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6-12-2017, Mobile Electronics Magazine -- The human voice registers at 25 to 35 decibels. Anything higher than 130 dB and you hit the pain threshold. Go to a rock concert and you’re in for about 125 dB. Fireworks or a space shuttle launch—even when you’re a few miles away—deliver almost off-the-charts sound. More obscure, but unbelievably powerful, is the low-frequency rumble of a blue whale at over 185 dB.

Now imagine a vehicle with pressure-sealed doors, a shatter-proof windshield, and booming bass—amps and subs packed to the max inside—and you’ve just entered the world of sound pressure league competitors. 

Auto sound competition, or what some might even consider a car audio art form, has been around for quite some time. The original governing body back in 1988 was called the National Autosound Challenge Association (NACA), but the name didn’t cover its scope as more people got involved.

“After a few Canadian distributors and dealers saw the value in what it was doing for the industry and came on board, they changed the name to IASCA (International Auto Sound Challenge Association) in 1989, said Moe Sabourin, director of operations for IASCA Worldwide. “IASCA’s main purpose was, and still is, to be a tool for retailers to promote the car audio industry to the general public and to gain exposure and credibility for the industry as a whole.”

Sabourin has been in the industry since 1978—as a shop owner from 1998 to 2004, as an IASCA competitor from 1994 to 2005 (not to mention a former IASCA world champion), and now as general manager of Soundcrafters in Daytona Beach, Fla. He has also used the IASCA rules on the sales floor to gain credibility with his clients.

“It was a successful program that helped increase sales at my shop exponentially in the first three years of its existence,” Sabourin said. “I have been, and continue to be, a firm believer that the program works when used. Much like an installer and his tool box, a shop is the tool box and the IASCA rule book is a tool in the tool box, and a tool only works when the installer uses it. If the program is used, it works.”

Sabourin, who was recently at an IASCA judges training at Soundscape Car Audio in Dallas, said one of the hottest topics of discussion among attendees was exactly this—going over the IASCA rulebook and how it can help build credibility with customers. “Our retail memberships have a full package that gives basic sales techniques and offers tools that dealers can use within their showrooms to increase sales and increase profits,” Sabourin said. “We spent a good three hours just talking about that.”

Presently, there are about 150 IASCA events a year. “Promoters all across the country host events at local levels in their specific areas,” Sabourin said. “For dealers, it brings them exposure and creates excitement, but the main goal for a retailer is to use the IASCA name and tools on the sales floor to generate credibility, enhance their reputation, and promote their quality of work.”

IASCA, as many mistakenly assume, is not just a competition organization. “We are an organization designed for the betterment of the industry and to get some exposure to the consumer and to the public,” Sabourin said. “We do that through sanctioned events, local level events, and through the dealers as more of a tune-up clinic. Consumers can bring their vehicles into the retailer, and then show them off to the public. It allows people to see that we’ve been educated in the proper installation techniques and that we’re here to move into the 21st century with new technologies as well.”

The organization also issues its well-known IASCA Sound Quality Reference CD, which for the first time, is a two-disc set. Disc one is the evaluation CD and contains 32 new technical tracks and snippets of musical tracks for judging car audio systems. Disc two is the entertainment CD; it contains the full-length version of the musical tracks used on the evaluation CD for the listener’s enjoyment. The musical tracks were carefully chosen for their ability to clearly define the sound quality of the system it plays on. 


Read the rest of the story HERE.

6-21-2017, Mobile Electronics Magazine -- Marketing techniques are not one-size-fits-all. How a business approaches marketing and customer retention varies depending on a lot of factors, including demographics, location and niche. When it comes to customer retention through email, business owners must find a good balance in order to avoid alienating customers by sending too many emails. To make email marketing effective, a strategy has to be implemented that takes into account subject lines, content and graphics that emotionally engage the consumer.

Jon Dewar owns Modern Media Geeks, a company based out of Kingsland, Ga. to help businesses with online marketing. Dewar has worked with businesses in a number of industries and acknowledged the difficulty of finding the right approach.

“It’s a massive deal. Email marketing as a whole is not a strong sector. Any good email marketer will tell you, you want the email to be sent at five or six in the morning so it’s at the top of the inbox,” Dewar said, noting that most people turn off their alarm in the morning and then pick up their phone. “It’s a fighting chance you’ll be opened instead of swiped.” Use engaging graphics that spark an emotion, Dewar said, and choose a catchy title. “Constant Contact, Mail Chimp, Wix has one—any of those are fantastic,” he said, naming a few providers that help create attractive emails. These providers also offer templates that make it easier to design an email that’s both eye-catching and informative.

Client Connections

The first and most common method of collecting email addresses is at the point of sale. Dewar recommended that an email address always be gathered when the sale is made. “We have to register you for the warranty. What email would you like to use?” Dewar said. “You’re not imposing on them, but you have that information now. Build your list if you need to reach out to them for any reason.”

An opt-in feature on a business’s website can also help gather email addresses if the business provides a newsletter. However, there are some key factors to remember: never send so many emails that you’re spamming customers, send email only when necessary and always provide quality content. Don’t rely solely on electronic means to make a personal connection with your customers.

Not everything can be done through email. Kimberly Trainer, president of Car-Tunes, Inc. in Greenville, Miss., believes that a personal connection will help to keep a business top-of-mind. “Our customer is our best advertisement,” she said. “When a customer comes in, I can talk about anything—the weather, their car, their kids. Whatever. That may not have anything to do with what they came in for. When you connect, they keep coming back. That’s something you can’t really do through an email.” A downside to email marketing is relying on it too much: Don’t miss out on making the personal connection in-person.

Car-Tunes has been collecting email addresses for six to eight months, according to Trainer, but they have yet to implement email marketing tactics. “It’s a nice idea to use in addition to what we’re doing, but in today’s digital age, there’s something to be said for someone coming in and we take care of what they need,” she said. “You will be on their mind. They need that extra technical, professional environment. You can’t get that through a computer.”

Sean Davis, president of Tip Top Customs in Morris, Ill., noted that Tip Top has utilized more than one approach when it comes to email marketing campaigns. “In the past, we used Infusionsoft and Businessworx to handle our email marketing campaigns. Both programs were great at letting us choose how often we would send emails out to current customers.”

Davis added that a newsletter campaign is set up several months ahead of time and the emails are sent automatically. “This helps keep us consistent so we don’t have to try and find the time to do it every month,” he explained. “It also lets us set the amount of emails customers will receive each month so we know we are not bombarding them. I have found that one to two emails per month works well and keeps our opt-out numbers low.”

Read the rest of the piece HERE.

6-7-2017, Mobile Electronics Magazine -- Everyone lives by their own philosophy. Some believe that their own moral compass or religious beliefs should guide every decision. Others feel all that matters is ambition and getting ahead. Still others find a mixture between those two opposites to create their own belief system.

In the field of Philosophy, there are many concepts used to shape people's personal truths. One is the concept of Absolute Truth, which requires fixed, invariable, unalterable facts in order to be true. An example of this is that there are no square circles or round squares. It's either one or the other. Of course, some people might argue the opposite simply because for them, it might be true. Therefore, in a way, any given truth is left to the determination of the individual.

One thing that you can take to the bank as a certainty, however, is that Ata Ehdaivand, owner of Absolute Electronix in Rockville, Md. is unrelenting in how he does business—which is the main reason his store is so profitable. While there's no denying that the sound strategy of having a visible location just 200 feet from the town's main road is part of the shop's winning streak, Ehdaivand believes that individuality and an intolerance for foolishness from his staff may be a larger piece of the puzzle.

"I'm very direct. I just do things the way I want to. There's no rhyme or reason. My employees don't always understand it. I don't always think the way the status quo operates. That's just me in a nutshell," Ehdaivand said. "Everybody is part of the team. The only time I really need to get involved is when things get super bad. They know the marching orders."

With over 20 years of experience under his belt, Ehdaivand has had plenty of time to perfect his method of management, especially given how it took most of those years for him to scratch his itch and open his own store. Like many in the industry, the itch began for Ehdaivand as a teenager. 

"My parents bought me an old Camry with an AM/FM radio, but no tape player. The guy behind the counter didn't understand what a deck was. He was really rude. They put the radio in my car, did a bad job, I fixed the radio," he said. Finding he had a niche, Ehdaivand began working in the industry, working his way up to manager at medium-sized chain, Meyr-Emco. "When I do something I jump in head first. I'm kind of over the edge. If I'm gonna do something, I'm addicted to it," he said.

Despite making six figures in different positions throughout his career, Ehdaivand realized he needed something more to believe in and started Absolute Electronix out of his garage in 2011. The initial work focused solely on custom builds and installation work. But the work tumbled in enough for him to hire help and eventually find the need to open his own store.

"It just got to the point where on a Saturday, I would work from nine a.m. to eight p.m. and make more in one day than I made all week. It started the wheels in my head and made me go to the next step," he said. "A friend of mine worked at a tire place. Next to it, there was a bay that no one used. He said I had to take it."

After four years in that location, the building was sold, which forced the company to move to a location with twice the size. "That's when it started to go crazy. We did 40K a month at the old location. Then 60K a month in revenue at the new location. Eventually we just ran out of space," Ehdaivand said. "A management company approached me about a new facility that was right around the corner. We moved there and went from 60 to 80K a month when we hired Del Ellis. That was really when things started to go crazy. Where we were, there were mechanic shops. There were cars everywhere."

The new location had a dedicated wood working room already in place. The store was built at the break-neck pace of one week, thanks largely to the help of the shop's staff, according to Ehdaivand. Today, the store is more profitable than ever, set to hit its highest monthly revenue ever at around 90K. Ehdaivand attributes the profitability to his staff's work ethic, customer service and the discipline to effort for continuous improvement. 

"Our shop is traditional retail with a boutique edge. It's one of those deals where we have a lot of displays. We have speakers for $100 and $5,000 on display. We have something for everyone," he said. "The goal here is to make friends. The more friends you make, the more you'll be successful. It sounds cliché, but you really just want to take care of people. They pay the bills for my daughter's gym class. Whoever it is, they work hard for their money, we just have to be there for them." 

Read the rest of the story HERE.

6-27-2016, June Issue Tech Feature -- We have covered a number of technical and fabrication related topics so far in this series. Moving from the idea of fitting a subwoofer in a footwell space, we are now going to look at another stealth way to integrate audio equipment: the false floor. I have the privilege of working with a master of false floor building, Bing Xu. Rather than share with you the details of building a false floor that I have learned over the years from Bing, I thought I would have him share it directly. Bing does a masterful job of fitting equipment into the confined space of a spare tire well. He has a lot to share on the subject, so enjoy part one of this two-part article.


I still vividly remember my first ever experience with aftermarket car audio. It was the summer of 1995 and I—along with most of my friends—had just gotten my driver’s license and obtained my first vehicle. One day, a good buddy showed me a catalog. In it were all kinds of gadgets and doodads that I had never seen before. From speakers and subwoofers, to amplifiers and even—gasp! Compact Disc players! My friend proudly pointed out the various products he had ordered, and proclaimed that he was going to install it all himself and make his Nissan Pathfinder sound absolutely heroic. Of course, being a good friend, I naturally told him he was doing nothing but courting disaster. I told him that car audio installation is something that can only be achieved by professionals with years and years of experience, and it was more likely that he would transform his beloved SUV into a roman candle and I would be there to laugh at the ashes. Yet, a couple of weeks later, I found myself sitting in his car, rolling down the street and blasting Bruce Springsteen, no doubt annoying the entire neighborhood with our dual 12-inch Infinity Kappa subwoofers in a pre-fabricated ported enclosure. 

I was hooked instantly and started planning the system in my own vehicle—of course, one that would be a billion times more impressive than his. As I slowly saved up to accomplish my dream, I hung out with my friend a lot and paid attention to the advantages and disadvantages of his design. After a while, it quickly became apparent that by far the biggest hindrance his system caused was the gargantuan sub box eating up about half of his cargo space. Every time we wanted to put our mountain bikes in the back, he had to unplug the damn thing and leave it at home. We also had to be careful what we put in the car for fear of puncturing the woofer cone. After a while, I began to wonder about ways of having a full-blown system in a vehicle without compromising cargo space and daily usability.

Read the rest HERE. 

6-1-2017, Mobile Electronics Magazine -- As a 12-year-old, Jeremiah Mojica loved music. Like most kids his age, he was looking for something to become enamored with. He became a musician. As a bass player and guitarist, Mojica played everything from Hard Rock and Metal to Reggae. Soon enough, as he worked at his parents' retail store, GNC Customs in Goshen, Ind., he found he liked something even more: car audio.

"Our parents had a business in 2002 and we wanted to specialize in something. It was a hobby at first. We had the radio shop and I wanted a stereo in my car. I wanted something loud and cool," Mojica said. "I was a teenager at the time. It segued into us wanting to be a better shop and me being a better installer."

During an early install at the age of 14, Mojica, who had little experience up to this point, had just finished installing a system for a client when the man approached him with a request. "I didn't know what I was doing. When I was done, the guy asked if I could make it cleaner. From then on I realized that there's more. There's always been more," Mojica said. "The insecurity of it shows that I know I can be better. It's important to know that you can try and mess up but just start over and try to do something different again."

As a Top 50 Installer, Mojica has his chance to show the industry the results of that early mistake, which includes further education at an installation institute in Orlando, Fla., as well as an MECP certification. Beyond that, Mojica knew the value of continuous improvement, which allowed him to find his own voice as a fabricator.

"I like to have a plan before I go in. I do some sketches before I start and ask a client what they want to do with their vehicle. It doesn't make sense to do a crazy truck build if they're using it for groceries," Mojica said. "Every part of an install that I do is an extension of who I am. I'm meticulous but also very easy going. I love Metal music but also love Jack Johnson and Jason Mraz. I knew that when I was younger I wanted to be artistic and express myself in some way. That's why I started with music, so I can express myself. I didn't realize that being a fabricator does the same thing."

Read the rest of the story HERE.

6-29-2017, Mobile Electronics Magazine -- Connectivity is changing our Industry faster than we know. It’s time to get in front of it.


Looking toward the future and crystal ball aside, none of us can truly say we know what tomorrow will bring. What we do know is that past trends, today’s business and new technology advancements all play a role. As an industry, we are facing challenges to find good people, integrate into newer automobiles and overcome ever shrinking margins with competition from growing online sales.

I have been both encouraged and distressed as I listen to retailers across this land. Some are stating signs of recovery while others continue to struggle. Some have hope of recovery, while others are awaiting the other boot to drop. Their statements, coupled with news of some key regional and national chains closing shop and others scaling back their interest seem to point to an opportunity for some market share growth for the independent specialist. However, outside of market share growth, our economy still appears to have some potholes on the road to recovery. As an industry of retailers with strong ties to the automotive industry, we also need to be real about our future prospects and plan accordingly.


Significant Factors

Now that I have you thinking, let’s look at the factors that are affecting the mobile electronics industry. Sales of new automobiles are up, but the last quarter was down year-over-year. There is also a focus toward self-driving vehicles that leaves our industry unsure of the future for upgrading the automobile. The consumer electronics market is booming albeit online, while leaving many brick-and-mortar retailers behind.

Our core categories for mobile electronics traditional are audio, video, security, convenience and the emerging category of safety. What is new for these categories is that they are or soon will be connected to the cloud. This connection is part of a much larger category that is referred to as Internet of Things (IoT).

When it comes to lifestyle-based technology, consumers are flocking to anything in the “connected” realm. These are products communicating with each other and allow them to efficiently network, communicate and explore the world around them. This shift to IoT delivers the consumer seamless connectivity and opens a plethora of new opportunities. When looking at the IoT market, the automobile becomes just another room in the house. This new room will require installation services as these devices become mainstream in the automobile.


What It Takes

What does it take to get known as the “IoT Installation Specialist” in your area? An understanding of what challenges the consumer has when using these products in the automobile and an awareness of where and how to communicate with these consumers. You can start by looking at the big picture of products related to IoT and how they interact with the automobile and the consumer. Our industry is well positioned to innovate and deliver products and services that speak to, and satisfy the lifestyle demands of the IoT consumer looking for seamless connections of their devices regardless of where they are or what they are doing.

This new IoT opportunity may require a shift in your advertising and presentation to become a driving force for business in your store. Let’s face it, we are dependent on the automotive industry. To become less dependent we should look at ways to diversify and IoT could very well be that way!


Research the Category

To research this emerging category, you need go no further than your own store. Assuming you or your staff use products in this technology category, think about what you would like to be able to do with these connected products in the automobile. Take that knowledge and look for products that meet the challenge. If the idea you have does not exist, let your suppliers know. Your conclusion may provide a nice source of revenue for the future.

Next, take a field trip to places that sell IoT products. Your first tip only requires a web browser. Go to This is a website created by Samsung that has a plethora of products. Take a few minutes review all the IoT products that are available. Then think about how this relates to products for the automobile. Amazon’s Alexa is a good example of what could become a great aftermarket IoT opportunity. You may be surprised at how many consumers have no idea of the experience you are able to create for them in this emerging category.


Our passion as an industry is built around technology and the automobile. This is what we do. Our lack of a plausible alternative may be a cause for concern and even leave you perplexed and rather anxious. However, it may allow you to begin the process of analyzing options for the future like becoming an IoT Installation Specialist.


Read this in the digital magazine HERE.

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