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Devil’s in the Details

Apicella Autosound aims to provide detail-oriented perfection in integration and tuning, which has led to fast-paced growth year over year.
Words by Rosa Sophia
Stony Point, New York-based Apicella Autosound began by catering mainly to hobbyists, according to owner Nick Apicella. Now, the shop is drawing a wealthier clientele which he noted tends to have full confidence in the team when it comes to letting them guide the project. While the shop still does custom work with competition-style sound quality builds, the majority is now focused on OEM integration.
Until about two months ago, the staff consisted of only Apicella and technician Kevin Mullings. The shop now has a staff of four. Apprentice Kyle Dunn started out as an enthusiast who often called the shop for advice. The newest addition, Matthew Kim, moved from Oregon to join the team. About 90 percent of the business’s projects consist of car audio, with smaller percentages in radar, laser detection and remote start. “We do a few remote starts a week,” Apicella said. “Kevin is very skilled at remote starts and alarms, but we don’t make an effort to do a ton of them.” Tuning is the shop’s main money-maker.
From High-End Cars to High-End Sound
When he was younger, a journey to purchase a high-end subwoofer from a dealer in Manhattan opened doors for...Read the rest of the story CLICK HERE.
No Stone Unturned

In the quest to bring every client’s dreams to fruition, Distinctive Car Toyz has built its business from the ground up and expanded to offer everything from new cars to custom stereo systems.
Words by Rosa Sophia
In 1993, Distinctive Car Toyz in Egg Harbor, New Jersey, began with a focus on dealership work, offering gold plating and wood dash trims. Owner James Lin started the business out of the trunk of his 1992 Lexus. After two years, he moved into a two-bay garage, then to a larger location. The business grew substantially before being featured on the cover of Mobile Electronics magazine in 2013. “Then we found a spot a half a mile away from our last location,” Lin said, noting that they built from the ground up, beginning March 2, 2020, while still running the business out of the old location. “We finished the new building in eight months when everyone said it would take 18. We moved in at the end of December and had our grand opening on January 25, 2021.” Lin and his shop foreman, Eric Laskosky, managed the project themselves during the COVID-19 shutdown. The business now has a total of 10,000 square feet, with 8,000 for the garage and 2,000 set aside for the showroom. The shop’s hours are nine a.m. to seven p.m., giving those who work until five a chance to pick up their cars in the evening. The staff of 30 includes a shuttle driver who will take customers home or to work after they drop off their vehicles.
The staff, he said, has grown together for the most part. The shop’s full-time tinter attended the Tint School in Florida. “When I do the hiring, I tend to recruit what’s out there,” he said. “They come prepared. There isn’t a whole lot of training needed when you hire experienced help.”
The business has a team of specialized technicians: Some handle only wheels and tires, and one technician focuses on vehicle lifts, engine swaps and transmissions. The shop offers an extensive list of services, everything from oil changes to car audio, in an effort to meet clients’ needs. And while it began by servicing dealerships, Distinctive Car Toyz has become a dealership, as well. Lin said this aspect of the business became...Read the rest of the story CLICK HERE.
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Face to Face
It’s time to reopen KnowledgeFest
The sign on the door says we’re open for business. As schools, amusement parks, and, yes, trade shows and conferences reopen, we are excited to begin returning to normal. This June 25th KnowledgeFest will be starting up again in Orlando, Florida. This will be our first event in the Sunshine State. At the time of the event, it will have been over 15 months since we were able to meet in person back in Long Beach, California in February of 2020. It has been a long, hard road for many of us, and for a myriad of reasons.
Learning From the Challenges of the Past Year
As an association, we better understand key facets of the industry and how best to provide assistance in times of uncertainty. I can vividly remember the last in-person events I took part in. In February 2020, I was in Germany as a presenter at the Car Media Convention (CMC). In March, I was in the United States as an exhibitor, and I also had the privilege of presenting the keynote at the GoFast Solutions Mobile Expo. Each was at the very beginning of the pandemic.
Here’s What to Expect at KnowledgeFest Orlando
Since so many on social media have been wondering what to expect, I thought it would be a good idea to provide perspective on what we’re planning for KnowledgeFest Orlando. The first question: “Do we have to wear masks?” At the time of this writing, the answer is yes—you will have to wear a mask in the trade show floor and in the education and training sessions.
While Florida is a mask-free state, we are taking an abundance of caution knowing that many will be traveling from all over the country. Should guidance change prior to the event, we’ll comply with the prevailing wisdom from federal, state, and local ordinances. That said, much of the time you’re in Florida, mask-wearing will be up to your individual preference. The event will have high standards of clean, safe environments designed to provide the highest level of safety for you as the attendee. All the information you need can be found at, then look for “[Click Here] for Information on what to expect at the Orlando Event.” One very important thing to expect is the best live learning experience in the industry and a lot of fun networking with exhibitors and others in the industry.
What’s New?
This event will be a bit different from past events. First, it’s in Orlando! It’s a great place to take the family for vacation or connect face-to-face with friends. As an industry, we have a brave history of being able to adapt to new things. This will be a new thing for many of you who have not attended a KnowledgeFest event. To date, Orlando has been our most anticipated event. We will have an excellent line-up of presenters for both the education sessions and the manufacturer trainings. Expect to come home from the event with knowledge and wisdom that will improve your business.
Join Us in June
If you are in the mobile electronics industry, take this as an open invitation to join us in Orlando, June 25th to 27th for networking, discovery and just plain fun! If you miss it, remember you’ll have two more chances this year. One in Dallas, August 27th to 29th and the other in Indianapolis, October 8th to 10th. Regardless of the event, I look forward to seeing everyone together again!
Read the latest issue of Mobile Electronics magazine [Click Here]

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Joining the Club
There are many different ways to get involved in the industry and network with fellow professionals. Let’s explore them. Which option works best for you?
Clubs, groups and associations are either exclusive, inclusive or both. Before you consider joining one, you should ask yourself a few questions, such as: What do you hope to get out of being a member? What are you able to contribute? Does the group conflict with other groups you’re involved in? Do the rules make sense and are you willing to abide by those rules? And lastly, why do you want to be part of the group? You’re probably seeking information, or even a sense of belonging. If you find value in it, then join and participate.
Types of Organizations and How to Navigate Them
Group leaders will state the purpose of the group and control the direction of the content. For example, a Facebook group will usually have a stated purpose and rules of engagement. Most groups allow for free exchange of information with little restrictions. Most will ask members to refrain from advertising or promoting themselves, as this does little to further the overall purpose. When groups allow this type of posting, the content often devolves and loses its intended purpose.
One reason for the popularity of social media groups is the ease of engagement. Most are free to join and only require you to meet certain qualifications. Once connected, you can share your thoughts, comment on posts and offer assistance to other members.
Vendor Groups and Industry Associations
Vendor groups are usually private Facebook groups, but some vendors offer them with special login credentials on the company’s website. These groups are almost always exclusive to customers of the vendor, and meant to be used to obtain and share information and find technical support. This type of group can be very helpful. Beyond that, dealer-to-dealer communication can be very valuable as it relates to a specific product or installation technique.
Trade associations in our industry provide a big tent environment allowing for many smaller groups to be formed. Some associations provide services to members in areas specific to their business interests. An association may also have several social groups allowing members to connect on specific topics.
Associations tend to be inclusive because they allow for many people in various areas of the field to be represented. Guidelines are set for membership types, and usually the member must demonstrate affiliation to the trade. This generally includes a code of ethics required to maintain good standing within the association.
Consider Exploring Cross-Industry Groups
If you are looking for a way to connect with others, look for opportunities to become involved in cross-industry groups. These groups usually exist in associations and are made up of participants from various associations in related industries. Becoming involved in this type of group will expose you to other industries and experiences. If the opportunity arises, seize it. It should be considered high-value.
Mingling With the Group
Joining up? Consider what’s best for you—an inclusive or exclusive setting, and how to decide.
An exclusive group has certain rules or requirements. There’s nothing wrong with this, but you should know before attempting to join that you might not be approved for membership. Groups like this are usually meant for a very specific field or interest. On the other hand, an inclusive group allows many to join regardless of affiliation with other groups. They tend to focus on greater participation, allowing for varied thoughts and opinions. Both group types serve a purpose.
Groups Can Be Both Inclusive and Exclusive
An association tends to recruit from a larger base, allowing it to be considered inclusive of all interests. Once you are a member, there may be groups within the association that are both inclusive and exclusive. The difference is that there’s usually a path for any member meeting certain criteria to become involved in an exclusive part of the association. For example, the association may have a leadership board that requires the member to meet certain criteria, and either be nominated or appointed to serve for a specific period.
Deciding Where You Belong
It’s easy enough to just join everything that interests you. That said, go back to the first part of this article and review what you want to get out of your association with specific groups. Are you looking for some precise information? Maybe you just want a sense of belonging. That’s reason enough to join and network with others. If you find value, then join and participate. To really get the most out of it, make sure you take the time to participate in any in-person events that others from the group might attend. Face-to-face networking tends to build better relationships, thus providing you with a longer-lasting and more fruitful experience.
Here’s What the Best Groups Have in Common
A group that helps you grow both personally and professionally will invite you to express your thoughts or opinions without consequences. Members will debate the issues and share relevant and helpful information. They won’t focus on who’s the best, or who’s not so good. They will lift up rather than tear down others. Good leadership in any group will help focus on your personal growth as an individual. If you feel the group lacks quality leadership, don’t shy away from speaking up. You never know—you might be the leader the group is looking for.
Yes, some groups may compete for your attention and membership. There’s nothing wrong with that, but there is a problem with a group that shuns others who might not be like them. Don’t get caught up in this type of group. It can be harmful to both you and others. Look for groups that encourage you to be yourself. Over time, you should notice the groups that don’t shun others are the ones which allow you to be a member.
Need Help Finding the Right Place for You?
I know many leaders with integrity in our industry. If you’re looking for a good group, ask your sales reps, your vendors, and even the Mobile Electronics Association. We will be glad to help point you in the right direction. And if you can make the journey, any KnowledgeFest event will put you in front of other likeminded professionals in our industry who can point you to great groups that will help you grow.
Read the latest issue of Mobile Electronics magazine [Click Here]
MEA Projecting Strong Attendance at KnowledgeFest™
Registrations trending above last three-year average
North Andover, MA – August 6, 2021 – The Mobile Electronics Association (MEA), owner and producer of KnowledgeFest events, stated that with 20 days to go, the Dallas event registrations have reached levels comparable with attendance over the last three years events as the industry comes together in Dallas. The Omni (host hotel for the event) has reported that its room block is now sold-out, and producers are looking into additional hotel accommodations for attendees.
Despite the post-pandemic inventory shortage and labor challenges, more than 50 brands will be represented from manufacturers that are exhibiting to show their support to dealers and providing product information and training.
The show producers continue to work with the City of Dallas, Convention Center, and Host Hotel to assure a successful and safe event. Mask’s will not be required but recommended in public places if not vaccinated.
The Dallas event will include more than 100 hours of dealer education workshops and vendor sponsored training devoted exclusively to the mobile specialist, the installing dealer.
For more information and to register for KnowledgeFest, visit
Upcoming KnowledgeFest events:
August 27-29, 2021 - Dallas, TX
October 8-10, 2021 - Indianapolis, IN
February 18-20, 2022 – Las Vegas, NV
April 1-3, 2022 – Indianapolis, IN
June 10-12, 2022 – Orlando, FL
August 26-28, 2022 – Dallas, TX
About the Mobile Electronics Association
Mobile Electronics Association (MEA) is a trade association comprised of installing dealers and product vendors dedicated to serving the needs of the mobile electronics specialist industry. MEA owns and produces KnowledgeFest, regional trade-only industry events that combine educational programming and vendor training with a trade show floor. MEA owns and publishes the monthly Mobile Electronics® magazine, which is the industry’s #1 resource, as well as other digital media, including websites and the industry’s e-newsletter Hotwire. MEA provides software and data-driven services to vendors and retailers. Learn more at
Media Contact:
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Sketching the Future
At the start of the pandemic, one-man shop Seismic Autosound seized the opportunity to change course in search of ideal clients and a better work-life balance.
Words by Rosa Sophia
Seismic Autosound has partnered with Custom Mobile Electronics in Novato, Calif., merging the two businesses into one. Bryon Jankow, owner of Seismic Autosound, and Marty Barry of Custom Mobile Electronics discussed their respective situations and arrived at the same conclusion: The one-man shop approach wasn’t working for either of them anymore, and they wanted a better work-life balance. Becoming business partners made the most sense.
“I was working alone. So was he. It was 70 to 80 hours a week, non-stop, and that takes its toll after a while,” Jankow said. “Marty’s shop already had the type of clients I wanted to attract. It was a no-brainer for us to team up and take stress off each other, and move forward from there.”
Seismic Autosound moved from Concord to Novato, to Barry’s already-established location, and together, they expanded to about 4,000 square feet. Now, the shop is open five days a week and they both have time to enjoy a personal life again.
Jankow recalled the Bay Area going into lockdown for COVID-19 just as his lease ran out.
The two have been business partners for just under a year, but they’ve kept their respective shop names the same. “For now, it’s just been about bringing everything together,” he said. “We’re trying to...Read the rest of the story CLICK HERE.
With a focus on revitalizing the Industry Awards, the yearly ceremony has been moved from Dallas to Las Vegas. Past award winners share their perspectives on an evolving tradition.
Words by Rosa Sophia
For the last three years, KnowledgeFest has held an event in Long Beach, Calif. But on February 18-20, 2022, the show and the Industry Awards will take place in Las Vegas, Nev. The choice was made to revitalize the awards ceremony and processes, and to make the awards more reflective of a full year of recognition.
Elias Ventura, who was awarded 2016-2017 Sales Pro of the Year and now works as the Mid-Atlantic territory manager for SounDigital and Ground Zero, said the move is a welcome one. “I think a change of scenery and structure is necessary, especially with all the present chaos,” he explained. “Having something to look forward to is important. Vegas is a perfect place for the show, and I think a little shift was needed.”
Past Winners Work to Refresh the Industry Awards
Members of the Industry Awards committee—including Ventura—meet to “make sure the process is very fair, and that we move forward in a modern way of doing things,” according to Jeff Smith, director of training at AAMP Global.
He added that it’s important to.... Read the rest of the story HERE.
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