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July 2015

me-mag.com

JML Audio

Found Its Niche And Is Sticking To It

®

KnowledgeFest Preview, Schedule & More -

Are You Ready?

– page 28

My Biggest Mistake? “That time I Shot Myself in the Leg with an Air Nailer…” – page 14

Talk to the Editor Pick a Topic, Bring it to Dallas – page 8


® optimize your senses

RVC1000

RVC910

RVC1100

RVCLR

Mini Super Wide Viewing 150º view, Programable Normal or Mirror Image, 0.5 lux

Wide Viewing, 120º view, 0.3 Lux

OEM look, Stick On mount super wide, 160º view

Flexible Rubber Surface Mount

NEW ! Auto Switcher SVC 2000SW

RVCLPM (Chrome) RVCLPMB (Black Chrome)

RVC800LPWIRB (Black) RVC800LPWIR (Chrome)

License Plate Camera 120º view

IR License Plate Camera 120º view

RVC1500IRA

SVC2000

Front Windsheild IR Camera with Audio Output

Side CCD Cameras with LED Marker Lights

OnStar ! OE STYLE REARVIEW MIRROR

4.3” WIDESCREEN LCD MONITORS Rear View Mirror or Glass Mount Monitor

NEW ! with Built In 4.3” LCD (Manual Dimming)

Glass Mount Monitor Snap-on Sunshade

Rear View Mirror Monitor

4.3” LCD Rear View Mirror Manual Dimming Includes Cable Adaptor Adjustable Parking Lines Works with old and newer OnStar Systems

NEW !

Adjustable Parking Lines

RVMMMDOS

Mini Digital Multi-Meter with Built in Flash Light

TFT-LCD Monitor AV Signal Auto Detect Power On/Off 2 AV Inputs Auto Switch when reversing PAL/NTSC compatible Temperature Range Operation : -20ºC ~ 70ºC

STANDARD POWER 20A to 100A CBM20 CBM25 CBM30 CBM40 CBM50 CBM60 CBM70 CBM80 CBM100

NEW !

2  Mobile Electronics  April/May 2015

Rear View Glass Mount

Manual Reset Circuit Breakers

NEW !

Compact design makes for easy portable use.

Features Illuminated display and built in flash light

RVM430NG

20A 25A 30A 40A 50A 60A 70A 80A 100A

Priced as low as $4.95 Why use standard fuse and fuseholders anymore !

DM300

LCDP43LW


u o y e r A NEW !

LED SPOT OR FLOOD LIGHTS Available in 30ยบ or 60ยบ Angles

NEW !

White LED flood light 15 watt, 12vdc operation

LL27WAS - Spot Light 30ยบ LL27WAF - Flood Light 60ยบ

LL15WAS - Spot Light 30ยบ LL15WAF - Flood Light 60ยบ

60ยบ Angle Flood Light

30ยบ Angle Spot Light

INDIVIDUALLY CUSTOM DRILL IN ! LED Daytime Running Lights

a e R

LED SPOT OR FLOOD LIGHTS Available in 30ยบ or 60ยบ Angles

White LED flood light 27 watt, 12vdc operation

30ยบ Angle Spot Light

. . . dy

60ยบ Angle Flood Light

BLIND SPOT SENSOR KIT with LED & Audio Warning Sound

Finally a quality, high profit aftermarket blind spot sensor kit ! Also Avilable in Bar Style

Install flush into any grill or actual bumper itself. Custom mount in a straight line on follow contour curves of bumper

Installs in locations where no DRL1200 other DRL can fit !

DRL2000

2 side sensors Dash LED Distance Display 2 dash or mirror mount LEDs Main control box BSS200D Continuously indicating obstacles Piezo warning sounds after turn signal activated (if there is an obstacle)

LED Indicator Activated

Dash Mount or Mirror mount LED Indicator

BSS200

17900 Crusader Ave, Cerritos, CA 90703 USA (800) 788-1212 (562) 809-5090 me-mag.com โ€‚ 3


Volume 32// Issue 5

Ad Index ®

Accele Electronics............................................... IFC Alpine Electronics................................................ p. 5 AudioControl ...................................................... p. 27 BrandSpere ............................................................. 23 DD Audio ................................................................. p. 7 Directed .................................................................... BC Firstech ........................................................... IBC, p. 3 Focal ....................................................................... p.45 InstallerNet ......................................................... p. 57 Kenwood ................................................................. p. 9 KnowledgeFest 2015 ............................ p. 28-35 Memphis Car Audio ........................................ p. 45 Metra ...................................................................... p. 26

12 FEATURES 12 // Top 12 Installers of 2015

Making the Top 12 is a big deal in this industry. But what goes on inside the heads of the winners? This year’s Top 12 Installers discuss varying topics from their biggest mistakes to their hopes for the industry.

20 // Sales Awards and More

Nominations start every cyle of the Industry Awards, and those who do the nominating have some good things to say about this year’s finalists. We’ve shares some of their comments to show why these finalists deserve the honor.

38 // Finders, Keepers: Employee Hiring and Retention

With the number of installation tech trade schools dwindling, finding trained, experienced employees is harder than ever for a 12-volt retailer. But there are ways around that. The experts way in on how best to find and keep a quality mobile electronics employee.

42 // Real World Retail: JML Audio of St. Louis

Using its knowledge of the area and local competitors to its advantage, JML Audio grew from a home-based business to a high-end haven for affluent customers looking to have the absolute best in products and workmanship.

50 // Behind the Scenes: Alpine Electronics

Despite being one of the most well-known and respected manufacturers in the industry, Alpine still looks to innovate. With its “Restyle” product line of receivers, the company looks to corner the market on large head units, specifically with its 9-inch model, the largest in the industry. On the Cover

Making a 12-volt retail store into a successful company is one thing, but doing so with a staff of two and creating a memorable brand with its own terminology is a feat worth mentioning. Such is the case with JML Audio of St. Louis, a point that Joshua Landau makes sure to reiterate in this month’s Real World Retail feature. Landau emphasizes the terms “facility” and “high quality” to show the importance not just in the focus of the shop but that branding takes place on every level of a business. COVER DESIGN: ROBIN LEBEL

4  Mobile Electronics  July 2015

50 ARTICLES 24 Retail News/Who’s Who 36 External Effects 54 Installs

DEPARTMENTS 6 Feedback 8 Editor’s Forum 10 Stats 11 Helpful Stuff 58 Guest Editorial

facebook.com/me-mag


WITH ITS 9-INCH TOUCH SCREEN AND COUNTLESS FEATURES, THE X009-WRA IS READY FOR YOUR NEXT BIG ADVENTURE

The 9-inch screen is 89% larger than the factory radio and 55% larger than a standard aftermarket screen.

View alerts like tire pressure and door status, plus keep your favorite factory features like steering wheel controls and factory amplifier controls.

Your Jeep Wrangler deserves the ultimate dash upgrade. The X009-WRA Restyle Dash System has a large 9-inch screen that is the hub for your entertainment and information needs. Use it with separate front and rear view cameras to reduce blind spots and maneuver around off-road obstacles. Let your adventures start with Alpine.

The X009-WRA is compatible with front and rear view cameras (sold separately), to help eliminate blind spots around your Wrangler.

Shown here, X009-WRA for: 2011-UP Jeep Wrangler*

The X009 and custom dash kits are also available for:

Select Ford F-150* trucks, Select GM* trucks and SUVs, Ram* trucks and Toyota Tundra*

www.alpine-usa.com/me

* Jeep and Wrangler are registered trademarks of FCA US LLC. Other vehicle makes and models are those of their respective owners. Š 2015 Alpine Electronics, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

me-mag.com   5


 feedback

Training, Inside and Out

Don’t just wait for shows. Make sure you have instore documentation to teach new employees as well as provide refreshers for old-timers. “I have had a customer threaten to give us a bad review on social media if we didn’t meet her expected price for our services.” Mike White, Company Auto Audio & Video, Little Rock, Ark. “Make sure you stay ready for bad days. Try to have enough staff if you lose one.” Mike Collins, Mike’s Performance Audio, Inc., Danville, Va. “Charge more for labor; set the bar higher. Let the business dictate the outcome, not the customers.” Mark D’Elia, SoundFX, West Warwick, R.I. “Don’t miss out on the action sports market, such as boats, ATVs, golf carts, etc.” Dave Clews, 12Volt Dave’s Audio, Pottsville, Pa. “Made a complete sales training guide and an installer training guide so all employees understand their job and other jobs so that all employees are on the same page of customer service.” Brian West, WIRES, Inc., Rocky Mount, N.C. “Installation and training on much of today’s technology [should be done] by the manufacturers’ engineers and technicians, not the reps.” Moe Sabourin, Soundcrafters, South Daytona, Fla. “We have been doing breathalyzers for the two providers in our state. While the pay isn’t as high as we would like, most of the clients are under contract for a certain period of time. So, you know that you will have a monthly income that is guaranteed

6  Mobile Electronics  July 2015

from those alone. Some of the clients aren’t always pleasant to work with because they don’t want the device in their car, but you just have to tell them you understand how they feel and take care of it. “ Rick Miller, Sound On Wheels, Rock Hill, S.C. “I recently added another alarm/remote start brand after 10 years of only selling and installing one brand. I’m in love with the product and tech support. I was initially worried about the addition but was assured I would love it so I tried it. As a result, my sales and profits are up, install time is down, and install cleanliness is up! Do not be afraid of change!” -Anonymous “Times are still very soft in our area. Giving great customer service and a timely install puts a smile on their face and keeps them coming back.” Jim Perdue, Mc-Due Ultimate Audio, Farmington, N.M. “Spending time putting systems, software in place when you’re small and don’t need them saves you when things suddenly grow and you have more staff and things going on. Ensure you are spending the time developing and implementing store systems, software, not just doing jobs. Work on—not in—your business.” -Anonymous “When undertaking renovations while still operating, make sure your clientele knows you’re open.” Shaughnessy Murley, Visions Electronics, Red Deer, Alberta, CAN

ADVERTISING SALES Kerry Moyer 703.598.6759 • kerrym@mobile-electronics.com ®

EDITORIAL Solomon Daniels 213.291.1528 • solomond@mobile-electronics.com Ted Goslin 800.949.6372 ext. 466 • tedg@mobile-electronics.com Creative Layout and Design: Robin LeBel Contributing Editors: Jamie Sorcher, Ruth E. Thaler-Carter and Rosa Sophia.

Published by

®

Chris Cook, President 978.867.6759 • chrisc@mobile-electronics.com Kerry Moyer, VP Strategic Partnerships 703.598.6759 • kerrym@mobile-electronics.com Solomon Daniels, Dir. Media and Communications 213.291.1528 • solomond@mobile-electronics.com Richard Basler, Dir. Technology Solutions 978.645.6449 • richb@mobile-electronics.com Karin Drake, Events Manager 978.645.6478 • karindrake@mobile-electronics.com Robin Lebel, Creative Director 978.645.6456 • robinlebel@mobile-electronics.com

Mobile Electronics (USPS 957-170) (ISSN#1523-763X) is published monthly by Mobile Electronics Retailers Association, Inc. 85 Flagship Drive, Suite F, North Andover, MA 01845. Periodicals postage paid at Lawrence, MA 01842-8887 and additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to Mobile Electronics PO Box 92587, Long Beach, CA 90809-2587. Please allow 6-8 weeks for address changes to take effect. Subscription Prices - United States $35 per year, Canada $42 per year, Foreign $75 per year, Single copy price - $5; Buyer’s Guide $25. Please allow 6-8 weeks to receive your first issue.


Not - JUST -

A Subwoofer Company.

TRUE TO THE SOURCE

DD Audio has built it’s reputation as one of the world’s best subwoofer companies, and we put the same dedication into building our audiophile grade components and amps.

So, no matter what system you’re building; big, small, SQ or SPL — we’ve got you covered. www.ddaudio.com/NewDealer

| 405.239.2800 | sales@ddaudio.com me-mag.com   7


 editor’s forum

Come to Dallas, Sit Down and Spill There is no doubt you need to be at KnowledgeFest if you’re an industry professional. But when you pack, bring your opinions. I want to hear ‘em. Well, KnowledgeFest is almost here. Are you going? If your answer is no, think again. As a matter of fact, let’s look at this as a sales proposition. If I’m selling you something and you say no, that means you don’t see the value of what I’m offering compared to other things you want to (or have to) do. So ask yourself: what’s more important than this? Much of what we do this time of year is to try and convince you to attend. We tell you about the vendors that will be there, and what they will be showing. We talk about the cars and the networking opportunities. We highlight the educational sessions and speakers. And of course, we talk about the Industry Awards. But now, I want to give you one more incentive to take time off from your store and make the trek to Dallas: some one-on-one time with yours truly. Each issue I write an editorial (like this one) talking about some aspect of our industry. But print is a one-way medium and not the best means for garnering feedback. This KnowledgeFest, in the Mobile Electronics booth, I want to sit down with you and get your thoughts on some of these, as well as what’s most affecting your business, positively or negatively. But if you’re coming, come prepared! I’ve selected a few past editorials that I would like to discuss with you. Pull out your past issues, read up and pick two or three on which you have an opinion you’d like to share. Four Letters for “We Exist” - April / May 2015 There’s a lot of attention being paid to in-vehicle electronics right now, with automakers pushing safety in their advertising and mandates coming down requiring backup cameras in every vehicle. We need to insert our expertise into the spotlight, and we have the opportunity with our most marketable brand: MECP. But these four letters need to stand for more than installation— they need to represent the entire business. Promises, Promises - January 2015 Rushing a product to market is almost commonplace these days, as is letting the marketing message tell a story the product can’t necessarily back up. Too many manufacturers use words like “Bluetooth,”, “Wifi” and “touch screen” to imply that their products work just like the best tablets and smartphones, but in fact they don’t. Our product manufacturers need to stop letting their marketing do the talking, and speak by delivering on product quality.

8  Mobile Electronics  July 2015

“Fake It Until You Make It” Time is Over - June 2015 If you’re not investing in your Internet presence, it’s probably best not to have any. These days, you need more than a static “billboard” website or an inactive Facebook page, because your competitors are showing you up y engaging potential customers and showing up higher in searches due to frequent updates. You need to treat your online presence with the same planning and implementation that you do for your in-store marketing efforts. 8 Checks for Excellence – November 2014 My motto is “do everything you can do” before you complain, and there are eight business objectives you should be accomplishing if your business is running at peak performance: implementing last year’s KnowledgeFest lessons; creating an engaging first impression; creativity within the bounds of profitability, creating an empowering staff environment; accepting the Internet; bettering communication with past customers; ditto with key vendors; and building your brand locally. CES … or Las Vegas Showcase? – February 2015 This past CES had us traveling to more hotels than any year prior, because several companies that were traditionally on the show floor decided to create an show experience of their own … elsewhere. Vendors that stuck it out were dwarfed by enormous carmakers booths showcasing technology that’s not even for sale in the aftermarket. For retailers who head to Vegas in January, this drastic change in the show floor landscape will affect change where you spend your time. When Your Clique Doesn’t Click – August 2014 We’ve got a lot of organizations in this industry, from retail supporters to installation training. And nobody doubts that we need all we can get. The problem starts when one group or organization starts to disparage others. Granted, it’s competitive and here’s money to be made, but this is like wrestlers fighting in a broom closet: we’re too small for all this division. And you know what happens in small places? The infighting gets personal. We all want to help others succeed. But there’s no reason to pair arrogance with your efforts. Ready? Grab your notes and make sure you’re in Dallas. Give me a call at (213) 291-1528 and I’ll set aside time for you. I fully expect this to be a phenomenal KnowledgeFest, and I look forward to seeing you there! 


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 stats

My 3 Wishes Would Be ... If I had an extra 500 square feet of space, it would be: Showroom space - 30% Parking space - 16% Install bay space - 40% Fabrication/special project space - 42% Storage space - 21% Employee accommodation space - 5% More inventory or waiting room space - 9%

If I had $50,000, I’d use it for: Renovation/expansion - 58% Additional staff - 28% Raises for current staff - 14% New product lines/categories - 19% Pay off current expenses - 28% Tools/equipment upgrades - 49% Marketing/advertising - 37% Down payment to buy a building - 12%

If I had two free, trained employees for 10 days, they would: Bolster existing staff shortages - 16% Cover existing staff for vacations/time off - 19% Train existing staff - 60% Clean/organize store - 44% Extra staff for a special sale/event - 26% Catch up on late jobs/projects - 33%

10  Mobile Electronics  July 2015


 helpful stuff

Sites To See: Yelp WWW.YELP.COM

Even if you don’t know all of the particulars about Yelp, you’ve probably heard about how it can help boost your business. The company, founded in 2004, connects folks with the best local businesses—everything from restaurants to mechanics to mobile electronics shops. Here’s how it works: folks (yelpers) have written over 77 million local reviews, which is how people then find a business or service they’d like to try. So if you have a business and have satisfied customers, get them to write a review for you on Yelp. Every business owner can set up a free account to post photos and their phone number, as well as message their customers. You can also respond to reviews publicly or privately. Create a Yelp Review Badge for your website which lets folks know that reviews for your business are welcomed and can speak for themselves.

Books: A Curious Mind: The Secret to A Bigger Life WWW.GRAZERISCURIOUS.COM

Oh, that hair. It’s probably the first thing you notice about Academy Award–winning producer Brian Grazer. He and respected business journalist Charles Fishman have another reason you should take notice—their New York Times peek into the weekly “curiosity conversations” that have inspired Grazer to create some of America’s movies and TV shows. Grazer’s catalyst for many of his intriguing projects—“Splash,” “24,” “A Beautiful Mind,” “Apollo 13,” “Arrested Development,” “Friday Night Lights,” and many others—ties back to these conversations that he schedules weekly with an accomplished stranger such as a scientist, a spy, or a business leader. Grazer meets with anyone willing to answer his questions for a few hours. “A Curious Mind” is a testament to the power of inquisitiveness and the ways in which it deepens and improves us. For those who are looking for motivation, to change up their professional life, or find inspiration, this book is a great first step.

Software/Apps: Acorns WWW.ACORNS.COM

Where do those paychecks go? Many of us neglect to put something aside for savings, an emergency, or a rainy day fund. With some smart investing, it can be done painlessly. The Acorns app, which is especially helpful to first-time investors—makes things easy. It’s like the modern-day version of the change jar. Any spare change you have from everyday purchases is automatically put in a portfolio managed by financial professionals. Users simply link their bank accounts to the app which rounds up the cost of your transactions to the nearest dollar, and then takes the spare change and invests it. If you buy milk for $3.50, Acorns takes the left over 50 cents and invests it in an exchange-traded fund. You choose how aggressive you want to be, and the app does the rest. Acorns, which has more than 650,000 registered users, is free, but costs $1 per month once you start investing.

Services: ZipRecruiter WWW.ZIPRECRUITER.COM Finding talent can be a full-time job, but this service makes the process easier and cheaper. ZipRecruiter offers cross-job-board posting (to 100+ boards with just one click), resume screening, and a point-based score chart to find the best candidates. There is also built-in social recruiting, with posts reaching job seekers on Facebook, Twitter and Google+. You can also create an instant job page on your company’s website to list your own job openings, and you can track and rate applicants from visit to hire. When candidates apply, you can create personalized responses.

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This year’s class of T wily veterans, eage

Rich Clapp Musicar North West Portland, Ore. Years as an installer: 24 Non-installation related duties: Part-time salesman and mild janitorial help. Biggest mistake ever made as an installer: Starting my own car audio store back in ‘98. I would definitely not do it again if I had to do it over. I’m grateful for landing at Musicar after finally closing my doors. Besides installation, three things you love to do: Bike ride with my kids, relax at home and enjoy an evening alone with my wife! Biggest influence(s) in regards to your expertise, professionalism and work ethic: My father worked at one place almost his whole career. He set a great example of working for what you get and not complaining too much for what you don’t. My first shop manager at Car Toys, Fred Woodhouse, and the other two guys who worked there, Mike Barkley and Ray Mitchel, showed me a ton. Finally I was exposed to a whole new level once I came to Musicar and met up with Tom Miller. I have learned the layers method, stack fab and micro fab, among others. We’re raising the game and bringing the joy back to fabrication! Vision for life in five years: I would like to be financially sound again and have peace of mind as to my family’s personal budget.

12  Mobile Electronics  July 2015


Top 12 Installers includes a healthy mix of er newcomers and a few in-betweeners.

Matt Schaeffer Safe and Sound Mobile Electronics Manassas, Va. Years as an installer: 14 Non-installation related duties: I take on the duties of trainer, fabricator, painter, tuner, wheels and tires, performance, suspension, drivetrain, brakes, tint, sales, customer service, janitor, social media and break dancer. Besides this year’s award, your proudest career moment: Making the Top 12 list last year. It was a moment in which I felt appreciation and acknowledgment of my dedication to this industry. Biggest mistake ever made as an installer: Early in my career I was getting stuck in routine. It was all about just doing my work and going home. My philosophy now is, “Make everything worth a picture.” If you can’t take a picture of what you’re doing at any moment, then you’re simply doing it wrong. Besides installation, three things you love to do: Family comes first and will always take priority. The three things I love to do with my family are travel, go to sporting events and be artistic (build projects/draw) with my daughter. Biggest influence(s) in regards to your expertise, professionalism and work ethic: My biggest influences over the past year have been some of my best friends in the industry. Their work, support and feedback have helped push me to the next level. Bryan Schmitt, Tom Miller, Shon Besharah, Jamie Schuh, JT Torres, Rommel Medina, Mark Klette and Kyle Golden to name a few. Vision for life in five years: Like Joe Dirt would say, “I would just like to keep on keepin’ on!” I just want to stay in my lane and continue to perfect my craft. Life is a garden; dig it and make it work for you. Was that two Joe Dirt references I managed to weave into this question?

me-mag.com   13


Matt Cropper Stereo King Portland, Ore. Years as an installer: 17 Non-installation related duties: Customer service and sales. I assist the sales staff with quotes and solutions for clients. Tech support and training for all our stores. I answer any questions another installer or sales member has to resolve an issue. I also keep supplies and materials stocked in the shop to have on-hand for jobs as well as find new products to use that will help with a better end result. Besides this award, your proudest career moment: Making the Top 100 last year was great but the proudest moment was when Chris Church was complimenting a lower door panel build I did in a BMW. It was a job I had done while with a different company much earlier in my career and he didn’t know it was done by me at the time. The reason this was a proud moment is that Chris was my inspiration for getting into this career when I was only 17. He’s a guy I respect highly and was lucky to work with and learn from. His liking of my build and positive reaction to it still makes me smile. Biggest mistake ever made as an installer: If we are talking damages, it would be holes in the gas tank of a Mustang that flooded the wheel well with fuel after the amp rack was removed. If we are talking about it from a career standpoint, it would be not taking the time for training or allowing help at an earlier point in my career. Like so many rookies, after a couple years of doing this, I thought I knew it all and couldn’t be taught anymore. Besides installation, three things you love to do: Spending time with my family, shooting, and doing nothing would be number three. Biggest influence(s) in regards to your expertise, professionalism and work ethic: Tom Miller. The years I got to work with him were a big turning point for me. He showed me to always seek to get better and keep a positive outlook. Vision for life in five years: I would hope in five years I will learn how to balance work and family time better and more time will go to the family. Hopefully I’ll own a boat to spend the time with them in it.

Charles Brazil First Coast Auto Creations Jacksonville, Fla. Years as an installer: 13 Non-installation related duties: Sales, installation, custom fabrication and management. Besides this award, your proudest career moment: Making Rides Magazine for the first time. Biggest mistake ever made as an installer: Listening to someone else and not checking my work for myself. Besides installation, three things you love to do: USPSA, working and spending time with my family. Biggest influence(s) in regards to your expertise, professionalism and work ethic: I would like to acknowledge a very close friend, Matt Batten. Vision for life in five years: Being a successful shop owner with a balanced work and home life.

14  Mobile Electronics  July 2015


Tim Baillie Soundsgood Auto Coquitlam, B.C., Canada Years as an installer:I am currently 45. I bought my first car and had my dad help me put my first stereo in it when I was 15. I didn’t have my license yet but I had a deck, 6x9s and a flashy little EQ booster hanging under the dash. Around 1987 I went to my first soundoff. It was a NACA or CAN event and I fell in love with car audio at that point. Every penny I ever earned from that point forward went into stereo gear or car accessories. In 1991, my parents sent me to an installation school in Florida called CMA. I came home and got a job at a local hack shop. From there, I never looked back. Non-installation related duties: I am the shop lead, so I train the other installers. I am the problem solver when it comes to figuring out how to do something or making it fit into a car. I am also the fabricator so if the guys need something made I will usually fabricate it. Anything from tweeter mounts, to speaker rings to enclosures. I help run Soundsgood with the owner Keith and the sales lead up front in the shop. We tried having different managers in charge of sales and the bay but we found we weren’t big enough to have all these managers. We found it worked better by having people who were strong in their individual areas oversee that area and work with the others to make sure the store is run to its fullest potential. Besides this award, your proudest career moment: I competed from 1992-1999 in IASCA SQ. I won over 150 first place awards, placed top five every year that I competed from 1992-1999 at the IASCA World Finals and I won the IASCA World Championship in 1997 in the Expert 1-600 SQ+ Class. Biggest mistake ever made as an installer: I once was doing an alarm in a new Dodge Ram. It was parked at the end of the bay in neutral (which had a slight hill on the driveway) I had jumped in and out of the truck several times over the course of an hour or so. I then got out one last time, was talking to a salesman and he shouts the truck is rolling out the bay. Luckily or not luckily, the driver side door was open and it caught the track on the roll up door and stopped, but creased the fender and door. I have never (knock on wood) drilled a gas tank or anything like that. Besides installation, three things you love to do: I love computers and website design. I have built all my own websites. I have an online Hot Rod Magazine that I put together myself. Anything to do with computers, I can get my geek on pretty good. When I had my own shop, I did all of my own media, artwork, apparel, logos, you name it. I learned how to do it on my own so I could keep my vision on track without having to pay other people to do it. I also love photography. I have become a pretty damn good (almost professional) photographer with my magazine, attending shows, races and any other type of automotive event. It’s called The Hot Rodder Journal. Biggest influence(s) in regards to your expertise, professionalism and work ethic: I am old school. My influences started before a lot of newer installers even had their licenses. Mark Fukuda was a huge influence with his style, use of materials and techniques. He was doing things with routers back in the early 90s that are just now being taught in the last few years. The Holdaways (Eric and Pat) from Speakerworks in Orange, Calif. were building cars in the early 90s that were so cool—the simplest ideas executed with such detail. In the later years it was Bryan Schmit and Chris Yato that were building just crazy stuff; the things that came out of Chris Yato’s mind were so impressive, and the way he built them was even more impressive. In the last few years, there are people like Jason Kranitz (who has been a friend of mine since we competed together in the mid 90s), Tom Miller and J.T. Torres. They have all inspired me with new things and techniques that keep me going in the industry and keep reaching for new heights. Vision for life in five years: I want to be a father. I may be 45 but I’m not dead yet and I am finally in a good place in life and with a woman I love more than anything, who has made me finally want to be a dad. I lost my shop from a bad divorce. If the stars would align, I would like to have my own shop again. I grew it from nothing to a million-dollar-a-year business in only five years, so I know I can do it again and then go after Retailer of the Year. If I don’t win Installer of the Year this year, I will keep going for it until I can win it. Being from Canada, this was something that wasn’t open to us for years and years. When I saw Mark Fukuda win it in the early 90s with his Cigarette Boat submission, it became a career bucket list item. So, many years later, just making the Top 12 has wiped it off the bucket list, but winning it would be everything.

me-mag.com   15


Kevin Kessler Extreme Audio Midlothian, Va. Years as an installer: 22 years professionally and a couple more years non-professionally. Non-installation related duties: I usually stay pretty busy working on customers’ vehicles, but if I have any downtime I spend it organizing the shop, putting together orders for shop supplies and maintaining our displays in the showroom. Day to day, I also help our salesman consult customers with system design and layout. Besides this award, your proudest career moment: One of the accomplishments I am most proud of was having the opportunity to design and install a custom sound quality system in a customer’s Nissan 370 Z. This car competed and did very well in many sound quality and sound pressure competitions with its highest honor of winning World Champion for installation at the MECA World Finals car audio competition. The car also had a feature article written about it in Performance Auto & Sound Magazine. Biggest mistake ever made as an installer: Every installer has a full bloopers reel worth of mistakes, it’s just part of the job. I guess one of my biggest mistakes when I was starting out was the time I put a screw through the AC evaporator canister of a Jeep Wrangler, filling the whole shop with smoke. There was also the time I shot myself in the leg with an air-nailer. Besides installation, three things you love to do: I also enjoy snowboarding, jet skiing and any activities that take me near the sun and water. However, most of my spare time is now spent entertaining my two-year-old son. Biggest influence(s) in regards to your expertise, professionalism and work ethic: I haven’t had much formal training. I think most of my expertise has been gained from doing a lot of research on the Internet and picking up little tricks here and there from installers I’ve worked with in the past. As far as professionalism and a strong work ethic, I suppose my parents raised me right.

Kyle Golden Sundown One Springfield, Ill. Years as an installer: 9 Non-installation related duties: I function as the only dedicated 12-volt employee in the store. My main place is the install bay but I am also a qualified salesman when it comes down to it. I also do home audio installs from time to time when they need an extra guy. Besides this award, your proudest career moment: Being on the Top 12 last year. Biggest mistake ever made as an installer: Not soldering everything the first three years of my professional career. Besides installation, three things you love to do: Driving long distances at night, spending time with my girlfriend and pets, and playing guitar. Biggest influence(s) in regards to your expertise, professionalism and work ethic: Chris Yato, Bryan Schmitt, Steve Brown, Jeremy Carlson and Tom Miller. Vision for life in five years: Find a way to make this field in my location something that I can do the rest of my life and be able to support a family.

16  Mobile Electronics  July 2015


Barry Barth Prestige Car Audio & Marine Metairie, La. Years as an installer: 20 Non-installation related duties: I am the install manager here and that entails overseeing all jobs that come through the shop and making sure every job that leaves gets the same attention to detail that every customer deserves. I also serve as a trainer for those who want to learn the ins and outs of fabrication or other aspects of the install side of the business. Besides this award, your proudest career moment: Definitely for me, the highlight has been being chosen to attend R.T.T.I. at Rockford Fosgate. Such a great experience. It really helped mold me into the installer that I am today. Biggest mistake ever made as an installer: I once burned myself with a soldering iron, then dropped the iron on a seat and burned a hole in the seat cover. Besides installation, three things you love to do: Spending time with my family and friends, playing basketball, watching movies and eating. I live in New Orleans, so food down here is a big part of our culture. Biggest influence(s) in regards to your expertise, professionalism and work ethic: Far and above, it has to be my former co-worker, MECP Master Certified Eric Hunn. He is someone I worked with for a number of years and really inspired me to be a better installer and fabricator. Vision for life in five years: I honestly am not one to think that far ahead. I try to take everything a day at a time, and better myself whenever I can.

Jason Kranitz Kingpin Car & Marine Audio Wilsonville, Ore. Years as an installer: 22 Non-installation related duties: Store owner, trainer to the staff. Besides this award, your proudest career moment: Owning a successful shop. Biggest mistake ever made as an installer: Over-building many jobs and not getting the money to do so. Besides installation, three things you love to do: Teaching/training, gambling, travel. Biggest influence(s) in regards to your expertise, professionalism and work ethic: Doug Dobson has been someone who I have looked up to for a long time. From his knowledge in tech support to an active tech, he is the leader in professionalism. I get my work ethic from my dad and my expertise from everyone I encounter! Vision for life in five years: As I’m getting older, I know that teaching/training is my calling and passion. In five years time, I will be a building owner and that will allow me to build a badass training center!

me-mag.com   17


Brent Levitt Low Notes Garage / Sound Depot Boise, Idaho Years as an installer: I started out as a “do-it-your-selfer” in 1993 on my own vehicles. A few years later, in 1995, I began car audio installation as a career path and this year will be my 20th year in the industry. Non-installation related duties: Social Media - I am responsible for the shop’s social media presence, and much of its online advertising. Photographer - Pictures can be the best or worst advertising; I am responsible for photo editing and all the photographs and photography work on our installations and product pictures. Teacher - I try to assist with sales and teach the up-and-coming salesmen how to quote jobs, educate customers, and schedule appointment times and rates correctly. Biggest mistake ever made as an installer: I once worked on a mid-80’s Ford Bronco. When I pulled the seat release lever, which tilted the entire seat forward on a hinge, the cable was missing and the seat flipped forward without stopping and broke the windshield. Besides installation, three things you love to do: I spend most weekends competing or preparing for car audio competitions with my family. My wife competes and my daughter loves hanging out at the stereo shows. My daughter and I build and drive radio-control cars together anytime we get the chance. We take trips to construction sites or parks and spend the day driving them. Photography has become one of my new interests. My wife is a professional photographer so I have picked up that as one of my hobbies as well. Biggest influence(s) in regards to your expertise, professionalism and work ethic: John Gruendler (a 25-year car audio veteran and past co-worker) had a huge impact early on with my expertise and direction in car audio installation. I have also made a point to learn something from every person I have ever worked with in the industry. With the growth of social media I also get a lot of inspiration from installers sharing their work all over the world through pictures and videos. Vision for life in five years: In the next five years I hope to be the sole owner of my shop and to have it completely transformed into one of the most well-equipped, highest quality, and well-respected shops in the nation.

J.T. Torres Al-Ed’s Autosound Huntington Beach, Calif. Years as an installer: Since I was seven years old. Non-installation related duties: I do a little bit of everything, sales, window tint, customer service, tech support. My days are always interesting. Besides this award, your proudest career moment: After years planning and dreaming I was finally able to own my one shop. Biggest mistake ever made as an installer: While removing the rearview mirror on a Ferrari 458, the windshield broke. Besides installation, three things you love to do: I enjoy fabricating. It gives me an opportunity to try new techniques, new ideas and most important the ability to be creative. Window tint is a very important part of our business, very fast and very profitable. Last but not least is radar detectors; making a universal unit look OEM is my thing. Biggest influence(s) in regards to your expertise, professionalism and work ethic: Bryan Schmitt is by far the most influential fabricator in the industry. Vision for life in five years: In five years I would like to slow down a bit and spend more time with my family.

18  Mobile Electronics  July 2015


Jamie Schuh Spokane Audio Video Experts Spokane Valley, Wash. Years as an installer: 22 Non-installation related duties: Owner, accountant, salesman Besides this award, your proudest career moment: Starting my own company 10 years ago and making the Top 12 last year. Biggest mistake ever made as an installer: Screwed through a gas tank once, but biggest repeat mistake I have made earlier in my career is not taking the time to do it right the first time. Besides installation, three things you love to do: Spend time with my family, snow ski, and just have time off work. Biggest influence(s) in regards to your expertise, professionalism and work ethic: Work ethic would definitely be from my grandfather and father. Growing up on a farm, I learned at an early age what a hard day’s work was. Vision for life in five years: I would hope that in five years I can work less hours and spend more time relaxing with my family.

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me-mag.com   19


 rookie of the year

Words For the Chosen

Straight from the nominators’ mouths, the industry speaks out on who they feel should be Rookie of the Year and other nominees for some of this year’s Industry Awards categories.

Rookie of the Year “Alan is a great installer and very dedicated to his craft.” 20  Mobile Electronics  July 2015

kind of took n a e S “ t in T d n a & Styling. vative Audio ts, he , Lomas Glass o te n et In u q se u o D cl n On Sea hen I had to r experience to his clien we left off w work, bette over, where through the d of to provide a sh ed ru rk o o d w t o y n ll a does instea He has re ew craft and advice when he needs it s in the n is h in e d ers for takes pri rrent pro looking to oth s from many of the cu him how rn He is always a and le d is teaching n s a en ch st li te e er H . th his comno guessing see Sean and at other w taken on a o I . n lt s a su h re e H d . now th industry ice and en market as I k is better serv g.” to provide th thing in the future in his and what they are doin ig im b h g g in in pany do dy watch city are alrea shops in his


On Jessie Walker, Tunes-N-Tint - “I’ve had the pleasure of working with Jessie Walker both hand-in-hand and as a supervisor. Jessie is incredibly well-rounded for being just a year in our industry professionally. He came from the Installer Institute, did an unpaid internship with our company for a bit, then received a full-time position. Since then he has become ASE and MECP certified. He’s a trained/certified window film installer, including 3M Crystalline. He’s been cross-trained in general light duty automotive repairs, electrical troubleshooting, tint, fabrication, sales and virtually every aspect of the 12-volt/restyling business. He’s certainly a rising star who aspires to be a future leader/owner in our industry. It’s guys like him who start out with the zest he has that ultimately are the future of our industry.”

On Miguel Vega, Sonus Evol ution - Miguel has

proven himself to be one of the has only been doing this for less than three year s. I’m just blown away by his willingness to learn an d ability to build some of the most integrated fabricati on pieces into vehicles. tts, MemOn Jeremy Clu Jeremy phis Car Audio Audio store

is Car was a Memph ed his shop to owner and clos Memphis Car or le of Direct of take on the ro s proven to l Support. He ha Audio Technica cient asset eable and profi be a knowledg helpful with ny. He is very for the compa ch support lling in to the te the dealers ca l of us here al d is helpful to department an come into s ha well. Jeremy in the office as iate value ed m d added im our company an y departort and warrant in the tech supp amped our completely re-v ments. He has ly improved ess and definite warranty proc t of work and also taken a lo it. Jeremy has t by handling CS departmen calls off of our of the tech al oblems and l the warranty pr knowlin er . He is a lead support issues fit to the ne be t ea ld and a gr edge in this fie dio team.” Memphis Car Au

O

n Brittany Valenzuela, Bay

Area Audio Visions - Brittany came on board with us at the beginning of January 2015. She has shown great dedication to her current skills and is always eager and willing to jump in and learn new ones. She has shown excellent potential as a future fabricator.”

On Tony D’Amore, D’Amore Engineering - “Since his time at Rockford Corporation and his work there on everything from Home Audio to Mobile Audio. Tony’s work is the epitome of quality and perfection, there is a reason behind everything he does. He has single-handedly reinvented the mobile audio industry with accomplishments that include Amplifier Power Measuring Systems (Dynos) AD-1 and AMM-1, Car Audio Installation Tools CC-1, DD-1, DD-1+ and IM-SG. Tony D’Amore is also the creator, inventor, designer and father of the amp to end all amps, the Rockford Fosgate 2K15, the pinnacle of power, efficiency and sound quality.”

On Donny Blackburn, Car Concepts - “He is one of the hardest working guys in the shop. He works more than anyone and is doing his best to learn as much as he can from everyone around him. In one year I have seen him make more progress than I had expected and is now one of my go to technicians when I need help.”

On Tyler Clemence, Audiomotive - “This kid is unbelievable. He has the knowledge and knows techniques of a 10-year veteran. He single-handedly coached a team of installers with no experience to build a beautiful car at the Visions installer challenge. He has under three years of experience.” me-mag.com   21


 rookie of the year

Rep of the Year On Andy Adkins, Metra Electronics - “1. Personally answers the phone 99.94 percent of the time. 2. Very knowledgeable and has the answers to every question about his product line without hesitation. 3. Has gone out of his way to hand-deliver parts in an urgent situation (our shop is located nearby). 4. Follows up with every purchase order relative to anything that may be on back-order or if it ships from another warehouse that may delay the product’s expected arrival. 5. Ensures we get the best deal (pricing) allowed by the firm.”

etr, Oliver Mark e n tz fi P e m o r On Je alls me with c s y a lw a e m ting - “Jero k day or nigh c a b e m s ll a c deals, rmation fo in e th s e h c r and resea 0 es it for over 1 o d e h d n a , d ct I nee Lots of produ ! y u b I t a th brands s his rep firm d n a r b ll a in knowledge do come m o c to k ic u carries. Also q for my guys.” s g in in a tr y n pa

On Jimmy Bra dfield, Momen tum Marketin - “Jimmy has g been an impor tant figure in success here fo our r many years. In the past ye he has had a ar vital roll in ou r Rockford Fo success since sg ate he has been w ith Momentum Marketing. H e is constantl y coming up w new ideals to ith improve sales.

On Lee Schroeder, G Sounds Aud reat dedicated to io - “He is and doing w quality work customer. H hat is best for the shortcuts or e doesn’t take cheap time or mon waste the customer’s installer wit ey. I’ve never seen an h his craft to c so much passion for skills and knontinue to better his tinuing to leowledge always conar up the hard n his trade. Keep w after hours ork. He works a to get the pr ll crazy shifts oject do time. More ne on installers sh ould like him.” be

Expeditor of the Year “He does the best work in town!” On Philip Lindsley, Titan Motoring - “The first time I met Philip for my alarm install in my Nissan Pathfinder he was even complementary of the subwoofer box that I had made from a big box retailer. He stated that the work was good and that the installer probably would not stay in the big box installation industry and maybe go to a specialized car audio store. He could have been disparaging, but instead he chose to be professional. I have since upgraded to a mobile navigation unit and for all future business I will make sure that Philip and Titan gets my business. I would also like to note that Titan Motoring always has exotic cards and classic cars in his installation bays and he still treats my vehicle like it is the most expensive vehicle in the bay.” 22  Mobile Electronics  July 2015


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me-mag.com   23


 retail news

Vaping Opens New Doors for Audio Depot Despite taking a risk on an untested business venture, Audio Depot’s worked hard to ensure its profits wouldn’t go up in smoke. WORDS BY ROSA SOPHIA

R

ick Ricchia and his son Michael run Audio Depot together, in Mount Holly, N.J. but they have recently undertaken a new venture—a vape shop. The unlikely coupling may trigger surprise, but the fact is that Ricchia’s newest business, Vapor Depot, is quickly gaining popularity. While a cigarette is lit with a flame, vaping relies on an electronic device to vaporize a liquid. Many people are using such devices, like e-cigarettes, to quit smoking. Before opening his car audio business in 1989, Ricchia was in the pizza business for 22 years. Based on his observations and insights, he decided to supplement Audio Depot’s income with a new venture, Vapor Depot. With increasing interest in vaping, the new addition has worked out very well. “My kids started vaping, and we got into it,” Ricchia said. “We already had the room and showcases available. We spread everything out, and we compacted it in one area, and split the store in half.” For Ricchia, adding Vapor Depot to an already successful Audio Depot was

22  Mobile Electronics  July 2015

a simple step. “We have two young guys choice. “I think it’s a real good idea,” he we brought in for the vape shop. We have said, when asked if pairing car audio and my son, his girlfriend, and my installer vaping is something he would recomwho knows the vape business well,” Ricmend to other retailers. “The vape section chia said. “We just teach the people we doesn’t take up a lot of room,” Ricchia have already. If it picks up, you hire more explained. “We added chairs, couches, TV, people. It seems like it’s picking up a little whatever. Makes it comfortable. A little more every week. People get used to it. bar where people can taste the flavors.” They know we’re doing it. I see us being Vapor Depot can be found in the same able to bring more people in down the building as Audio Depot, but the busiroad.” nesses are two separate entities, each Ricchia cited economic difficulties with their own tax ID numbers. So far, and the negative ways the Internet has there have been no issues with the local affected business profits as a reason for government, and opening Vapor Depot the venture. “Car audio is getting to be a was just like opening any other busitough business,” Ricchia explained. “The ness. “I believe they are still researching price marking is terrible compared to what it used to be; cars are coming through with a lot more equipment. However, we are still busy [with car audio]; we’ve been here a long time.” Nevertheless, adding Vapor Depot has helped considerably. With an already existing business, Ricchia saw the positives, and disCombining two services into one shop has given covered he had Audio Depot new life, exposing the shop to a new made the right demographic of customers.


»

Who’s Who Mike Cornelius Poston Electronics Bowling Green, Ky. Years of Industry experience: 28 Hobbies: Cars, running What you’re really good at: Making people happy and taking care of customer needs

With half the showroom dedicated to selling vaporizer product and the other half displaying car audio product, the shop has successfully blended the two concepts together as one to win over customers.

“We added chairs, couches, TV, whatever. Makes it comfortable. A little bar where people can taste the flavors.” it [vaping] and that type of thing, but lots of vape shops have opened up on the east coast recently,” Ricchia said. As with cigarettes, vapor products and e-cigarettes cannot be sold to anyone under the age of 18. “The vape business is one that a lot of people who are trying to quit smoking can get into, with different nicotine levels so they can wean themselves off,” Ricchia said. “Others get into it as a hobby, with different flavors. They have a flavor for everything, it’s unbelievable, and all the pieces of equipment…It is pretty interesting.” With a military base up the road, Ricchia is finding they are gaining a lot of business from military personnel. He also said his audio customers were checking it out, and vice versa. “It seems like a good business to go hand-in-hand with audio.” Customers come to Vapor Depot, find what they are looking for, and then visit the car audio section. “They end up buying stuff,” Ricchia added. “People into vaping stop and look around. We’ve had both. We educate them on it. They go well together.” 

Morris M. Carmichael All-Star Accessories Birmingham, Ala. Years of Industry experience: 20 Hobbies: Travel in my free time What you’re really good at: Remote starts

Edward Bashur Stereo Outlet Washington, Pa. Years of industry experience: 38 Hobbies: Repairing electronic equipment What you’re really good at: Video editing

Marc Vickers Sound Sensations Marietta, Ga. Years of Industry experience: 37 Hobbies: Golf, mountain bike riding, motorcycle riding What you’re really good at: Details

Ric Moore Dr. Dashboard Evansville, Ind. Years of Industry experience: 27 Hobbies: Family, golf, Colts season ticket holder What you’re really good at: Keeping things organized

me-mag.com   23


 retail news

After the second store failed to gain traction on an Air Force base, the company focused on finding an employee to hold down the struggling flagship store’s sales department.

On The Lookout

With a store high of six employees, Murphy has widdled his staff down to a lean three, focusing on customer service and efficiency as a way to boost profits.

With few options in the Anchorage area, and searching for over eight months, Alaskan shop owner Jon Murphy has finally been able to find an experienced sales associate to help rebuild his flagship store. WORDS BY TED GOSLIN

24  Mobile Electronics  July 2015


T

o an outsider, expanding a business into a two-store chain may seem like a smart move if the timing is right. But sometimes, no matter how hard one plans, it may not be part of their company’s destiny. Such was the case for Jon Murphy, owner of Soundworks Car Audio & Security, based out of Anchorage, Ala. About two years ago, Soundworks expanded its shop to include a store located on a local Air Force base. Despite a solid opportunity with low costs, there was more to the deal than Murphy could have known at the time. “The problem is it grew too fast and got the best of us. We opened a second shop because they offered us a good contract out on base and it was something we wanted to try,” he said. “There was another business out there that did auto glass work and did phenomenally well. It just didn’t work out that well for us.” At the time, Murphy had about six total employees. Once the shop closed, he had

to downsize and has it down to three. During the transition, the main sales associate decided to find work in another industry. Due to the strain of losing both a store and an employee, Murphy had to pull double-duty in the install bay and showroom as a salesman, while also searching for a replacement sales person. “We haven’t had a steady sales person up front here for two years now. We were looking pretty steadily since August of last year, and then Kevin just started two months ago. He actually came from another shop where he was doing installs and a little bit of sales. We used Facebook, Craigslist and even put an ad in LinkedIn for about $300, but it was a failure,” he said. “ I’ve known Kevin for about eight years, since I worked with him at a previous shop. He’s doing really well. He has a lot of ambition, which is really important.” To get his new employee up to speed with both sales and the shop’s brand of service, Murphy brought in sales trainer

Del Ellis for a three-day sales training workshop. The training from both Ellis and Murphy himself has paid off, considering the shop has increased its sales substantially from the previous period last year. Thanks to good practices and the help of an eager new employee, the shop is on track to having its best year ever, which shows that sometimes failure can be just what a company needs to move in the right direction. “Last month I think we had about 20 percent growth from the previous year and this month we’re on track to have about a 10-12 percent growth compared to last year” Murphy said. “The biggest challenge we had in training Kevin was getting him to sell our service and quality instead of just product, which is what they did at his previous store. Ever since I opened the doors, I’ve wanted to build the business based on the quality of work we do and how we treat our customers.” 

me-mag.com   25


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Always a highlight at KnowledgeFest® is the Mobile Electronics Show, which allows attendees to mingle with the top manufacturers in the industry. Mobile Electronics® Thanks Its Partners for Their Support of Our Mission and the Specialist Channel Visit Our Partners on the Show Floor at KnowledgeFest® and Attend their Trainings

Diamond Sponsors Company: ADS BRANDS: IDATALINK, IDATALINK MAESTRO AND IDATASTART

Products Featured: ADS will be showcasing new solutions from its iDatalink, iDatalink Maestro and iDataStart product lines in a newly-designed, larger exhibit space. KnowledgeFest Dallas will mark the official trade launch of ADS’s brand new iDataStart HC remote starter line. ADS’s new control module, t-harnesses, remotes and updated Weblink software will be on display for all to experience in person. Activities: For those who missed KnowledgeFest in Indiana, ADS will have a Ford F150 show car fitted with its brand new Maestro K150 dash kit on display and much more. Training Sessions: Attendees will not want to miss ADS’s iDataStart training featuring a live unboxing and solution overview. ADS’s Maestro training will feature a sneak peek at its upcoming solutions. Both offer product giveaways.

Company: Alpine Electronics BRANDS: ALPINE

Products Featured: Alpine will showcase its Alpine Restyle line of products. All Restyle dash systems will be displayed in kiosks that feature actual dashboards from the applicable vehicles, presenting a true representation of the X009 when it’s installed in the dash. An Alpine Restyle demo vehicle will also be in the booth. Activities: Alpine management will be on hand to explain why the Alpine Restyle business program is attractive to independent retailers. The full line of X009 9-inch Restyle dash systems will be on display, consisting of seven vehicle-specific X009 models which come with dash kits that fit into the Jeep Wrangler, GM full size trucks and SUVs, RAM trucks, Ford F-150s and the Toyota Tundra; all models include an iDatalink Maestro module to retain factory features. The eighth model is a universal system for custom installations.

Company: Firstech BRANDS: COMPUSTAR, DRONEMOBILE, ARCTIC START

Company Representatives: Rob Sanden, Tanner Wilson, Cory Stocklin, Wade Beebe Products Featured: The company will be unveiling brand new solutions at KnowledgeFest including a new Compustar product that it claims will be the “talk of the show.” Also, it will be debuting some early looks of the new DroneMobile app. Activities: Firstech will be hosting its own 20-foot booth this year; showcasing its extensive product lineup that earned it the Top Vendor Award in 2014. The company’s objective at KnowledgeFest is to engage with new and existing dealers face-to-face and update them on how Firstech is going to innovate the remote start and security space this season. Number and Type of Training Sessions: Firstech has two trainings are scheduled: One training will be on remote start/new Firstech products; and, the other training will focus on telematics/DroneMobile, and the new features for those solutions.

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Company: Metra Electronics BRANDS: AXXESS, IBEAM, HEISE

Products Featured: Metra’s hot new line of products for 2015 Activities: Metra will be debuting the newest released dash kits to our lineup, including the 99-3016G for the 2014 and up Chevrolet Colorado and Canyon models. Axxess will be in full force at the KnowledgeFest, debuting an entire lineup of new products. Some hot new skus include the GMOS-MOST-01 for General Motor vehicles 2014 and up with Bose Systems. Looking for a reliable brand of safety products? iBeam is a clear choice for installers and shop managers alike! Some hot new SKUs include several eyeball cameras that are sure to be a hit! We’ll be lighting up the show with Heise, Metra’s hot new line of light bars that are guaranteed to stop you in your tracks! We invite everyone attending to stop by and visit with your favorite engineers and sales people.

Company: Orca Design and Manufacturing BRANDS: FOCAL, ILLUSION AUDIO AND MOSCONI

Products Featured: Some examples of new products that will be shown include the new Illusion Audio C3CX, the world famous $20K Focal Ultima Kit, and a newer DSP 6ch.amp from Mosconi. Activities: KnowledgeFest is good for dealers that can’t make it to SEMA or CES and still want to see all the new and cool products we have available. We’re excited to show new potential dealers in person what we have to offer. We’re showing some properly setup demo vehicles to hear that feature Focal, Illusion Audio, and Mosconi products inside. Number and Type of Training Sessions: We’re hosting some trainings on integrating audio into cars using the Mosconi processors, and a product training on Illusion Audio and Focal.

Company: SiriusXM Company Representatives: John Zamparelli Products Featured: SiriusXM is featuring its “Commander Touch,” the redesign of the ever popular CommanderMT. For years, dealers have been asking that this be brought back. This unit will have all the features of our top of the line Dock & Play unit Onyx Plus, while being small enough to mount in any vehicle keeping a factory look. Features include Tune Start, Tune Mix, Album Art and many more. SiriusXM also will be promoting the details of its newly launched “2 Ways to Save” SXV300 offer – A promotion that allows you the dealer to give away a SiriusXM tuner FOR FREE when the tuner is sold at MSRP within three months of service while still making full margin (after $70 rebate). At the same time, the company will be highlighting the three key features of SXV300V1 available on some of its partners newest head units. Activities: To experience the NEW Commander Touch and help put more profits in their pockets, dealers who stop by will be introduced to all the marketing materials available to help them promote this incredible offer, as well as being able to see other new features to help sell more tuners.

Company: Harman BRANDS: JBL AND INFINITY

Products Featured: Infinity by Harman will highlight advanced technology speakers, subwoofers, car component systems and amplifiers. JBL by Harman will feature speakers, subwoofers, amplifiers and digital processors for the latest car and marine audio systems.

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 KnowledgeFest Sponsors Promotion

Platinum Sponsors Company: AudioControl Company Representatives: Chris Kane

Products Featured: AudioControl will be showcasing its newly released high power subwoofer amplifiers, The Epicenter 600 and The Epicenter 1200. Features include active speaker level inputs, The Epicenter Bass Maximization circuitry, and AudioControl proprietary MILC circuitry. Activities: AudioControl will also debut a brand new calibrated microphone for use with iOS devices, the SA4100i microphone. The SA4100i microphone pairs with AudioControl’s new Mobile Tools App that it’s offering to its direct dealers for the first time at KnowledgeFest. The microphone works with and is approved for all Apple products using the current Lightning connector. Features of the App and Microphone include an RTA, FFT Analyzer, Polarity tester, SPL Meter and a diagnostic tool for tuning the AudioControl DQ-61 and DQDX digital sound processors. Number and Type of Training Sessions: At AudioControl’s training seminars, National Sales Manager Chris Bennett will focus on OEM Integration solutions, AccuBASS circuitry, The Epicenter Amplifiers plus the SA4100i Microphone.

Company: DD Audio BRANDS: DD AUDIO

Products Featured: The DSI-1 DSP module Activities: The DD Audio Research and Development crew has been working overtime this year and will have plenty to showcase at this year’s KnowledgeFest Dallas 2015. DD Audio will really focus on the sound quality side of its product line. The DD booth will exhibit a Porsche Macan featuring a complete DD Audio OEM upgrade. One of the most exciting new pieces of equipment to be seen in the install is DD’s soon to be released DSP module, the DSI-1. So stop by the DD Audio booth see the install, get a full tour of the product line, ask tech questions and find out what makes DD Audio so different from other mobile audio companies in the market right now.

Company: JVC Mobile Company Representatives: Hazim Jainoor, Marketing Manager Products Featured: JVC Mobile will be displaying its flagship models for 2015 – Showcasing solutions for all major categories, including HDMI Smartphone Control for both Apple and Android platforms, Digital Media Receivers, 5-Channel Amplification and MotorSports specific models. Activities: Those who stop by the JVC Mobile booth can partake in an interactive demo of the HDMI Smartphone Control models and check out the MotorSports demo vehicle on display. JVC Swag will be on deck for all attendees. Number and Type of Training Sessions: Two training sessions, covering JVC’s 2015 lineup, will be conducted by industry veteran, Hazim Jainoor, Marketing Manager for JVC.

Company: Kenwood USA Company Representatives: Scott Caswell, Marketing; Tony Mercado, Marketing; Seth Halstead, Trainer Products Featured: In addition to our entire 2015 product line, we will be highlighting our just-shipped duo of multimedia receivers equipped with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. The DDX9702S and Excelon DDX9902S will be on display in our booth. Activities: Kenwood staff and trainers will be on hand to talk with retailers and installers about our line. Training Sessions: General training on Kenwood product. Seth Halstead will be the presenter.

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Company: Memphis Car Audio BRANDS: MEMPHIS AUDIO AND ENCORE AUTOMOTIVE SYSTEMS (DISTRIBUTED BY MEMPHIS AUDIO)

Products Featured: The new MClass components: redesigned for 2015 and critically acclaimed for exceptional performance. Subwoofers from the high output Bass Reference and Power Reference Woofer lines in 10,” 12,” and 15”. Give them one listen and you’ll understand what Memphis Bass is all about. PRX-Power Reference Coaxial speakers featuring a swivel tweeter to custom tailor the sound and location to any vehicle. The brand new PRX1.1500 amp delivers over 1500 watts of Class D power into 1Ohm in a package that will fit in any ride. Memphis Special Application (SA) amplifiers: engineered to pack a huge punch while fitting in the smallest of spaces. And, the Encore M1 Powersports Alarm that protects motorcycles, UTVs, Slingshots or ATVS. Check it out along with other Encore security and remote start systems that utilize state-of-the-art ASK radio transmission technology for better performance.

Company: Scosche Products Featured: The new Scosche® Volkswagen Golf Double DIN Kit (VW2352B - 2015-Up) is a complete solution that ships with both Kit and Interface. It provides the highest level of integration via its innovative engineering and design. It allows the extensive original vehicle configuration menus to be adjusted via the capacitive touch buttons integrated into the dash kit panel, while allowing control of the aftermarket head unit through the original steering wheel controls. The TASR01 - 2004-UP Toyota JBL Amplifier Retention Interface is the newest addition to the Scosche “Core” Interface line. It provides core functions in retaining Toyota’s JBL factory amplifiers at a low cost and intelligently communicates with the factory JBL amplifier to work with an aftermarket radio. The physical form factor is very small and is ideal for storing in tight dash cavities. The interface ships with the necessary harness for quick installation.

KnowledgeFest® Sponsors Company: BrandSphere

Company Representatives: John Harden, Global Director; Frank Perissi, VP of Strategic Relations Activities: BrandSphere, a mobile customer engagement platform, will be featuring dealer and manufacturer branded content. The company will share examples of dealers that have launched BrandSphere in their businesses including video testimonies recorded during launch events. It will also be offering digital tours and training of the BrandSphere platform. Events, Other Than Training: The first BrandSphere user group advisory meeting will be held this year at KnowledgeFest. Other events will be announced at the show. Number and Type of Training Sessions: As part of the owners’ workshop track, BrandSphere will offer a workshop on how to tap into the explosive use of mobile apps to engage customers, thereby driving lifelong relationships and increasing sales.

Company: K40 Electronics Company Representatives: Owner/President: Peggy Finley; National Sales Director: Rachel Clark; Director of National Accounts: Brady Siebert; Vice President of Engineering: Mike Boyer; Sales/Marketing: J.J. Langguth, Lynette Tomlinson, Justin Long, Ray Woolf, Hunter Nelson, Drew Lawanas, Brian Wilcox. Featured Products: A few exciting new items will be showcased in addition to custom-installed radar/laser detectors, portable radar/laser detectors with K-Band Filter and Laser Defusers. On display will be a new mini control pad for custom-installed radar detectors that provides a permanent and discreet installation solution. Mark to Mute feature will be added to custom-installed systems, as well as the innovative K-Band Filter. The K-Band Filter rejects alerts from vehicles equipped with radar-based safety features, such as Audi®’s Collision Avoidance that cause all radar detectors to false alert. Activities: K40 always has one of the hottest cars on the show floor, and this year is no exception. Stop by K40’s booth to check out the vehicle and product demonstrations. Events, Other Than Training: Opening Keynote with Tim Parenti. Learn how attitudes affect sales. Type of Training Session(s): K40 Radar/Laser System Installation Training. Get out of the classroom and around the car with this hands-on installation training. Presenters: Brady Siebert and Jason Kranitz (Kingpin Car & Marine Audio). Face-to-Face Selling. Know what to look and listen for, including body language and communication styles, to help you disarm and win over even the most hard-to-sell customers. Presenter: Tim Parenti.

Additional Sponsors

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 external effects

: Wearables, OEM Vehicle Quality and More Wearables Set To Surge What’s Going On: The hottest category in consumer electronics—wearables—continues to sizzle even with plenty of conjecture as to how quickly the market is maturing. All signs, though, point to sustained growth. Intel recently purchased Recon, a company which makes high-tech eyewear for athletes. Their premiere product, Jet glasses, project time and distance of a bike ride on the inside of the lens. Products like these become part of Intel’s New Devices Group. According to Intel, the group’s mission is to develop smart devices for a broader range of customers and markets. Additionally, Fitbit, with its fitness-tracking devices (even President Obama wears one), has also brought visibility to the category with its recent IPO. Fitbit is the second wearable U.S. company to go public on the heels of action-camera company GoPro.

How It Can Affect You: Even with these major developments, the category of wearables—smart watches, smart clothes, or activity/fitness bands—is still largely considered a niche. For mobile electronics retailers, the category represents huge potential for a new source of revenue with a chance to stay ahead of the curve. The number of wearable devices shipped this year is calculated to grow by 173 percent to 72.1 million, according to market research firm IDC. Just five years ago 19.6 million units were shipped, so expansion of the category is tremendous. Looking ahead to 2019, IDC predicts wearable devices shipped will surge to 126 million.

How It Can Affect You:

The Next Tech Bubble What’s Going On:

It’s been a whirlwind for tech start-ups. Big ideas have met with major funding to catapult dozens of privately held companies to what is known as unicorn status-- companies with at least a $1 billion valuation without the revenues to match. Examples include: Pinterest at $11 billion, Uber worth $50 billion, Airbnb at $20 billion, and Snapchat at $15 billion. Many observers wonder if this trend is a repeat of the dot-com bubble of 2000.

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According to some venture capitalists, revenue isn’t growing quickly enough to warrant these exaggerated values as companies churn through cash. The concern for other tech start-ups is that any backlash from slayed unicorns will devalue them. But there’s no need to worry about a crash like the one that happened years ago. Tech executives and industry observers note that the timing is completely different. Technology today is more established in the country’s economy, and therefore less vulnerable to a dive. Another key factor this time around is the group of consumers known as Millennials, who were practically born with a mobile device in their hands. Today’s unicorns are built around real solutions and these start-ups—big or small—continue to be a vital part of the tech industry.

Car Quality

What’s Going On:

Korean cars are king, according to the 2015 J.D. Power and Associates Initial Quality Study (IQS), a respected barometer of excellence in auto manufacturing. Once holding the top spots, Japanese brands have lost favor in a struggle to keep up with the pace of improvement. Porsche ranked highest in quality followed by Kia. Jaguar, Hyundai and Infiniti rounded out the top five.

How It Can Affect You:

The rankings represent a reversal with the longstanding trend of Japanese brands dominating as the gold standard. The highest-rated Japanese brand in the survey was Nissan’s Infiniti, which came in fifth place. Meanwhile, U.S. manufacturers fared decently with Chevrolet placing seventh, followed by Ford’s Lincoln in eighth. Both beat out Lexus and Toyota, which placed ninth and tenth, respectively. The index is based on responses from 84,000 drivers who have bought or leased a 2015 car or truck model which have had defects or problems in the first 90 days of ownership. Interestingly, the study found that while cars are getting better on the whole with a three percent improvement in this year’s study compared to last year, automakers that fared poorly did so because of complicated infotainment systems. For the third year, the survey said connectivity and entertainment systems were the biggest trouble spot.


Spotify Killers What’s Going On:

Tumultuous times reign in the music industry with the potential to impact everyone from automakers to consumer electronics companies to listeners. Competition is intensifying with streaming platforms. Spotify and Pandora are battling for dominance with their services, with Spotify making great strides, but now Apple has just gotten into the mix. Apple’s CEO Tim Cook has called Apple Music “the next chapter in music.” Google has gotten on board with its recently launched Google Play Music. The music streaming service is free to users as long as they listen to ads and preset song compilations. Then there’s Jay Z’s Tidal streaming service which launched last March and is said to offer high-quality audio files, exclusive music videos, and artist involvement with Kanye West and Nicki Minaj as backers.

How It Can Affect You:

No question that streaming has become a phenomenon in the music industry. Demand for streaming services is increasing, and Apple Music can definitely be viewed as a plus by bringing more visibility to the business. Apple Music rolled out to iOS devices on June 30, and will be made available on Android devices later this year. Overall, if it means a healthier music industry, it means the ancillary businesses will ride the wave as well.

“Search Before Purch” Impacts Retailers What’s Going On:

The Gap plans to close 175 of its stores over the next few years, along with a substantial amount of jobs at its headquarters. The moves are an effort to turn the struggling company around and rebuild the brand. Gap, which also owns Old Navy and Banana Republic, has suffered, according to analysts, because of too many fashion fumbles. It also has to do with the way consumers are now shopping for many things, and the dying culture of the American mall.

How It Can Affect You: Mall-centric stores have come upon some hard times—and not just the Gap. Sears, Macy’s, Wet Seal, Sbarro and many others have been struggling as well. The term “mall death” has been circulating for the past few years as many of these behemoth places turn to ghost towns. According to retail consultant Howard Davidowitz, half of U.S. malls will fail in the next 20 years. Digital shopping has eaten into the brick-and-mortar experience and steadily declining in-store traffic hasn’t helped stores either—but malls aren’t completely irrelevant for consumers. Like the Gap, which said they are developing new marketing strategies and revamping their digital platforms, retailers need to understand the impact of “search before purch”—that shoppers are using smartphones and tablets to find deals and become more educated before going to a store. Retailers today need to cater to their customers from start to finish—and that begins with a shopper’s search for information and pricing.

Robocars Ready To Rule What’s Going On:

It still might seem futuristic, but the self-driving car market continues to evolve. There are semi-autonomous, which means a person still needs to be involved, and fully autonomous vehicles. A fully autonomous vehicle can drive from beginning to end, encounter and handle on-road scenarios, and requires no interaction from the driver. By many accounts, these could debut around 2020. Now, the biggest hurdles are regulatory—not so much technical.

How It Can Affect You: Several states—California, Florida, Michigan and Nevada—and the District of Columbia already allow self-driving cars. More states are sure to follow. A huge benefit of self-driving cars is that they can ultimately help make roads safer, and they could end up being more fuel-efficient. Ford, which has lagged behind other automakers with its efforts in this area, recently stepped up with its plans to roll out self-driving cars with a newly created global team to assist in development. General Motors, Volkswagen’s Audi, Mercedes-Benz, and Tesla Motors have all shared their intentions to offer semi-automated driving systems in the next 18 months. But the barriers to self-driving cars remain significant. Costs will need to come down along with regulations being clarified. Plenty of possibilities exist when these vehicles become popular with mainstream consumers.

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 business feature

Finders Keepers Word of mouth

rules in finding great employees; the Golden Rule is key in keeping them.

WORDS BY RUTH E. THALER-CARTER, CONTRIBUTING WRITER

I

n an industry that demands careful, knowledgeable, detail-oriented, often highly technical skills of its workers, finding the ideal employees for a mobile electronics shop is an ongoing challenge, only surpassed by the need to keep those skilled people on board once they’ve been found. A mobile electronics business can’t hire

36  Mobile Electronics  July 2015

just anyone, even someone from a training program, because of the imperative to trust employees to work on expensive vehicles or with delicate, often high-tech equipment. One complicated reality is that there is a shortage of experienced car audio installers. “The only qualified staffers are the ones already working for our businesses today,” said Mike Bartells, owner of Extreme Audio, in Mechanicsville and Chesterfield, Virginia.

“Finding good workers is definitely the biggest challenge because of the types and diversity of cars we work on, such as high-end vehicles like Porsches,” said Joshua M. Landau, assistant design consultant with JML Audio of St. Louis in Trenton, MO. The Search Hiring skilled workers starts with looking for them in all the right places, and offering what those potential employees want from a job. The field is narrow enough that experienced installers tend to find employers more often than employers have to look for them. “We’ve had our pick of the litter, so to speak,” Bartells said. JML takes a similar approach. “We keep an eye out for other installers, in town or out of town, who are looking for better opportunities,” Landau said. Only experienced potential employees need apply: “We’ve never hired someone green.” Sometimes people come to him with an interest in working at JML, Landau said. When that happens, what underlies the conversation can be as important as what someone actually says. “Often, I’ll be able to interpret what someone means,” he explained. “Maybe a current


“There’s been a sea change in the last 10 years away from help-wanted ads to things like Craigslist,” she said. “[Online venues] are more flexible, as well as free. You can expand the job description and put the ad up, or pull it down, so you aren’t inundated with responses.”

Elizabeth Milito, senior executive counsel with the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) employer doesn’t have the technology and tools that a skilled installer needs, or someone feels he isn’t getting enough training when he wants to learn about new technology.” For Extreme Audio, a key to bringing in skilled workers—in particular when opening a second store recently—has been establishing ongoing connections with potential new employees. “We already had people in mind for the new store,” Bartells said. While local or regional training programs can be a useful source of new employees, Bartells has not found these helpful in his area, although he knows of another store that has had good luck with bringing in workers from a training school. What has worked for him has been friends of current employees. People who not only know something about the business and its culture, as well as its needs, but can be vouched for by those already working in the store, can be invaluable. The quality of the work environment is a major factor in attracting skilled installers. That means not just offering good salaries and benefits, but taking the shop itself into consideration. “If you create a better environment to work in, you’ll have a better quality in your staff,” according to Landau. “If you have a clean, well-lit, well-equipped shop,

you will attract better employees who want to work there. Clients want to see the back of the house, where we do our actual work and service—it’s the same with potential staffers.” His five-day work schedule also attracts better people, Bartells noted. The traditional newspaper ad is no longer the way to approach hiring. Word of mouth is probably the best way to find new, highly skilled employees, according to Elizabeth Milito, senior executive counsel with the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB). “There’s been a sea change in the last 10 years away from help-wanted ads to things like Craigslist,” she said. “[Online venues] are more flexible, as well as free. You can expand the job description and put the ad up, or pull it down, so you aren’t inundated with responses.” Getting the word out through current employees, other business owners and colleagues is often more effective than even these newer outlets. Word of mouth also plays a role in attracting employees, because skilled workers will come to businesses that are known to be good to work for, Milito said. “The reality is that a small business can’t offer the benefits of a large corporation, so the reputation of the business in its community—again, word of mouth—is important. People appreciate working

where they are treated like family, have training opportunities and can be flexible [in their schedules].” The employer can enhance the hiring process by doing some preparation. Milito suggested taking time to review résumés before interviews and having questions in mind ahead of time. Good ones to ask could be “What can you do for us?” or “What can you do to help us improve this business?”

Hurdles of Retention Finding skilled installers is one thing, but keeping them can be another. Doing so goes beyond offering a decent salary and standard benefits. “Not everybody is motivated by the same things,” Bartells noted. “Our guys are more motivated by making the client happy than by getting a [financial] bonus for selling more boxes of products.” Among the most important angles in keeping good employees is to provide as much information about the workplace as possible, and to follow the Golden Rule. “Be transparent with your policies so employees know what to expect,” advised Bartells. “Be a good person. Treat your people well. If someone needs a day off, try to accommodate that.” That approach resonates with Landau. “I was taught that if I treat others the way I want to be treated, they will respond in kind,” he said. “I learned that

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 business feature from my father and grandfather, who both had small businesses. My staff works with me, not for me. We work as a team.” Landau has found that offering training opportunities helps keep good people happy and willing to stay with the business over time, and that listening to employees is also important. Just being open to what employees say can make the difference between keeping and losing good workers. “We have meetings at the beginning of each week with an open floor for feedback,” he said. “A lot [of workplace culture] has to do with listening to our staff and giving them a chance to contribute to the team as a whole.” JML provides incentives on a case by case basis, from health insurance coverage to gas reimbursement to raises. Employees “know that salaries can be static. As long as the business continues to grow, so will their pay.” Increases have been given based on merit, even during the recession. “We believe in sharing the wealth,” Landau said. While designating and rewarding an “employee of the month” would be “kind of silly” in a shop with only three to six employees, JML does give the occasional bonus for the best month to date, or extra day off, in recognition of those who work especially hard. “We’re also constantly offering things like lunch,” as well. Incentives that keep good workers in place don’t have to be purely financial, owners and experts agree. JML pays for training, including travel, accommodations and food—not just to ensure the business provides the most current, up-to-date service and products possible, but also to keep good employees happy about their ability to thrive in the industry. “Obviously, money speaks, but there are a lot of things, even no-cost things, you can do to reward and motivate employees,” Milito said. She suggested an annual holiday party or picnic for employees and their families, contests, birthdays off, and related gestures. Milito urged business owners and managers to give feedback to employees. “Especially positive feedback. You might not be able to reward good work with bonuses, but pats on the back go a long way to keeping employees happy,” she said. And do so regularly, not just once a year. “Don’t wait until the annual review to compliment or sock it to an employee,” she advised. Recognition and compliments are important because a lack of feedback is a common reason for good workers to look elsewhere. “Millennials especially want more than a paycheck,” Milito said.

To maintain its high standards, high-end retailer JML Audio is always on the lookout for future employees by keeping in touch with shops both locally and in other regions throughout the country.

Coping With The Bad One bad employee can be disastrous in a small shop, but both JML and Extreme Audio have been lucky to date in having to deal with very few instances of disgruntled workers or having to fire people. Most people tend to leave to work in a different industry, start their own shops or move out of state. One good way to head off problems is to have a probationary or introductory period for a new worker. At JML, that helps “make sure they work well and interact with everybody else” appropriately, Landau said. “If they have an issue, it will show up in that time.” It is vital to handle any problem employees carefully and promptly, Milito warned. “Preparation really pays off,” she said. It

38  Mobile Electronics  July 2015

For Mike Bartells, owner of Extreme Audio, keeping pace with the best talent available is even more crucial now that he’s opened a second store.


can be difficult to do with clients clamoring to get their vehicles back quickly and customers on the floor asking for product information or demonstrations, but any problems should be documented as they occur. A written record of late arrivals, unfinished assignments, quarrels with co-workers, careless work, broken tools or equipment, and any other issues will be essential in defending a decision to let someone go if a disgruntled employee should attempt to rebut the action. This doesn’t have to involve anything complex. A brief note in a personnel folder is often sufficient. One big asset in retaining, but also in having to fire, workers is an employee manual. It can be brief and rudimentary—even a one-page Word document—and the broader, the better, but it should set out expectations for all employees in terms of skills, responsibilities and firing offenses. “Set out expectations,” Milito advised, and it will be easier to manage both good work and problems. “When everyone knows the rules, it can help head off a lawsuit.” Potential lawsuits arise when an employer or manager treats similarly situated people differently. “Be consistent. Apply the same rules to everyone, even if it’s your nephew who works for you.”

Legal Aspects Where hiring, retaining and—no matter how reluctantly— firing workers gets complicated is in the legal realm, because human resources management is fraught with rules and regulations that the owner of a small business may not encounter until it’s too late. In hiring, “you have to be careful when interviewing,” said NFIB’s Milito. “You don’t want to give the impression that you’re not hiring someone because they’re in a protected class—race, color, religion, age, health (including pregnancy). You can only ask people about everything related to the job.” It’s also important to treat all candidates the same. Give all applicants the same information about the job and the workplace, ask the same questions of all applicants, require the same tests and probationary periods, and offer the same benefits. If it becomes necessary to fire a problematic employee, documentation of the reason(s) for dismissal is essential, especially if there’s any chance the employee might try to sue.

Resources for Humans There are a lot of resources, many free, for mobile electronics store owners who would like to enhance their approaches to hiring, rewarding and managing employees. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) provides free posters about safe work habits and environments (some are required to be posted in a workplace), while other organizations provide information about legal and related aspects of hiring and managing employees, including what might be required by government bodies in terms of workplace safety and anti-discrimination, as well as free and low-cost materials for developing employee manuals and clever ideas for rewarding good work without spending a lot of money. Association for Talent Development (formerly American Society for Training and Development), www.td.org National Federation of Small Business, www.nfib.com/legal National Retail Federation, www.nrf.com OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration), www.osha.gov SCORE (Service Corps of Retired Executives), www.score.org Society for Human Resource Management, www.shrm.org State departments of labor

Always Be Hiring If Extreme Audio’s Mike Bartells is right in saying that all the skilled mobile electronics installers are already working in existing stores, it might be time to think “outside the box” to build up the supply of well-trained, capable workers for the industry. As JML’s Josh Landau suggests, looking for new workers from trade schools who can be trained up is one path to consider. Following legal and common-sense guidelines on hiring, managing, retaining and firing workers is vital, but creating the workers to hire, manage and retain is even more so. “We’re constantly looking for people when we don’t need them so we have potential employees in our back pocket when we do need them,” said Bartells. 

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real world retail

WORDS BY TED GOSLIN

Utilizing its focus on highend clientele to build its brand, JML Audio of St. Louis has gained a foothold in its region not only as the only shop of its kind, but has gained attention nationwide from consumers and industry-insiders as a signature brand in 12-volt. Located in an industrial complex, the shop relies primarily on word-ofmouth, which it receives plenty of from local car lovers. uring our existence, humans have proven many things. From the theory of relativity to the fact that the Earth is not flat, but round, each point has brought with it further proof of what we are truly searching for: ourselves. In looking at today’s most recognizable companies, one consistent attribute that stands above the rest is individuality. Nike has its slogan, “Just Do It.” Apple computers’ logo is depicted with a bite taken out of it to represent its epic goals of biblical proportions. Each uses its strongest element to reach its target audience. Those companies achieve their goals through self-knowledge and solid execution. The same is true for Joshua Landau and his store, JML Audio of St. Louis. As an up-and-coming installer in the 12-volt industry, the ambitious Landau knew he wanted his own business. His only road-block was knowing what direction he wanted to take it to

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achieve maximum quality and performance. After assessing his home region in St. Louis, Mo., it came to him: focus on the highend market by offering to primarily affluent clientele. It worked. Today, JML has achieved its highest level of growth in its 18-year history. By branding itself for a specific demographic, it not only increased its client satisfaction considerably over other shops in the area, but helped to land it on the Mobile Electronics list of Top 50 Retailers consecutively for the past nine years.

JML: Version 1 Much like Steve Jobs did with Apple, the idea for JML Audio was born out of a garage. Only, unlike Apple, this garage was zoned for industrial, and was the two-car variety, complete with tools and paid employees.


“We started in 1997, out of a two-car garage, 21 by 25 feet in size. Our focus at that time was a lot of high performance audio and custom fabrication. We scheduled by appointment and booked months in advance,” Landau said. “We did that for a number of years and moved to our current facility in 2008. Myself and Adam Stein started the company but have gone in different directions.” The business was born from an idea Landau had of wanting to provide a service that wasn’t available in his area. All of the other 12-volt shops in the city seemed focused on the standard car audio work, such as installing head units, speakers, subwoofers, and safety and security products like remote starters. Before opening his business, Landau was a client of another service-oriented shop in town that went out of business. With that, Landau saw an opportunity to open a “facility” dedicated to “high-quality” car audio, to use his vernacular. Today, with his team-member of 10 years, Rob Miller, Landau has turned JML Audio into one of the hottest shops in town, earning the business and trust of his luxury clientele. “I see various places and we’re kind of a hybrid of high performance places in the West and East Coasts that just didn’t exist in St. Louis,” Landau said. “ I’ve always been very passionate about music. I grew up on everything from musicals to orchestra and have always been a car nut and been very good with electronics. When I found mobile electronics, it had a blend of all three. That’s why we’ve never gotten into the home side. Working in a house isn’t nearly as fun as something with four wheels and a steering wheel. We’re not selling car stereos, we’re in the service industry. Everything we do is service based. Our goal is to make it as easy as possible for our clients to work with us. As one of our best clients says, anything worth doing is worth overdoing.” Speaking of “overdoing,” Landau makes a habit of closing his facility when needed to attend various trainings in the industry with Miller, including both KnowledgeFest events in Dallas and Indianapolis. “I can’t tell you how many KnowledgeFests I’ve been to. We’ve gone to a lot of trainings. Those trainings were key to helping us develop our skills. We’ve also done Mobile Solutions, Kingpin University, Sonus Training with Micah Williams and some elettromedia trainings, to name a few. If there’s a training available and we can fly or drive to it, we’re there.”

Building Bonds In order for his brand to gain traction, Landau gradually added elements that both represented the theme of his shop

A vehicle is always on display to potential customers when they walk in, but it is different from most one might encounter as each displayed vehicle belongs to a current client. (high-end audio) and offered something no one else offered in his city. “We started a loaner fleet. Our loaners have toys in them. We allow customers to take them while their vehicles are being serviced. It makes it very easy on them when they need to go somewhere and have to leave their vehicle. All we do is throw gas in the tank; it’s complementary,” Landau said. “We have five loner cars. That practice started about six years ago.” The loaner fleet consists of two Toyota Camrys, two Toyota Siennas, one Acura RL, and as a back-up, one Honda Prelude. The shop has added one or two per year until reaching its current number. “As we add them it takes the pressure off the bay. If we need a little more time to wrap up a car properly we can do so without inconveniencing the client,” Landau said. “We recently had a Porsche build that took a month from start to finish. It would have been a huge cost to the client for a rental. During that time, the client has access to touch screen navigation and

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real world retail

Left to Right: Rob Miller, director of operations, and Joshua Landau, owner of JML Audio. a back-up camera, and is dealing with toys they may not have in their own car. The big investment in insurance and maintenance is worth it. That program probably won’t work for a large portion of this industry. I don’t think this is a universal solution for everyone. High-end clients are used to that level of service.” In shaping his company, Landau had a pre-made template to help guide his ideas: he comes from a family of entrepreneurs. “My father and grandfather had a retail clothing business and my brother just started a shared space. I come from a very entrepreneurial family. They have clients that respond to great service.” With his family background and a Bachelor of Science degree in business with a marketing emphasis, Landau went into business with a specific goal and the knowledge to execute it. Any information he didn’t have when he started was acquired along the way at trainings. If one needs evidence of his vision in action, they need only visit the company website. “Branding ourselves is our strongest attribute. Our website has tens of thousands of build pictures. It has as many Porsches as Chevys on it,” he said. “We use it as a portfolio to show clients what we’ve done. We believe in really taking care of our clients so they will come back and provide us with future referrals. We work with local car clubs, car shows that we sponsor and we do charity car shows to get exposure. You can have the best fabricators and best technicians in the world, but if no one ever knows about you they won’t know you exist.”

Setup and testing stations each have individual equipment to ensure installs aren’t delayed due to lack of tooling.

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A Personal Touch To win over its high-end base, JML has had to earn trust from its clients. Like all good relationships, trust is built from each party learning the maximum amount from the other. To do that,


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JML AUDIO OF ST. LOUIS FAST FACTS WEBSITE: www.jmlaudio.com

FEATURED STORE JML Audio of St. Louis has one store located at 519 Rudder Road, Suite A, Fenton, Mo., 63026. The store is located in an industrial park, about 15 minutes from the famed St. Louis gateway arch. Average drive-by traffic is minimal, with the bulk of business coming from online and word-of-mouth. The facility is of a boutique design with 3,890 total square feet of space at its disposal. The showroom uses 1,000 square feet of the total space. Installation facilities include a main bay and two fabrication rooms. Staff includes three full-time installers/sales for all electronics and fabrications, along with three more for pain protection, window treatments and vehicle detailing. ­‑ EMPLOYEES ‑ Owner/System Design Consultant: Joshua Landau Director of Operations: Rob Miller

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real world retail JML begins each client relationship with a personal consultation, which is scheduled in advance to allow the proper amount of time for each visit. “During consultation, the vehicle will be with them so we can obtain all information from the vehicle and have a conversation to see what it is lacking and what they’re looking to improve on it,” Landau said. “We then make a list of what we’re going to achieve together, then we go inside and take them through the service bay and fabrication rooms. We show them what other enhancements are happening on different vehicles so they can see our process and what we do to cars as opposed to just speaking about it in generality.” As part of the process, Landau makes sure all clients are properly greeted, regardless of who they are, to ensure consistency and to establish trust. This is even more critical given the lack of this at so many other businesses both in the area and around the country. “We always smile, shake their hand, get their name and call them by their name. If you’re not doing those things you’re missing the boat to start,” he emphasized. “There have been so many times that I’ve gone into a place, they haven’t asked what my name is and expect that I’m going to spend a couple thousand bucks despite them not knowing my name. That really frustrates me. To me, [the client] is a peer now, part of our community.” Each visit to the bay lasts around 20 minutes, depending on the number of questions asked by the client. To protect clients’ identities, vehicle license plates are masked, hiding license plate numbers. The area is kept pristine to maintain a professional look and feel, much like an artist keeps their studio.

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“We almost always have a vehicle up front as a completed example of what we’ve done. It’s always a client’s car up front,” Landau said. “The clients all know and approve of their cars being used as demonstration vehicles. They trust us completely. I’ve been the best man in a client’s wedding. Our clients are our family; we get that close with them.” In the showroom, potential clients are allowed to sit inside current client vehicles under supervision from an employee, usually Landau himself. “Instead of a having an over-the-top demo car we built for ourselves to show off, we prefer to use one of our client’s cars, which adds a whole lot more value.” The shop requires all employees, both part-time and full-time, to be uniformed, wearing the same embroidered shirts and khaki pants. There is no differentiation between department garb, as sales and installation wear the same uniform to better connect them as a team.

Project: Dedication When work comes in, the shop dedicates itself to executing that project in an allotted amount of time and notifying the client of the time needed. Once work begins, the facility does what’s needed to get the job done by the deadline, even working overtime. Sometimes, more than one person is needed on a job to hit the mark. Due to the shape of the bay, projects are layered by difficulty to help get cars in and out faster due to the limited bay doors. “The bay is set up like an L shape with longer term projects in the front and short-term projects in the back near the


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real world retail

» The Gift of Giving

“Two years ago we went to the annual holiday event for the BMW club that we sponsor. We donated a number of gift cards. Some of those gift cards brought in some clients who didn’t just spend gift cards. They came in and spent beyond the gift card. That was surprising because we’ve done that with the same group in the past. That happens, where gift cards have turned into a lot more than what they were.”

Mail Malfunction

“We once tried a mail campaign using a neighborhood type of mailer sent to some country club estates on a golf course with 500-800 houses on the list. They had a once-a-month publication talking about various services and neighborhood events. “We advertised for six to eight months, with a one-page story we’d write and an ad next to it. The column would talk about new technology like Bluetooth and back-up camera safety. The goal was to expose an affluent demographic that maybe didn’t know we exist. A lot of time and effort went into it, but it was an absolute waste. We ask all of our clients where they heard about us. It just didn’t work. The total cost, including the ads and writing, was about $2,000.”

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exit. There are no dedicated doors; we don’t want to shuffle long term projects around,” he said. “We’re a family. I’ve worked with Rob for almost ten years. We’re not flipping through people every six months.” Due to the level of training required to work on such expensive vehicles, Landau does a great deal of research to find employees that are just the right fit for the shop. To maintain a healthy morale in the shop, all employees are salary, with bonuses based on overall performance. “I’ve asked the guys various times about their pay preference. They like the consistency of knowing what’s coming in rather than guessing,” Landau said. “You could have a rockin’ month but some others not as much. Some fabricators love commission, some don’t. When you motivate someone to be faster by paying more, you emphasize cutting corners. Our perspective as a company is that we don’t want to give someone monetary motivation to rush through a job. We see that all too often with other shops. When those shops make that mistake, we sometimes have the unfortunate task of fixing their mess.” Duties in the bay are generally shared across the board, with all staff working on anything that comes in. Specialties are adhered to for some builds, however. “I do a lot of router technologies, acrylic or plastic, fiberglass molding. Rob does a majority of steel production, and wiring as well. He also helps me on the sales floor, does a lot of shipping and receiving, paperwork and office tasks,” Landau said. The facility features two dedicated fabrication rooms, which are isolated from the install bay. Each work station features carpet-wrapped steel racks to hold parts during installations and independent power supplies to charge and stabilize each vehicle during service. The usual mix of tools and oscilloscopes are present at each station, with jigsaws visibly absent. The goal of the tools and installation process as a whole is to present precision and efficiency which maintains the shop’s theme to clients.

“There’s no guesswork in the end result. There is consistency in the bay,” Landau said. Each vehicle is protected during the install with floor covers, seat covers, steering wheel covers and interior/exterior body panels being masked to protect from traditional contact. Every car also has a service tag in the doorjambs with the company logo displayed. “When it goes to the dealer or service shop, they know what electronics work we did. If someone else goes in after us and does some hacky work, we will remove the tags on the car. It’s a brag tag to show we did work on that,” Landau said proudly. “We have thousands of cars with our little tag on them. People cannot buy them from us. It’s used to show the work is ours so dealerships can see who did the work and contact us if they have any questions.” Customers who visit the website are able to see JML’s Setup and Testing Stations (STS), to get an idea of all equipment used to work on the vehicles. This helps put clients at ease so they know all stations have the same equipment and nothing is left out of place. “We have more tooling than most dealerships have. They send us cars they can’t figure out. They could have factory stereos with factory amps in them and they send them to us to figure out,” he said. “One thing to understand is we rarely do dealership work directly. They do send us client referrals all the time, but we’re definitely not the cheap one to just slam it in the next day; they understand that. The majority of our clients are everyday individuals.” After jobs are completed, follow-up calls are made with clients in order to answer any questions that may have arisen since the install. “If we call them before they call us, before having an issue, that means the world to them. We’re still calling you because we care. Service continues after the vehicle is picked up. We will resolve any issues, questions or concerns quickly,” Landau said. “We also offer a blanket warranty on all our products and services—no matter what the problem is. We feel our level of


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Double The Fun “If we call them before they call us, before having an issue, that means the world to them. We’re still calling you because we care. Service begins after the sale, not just because we need your money. We will resolve any issues for no extra charge,” Landau said. componentry and service should last far beyond that. The company may absorb some of the cost but that client knows we take care of them long term. Our philosophy is we don’t nickel and dime our clients because they don’t nickel and dime us. We treat them the way they want to be treated.”

The Last Word Since the discoveries of fire, mankind has been striving to channel that power to improve its position in the world. The same can be said for a 12-volt retailer. Once a store opens, it must work to channel its knowledge into the greater good to build its brand and better its community in order to both survive and thrive in increasingly hostile markets. That said, achievements in such conditions should be celebrated, no matter how small. “It seems trivial, but adding to our fleet is important to me because it means we’re growing. We’re currently looking to expand and add more space to our current facility,” Landau said. “Another achievement this year was hosting the largest client dinner we’ve ever had. It’s an invitation-only private event we do every year for some of our larger project clients.” Each year, select clients are chosen, to be taken out to a steak dinner to thank

them for their high level of support to the facility. After dinner, an after-hours party takes place at the shop to show off some of the hot new builds, while chatting up the guests over coffee and dessert. “We have half the restaurant when we do it. It’s a big expense, but it’s a way to build a family atmosphere,” Landau said. For a shop that calls itself a “worldclass vehicle enhancement center,” it’s hard to imagine how much more can be achieved in the near future, but Landau is confident that more is always possible as long as the company’s brand philosophy is maintained. “We make the client the priority. It’s not just a car with a box of stuff we are selling them. My father and grandfather taught me many years ago be sure to take care of people and they will take care of you.” 

“Our key vendors are Dynaudio from Denmark, which we’ve been with for nine or 10 years, and Hertz-Audison (elettromedia), for over six years. “Dynaudio’s Esotar product lines (speakers and subs) and the Hertz-Audison Voce and Thesis speakers and amplifiers are our bestsellers for each company. We’ve also done a lot of the new Mille Legend Hertz speakers and subs. Customers like the overall experience and sound quality they provide. If you hear it in a car and are wowed by it, that’s what you’ll want in your next car. “We’re most looking forward to seeing Audison’s redesigned Thesis line to replace the old one they had. There’s also a Prima speaker line in the works with European cars. “Dynaudio has been very good with product support, having items in stock, attainable margins and product consistency; we know what to expect from the product. Elettromedia has provided lots of quality trainings. They do a four to five hour training at KnowledgeFest in Dallas. They’re good in terms of shipping product in a timely manner and provides a lot of different models, sizes and shapes.”

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 behind the scenes

Alpine’s New Style

As one of the hottest brands in mobile audio, Alpine has maintained its reputation with cutting-edge product and a finger on the pulse of the needs of its dealers.

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here’s no disputing Alpine’s status as a powerhouse in the industry. One of the more memorable names in retail shops across the country, the company’s willingness to take an introspective look at the way they do business on a regular basis keeps its approach fresh. Its leadership is open to new ideas. The past year has marked changes in Tokyo and Torrance. Those changes culminate in a large part to a single word Alpine hopes its dealers and customers alike will become intimately familiar with: Restyle. The Restyle concept centers around a bevy of 8-inch and 9-inch navigation receivers Alpine has made mainly for the truck and SUV market. Working with vehicles from Toyota, Ford, Dodge, Jeep and more, most of the kits available are designed to work the factory telematics and steering wheel controls. All but one of the 9-inch kits also have custom trim bezels and the proper factory Molex connections standard.

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The Restyle concept involves selling some of the most expensive head units in car stereo history. The company is keenly aware that in this, the age of the $99 radio, a paradigm shift requires a new way of thinking about connectivity, married with an old-school approach to selling.

The Big Question How do they intend to burn a single word into the frontal lobes of every retailer in Alpine’s arsenal? That process is nothing short of groundbreaking, but for the truly vital details, you have to get to know a guy named Big Al. Steve Brown is arguably one of the most public names in the 12-volt industry. His installs have graced the pages of countless websites, magazines and posters for the past several decades, much of which has been the face of Alpine’s Marketing department. He’s also a convincing actor, and yes—he’s Big Al. “The purpose behind the Big Al videos was, “Let’s show

them. We set up a mock store and we filmed it.” The seven-episode series is an attempt to show Alpine’s recommended sales techniques for selling the Restyle gear. Set up in a mock store Alpine created in its Torrance, Calif. headquarters, each video starts with a customer walking in with a different type of truck, followed by techniques salespeople can use to sell a 9-inch Restyle head unit. During the process of building these videos, Alpine attempted to emphasize the importance of taking interest in the customer and its lifestyle. “Once you key in on those things,” Brown said, “it allows you to understand why they would be interested in a premium system and what types of features and benefits you can show that customer. You need to be able to show how our system makes things easier to use in the truck.“ Alpine also has plans to offer incentives to sales staff, rewarding them for watching the videos.


To help promote its latest product line, “Restyle,” Alpine has created its first product commercial, seen here during its filming.

Market Shift One motivating factor in creating Restyle is Alpine’s belief that the market is shifting toward trucks. Brown explained Alpine’s logic. “These guys spend $30,000 on their F-150, and the first thing they want to do is upgrade their truck. It’s just part of their thought process. They’re towing a boat, a Harley, or an ATV. They’re doing all of that with that truck. It supports the lifestyle. It also gets people excited about car audio, it gets them excited about the store and about the Alpine brand, but no one is going to buy a head unit like this unaided.” Alpine’s marketing efforts don’t stop on the set of Big Al’s fictitious shop. Other initiatives include highlighting retailer and consumer based submissions of Restyle installations, shown on the front of the Alpine website. Additionally, a newsletter is regularly published for retailers to learn more about the experiences and sales techniques the company wants to highlight. Mike Anderson, Alpine’s Assistant VP of Sales, expanded on the training aspect of the Restyle equation. “It used to be that trainings were about getting in front of a crowd of people and going over the entire product line. Now it’s about explaining the ‘why’ behind Restyle.” The goal behind the change in training technique is a first step in convincing the

retail sales force of Restyle’s value. The next step in the training is to identify a prospective customer. “If you tie that together them,” Anderson said, “They have a deeper understanding of what we’re trying to accomplish.” Steve Crawford is the Vice President of Aftermarket Business at Alpine. Crawford noted the importance of concentrating on a lifestyle-centric approach to engineering products. “We don’t want to be a cookie-cutter company,” Crawford said.

trying to gain market share in more of a universal type product approach. The majority of 2014 was spent retraining our sales people in the field. The lessons we’ve learned is that premium selling is not a given.”

An Education The Restyle campaign is nearing its anniversary, and that educational process is ongoing. In the meantime, the number of Restyle products has increased to nine

“Once you key in on those things, it allows you to understand why they would be interested in a premium system and what types of features and benefits you can show that customer.” - Steve Brown, Head of Marketing, Alpine Electronics “We want to be something unique.” The uniqueness Crawford referred to is an opportunity to offer something new to the industry. The other side of that coin is the anticipated learning curve associated with selling a premium product that can exceed $3,000 before installation. “We spent much of the 2013 calendar year internally on how we have to change. We restructured, and a lot of us were in the old style business model

head units, and the number of available Restyle dash kits (meant for the 8-inch navigation head units) has grown to nearly twenty customized kits. Anderson explained that the initial reaction at CES was, “Wow, that’s really cool. At the same time, some retailers were a little bit puzzled.” Anderson attributes the confusion to the initial coverage of the Restyle product line, and the stark difference between

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 behind the scenes

The Alpine Electronics headquarters, located in Torrance, Calif.

what Alpine was offering at the show and the rest of the 12-volt head unit manufacturers. Achieving buy-in from the shop owners and retail sales staff involves recognizing the nature of the product itself, which by Alpine’s own description is a premium product with a highly specific clientele. “The two products covered about 15 percent of the marketplace,” Andersen said. “The systems we’re introducing this year, we cover about 95 percent of the marketplace.” The VP believes this will be a year of “significant growth” with increase in exposure of Restyle to the retail world. The evolution of Alpine’s product line is supported by research and feedback from sources at both the consumer and retailer levels. Utilizing initiatives like VOC (Voice of Consumer) and others, Alpine gathers data from unexpected resources like tech support calls, customer service calls and even social media like Facebook. Aggregating data from resources has helped the company get a blueprint of public opinion, which plays a role in several business functions. “Facebook is a perfect example,” Anderson said. “We will announce that a product is coming and we’ll get anywhere between 100 and 200 comments. In the past, we would just let those lay there, but now we have a team of people who reach out to them. It creates a contact and a lead that we can direct to a retailer in their area. Our regional sales managers know about this lead, and track it. We can figure out why they did or didn’t buy it. We’ve gotten to a very granular level, and every customer counts.”

Brand Protection

Part of keeping up its product quality means having quality tech support to answer questions from retailers as needed

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As well as social media outlets, the customer service and tech support departments are also potential resources for dealer referrals as well as research data. In addition to its highly touted Restyle efforts, Alpine’s e-commerce presence is a closely monitored entity. As with many 12-volt manufacturers that sell online, Alpine uses a Minimum Advertised Price policy (MAP) which they watch closely for compliance.


Like many other major manufacturers, Alpine uses an outside contractor to anonymously purchase items from companies that violate MAP policy. Once the illicit gear is received, the serial numbers are traced, and the original sellers of the gear are contacted.
To encourage consumers to buy from authorized online dealers (and clarify the consequences of not doing so), Alpine has a page on its website

dedicated to explaining the steps the company takes to ensure a customer has a completely authorized product. The page offers a link to a list of authorized dealers, both brick-and-mortar (searchable by zip code or city/state) and a separate list of authorized online dealers. Currently there are ten authorized online retailers in the country. Among those, only Crutchfield is listed as “preferred.” Steve Brown believes the efforts to police the Internet serve to ensure more than price predictability. The enforcement of MAP policies also brings a sense of confidence to the retail floor. “I challenge guys in our trainings to take out its

cell phones and try to find the radios for less. It’s very rare that they can do it. We want to protect the product. We want to protect the brand. We want to protect the price point for our specialists.”

The Dealer Mandate

are among a few of the perks a participating shop can reap. Lake Havasu City, Ariz. houses Cartoyz, an Alpine Flagship dealer. Brent Kollars owns the shop, and has been carrying Alpine gear for nearly a decade. “It’s all about buying confidence,” Kollars said. “You’re going to retain customers by price or service. If we take care of them, they’re going to come back to us because of the service.” The Cartoyz owner believes the advantages Flagship status offers allows the company to deliver confidence by adding a level of service other shops can’t. “I get product fast, and first. It helps us service the customer easier. If there’s an issue with repair, Alpine drops what they’re doing and helps. If a nav unit freezes, for example, Alpine just tells me to replace the unit on the spot. No waiting.” Alpine’s changes—both in its marketing and product-wise—have been a significant push to not only to raise the awareness of the brand, but in effect, change how retailers think about head unit integration in certain vehicles. However, its work to expand the definition (and price point) of a premium deck install is only part of the takeaway Restyle and the Flagship program offer.

When it comes to choosing who becomes an Alpine dealer, Anderson assesses candidates on much more than its bottom line. “First of all, you look at the principal of the business. What does he stand for? What is his standing in the community as a retailer? Can he sell a premium good? Then you look at the sales staff. Are they capable of selling premium product? How do they go to market? What does their store look like and how skilled is their install staff? Who can tell a premium story, and sell a premium product. We’ve always tried to go for the ‘A’ dealer in town. We want people who can delight their customers.” While upper echelon status is not unheard of in the industry, the title is often associated with higher volume stores. Not necessarily so here. To help the retailers, Alpine created the Flagship program in 2011. The goal behind the Flagship program was to increase the marketing capabilities of shops that Alpine recognized as superior. “Fewer and fewer independent specialists “It used to be that trainings were about in the marketgetting in front of a crowd of people and place don’t have the capability of going over the entire product line. Now it’s outreach and marabout explaining the ‘why’ behind Restyle.” keting, but they - Mike Andersen, Assistant Vice President of give the best cusSales, Alpine Electronics tomer experience,” Anderson said. “One of the reasons Flagship was created was to reward the best consumer expeThe investment Alpine has commitrience. We felt they were equally good ted to in terms of training, marketing as those higher budget dealers but they communications and even the filming didn’t have a voice. We want to help them of a new TV ad all points to a high level get that voice.” of support the company is offering its Alpine bestows the honor to “white dealers—both directly and indirectly. The glove” dealerships, and it pays dividends. effort is the reward, one which Alpine More liberal payment terms, no master is sincerely hoping its dealers choose to pack requirement, and a longer warranty take advantage of. 

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 installs

The Sly Fox SUBMITTED BY KYLE GOLDEN, SUNDOWN ONE, SPRINGFIELD, ILL.

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urrent Top 12 installer Kyle Golden was tasked with helping out a family member by dyeing and re-installing an interior for a 1989 Fox Body Mustang after restoration and installing a small system in the hatch area. “The interior came in the bed of a truck, in a nasty red color, so I knew there was going to be a lengthy process of prepping and dying each piece, as well as putting it all back together—not knowing how it came apart. That was probably the hardest part,” Golden said. “I started with the door panels. I really wanted to go for the look of the newer Mustang doors with LED back lighting. I also wanted to somewhat keep the shape of the old insert on the main part of the panel.” The armrest was constructed out of stacked MDF and a router. The rear area was designed to have a curved look. The same theme of vinyl ran throughout the section, as well as the blue carbon Kevlar. The enclosures were made of fiberglass, with a panel made of wood ribs and fiberglass overlaid on top of it. Finally, a two-piece insert was placed on top made 100 percent of composite. Parts used included two Alpine SWT-10s4 subwoofers, one Alpine MRV M500, Alpine Type-S speakers and one Alpine head unit.

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 installs

All Bass, No Sacrifice SUBMITTED BY JOE CASSITY AND JAMES DRINKUT, TUNES N TINT, LAKELAND, FLA.

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client brought in this 2015 Dodge Ram to achieve big bass without having to cut through the bed or lose the back seat. It required modifying the rear seat brackets to acquire the needed depth for the subs and the ports that ran up the rear cab wall behind the rear seat. Installer James Drinkut layered MDF frames to form separate chambers for the subs that also accommodated the ports.

The top baffle was wrapped in vinyl and had dimension that flushed in the face of the subs. It also had embossed logos for JL and

Tunes-N-Tint. The bottom half of the enclosure was a fiberglass tub that formed to the factory under seat cubbies. When the seat was in its down position the enclosure was not noticed. The amp was mounted behind the rear seat. The customer wanted to see as little as possible, more of a factory look with amazing output. The subs are powered by a JL slash series 1200/1 wired as a 2 ohm load. The team also installed the Kenwood DDX492 as the source unit and JL C2-650 components in front and C2-650x coaxial in the rear factory locations. Front and rear locations were treated with Hushmat and FAST rings were used between the speaker and door panel to achieve the best sound possible. These were powered by a customer supplied amp. Unsure of the brand on that one, the customer is coming back in to swap it with a JL when he can.

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  55 www.InstallerNet.com • me-mag.com 800-444-1644


µ guest editorial

It’s July! Celebrate America’s Independence by Shopping with the Local Independent! During the month of July, we celebrate being Americans and our hard-earned independence. This is also the time of year to remind your community to shop with you, the local independent mobile electronics dealer. For reasons that we all know too well, the unrelenting emphasis on price—above all other values and services—has encouraged many people to overlook the value, experience and benefits of shopping with small local businesses. Consider this: you have made a significant investment in your local community. You are paying rent in order to have a facility that delivers excellent products and installation services. You pay taxes that help support local schools, civil services and the community. Shopping with local business reduces the civic tax burden on everyone. You, as a business owner, can have a profound effect on local and state politics. According to Civic Economics, research shows that one dollar spent locally returns more than three times the money to your local economy than the same dollar spent at a chain store. On average, 48 percent of each purchase at local independent businesses is recirculated locally, compared to less than 14 percent of purchases at chain stores. Additionally, a consumer buying remotely on the web creates almost no local benefit—just a few minutes' work for a delivery person. Buying locally and operating a business locally is giving back to the community. As a local independent business, you should be letting existing and potential customers understand the implications and benefits of buying from your independent company. As an example, many restaurants are now using the “local “theme to their advantage. Restaurants now promote local food initiatives that endorse sustainable and organic farming practices to drum up business and retain loyalty. This is a bandwagon that the mobile electronics industry should jump on! We recommend that you use the month of July to remind your customers and prospects of the enormous benefits of shopping from a local business. Some suggestions that may strike a chord within your community are listed below:

4)

5)

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that provide driving enjoyment, safety benefits and that are easy to use. 2) We pride ourselves in hiring and training the very best installers in our community. Our installation team consists of full-time employees who consider their jobs to be professional careers, as well as gratifying. 3) We are members of the Mobile Electronics group! Mobile Electronics is a national association dedicated to growing and supporting the mobile electronics industry. They partner with industry professionals, service providers, marketing solutions, and most importantly provide educational and networking resources that keep us informed, reinforce our professionalism and bolster our industry expertise. We don’t carry every brand: just the right brands. Our carefully chosen, state-of-the-art components and solutions are guaranteed to work together seamlessly. Each product we sell must meet our high standards of quality, value and high performance. We provide products that can give you goose bumps and provide necessary safety benefits to your driving experience. We invest in our sales consultants and installers by providing the training and education they require to keep on top of mobile electronics technology and to best serve your needs. Professionalism and continuing education are cornerstones of our business. Our services begin with an in-depth consultation to ensure your expectations, budget requirements and needs are met from start to finish. Our kids go to school with your kids! We live and work in this community. When you buy from us, you are supporting a local, independently owned business—not corporate shareholders in cities and states far, far away. We are people doing business with people. We want you to be so delighted with our products and services that you will confidently recommend us to your family, friends and co-workers.

Why Buy From The Local Independent? 1) We are the experts! Our professional and friendly staff stays up-to-date with all of the latest mobile electronics technologies, integration and installation solutions, so you don’t have to. We will design and install products for you

56  Mobile Electronics  July 2015

The multiplier effect created by spending locally generates lasting impact on the prosperity of local residents and the community. The 4th of July holiday is a great time to get that message out in the community. Consumers need to hear, loud and clear, about the impact of shopping locally. 


NOW SHIPPING!

WHAT DASH KIT?

Introducing the K150 2DIN radio installation kit specially designed for 20132014 Ford F-150 trucks with 4.3-inch ‘My Ford’ radios*. With its factory grade finish and additional USB, HDMI and 3.5 mm ports in a convenient storage pocket, you’ll find it hard to believe it’s not original! Plus enjoy exclusive gauges, vehicle info and climate control screens with iDatalink-compatible radios. For more information on the K150 installation kit and other iDatalink Maestro solutions, visit www.idatalinkmaestro.com.

*Maestro RR required and sold separately.

me-mag.com   57


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Mobile Electronics July 2015  

Mobile Electronics magazine July 2015