The whole reason I was in Indy with Kenwood is because a guy who works with Kenwood, now, used to work with MTX,” he said. “The car audio world is very small.”

While he has some clients outside SEMA builds, Bottom enjoys the specificity of his work and doesn’t want to have a more traditional retail shop. “I did a couple builds for a guy who owns a custom home building [company]. Those

were pretty involved. I’ll do some stereo installations through the year and weekends and nights for general clients. I still do concrete for a living,” he said, adding that concrete work during the summer contributes to the majority of his income.

Kowanetz said he experienced burnout a number of times over the years that he owned his 12-volt business. Today, he’s able to share ideas on how to pull away from burnout with other shop owners.

“The flame gets suffocated and there are smoldering embers. The embers are the potential, but it’s buried. You have to breathe new life into that,” he said. “Knowing the source of that life is what helped pull me out of it.”

Eventually, though, it came time to make a change. “It wasn’t burnout the final time. It was just that my passion changed and there was a shift in what I wanted to do. How I got here isn’t a result of burnout, but a result of realizing that

my perspective had shifted and I just didn’t want to do what I was doing anymore. I knew how I wanted my life to be. I had to ask myself, ‘Is this business ever going to get me there?’ And if it’s not, I need to do something else.”


Today, Kowanetz manages Pathways Coaching and Consulting, aiming to assist those in the 12-volt industry. He said he works with business owners and managers to “identify hangups in their personal life, how they deal with things, how happy they are and everything that impacts how they operate in every part of their life, including business.” The goal is to “get them into a better place personally,” which then positively affects other areas of life.

“Personal and work life each deserve their own time and attention,” Kowanetz said, adding that he helps clients identify the struggles of their business, “where it is now, where it wants to go and what’s holding it back from getting there.” Using a custom software, he populates the

16 Mobile Electronics June 2023  what’s happening
“Personal and work life each deserve their own time and attention.”

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business’s financials to take a closer look at the numbers. Then, he works with the client to make small changes that will impact either revenue or expenses.

“Small businesses tend to get narrowly focused on the fire in front of us that has to be put out, and so things fall into the periphery,” he explained. “Issues become huge and then we don’t know how to deal with them anymore.”

In “Growth Techniques for All Sizes,” the discussion touched on some of these difficulties. Devine noted that he hit “the burnout wall” many times. He underscored the importance of time management. “In one of my other classes, ‘Insanity to Efficiency,’ I talk about how we do the same thing over and over and expect a different result,” he said. “You have no time. You get to a point where there’s no growth.”

While a business might be covering expenses and have a steady income, it might not be making any real progress forward. The business, then, is running the owner—not the other way around. “Being there 12 or 14 hours a day isn’t our ultimate goal as business owners,” Devine added. “What are your goals? What are

your desires for the position you’re in? You should always have an exit strategy.”

When it comes to asking whether or not these feelings are rooted in burnout, or if a real career change needs to happen, Kowanetz said the decision is highly personal. “Only you can know whether you’ve exhausted all your options— whether it’s just burnout or your passions have shifted.”

For those who are trying to find their way to an answer, Kowanetz said he’s a proponent of therapy and self-improvement. In the end, though, he said he feels people need to simply listen to their hearts. “Listen to what you feel inside when you’re thinking about these things,” he said. “When you sit down and think about what you want in life, and what you want to be doing, my personal belief is that you’ll feel it within your body. If you can focus on that enough and shut out the other noise, you can be guided by it.”

When he sat down and thought about his own business, and what he wanted to do in the future, Kowanetz remembered feeling concern and worry. “When I thought about the other ideas I had, I felt excitement and possibility. For me, it’s

God speaking to me and saying, ‘That’s what you should be doing.’”

Depending on the situation, it’s possible to regain passion for the craft. Kowanetz said the key is “being very clear about what you love about what you do” by looking back at “why you started” in the first place. “What drove you before you cared about money or winning an award?” he asked. “If you can think about that and reinvigorate yourself, it goes a long way.”

Kowanetz said he asks himself, “What have I done for free that I absolutely loved? For me, it’s public speaking. I loved doing that and I did it for free. Talking to people, helping people, exploring nature—I do all of that for free, and that shows me where my passion is. If I can follow that, I’m less likely to burn out. Reignite. your passion. If you do that, and you’re still over it, sometimes you have to accept it’s time to move on.”

Bottom offered similar advice: “You have to think with your heart at times. You have to use your head, too.” For those designers and technicians who’ve lost their drive, he agreed it’s possible to rediscover your zeal. To do this, he advised, “Build something—just for yourself.”

18 Mobile Electronics June 2023  what’s happening


KnowledgeFest exhibitors present an array of head units, speakers, subwoofers and more.


The Epicenter MX is a special, limited edition product first unveiled at KnowledgeFest Las Vegas. The biggest change for this model is cosmetic: The design honors and celebrates AudioControl’s Hispanic customers with the green, red and white color scheme of the Mexican flag. The LED colors have also been updated to match. The Epicenter MX comes with a certificate of authenticity. The performance is the same, with patented bass maximizer, parametric bass control, dash mount control, PFM subsonic filter, bass restoration lighted display,


The A-Series subwoofers are new and relatively compact, intended to create high-quality sound at an affordable price point. The parts are oversized and machined down for tighter tolerances. Pictured here is the Arc Audio A-10 subwoofer.

20 Mobile Electronics  On The Show Floor


The Maestro AR2 is an amp replacement interface that will work with all existing T-harnesses, and will replace the factory amp. It offers six RCA outputs or a single TOS link output and built-in Bluetooth. It can be flashed from a mobile device or from a computer using WebLink desktop.


When it got its start in the 1970s, Kicker’s main category was professional sound for theaters and concerts. With increased growth and popularity of car audio, the company shifted its focus entirely. Today, Kicker has reintroduced a system for automotive sound inspired by its background in pro sound. The Street Series of speakers includes a 9-inch square midrange, a 7-inch square midrange, a 1.5-inch and a 1-inch bullet-style tweeter. According to Kicker, the Street series not only brings in bass, but also mids and highs for vocals. Intended for sound competition, the square design allows for 20 percent more cone surface area, which makes for a higher sound output in custom installs. These are available now.


Ever since the COVID-19 lockdowns, the RV category has been growing as a lifestyle segment. At KnowledgeFest Las Vegas, Magnadyne presented its line of RV solutions to 12-volt specialists, including speakers, antennas, WiFi LTE solutions, marine speakers and receivers that offer CarPlay. RVs—with their multiple speakers with independent volume controls—present an opportunity to shops wanting to expand services. This line is available now.



Viper offers a full range of remote start systems with 5G service and plug-and-play T-harnesses for quick, easy installations. There are also add-ons available like the 8504D, which is an impact sensor and digital tilt sensor, or the DS4SU, which has both of these sensors along with a siren. Although Viper also retains a line of analog products for those who prefer previous styles, the company encourages installers to learn and adjust to newer digital offerings, which can be installed in only 30 minutes versus the several hours it might take to install an analog system. During Viper trainings at KnowledgeFest, instructors taught attendees about the ease-of-use of newer product lines. Often, they said, after attempting it several times, installers prefer the new method.


The BT-200 PowerBass SPLIT is a portable Bluetooth speaker that easily converts into two speakers, which can be carried or stashed in a backpack, enabling users to bring the party wherever they want to go.

 On The Show Floor 22 Mobile Electronics June 2023


The Elite K2 Power Series ES 100K 4-inch component speaker system is handmade in France and has a distinctive yellow color. The line was developed to take acoustic reproduction and bass to the next level. With composite sandwich cone technology, the K2 Power line combines detailed sound and high power-handling for smooth precision and clarity.


The JVC KW-M875BW is a step up from earlier models, which leads into higher-end audio categories. It has a shallow chassis and a 6.75-inch touchscreen display. It offers both wired and wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, with Bluetooth, screen mirroring and an option for satellite radio. It also has an HDMI port and a USB-C with fast charging.



On display at KnowledgeFest Las Vegas in the LinksWell booth was the LinksWell 15.6-inch infotainment system, one of the largest screens available on the market. This system supports various apps, just like other LinksWell products. The screen size is the biggest improvement, with a faster processor.


Abalta Technologies is known for developing software that allows users to connect a smartphone to an in-vehicle system. Software supports WebLink, phone mirroring and fully customizable access to apps including YouTube when the car is safely parked. Everything is configurable via the user’s phone. On the aftermarket side, Abalta Technologies works with Sony Car Audio and Pioneer.


This series includes speaker components and the GZ ULTRA A-2 amplifier, which is the result of three years of product development and is also one of the most advanced amplifiers on the market.

 On The Show Floor 24


The XS Power Titan 8 is the latest in lithium technology from the company and doesn’t require a lithium charger. According to the company, the modular design allows users from nearly any market segment to benefit from its features. The series offers 2-volt, 12-volt, 14-volt and 16-volt modules in either high-power or high reserve capacity configurations.


The Nakamichi NA3625 head unit supports CarPlay and Android Auto. It offers a 6.8-inch high-brightness and wide-angle screen with a built-in DVD and CD player, 10-band equalizer, four-volt preouts, separate subwoofer control, high- and low-pass filters and time alignment. Nakamichi also offers another unit in the same line of products with a 10.1-inch screen in a single-DIN chassis. A high-definition backup camera is available for these products.


Sales Pro of the Year

Dan Bowman began his career in 1998 at a specialty shop as a dealer installer. Within the first few weeks, he was installing eight to 10 CD changers per day. One night, the store owner asked if he could help out at the sales counter. The shop was open later for two nights a week, and the owner wanted two employees present. Bowman did so well that he was permanently assigned to the sales floor.

Today, he works in the sales department as a client specialist at Titan Motoring in Nashville, Tenn. where he has a hand in designing plenty of creative and elaborate builds. “We get to do cool stuff. If someone comes in with a Toyota 4Runner, wanting audio, I get to design the package I would want for myself.” The team at Titan Motoring often delves far beyond audio, incorporating wheels, tires, suspension and lighting.

Bowman’s strength is in sales, he said, adding that he’s a self-described car nut. “People who know me best would say I miss installing—and I guess I do, to a degree. But being in front, doing purchasing, and dealing with retail customers and business-to-business customers is where I am happiest.”

What should every new salesperson know?
Sales Pro of the Year Dan Bowman shares his perspective on qualifying the client, sharing knowledge and building trust.


When it comes to making the sale, Bowman said it’s important to first understand where the client is coming from. A salesperson must have a good background knowledge of brands and vehicles. For example, he noted that he’s assisted a number of clients who wanted a Ford Bronco personalized. “I’ll say, ‘I bet you’re here because the audio system doesn’t play loud enough for you.’ It leaves a lot to be desired. Then I show them pictures of things we’ve done. We go out to the car. Even though I’ve seen these before, this one is theirs and it’s special to them,” he explained, adding that he asks the client why they purchased the vehicle and how they use it to get a sense of their lifestyle. He will also inquire about past vehicles the client has owned, and whether or not they liked the audio system in that particular car.

28 Mobile Electronics June 2023 Sales Pro of the Year

“We talk about whether or not we can take up space. How active are they? Maybe they have a big dog and don’t want to take up too much space.” He will explain to the client that it’s less expensive if the subwoofer can be seen—even if it’s mounted on the back door—but if they want it hidden, it will cost more. “The person who has to live with this needs to decide which is more important: their money or their space.”

Bowman said he lives by the phrase, “Do the right thing and the money will come.” Meaning, if someone comes in requesting upgrades, but the


While he already teaches and leads trainings, Bowman hopes to do more public speaking in the future. This year, he will be teaching on the topic of diversifying revenue streams, which he said is important for a few reasons.

“I see a lot of shops doing strictly audio. What’s happening is that a lot of our core clients are aging out. Younger clients aren’t as interested in cars,” he said. “Look at the growth in paint protection and ceramic coating. I’ve had clients whose cars would come right from the dealer to me. Now, they’re going right from the dealer to paint protection and ceramic coating. By the time they get to us, they have a huge bite taken out of their budget for toys.”

Bowman wants to encourage store owners to branch out and embrace new categories. With new cars coming from the factory with CarPlay and good audio systems, along with parking sensors and cameras, he said retailers should seek other retails to invite them into the store. “Maybe window tint and vinyl work,” he suggested, “or subcontract in paint protection and ceramic coating, wheels and tires.”

In the class focused on this topic, Bowman will discuss strategies for branching out into these markets. While it might seem daunting, he noted that when navigation systems first came out, selling those was daunting, too. He used Jeep as an example: “Start with headlights. Add fog lights. Ask if they want better reverse lights. This can be a gateway to accessories.” Unfortunately, he said, some shops are reluctant to get into lighting.

“You weren’t born with this information,” he said, adding that at Titan, the business makes the margin on wheels and tires, plus mount and balance and installing them on the vehicle. While margins on wheels and tires aren’t as big as electronics, Bowman said it’s worth it because of the size of the job.

“When you do a $26,000 wheel sale that takes less than 15 minutes and less than an hour to put it on the car, nothing on the electronics side makes that amount of dollar density per hour,” he explained. “My class is meant to open eyes to that opportunity.”

In future, Bowman will also be starting a newsletter in which he’ll discuss market trends, categories, fitments and more in order to share information with the industry.


salesperson’s knowledge and understanding of the situation tells them it’s not the right thing, they need to speak up. Maybe the equipment the client wants isn’t correct. “Or maybe they have a self-imposed timeline, or they aren’t being honest with themselves about what it will take, as far as budget is concerned,” he said. “It makes sense to give people as much information as you can. Explain the benefits and say, ‘We’re here. Think about it.’ The last thing I want is for them to do it, not be super thrilled, and then have to redo some of it months later. Now they’ve double-spent, which is great for me but not for them.”

In the past, Bowman has also suggested breaking a build up into stages, “so they aren’t spending redundantly.” Often, he added, this resonates with people. When it doesn’t, he’ll say, “I’m here to sell, and I’m telling you to stop and think. Come back and see me when you’re ready.”

While this conversation doesn’t happen often at Titan, Bowman noted,

the philosophy has always served him well. “It builds trust,” he said. As a result, he has third-generation clients: The children and grandchildren of his previous clients now come to him for his knowledge and expertise.


Bowman’s biggest fear, he said, is having someone leave the shop as a $500 customer when they should have been a $10,000 customer. “It doesn’t do anyone any good. They aren’t getting what they need,” he said, adding that this is often the result of a salesperson selling out of their own wallet, rather than the client actually getting what they wanted.

“You have to find out what they actually want. Know your market. Ask questions. Demo if need be. We don’t do that as much as we should, but we always have so many things at the shop we can demonstrate. We can also show pictures from our Instagram.”

Clients come in for things they want, he said: “They are either looking for a gadget, something with bragging rights, or something that fixes a problem in their life. Let’s find out why they came in.”

30 Mobile Electronics June 2023 Sales Pro of the Year

Often, he added, making a sales mistake can come down to judging incorrectly by appearance. Bowman described clients he once had—a married couple—who didn’t appear to have a lot of money. “He was covered in tattoos. His wife looked like a biker chick. They loved music.” To this couple, he said, he sold “two of the most expensive packages I’ve ever done in my life. I did $65,000 worth or upgrades

to his car and $27,000 to hers, and they wrote a check. I sold them both wheels, exhaust and radar detectors. How do you find affluence? It’s right in front of you. You just don’t realize it.”

Looking back, Bowman said he could have judged by appearance, assuming maybe the job would top $3,500—maybe.

In another instance, he remembered a job on a BMW: The client wanted to put

money into his car, but he didn’t want it to show. “We did some lighting inside and out, and an exterior wrap. He wanted wheels. We added $18,000 to the ticket.” The client, he noted, was an enthusiast who spent $224,000 in one year while working with Bowman. “It was all from asking and getting to know his situation.”

What’s an important thing salespeople should always remember? “Leave your

32 Mobile Electronics June 2023 Sales Pro of the Year

wallet out of it,” he advised. “Don’t sell according to your budget. And realize no one needs anything we do, so it has to be interesting and fun. Otherwise, why would people spend the way they do?”

While some argue against sharing an opinion about a job or a sound system with a client, Bowman disagrees. “Some salespeople will say, ‘I don’t know, it’s your car.’ But they aren’t on your side of the counter. If they ask you more than once what you think, tell them,” he advised. “They don’t have the knowledge we have. I’ll say, ‘What would I do if I was me?’ And I am me, so this is what I would do if it was my car. People get a chuckle out of it. They want to hear what you have to say.”

Salespeople should also be aware of what’s going on in the automotive market, he said. “I try to know what I can. When you walk out to a car, you shouldn’t look like a deer in headlights because it doesn’t inspire confidence.”

It isn’t about how you look or the way you dress, he added: “I’m in car audio so I can wear a hoodie year-round. And that’s never been a problem when I’m dealing with billionaires. They don’t care what

At KnowledgeFest Las Vegas this past February, Dan Bowman was given the Sales Pro of the Year award. His advice to other sales professionals? Don’t sell from your own wallet, ask lots of questions and never pressure the client.

you look like. They want you to understand the vehicle. They want you to have an opinion because it’ll save them time. Don’t pressure them.”


There’s a huge advantage to sharing knowledge and getting involved with the industry, according to Bowman, who encourages salespeople to attend KnowledgeFest events. “It’s a great place for dealers and their employees to get to know vendors and who’s moving the needle in the industry. There are a lot of talented people who come out and speak. If you can’t pick up something from that,” he said, “you’re just not trying.”

Networking has led to numerous opportunities for him: “I can call someone on a Saturday night with a tech question and they’ll pick up the phone. I’ve also had manufacturers approach me and say, ‘We see you don’t use our stuff—how can we get in there?’” He’s also learned about new brands he never considered before, perhaps because it meant going beyond his comfort zone.

When attending an industry event, he said, “Participate. Be seen. Be in class. A lot of times, it’s a missed opportunity. If you’re out there and people see you, and they see your employees, they might call you when they want to make a change. Or maybe you have a product you’re selling to the industry and you’re ahead of the curve. Be more involved at the show.” After all, he added, “You took the time to get there.”

Now that he’s been awarded Sales Pro of the Year, Bowman looked back at how his outlook on sales has changed over the years. “Outside of the industry, I used


When a client called about a Ford Bronco, she sent Bowman the product she and her husband had been considering.

“It wasn’t good,” Bowman said. “Maybe in a Corolla, but not in this vehicle.” The client didn’t want to take up any space, so he suggested a custom built-in enclosure, which would make it look like an option from Ford.

“If we did the bass, we would want to upgrade the mids and highs, especially if they plan to remove the top. It turned out she was originally looking for a self-powered eight-inch sub, $400 thing. We landed at an $8,500 audio package after a 15-minute conversation.” This resulted in asking the right questions:

How are you going to use it?

What’s important to you?

“It’s qualifiers,” Bowman said, adding, “It isn’t a gimmick.”

O F F - R O A D

to be vague about what I did,” he said, noting that when people think of sales, they often think of pyramid schemes or telemarketers. Since then, he’s become comfortable with his work, as someone who provides solutions to clients.

“Whether I’m selling a set of backup sensors to fix a problem on a car that you didn’t realize had that issue, or we’re doing some big restyle of a vehicle that was left to you by your grandfather—you receive the same amount of attention from me. However, it is a different skillset.”

For anyone struggling with the stigma of being a salesperson, Bowman said to remember that it’s an exit strategy from the install bay. “And it’s fun. You get to do fun things for people and make money.”

In the past, Bowman’s career has led him to offer trainings for Crutchfield. He even went to Russia where he taught a training for Morel. In the future, he sees himself teaching more classes and doing more public speaking, and he also hopes to do presentations for distributors and manufacturers, he said, adding, “All I want to do is help.”

36 Mobile Electronics June 2023 Sales Pro of the Year
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A bold move—which meant a step back—set Jody Culbertson’s career in motion and positioned him to become founder of his own retail display company.

Some of us had a newspaper route, a dog walking company, or even a lawn care business as a kid. At 12 years old, Jody Culbertson was already getting a taste of running his own business. His lawn care company was a great opportunity to be his own boss. At 16, he turned the successful operation over to his brother. “That job was my first sense of working in the real world,” he said.

Little did he know that his entrepreneurial skills would come in handy many years later when he launched 5 Axis Innovations. Today, the Waukesha, Wis.-based retail display company with its nine-person staff is thriving with plans to expand into retail displays for not just car audio specialty stores, but other types of shops, including automotive dealerships.

 Learning From Leaders
38 Mobile Electronics June 2023

Sometimes it Takes a Step Back to Move Ahead

When Culbertson graduated from college, he knew he wanted to install car radios for a living. He’d had a passion for it since his teenage years. “I was always installing radios for all of my buddies and I loved the industry of electronics,” he said. “I always had a passion for it. To install radios was a dream job, and at the end of the day, I was 20 years old doing just what I wanted to do.”

His first job was with Visions Electronics, a Calgary-based Canadian retail chain, with more than 20 stores. Today, it has 43 locations. After 18 months at one of the stores, Culbertson heard there was a new one opening about 90 minutes away. “I transferred to that store, moved from the install bay and became the 12-volt sales guy,” he said.

After just a year, opportunity knocked again when yet another store location opened. At 22, he became an assistant manager while still looking after the install bay. Ultimately, he gave up the management job. “It wasn’t really me,” he said. “I like to be hands-on and I enjoy the whole install aspect.”

In 2000, Culbertson’s wife at the time wanted to get her master’s degree in Calgary. The move was fortuitous—it took them to the city where Visions Electronics’ headquarters was located. Culbertson applied for a job and ended up with an install position.

“But my dream job at Visions Electronics was to become the buyer of car audio,” he explained. “After two years looking after all the install shops and car audio departments in the city of Calgary, five stores total, a position came up in

the head office that would allow me to become a buyer. But there was a catch. It was not the car audio buying position. It was accessory buyer. Looking back now, I can’t believe I made the move because taking this job also required a 50 percent reduction in pay.”

However, he recognized it as a way to get his foot in the door. He took what certainly felt like a step back. “Most people would not do this, but it was a position that got me closer to the job that I really wanted, and I knew I could get to where I wanted to go from there. It all worked out.”

As accessories buyer, Culbertson was responsible for computers, cordless phones, and other things that he said he knew almost nothing about. Slowly, though, he learned how to be a buyer. “And as I learned, I turned the category around and was very successful with accessories,” he added.

Executives took notice. They knew his passion was cars, and sure enough, within 18 months, he was named car

This display at Car Toyz features 45 wheels—33 facing the showroom and 12 facing the outside. Each wheel is lit up with RGB brake calipers featuring the store logo.
39 Quantum Leap

Learning From Leaders

audio buyer and received a pay increase. Eventually, he took over buying for the home audio category as well. Then in 2009, when there were some management changes, Culbertson was named a Vice President. What had begun in 2003 as a job change with a massive pay cut turned out to be the best move he could’ve made.

“Seven years later, I was fortunate enough to become one of the main figures in the company,” he said, noting, “Not every step is up. Some steps might lead you sideways and some might even go backward, but the goal is to set your direction and go for it.”

Culbertson said he wouldn’t be where he is today if he hadn’t taken that step.

“I was willing to take a chance—even when my wife, my friends and my parents looked at me and asked what I was doing. Something in my gut just told me to do it.”

Be Open to Every Possibility

After two weeks in that position, Culbertson experienced something he’ll always remember vividly. “I was stressed out. We had a big sale coming up, and one of the reps walked by my office, looked in and caught my eye. All he said was, ‘Sink or swim, brother,’ and then he walked away.”

Culbertson said he later realized it was just what he needed to hear. “That’s the reality of our world. You either sink or swim,” he said, adding, “It was true then, and it’s true now as the owner of my own business. Challenges happen every single day in business and how you deal with those challenges is how your success rolls out in the future.”

It was time to leave Visions Electronics at a certain point—and Culbertson said it came down to a feeling like something was eating at him. “I needed to do more,” he said. “I needed to do something else. I made the decision to leave Canada and go to the United States based purely on my personal life. I met a woman, dated

40 Mobile Electronics June 2023
Safe and Sound, in business since 1983, is located in Chicopee, Mass. This section of the showroom highlights multiple high-end speaker and head unit boards that are built for sound quality, along the 5 Axis signature subwoofer display.

her for a couple of years, and decided to start a new life. A good friend of mine was selling yoga clothing in Canada, so I decided to try my luck at something completely different.”

Culbertson packed up, moved to Milwaukee, and started a clothing company in 2011, which he managed for about two years. Things didn’t quite turn out as he had hoped, but in the meantime, he got a call from an old colleague. While at Vision Electronics, Culbertson had worked with Marcel Newell, founder of Avidworx, a retail display company. He had an opportunity to do some consulting with him in the U.S.

“When I left Visions, I was one of the main people there who worked on store design,” he explained, adding that he was involved in the expansions and store

renovations. Culbertson and Newell teamed up for a while, and then parted ways at the end of 2013.

“Within two or three months, I decided to start my own display company. It was simply because a few people called me looking for things.” He decided to launch his own company. “I just wanted to take a different approach to displays,” he added.

Aim to Be the Best You Can Be

Owning a business requires drive, Culbertson said. “If you don’t have the drive, it will be tough to own your own business. Doors get slammed in your face and obstacles are always in your way. You need perseverance to move forward.”

Business owners must also find a way to handle adversity. “You have to be able to move and shake,” he said. “I have a saying

I use all the time: Excuses are unacceptable. Solutions are what we are looking for! I don’t want to hear about a problem. I want to hear about a solution to the problem. Entrepreneurs have many sleepless nights. That’s just a part of the reality.”

When he first came to the U.S., Culbertson recalled facing a big challenge: Back home, he’d known everyone and everyone knew him. “In the U.S., I was a nobody,” he said. “People didn’t care what I had done in Canada. I had doors slammed in my face for years. I kept asking myself, ‘Okay, how do I get in there?’”

Today, 90 percent of the people who closed those doors, he said, are the people 5 Axis is doing business with today. “It was that adversity that pushed me to figure out what to do,” he explained. “People were saying no, but there had to be a way to get to yes. There had to be a way to get in.”

When he first started 5 Axis Innovations, the company had no website and no social media. “We had nothing. All of those advances have come in the last two years,” he said. “The biggest driving factor for us is that if we listen to our customers, we have the ability to change their lives. At the end of the day, I wanted to create a company that was a Mercedes-Benz classification.”

He points to Tempe, Ariz.-based Mobile Solutions as an example. “When you think of that company, you think of the best of the best,” he said. “Bryan Schmitt has done an exceptional job with that business, and we wanted to create that level, too. I wanted to be the best of the best. If that means reworking something three times to get it right, we do that. We never let

41 Quantum Leap
For Advanced Custom Sound, an aftermarket automotive accessories installation center in the Youngstown and Warren, Ohio area, the refresh for the showroom included a custom amp display along with a subwoofer display.

anything slide if it doesn’t meet 110 percent of our expectations. We’re not just a display company that builds stuff all over the country. We specialize in this industry. When we get a call, we really do understand what active speakers are, and we know the importance of it for a retailer.”

Culbertson explained why he chose the name 5 Axis: The plan was for the company to offer five elements to its clients. As of now, he said, they have gotten to four of them.

“I still have not dialed in the fifth one.” The original goal was to do some kind of tracking system for stores to figure out close rates and how many people were coming in and out. “We have not

finalized it yet,” he added. “Our biggest thing is displays—so that’s number one. We also create our own switching systems. We manufacture and design them. We have our own guy who builds and designs our switchers.”

Another element is marketing. The company creates lots of posters in stores that are backlit with cool graphics. “We have done a great job bringing electronics stores into the modern age. We have helped stores who really needed a facelift.”

Culbertson also wanted to create his own marketing design element: “I wanted my own full-time graphic artist to not only work with what we were doing, but work with our clients who need graphics work done. This is a big one for us because there are a ton of retailers who want signs, posters and graphics and they don’t know where to go for those things,” he explained, adding, “We do that.”

 Learning
From Leaders
42 Mobile Electronics June 2023 Quantum Leap
212 Motoring, based in Brooklyn, NY needed a full remodel in their showroom. The facility, which specializes in taking ordinary vehicles and turning them into one-of-a-kind masterpieces, now has a number of unique displays lit with RGB.


Presenters at KnowledgeFest talked about building trust and business expansion, all with the most important thing in mind: How can professionals work to create the best experience for clients?

 strategy & tactics 44 Mobile Electronics June 2023


In “Finishing Well: Learn How to Create the Best Customer Experience for More Referrals and Repeat Sales,” James Smith of ACT Audio talked about strategies that lead to closing more sales. The key? Delivering the best presentation possible and following up with the client. Smith touched on four phases in relation to sales.

“First, the vision: What is your vision of sales—of your customer, your job and where you want to be in the future?” he said. “Second, the environment. Your bay. The sales floor. Third, the sale itself. Fourth is the follow-up.”

Smith focused mainly on vision, environment and follow-up, encouraging listeners to attend other sales classes, as well, for a deeper dive into the process of the sale itself. First, he said, it’s important to know who you are personally and professionally, and who your ideal customers are. “You have to learn how to create the ideal environment so they choose you and your store,” he said. “Learn to add value

to your customers and get them what they truly want, while making more money.”

Following up is an essential stage, he said, adding that his business didn’t do a very good job of this in the beginning. Smith said he and his team made proper follow-ups more of a focus, “and now we have 10 to 15 percent more sales due to follow-ups.”

Smith then asked listeners to consider what they would say if someone asked them about what they do for a living. “For me, for many years, I would say I just sold car audio. I didn’t think of it as anything big,” he said, adding that changing this mindset will help create better experiences for clients. “We’re creating a better or more enjoyable and safer commute for people. We’re making their lives better. Keep in mind that what you’re doing could help people, and this helps you move forward with your customers.”

He reminded attendees at KnowledgeFest Orlando that customers want to do

business with people they know, like and trust. In the last few years, Smith said he made a point to post more on social media and engage his audience. “The biggest hurdle in sales is letting people know what we do. We do a lot of things people don’t know about.”

Often, he said, people will remember him from Facebook. One day, someone he’d never met in person came into the store and said, “I feel like you’re my best friend.” This, Smith noted, is “because he’s always seeing me on his Facebook. When people want something and ask, ‘Who offers this service?’ I’m here, and they’ll come to me.”

Smith’s increased visibility online brought him more clients. “I used to never post on Facebook and now I post frequently,” he said. “You’re popping up on there more and more and people get to know, like and trust you.”

Shaping the Experience


Business owners Adam Devine and Ata Ehdaivand discussed scaling up from a one-man shop in their class, “Growth Techniques for All Sizes: Scaling Your Business.” Their presentation was based on the fact that many previous employees start their own businesses. Most important to note, they said, there’s no opportunity for delegation when a shop consists of one person acting in a number of different roles.

“It’s your sole responsibility and your time, so make sure you’ve budgeted the correct amount of time for projects,” Devine said. “As you get busy and you have that money and you have a full book, and you have none of the time—the only way to get more time is to get more people. You need to buy back some of your time,

 strategy & tactics 46 Mobile Electronics June 2023

and hopefully then it helps you in profits.” When adding new members to the team, he added that it’s important to add up the hours correctly. “If you charge a client for eight hours of labor, you and the second technician need to be getting it done in four,” he said, noting that this means two people on the vehicle, and four hours for each person. “Manage and be fully aware of that time, especially when you’re adding people to your team.”

Also, be honest with clients, Ehdaivand said. He referenced a one-person shop who might refer to themselves as “we”

while on the phone with clients. “Who is we? In my eyes, it’s misleading,” he said. “You’re implying you have more people back there that will be doing the work, but when you hang up the phone, you’re answering emails, more calls and then going back and working on the job. Be careful what you say to the client.”

Building the team, he said, offers opportunity for more time and delegation. “Then you can say, ‘Will you please wire the steering wheel controls for this?’ Put someone in that position so you can get more done.”

Some of the presenters at KnowledgeFest Orlando gathered for a group photo at the Mobile Electronics Association booth. Left to right, back row: Elias Ventura, Chris McNulty, Jayson Cook, Chris Cook, Jason Kranitz, Dan Bowman and Drewbie Wilson. Front row: Andy Wehmeyer, Richard Basler and Adam Devine.


At KnowledgeFest Orlando, Sales Pro Award Winners Jason Kranitz, Jayson Cook, Elias Ventura and Dan Bowman taught the popular class, “Business Development: How to Find New Customers.” The class was also taught at KnowledgeFest Las Vegas.

Each presenter shared business-building strategies from their own unique perspectives, noting that methods and application may vary depending on the type of business and location. They challenged the audience to ask themselves, “Are you maximizing every possible avenue of bringing awareness to your business and customers to you?”

Robert Kowatch of Perfectionist Autosound and Security in Anchorage, Alaska reminded the audience that salespeople

aren’t clerks: “We’re here to be sales professionals.”

The presenters highlighted a few things they felt were most important. Be active in the local community, such as by attending events like cruise-ins and offering information. This can lead to an increase in

sales, even if it might take a while to build traction. They also recommended joining both in-person and online networking groups, and suggested increasing brand awareness using the business’s logo.

Jayson Cook said Columbus Car Audio in Columbus, Ohio puts its logo everything. At events, the shop brings branded materials, including kickstand plates for motorcycles that feature the business’s website and phone number. According to the Sales Pros, it’s important to get people to “recognize you as the expert.”

Finally, perhaps most importantly, never bash the competition. “Just say, ‘Oh, I’m sorry to hear that,’” Cook said. “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.”

 strategy & tactics 50 Mobile Electronics June 2023
 installs 52 Mobile Electronics June 2023


Car-Tunes, Inc. outfitted this 2021 Chevrolet Silverado with Memphis Audio and SoundShield, honing every detail for an enjoyable listening experience.

The sale, fabrication and installation on this 2021 Chevrolet Silverado was performed by Car-Tunes, Inc. lead technician Dalton Trainer. It was equipped with a factory Bose system, which required digital sound processing and tuning to achieve “an excellent listening experience,” according to business owner Kimberly Trainer.

“We started with SoundShield damping mat for all four doors, including inner skin and speaker surround, plus the entire rear wall to ensure premium acoustic results,” Trainer said. The following SoundShield products were used: SoundShield Massive, Original, WrapIt and Contour Speaker backing pads with Flex Strips for a complete sound treatment.

Custom acrylic tweeter and speaker adapters were fabricated for proper speaker placement. “These included custom laser detail with the Memphis speaker models and our Car-Tunes, Inc. logo.” Memphis Audio VIV60C two-way components with crossovers and tweeters were installed, along with VIV652 Coaxial Speakers. “Special care was taken to solder and heat shrink every speaker wire connection and wrap each wire bundle to keep any rattles at bay,” Trainer said, adding that a custom amplifier rack was fabricated and “wire management meticulously executed” to create a clean display. All of the space on the truck’s back wall was utilized to house multiple amplifiers, crossovers and a DSP. 53

Memphis VIV 600.4V2 and VIV 2200.1V2 amplifiers were selected for the build, “both with a cohesive classy cosmetic that’s echoed in the Memphis VIV 68DSP digital sound processor which offers LED lighting, brushed aluminum chassis and a VIV REM wireless bass volume controller for the subwoofer amplifier.”

The build also included four Memphis Mojo Mini 8-inch subwoofers in a “quad ported out-firing under-seat enclosure,” which offered plenty of bass. MESA OFC wire and accessories were used throughout for proper power flow. Seat, steering, gear shift and floor coverings help protect the black and peanut butter interior. “This installation required much planning and hours of focus to properly tune all equipment to deliver maximum results,” said Trainer, who also thanked Dan June of Memphis Audio for outstanding dealer support of CarTunes, Inc. for over 10 years.

54 Mobile Electronics June 2023  installs
G e t Ce r t i o e d Q u e s t i o n s a b o u t h o w t o g e t c e r t i i e d o r l i n k y o u r r e t a i l l o c a t i o n ? C o n t a c t u s a t a d m i n i s t r a t o r @ m e c p . c o m ! Ve r i f y C r e d e n t i a l s The Mobile Elec tronics Cer tioed Professional (MECP) program is the only internationally recognized program of its k ind. Ve r i f y A R e t a i l e r



It’s not every day, but sometimes it feels like it. You start the day only to succumb to short-term gain from a hasty decision. A project went down the wrong path. A choice made without fully understanding the consequences. We have all done it and lived to regret. Don’t lose heart. There’s a silver lining if you are willing to humble yourself and own up to your failure. Then you can begin to learn hard lessons that will shape your future.

You may be asking, “What did Chris do this time?” While I could regale you with many stories of decisions gone awry, my goal is to help you understand how best to avoid bad decisions and know how to recover when your intentions do not produce the planned outcome.

Much like you, I do my best to run a successful business. A business that is designed to help other businesses grow. Running a trade association for the mobile electronics industry is a privilege and honor—a position I do not take lightly. To that end, your business depends on you making the best decisions for you, your employees, vendors and customers. That said, let’s review three types of decision-making.


These decisions are put before you daily. Taking on a questionable vehicle or customer. Pricing a job. Should I give this person a break on cost? Maybe a quick response to a question from a team member. Any of these can seem like small decisions. Making the right one should always be measured against your mission and goals. If you make the wrong one, even with the best intentions, you may need a do-over.

Here’s an example. A team member appears frustrated. They come to you wanting to know why they must fix another team member’s mistake. Your answer? “Just fix it. I don’t have time to explain.” While that answer may be correct, it does not necessarily mean it’s the right answer. It may leave your team member wondering why the other person gets a pass. They may wonder whether the other person makes more than they do, or whether you somehow favor that person over them. While this was not your intention, it may mean dealing with a disgruntled team member in the near future.


A good example is deciding to bring in a new line of product from either an existing vendor or a new vendor. When selecting a new vendor, or a new category or line from an existing vendor, you should pause. Making the decision in haste could leave you with problems that will require tough decisions. If you’re looking at a new category, ask questions. Use the if/then method to help you think through the outcome.


This type of decision is reserved for when you have a well-thought-out plan based on several types of information. For example, you would like to add a fabrication offering to your business. This would be a significant investment. It makes sense to make a full risk assessment that includes information on others’ experiences, equipment required, and the skill set needed to become successful.

We all tend to make snap decisions based on limited information. Every decision should be measured against your mission and goals. Also, you should not be responsible for making every decision. You must empower your team members to make their own decisions. Everyone should be on the same page with the mission and goals of your business. This makes teaching them an easier task. Communication is the key to decision-making success. Your team must understand the big picture as you see it.

Is this something you’re already familiar with? Do you have a past decision to which you can refer? If so, the decision is made. If not, take a few minutes and think through some if/then scenarios. Again, refer to your history. What is the desired outcome? Does it align with your business goals? Do you need to make the decision right now? Put a timer on it and do more research. Data points will allow you to review and make the best decisions. A time limit is good, but don’t hit the snooze button. If you can’t decide, walk away or just make the choice and hope your best laid plans contribute to your future success.

56 Mobile Electronics June 2023
The road ahead is paved with hard lessons learned. How do you face the decisions you make?
Your business depends on you making the best decisions for you, your employees, vendors and customers.”
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