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Senior Editor Farewell Blog: Goodbye, 12-volt Industry

"Find a need and fill it." Ever since I first heard this profound statement, which was spoken by 12-volt sales guru Del Ellis at my first KnowledgeFest, I found that it was also representative of the industry I'd soon come to adore.

When I was first hired by Mobile Electronics magazine I was a daisy-fresh rookie with a journalism degree who didn't know a double-DIN from a DSP. Although I'm still no expert on the technical side of 12-volt, what I have gained a strong grasp of is how the industry works. That's also what intrigues me the most about it.

In my first year, here's what I learned: car audio isn't just putting a deck and four's in a car but an entire industry filled with music lovers who also love cars. The products are vast and complicated. Installing those products takes great skill and expertise that is acquired through countless hours of trial and error, through which most are done for no money and could potentially ruin a vehicle's electrical system if done incorrectly.

My second year consisted of me basically trying to make sense of the whirlwind of things I'd learned in my first. I developed my writing, streamlined my management processes for assigning stories and kept in touch with industry representatives that would come in handy for different stories throughout the year. Mainly, I gobbled up the topic that the industry was all about: passion.

I also went from working in an office to work from home. I struggled to stay focused when the TV and video game console were a few feet away, then remembered Luke Fidler, a solo retailer who was able to stay focused despite not having a team around to motivate him. His motivation was to be passionate about the thing he was doing and keep getting better every day so his customers would notice. I didn't have customers, but what I did have was you. So I focused on doing a better job. I wrote what I felt were more engaging articles focused on the people of the industry. I listened to comments from people all around the industry, from young first-year installers to 30-year veterans. Jason Kranitz called me out when I got a company detail wrong. John Schwartz nailed me for incorrectly writing his store's name more than once (sorry about that, John). But through it all, I learned both how to be better at my job and how to be a better professional.

The fourth year was about not letting stagnation set in and staying motivated despite feeling like I'd accomplished all the goals I'd set out from previous years. So I worked on finding new ones, listened to the industry and worked to be better at things I wasn't so good at before, like product names, how a DSP works and what the future landscape of 12-volt might look like based on today's latest tech innovations. Thinking about how the outside world will continually impact 12-volt, I remembered Josh, Jeremiah and Jared Mojica of GNC Customs, a family retail operation who took a store that sold furniture and jewelry and transformed it into a powerhouse in the industry. They saw the same thing I see in the world: everything is relative.

During my tenure with the magazine I met top industry gurus like Bryan Schmitt, Del Ellis and Marcel Newell. I had fun-filled, engaging conversations with manufacturer execs like Nalaka Adikari of Orca (still waiting on those NFL tickets), Chris Kane of AudioControl (Teddy K!) and Steve Witt of American Road Products (we'll do lunch soon). 12-volt techs like Matt Schaeffer, JT Torres, Tom Miller and Chris Pate showed me the value of hard work and how you can reach your dreams by constantly being better than yesterday.

Being a judge for the Industry Awards was also an experience I'll never forget. I was asked to review videos from people I'd never met and make judgments on things I barely had any knowledge about. But thanks to the information I got from Solomon [Daniels], Chris [Cook] and the rest of the industry, it became easier to know what to look for and who ultimately deserved my vote for the top honors. I honestly believe that everyone who won deserved to win during the time I was judging the awards. I hope everyone felt the same way.

As a musician and music lover, I immediately recognized the connecting threads that I shared with all of you in 12-volt. I'm extremely grateful to have been able to take part and learn from you all and am humbled by the dedication, work ethic and passion you all continue to have despite the long hours away from family, stressful changes in the marketplace and complex nature of the job that no doubt drains each of you in ways I could never imagine.

Goodbye, 12-volt industry. Keep innovating and stay in touch. 

Last modified on Monday, 08 January 2018 11:06
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