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Rosa Sophia




Hello All,

It’s Time! This is the official notification that the 2014 Industry Awards are underway.

This blog is intended to outline the process and rules for the awards, starting from selecting the Top 100 Installers and Top 50 Retailers, all the way to selecting the final winners. Those winners will be announced and celebrated at the Mobile Electronics Retailers Association (MERA) KnowledgeFest event in Dallas, August 16-19.

For those of you who don’t know, The Industry Awards recognize the top performers in our industry. At the retail level, we identify the Top 100 Installers and Top 50 Retailers. Each of these groups narrows down to the Top 12, and finally we select winners from this group. This year, we’ve made changes to the Retailer of the Year awards. There will be one winner and one runner-up award given in two categories: single store and chain. The Installer of the Year award remains unchanged.

And there are other awards as well. The Trusted Tech award goes to the individual installation expert who is not only an excellent troubleshooter and detail-oriented worker, but has also earned the recognition and respect of their peers. The Rep of the Year and Rep Firm of the Year recognize sales representatives who go beyond the transaction to provide support and encouragement to retailers. Distributor of the Year (new for 2014) and Expediter of the Year award the top performers in these sales channels. And our Vendor of the Year awards celebrate the hard-working staffs of our suppliers and manufacturers in several different categories.

Before we delve more into the details, I want to first thank the members of the Mobile Electronics Advisory Group for their time and valued input. My goal for the group was to streamline the rules and policies of the awards so that we can present a fair and transparent process to the industry. The guidelines you see below are the result of their dedication.

Good Luck to All!

Solomon Daniels, Editor-in-Chief


2014 Mobile Electronics Industry Awards – Rules and Guidelines

Retailer Qualifications:

A publicly accessible, licensed brick-and-mortar or mobile business that has a dedicated mobile electronics department with full sales, retail and installation support. The business must have been open for a minimum of two years, regardless of location. (Home-based business must meet the same criteria and be licensed by local municipality to operate a mobile electronics retail business in its location.)

Installer Qualifications:

Installation specialists with a minimum 5 years of experience under a licensed business (company or sole proprietor) who are gainfully employed as a professional installer. Installation must be their primary duty within the business.


Vendors, Expediters, Distributors, Reps and Rep Firm Awards


A vendor, manufacturer's representative, distributor or expediter that produces, sells or supports products in the mobile electroncis industry.

Vendor Awards:

Expediter of the Year

Rep of the Year

Rep Firm of the Year

Distributor of the Year

Top Vendor - Vendor – Autosound / Video

Top Vendor – Security / Convenience / Safety

Top Vendor – Power / Installation Components

Top Vendor – Processing and Integration



June 3: Voting to Select the Top 12 Begins

Individuals who vote are divided into two categories:
Consumers / Enthusiasts – people who are customers, family members, friends or competitors and are NOT employees in the mobile electronics industry in a professional capacity.

Industry professionals – people who work for an industry manufacturer, supplier, distributor, affiliate company or a retail location.

Because this is primarily an industry award, the value of an industry vote will be higher than that of a consumer vote:

  • If a candidate gets fewer than 5 industry votes, the consumer votes do not count.
  • If a candidate gets 6 to 9 industry votes, the consumer votes are worth 1/5 of one industry vote each.
  • If a candidate gets 10 to 19 industry votes, the consumer votes are worth 1/4 of one industry vote each.
  • If a candidate gets 20 to 29 industry votes, the consumer votes are worth 1/3 of one industry vote each.
  • If a candidate gets 30 to 39 industry votes, the consumer votes are worth 1/2 of one industry vote each.
  • If a candidate gets 40 or more industry votes, the consumer votes are worth 3/4 of one industry vote each.
  • Each person may select one retailer and one installer. Voters must supply contact information for verification purposes, and IP addresses are monitored to reduce the possibility of fraudulent voting. (Multiple store employees may vote from the same computer / IP address.)

    June 20: LAST DAY to VOTE!


    August 18: All winners announced at KnowledgeFest

    Errors and omissions:
    If, throughout this process, we determine that there is an error or more detail / clarification is required, we will publicly announce the adjustment via Hotwire, our email newsletter. 

    02 May

    Moneyball and Positive Reinforcement

    Friday, 02 May 2014

    Since it’s both baseball season and a time when many retailers are hiring seasonal staff, I thought it would be a good moment to discuss an important topic. In a baseball club, much like any workplace, a certain balance must be maintained, not just for players to do their jobs and play to their full potential, but also for the players to get along with each other and with management.

    In the film Moneyball, Brad Pitt stars as real-life Oakland A’s General Manager Billy Beane, who in 2002 was tasked with getting a low-budget, hand-to-mouth ball club to compete with big-budget teams like the New York Yankees. To do this, he had to think outside the box financially and do something socially that he had never done in four previous seasons with the club: talk to his players.

    With all the hustle and bustle involved in running a retail shop, it’s understandable that an owner might be too busy to take a minute to get feedback from employees. Much like a baseball team, a staff requires the attention of management, but in an encouraging, rather than critical, way. A recent interview on with John Kotter, chief innovation officer at leadership strategy firm Kotter International, made clear that fear in the workplace acts like a “burning platform,” forcing employees to react. But that reaction style of management only works for so long, until employee energy and enthusiasm starts to wear out.  

    “The reality is there are real risks associated with this negative stuff. People may jump off the platform, but they get tired, or they break an arm, to play out that metaphor. What we’re finding is that psychologists are coming out and saying that the positive stuff will maintain motivation over time much stronger and better than the negative stuff,” Kotter said. “Sure, the negative can get you going. You see a bullet coming at you, boom! You’ll get off of your chair. But in terms of maintaining energy and motivation over a couple of years, somebody just running from bullets doesn’t work.”

    In Moneyball, tension in the clubhouse is visible when the team is losing. Players either keep to themselves and look at it as only a job, or they are unruly, joyfully dancing on tables to music, even after a loss.

    That tension seems to come from the lack of positive reinforcement from Beane, and from the fact that the only interactions the players have with him are in the form of yelling when they lose, or silence due to his absence from the clubhouse most of the time. To clarify, positive reinforcement is the act of presenting a pleasant stimulus to entice a person to repeat a desirable action.

    To the customer, it’s obvious when employees are unhappy. Energy levels are low, their mannerisms and speech patterns are less enthusiastic, and the work itself tends to suffer. Likewise, customers can tell when employees are happy.

    Aside from the standard monetary compensation and benefits like a 401K, medical and dental insurance, rewarding good behavior can be easy and inexpensive, according to an article by two professors at the Harvard Business Review.

    The article states that employees who strive to create a better future for themselves are, in their words, “thriving.” These employees aren’t just content in their jobs; they are proactive, engaged and highly energized. This type of employee was found to demonstrate a 16 percent better performance than their peers, and they were 32 percent more committed to the organization. They also missed considerably less work and had fewer doctor visits.

    Whatever your method, knowing the strengths and improvement areas of your staff is vital for gauging what they can and can’t do. When you do need them to push, remember to reinforce their hard work with a reward, whether it’s a verbal compliment, a high-five, a simple thank you, or a form of compensation.

    When Billy Beane finally discovered how useful interacting with his players was to their performance and overall happiness, he visited the clubhouse more often, spoke to individuals about specific improvements they could make, and formed strong working relationships with as many as he could. Doing this in your shop might just result in a metaphorical home run. 

    Near-field communication trials at some Best Buy and 7-Eleven stores are ending, as the retailers haven't seen a payoff for the costs involved in enabling the technology. The two retailers have announced that they will be shutting down their near-field communications capabilities in their retail locations, pointing to further struggles for NFC-based mobile payments.

    NFC has been weak to take off as a mobile payment technology despite the efforts of Google Wallet and Isis. Best Buy and 7-Eleven are realizing that it is not worth the cost for them, while at the same time hinting at the possibility of branded plays for their own mobile payment solutions.

    “NFC was enabled at some 7-Eleven locations several years ago,” said Margaret Chabris, director of corporate communications at 7-Eleven, Dallas. “As these older PIN pads have been replaced/upgraded, we have chosen not to invest to enable NFC. This decision was made based on several factors, but it is difficult to build the business case given low customer acceptance, transaction costs and other factors.

    “There is not much difference between tapping or swiping a card,” she said. “For various reasons NFC-based mobile payments options have yet to gain traction, and NFC provides no real benefit to the customer over other less costly options.

    Read more here:

    Nearly three-quarters (72 percent) of small business owners said new technologies will offer a bigger return on their investment than new employees (28 percent) in 2014, according to a survey by office supply specialist Brother International, in partnership with Score, a mentoring organization for small businesses.

    The survey also indicated that while the state of the economy is still top of mind for many Americans, the economy isn’t creating as much stress for small business owners.

    For the first time in five years, stress levels are much lower, with just 42 percent of small business owners reporting a high level of stress about the current economic climate, down significantly from the 58 percent who felt high levels of stress in 2013.

    Previous years’ surveys showed a majority feeling high stress levels in 2012 (52 percent), 2011 (52 percent) and 2010 (51 percent).

    "Our survey shows that while small business owners understand the value of new technologies, they are still a bit overwhelmed and struggle with choosing the right time to adopt them to have the greatest impact on their business," John Wandishin, vice president of marketing for Brother, said in a statement. "This is one of the reasons Brother is committed to developing printers, all-in-ones and scanners that integrate with mobile technologies and cloud-based services."

    Mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets, top the list (41 percent) of the technologies small business owners find necessary to run their business. Respondents also named Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tools (32 percent), social technologies (21 percent) and cloud services (15 percent) as necessary to their business.

    Read more:

    A new report focused on the accessorization of utility task vehicles (UTVs, also known as side-by-sides) reveals that approximately 670,000 UTV models were sold in the United States in 2010-2012. Released by the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA), the 62-page report provides auto accessory businesses with an understanding of the needs and purchase habits of UTV owners and aids in their marketing, sales and product development efforts.

    “This is the first time we have done such extensive research into the powersports market,” said Gavin Knapp, SEMA senior manager of market research. “This report validates the belief many have had that there are great opportunities in the powersports market, and furthermore, that there are many similarities with the automotive aftermarket.”

    The number of automotive accessory businesses branching off into the powersports market has increased in recent years. A dedicated powersports area was added to the SEMA Show floor in 2009.

    “One of the ways companies grow their businesses is by expanding into related markets,” said Peter MacGillivray, SEMA VP of events and communications. “Buyers at the SEMA Show have increasingly expressed an interest in powersports products, particularly those already selling trucks and SUV products.”

    The “Powersports: UTV Accessorization” report is designed to help businesses identify target consumers, expand their customer base, develop strategic messages and marketing campaigns, as well as assess the market potential. Among the report’s findings:

    - About 82% of UTV owners have, or plan to purchase, upgrades to their UTV.
    - Three segments of UTVs provide different accessorization opportunities for owners.
    - Accessory decisions are made early, with most purchases occurring within the first three months.
    - Modifications to UTVs are usually geared towards enhancing its overall functionality.
    - The average accessorizer spends about $1,700 outfitting his/her UTV.
    - Three out of four UTV owners also own a pickup truck and often accessorize their truck for towing the UTV.

    The “Powersports: UTV Accessorization” report is one of many market research reports that SEMA offers to help members make informed and strategic business decisions. Members may download a copy of the report at no cost at

    For more information, contact SEMA at 1575 S. Valley Vista Dr., Diamond Bar, CA 91765, tel: 909/610-2030, or visit or

    Mobile Electronics magazine was named one of five finalists for the 63rd Annual MAGGIE Awards by the Western Publishing Association (WPA), in recognition of excellence among publishing and media professionals.

    The monthly publication, which covers the automotive mobile electronics technology industry, is up for Best Trade Magazine in the categories of business, finance, management and retail. The winner will be announced during an awards banquet on May 2 at the Sheraton Gateway Hotel at Los Angeles International Airport.

    “We are honored to be a finalist during our 30th anniversary for Mobile Electronics magazine,” stated Chris Cook, president of Mobile Electronics Retailers Association which owns the publication. “The Mobile Electronics team has made great strides in transforming the publication into a must read education and information resource for the mobile electronics industry.”

    WPA said it believes recognition is the best way to honor achievement. For more than 60 years, it has bestowed awards of excellence to deserving individuals and companies whose work is deemed “The Best in the West” in a wide variety of publishing categories.

    The non-profit business association based in Westlake Village, Calif., is dedicated to the advancement of the media publishing industry in the western United States. Founded in 1951, its primary mission is to provide continuing education to the media publishing industry through seminars, conferences, roundtables and partnering with other groups and associations to offer online audio and video conferences.

    The magazine is available online at

    For more information, visit or call (800) WHY-MERA.

    Global automotive leather leader Katzkin and Tint World, the foremost window tinting and automotive styling retail franchise, have joined forces to create a new choice for total vehicle transformation. Together, Katzkin and Tint World bring more than 60 years of experience to the retail world. This partnership creates a full-service, one-stop approach to vehicle personalization that includes a complete cloth to leather interior transformation within a 24-hour installation timeframe. Katzkin will be available in 36 Tint World franchises throughout the country with an expected expansion into 45 Tint World franchises in the U.S., then will move into their International operations by year end. The alliance opens a new channel for consumers to upgrade their vehicles with the affordable luxury of a new leather interior, while further customizing their ride through other interior and exterior enhancements at the same time and same facility.

    “There’s an enormous synergy between our two brands,” said Brooks Mayberry, CEO for Katzkin. “Beyond our reputation for service and quality, we’ve based our differentiation within the industry on establishing a new benchmark for automotive leather design. Katzkin offers an average of eight unique leather design options for each vehicle, giving the consumer choices that enable vehicle personalization,” said Mayberry. “Tint World has a stellar reputation for providing its customers every additional aspect of personalization, both inside and out, and we’re anxious to be part of that solution.”

    Katzkin will be providing a state-of-the-art kiosk within each franchise store -- an industry first that provides a physical touch and feel leather sample as well as immediate access to the company’s “VIS” vehicle interior selector, with more than 500 pre-designs for over 1,000 vehicle patterns, with the option of Heated & “now Cooling” seats. An initial soft roll-out will begin throughout Tint World stores in late April, including point-of-sale materials and detailed ordering information.

    According to Paul Pirro, Vice President of Dealer Operations for Tint World, both organizations provide quality and a distinctive reputation that goes well beyond industry standards. “Katzkin has long been regarded for its OEM and dealership work, and by teaming with Tint World, we can together open the doors to a burgeoning enthusiast audience that wants to create its own personalized ride experience.” With headquarters in Florida, the company began 32 years ago as a window tinting company and has grown into a full-service Automotive Styling Service Center. Tint World has a majority of franchises east of the Rockies with additional outlets in California and Texas. The company is currently building new stores in Canada, Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi, and Dubai.

    Rockford Fosgate announced that the updated six-model Prime Series R1 subwoofer line for 2014, including 10- and 12-inch subs and four sealed enclosure options, are now shipping.

    “Rockford Fosgate Prime subwoofers provide high performance bass at an unbelievable value,” said Jake Braaten, Rockford Corp’s director of product development. “Our 2014 R1 models are a step up from its predecessors. They now work great in sealed and vented enclosures, have an integrated trim ring, and increased power handling of 200 watts RMS. PRIME woofers are the perfect first step into performance mobile audio.”

    The 2014 models are Klippel-verified and CES-2013 Compliant, and feature an aluminum curvilinear dust-cap to dissipate heat generated by the increased power handling as well as a solid stamped steel frame and integrated frame mounted compression terminals.

    Specifications for the R1S4-10 subwoofer include:

    • 10-inch
    • 4 Ohm
    • SVC
    • Mounting Depth: 4.4in.
    • 200 Watts RMS / 400 Watts Peak
    • MAP: $59.99

    Specifications for the R1S4-12 subwoofer include:

    • 12-inch
    • 4 Ohm
    • SVC
    • Mounting Depth: 4.9in.
    • 200 Watts RMS / 400 Watts Peak
    • MAP: $69.99

    Specifications for the R1-1X10 include:

    • Single 10in. Sealed Enclosure
    • Dimensions: H 12.2in. x W 15.9in. x L 12.1in.
    • 200 Watts RMS / 400 Watts Peak
    • MAP: $129.99

    Specifications for the R1-2X10 include:

    • Dual 10in. Sealed Enclosure
    • Dimensions: H 12.2in. x W 30.1in. x L 12.1in.
    • 400 Watts RMS / 800 Watts Peak
    • MAP: $219.99

    Specifications for the R1-1X12 include:

    • Single 12in. Sealed Enclosure
    • Dimensions H 14.4in. x W 17.7in. x L 12.5in.
    • 200 Watts RMS / 400 Watts Peak
    • MAP: $149.99

    Specifications for the R1-2X12 include:

    • Dual 12in. Sealed Enclosure
    • Dimensions: H: 14.4in. x W 34.1in. x L12.5in.
    • 400 Watts RMS / 800 Watts Peak
    • MAP: $249.99
    • Specifications and prices subject to change without notice.
    For more information on Rockford Corporation, please visit

    In less than a month, enthusiasts representing 16 countries will gather in the United States to celebrate 50 years of the Ford Mustang.

    Groups from North America, South America, Europe, Australia and New Zealand will carry their country flags to Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, N.C. and at Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Las Vegas. The international celebration will be so large that Ford Motor Company and the Mustang Club of America will simultaneously hold it at two locations from April 16 through April 20, 2014. It is open to everyone, not just Mustang owners and MCA members.

    “Even though the Ford Mustang has not traditionally been offered globally, the passion for the first pony car is truly international,” said Ronald D. Bramlett, Mustang Club of America, executive director of the Mustang 50th Birthday Celebration. “Enthusiasts from across the globe are planning to attend and share their personal Mustang stories. Some are even shipping their Mustang to the United States to drive their car as part of the milestone event.”

    Charlotte Motor Speedway and Las Vegas Motor Speedway will give these enthusiasts an experience that they will remember for the rest of their lives. MCA has also organized “Pony Drives” so Mustang owners can travel in organized groups to each venue. Some international owners are planning to drive in those caravans.

    “The Ford Mustang has become a symbol of American culture,” said Steven Ling, Ford car marketing manager. “The hunger for this iconic car fueled Ford Motor Company’s decision to offer the 2015 Mustang globally for the first time. We’ll exhibit this new model at the twin events so fans from around the world can see them personally.”

    The original American pony car has been very popular, with more than nine million sold thus far. Since the Mustang was launched at the1964 World’s Fair in New York, it has become an important part of pop culture with more than 3,000 appearances in film and television, plus hundreds of musical references. The Mustang Club of America has chapters on every continent except Antarctica, with chapters and tens of thousands of members worldwide.

    From 1964 to 1973, Ford built almost three million Mustangs at their three U.S. plants. However, few realize that Mustangs were also built at Ford locations in Europe and Latin America. A handful of U.S.-built early Mustangs were even converted to right-hand drive at Ford's plant in Australia.

    The countries being represented at the celebration will include:

    • United States of America
    • Canada
    • Mexico
    • Brazil
    • Australia
    • New Zealand
    • Denmark
    • Sweden
    • Norway
    • Germany
    • France
    • Belgium
    • Switzerland
    • Holland
    • Italy 
    • United Kingdom

    Details continue to be finalized for the event. Information is continuously updated on a special website, and at the MCA website,

    For more information regarding Ford and its products worldwide, please visit

    Good news, fellow marketers: Email is not dead.

    Indeed, the ROI for email is more than $40 per dollar spent, a return higher than any other marketing channel, according to the Direct Marketing Association.

    While email isn’t dead, one thing is clear: The email newsletter is a dinosaur. Emails that mimic print newsletters of yesteryear are bulky, lumbering and sometimes monstrous in size. But like the T-Rex’s stunted arms, the reach is tiny. These newsletters try to accomplish too much, and in the end, they do very little to drive results.

    Why email marketing needs to evolve:

    Our attention spans are shorter. The average adult’s attention span is down to just 8 seconds (That’s less than that of a goldfish.)

    Read more:

    DAS Distributors, the full-service United States supply chain division of DAS Companies, Inc., announced the expansion of its distribution territory for the Pioneer Car Electronics product line into North Carolina. This total DAS territory will now include Maryland, Delaware, Virginia, Washington D.C., Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia, and Eastern Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York (excluding Metro NY), Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine.

    In addition, George “Boomer” Robinson, has joined the DAS team as Sales Territory Specialist. Robinson is specifically responsible for driving the satisfaction of the North Carolina Consumer Electronics Retail Partners, particularly 12-volt dealers, to ensure their productive, profitable growth. He will perform outside customer service, execute marketing support, conduct product training and consult with dealers to improve their performance. Robinson has been helping customers build their businesses in the mobile electronics industry for over two decades with sales and installation experience as well as being MECP Certified. He was previously an owner/operator of his own installation business, Absolutions.

    “We are excited with the Pioneer territory expansion into North Carolina, and the addition of Boomer to the team. His presence builds on our already strong footing in the Mid-Atlantic and provides our customers with superior industry knowledge,” says Rex Berfield, National Sales Manager at DAS Companies, Inc.

    Pioneer is an after-market 12-volt brand and manufacturer. Pioneer has an extensive line of in-dash navigation devices, DVD audio/video receivers, CD receivers, amplifiers, speakers and subwoofers.

    DAS Distributors is the full-service United States supply chain division of DAS Companies, Inc. 

    For further information, please contact DAS at 717-964-3642 or online at

    ZENS, developer of innovative wireless charging solutions, announced the launch of its next generation wireless charging products. The ZENS Qi Wireless Portable Audio Speaker and the ZENS Qi Wireless Power Bank are intended for consumers who want to enjoy wireless charging on the go. Currently there are already over 400 products that are Qi-certified, including Google Nexus4/5/7, Nokia Lumia 1520 and Lumia 920, LG Optimus G Pro and the Samsung Galaxy S5 and Note 3 (with optional Qi receiving case). All of these products are compatible with any ZENS wireless charging product.
    The new Samsung Galaxy S5 supports Qi wireless charging using the optional Samsung 'Wireless Charging Cover' or Samsung 'S View Cover Wireless' for the Samsung Galaxy S5. These products feature a water resistant micro USB covering.
    ZENS Qi Wireless Portable Audio Speaker
    The ZENS Qi Wireless Portable Audio Speaker integrates Qi wireless charging in a portable Bluetooth speaker. The ZENS Speaker allows you to wirelessly stream music through any Bluetooth-enabled device. It features a built-in 4.500 mAh battery for longer playback time and a wireless charger for your smartphone. Charging is done by simply placing the phone on the top of the speaker. The ZENS Speaker features two 5-watt speakers. If you own an NFC-compatible device, you can easily tap-to-pair it to the ZENS Speaker.
    The suggested retail price of the ZENS Qi Wireless Portable Audio Speaker is €99.99 (86.19 USD). The ZENS Speaker is available in black and will be in the stores by March 30.
    ZENS Qi Wireless Power Bank
    With a sleek, ultra-slim design, you can charge your smartphone with your ZENS Qi Wireless Power Bank at home, in the office or on the go. This Qi-enabled charging power bank allows you to charge any Qi-enabled smartphone without the tangle of charging cables. With a 4.500 mAh capacity, it is powerful enough to keep your device going, offering extended talk and standby times.
    This portable charger provides the freedom to charge your devices anytime, anywhere. The ZENS Qi Wireless Power Bank allows you to instantly begin charging your device by simply placing your Qi-enabled smartphone on top. This is perfect if you are on the move or don't have a power source to charge your device. You can also charge a second device such as an iPad or tablet by plugging it into the USB port. To charge the ZENS Qi Wireless Power Bank itself, plug in to a laptop or PC or use with a USB mains adapter.
    The suggested retail price of the ZENS Qi Wireless Power Bank is €69.99 (60.33 USD). It is available in black and will be in the stores by March 30.
    For more information, please visit, email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or call+31 497 845404.

    Design Engineering has released Titanium Protect-A-Boots, which are a longer 8” length. DEI’s Titanium Protect-A-Boots provide maximum thermal protection against heat generated from the engine block, exhaust manifold and headers. Excessive heat may cause wires and boots to burn, harden or crack resulting in arcing, misfire or full ignition failure.

    Constructed from heat resistant pulverized lava rock material, stranded and woven into a double-wall weave, these durable 8” boot protectors are resistant to chemicals, abrasions and contaminants. With the capability of withstanding direct heat up to 1800°F and radiant heat to 2,500°F, they provide effective protection for any high performance engine. Originally designed for the General Motors LS series of engines, the longer length and no-ring construction provides greater protection for street, race or off-road applications.

    This new product from DEI is now available for purchase in either a two-pack (part #010543) or eight-pack (part #010544) set. The 1” I.D. and flexible construction allows for easy installation for straight or angled boots including Corvette C5 (1997-2004) and  C6 (2005-2013) generation models.

    For more information on Design Engineering’s new 8” Titanium Protect-A-Boots or other thermal protection products, please visit, call 800-264-9472 or e-mail: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

    Last week, I wrote about some of the ways Obamacare impacts small businesses, specifically five requirements Obamacare places on small businesses and five opportunities Obamacare affords small businesses. As discussed, while small businesses (i.e. companies with fewer than 50 employees) are exempt from many of the most rigorous requirements of the Affordable Care Act -- most notably, the Employer Mandate -- there are still some requirements and even some opportunities that small business owners should be aware of regarding Obamacare.

    As an Obamacare attorney, I have observed that the factors a small business has to consider with respect to the Affordable Care Act can change quite dramatically if its workforce grows beyond 50 full-time employees. This can occur over time as a result of the natural growth of the business but can also happen rapidly and unexpectedly as a result of a business transaction.

    Here are three tips that any small business owner considering a business transaction should keep in mind to ensure that there are no unexpected Obamacare surprises as a result of the transaction:

    1. Count Hours, Not Just Employees

    To determine how many full-time employees a business has for purposes of the Affordable Care Act, a business has to count not only its actual full-time employees (those work more than 30 hours per week) but also the number of hours worked by its part-time employees. The number of hours worked by part-time employees is aggregated to calculate a company's full-time equivalents. 

    Read more:

    Legendary musician Neil Young says he has a new device that makes listening to music on MP3s or even CDs seem like listening underwater -- and a surging Kickstarter campaign suggests music fans are all ears.

    So far, the campaign has raised more than $2 million for Pono -- a personal music player designed "to revive the magic that has been squeezed out of digital music," according to a Pono's Kickstarter page.

    "Pono is about the music," Young says in a promotional video atop the page. "It's about the people who make the music and the way it sounds to us when we're in the studio making it. It's about you hearing what we hear."

    Read more:

    In line with the successful launch last June of the Pacific NW Consumer Electronics Expo, early commitments have already been received from vendors/partners for the April 8th and April 10th events in Seattle and Portland. The event was moved to an earlier, more convenient time of the year based on requests. The dealer response this year has been “through the roof!” according to the Expo organizing committee. They had to secure larger venues to facilitate the 20 percent growth in both vendor and projected dealer participation.

    The Expo was created by a group of Pacific Northwest manufacturer’s representative firms committed to giving their vendors an opportunity to meet with dealers who typically do not go to the international or national shows due to financial or time restraints. Many of the dealers now have an opportunity for their whole staff to see what this industry has to offer and to meet with the vendors they do business with. This year, there are fourteen independent representative companies committed to the show.

    For more details, please visit, and

    Seattle Show                                                            Portland show

    Tuesday, April 8th                                                   Thursday, April 10th

    10:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.                                            10:00 a.m. - 7:00 p.m.

    Hilton Seattle Airport                                               Embassy Suites Washington Square

    17620 International Blvd                                        9000SW Washington Square Rd

    Seattle, WA 98188                                                   Tigard, OR 97232

    JL Audio, known for pushing the boundaries of audio performance in the Mobile, Marine, and Home audio markets has announced a special reward for Signature Dealers in 2014. Signature Dealers demonstrate and stock the broadest selection of JL Audio products, and offer premium standards for installation and customer service.

    2014 Signature Dealers will receive a 24” x 24” heavy steel, handcrafted sign hand built by legendary vehicle fabricator Mobsteel in Brighton, Michigan. Each sign features a large contrasting aluminum JL Audio logo against a uniquely patina’d heavy steel plate. Only 500 signs will be created and each will feature a uniquely numbered and engraved billet aluminum tag on the front plate denoting its authenticity. These wall mountable signs come with custom-made billet aluminum mounting posts and the result is a stunning work of art.

    Carl Kennedy, Vice President of Sales for JL Audio said, “Our goal was to give Signature Dealers a symbol of JL Audio’s recognition that consumers will see when entering the store. Mobsteel knocked the execution of this project out of the park”. 

    Stillwater Designs, manufacturer of KICKER products, recently awarded Gem-Sen as International Distributor-of-the-Year representing the Americas, for its outstanding record in sales and customer service. Stillwater Designs recognizes its best distributors from around the world annually for their hard work and dedication.

    “They consistently go above and beyond just supplying product,” said Bart Deal, KICKER Director of International Sales. “They help the Canadian retailers market and promote to better serve the consumer.”

    Gem-Sen, located in Concord, Ontario, has been going above and beyond for more than 10 years, creating a better overall experience for the consumer, according to Stillwater Designs.

    Stillwater Designs recognizes each member of the Gem-Sen crew (Dave Singh, Melissa Mastrogiacomo, Mike Danbrook and Mike O’Connor) as a shining example of marketing prowess, and KICKER is grateful to Gem-Sen and its continuing dedication to the brand’s slogan and motto, “Livin’ Loud.”  

    Consumers needing more information on KICKER or Livin’ Loud may call the Consumer Information Line at 1-800-256-5425 or visit the brand website at Follow KICKER socially at, or

    GROM Audio will host a Meet Up event for the Silicon Valley Automotive Open Source Meet Up group on Thursday, March 27, 7-9 p.m.

    This open event is available for anyone interested in learning more about QNX, OS and Qt development from a influential industry leader. Kerry Johnson, Senior Automotive Product Manager at QNX Software Systems, will be speaking to attendees about QNX Real Time Operating System (RTOS) and Qt for automotive development.

    QNX software is used in many of the auto industry's leading brands including, GM, Onstar, Toyota and Audi. As smartphones continue to integrate into all aspects of modern technology, this Meet Up seeks to connect developers, car companies and hobbyists alike to better understand automotive projects utilizing or built with open source tools. From safety to fuel-efficiency to embedding applications for entertainment purposes, QNX software allows implementation of applications that help create the future of cars.

    Through presentations, demonstrations and implementation of In-Vehicle-Infotainment (IVI), attendees can better understand the latest auto technology transforming today's vehicles, while also connecting with fellow industry people. GROM Audio will showcase its current after-market car kits as well as its newest open source infotainment systems.

    "We are excited to host an event with QNX, and we welcome anyone, interested in the news about automotive infotainment technology," says Leigh Gibbs, GROM Audio spokesperson.

    The event will be held at GROM Audio's Belmont office. People interested in attending can RSVP at

    More information is available at the company website

    As the tablet industry continually becomes more and more commercialized, there has been a demand for retrofitting a tablet with already installed mounts. In particular, there has been a growing interest in having a holder that can mount to a VESA mounting pattern. For those who aren't familiar with what a VESA mounting pattern is, it's a standardized way of mounting monitors produced by the manufacturer NEC in 1988. Produced by Padholdr, iPad and tablet holders with VESA mounting patterns are now available for shipping.

    VESA mounting patterns are seen across the world, primarily on the back of television sets. The primary patterns seen on most smaller TV sets is a 75mm by 75mm or a 100mm by 100mm. When designing the holder, Padholdr went with the two most popular VESA sizes.

    Padholdr is hoping to see its holders used in schools, hospitals, cash registers and many other commercial industries. Currently, you can't buy a tablet with a VESA mounting pattern, and the only other holders on the market only work with the iPad and without a case. Padholdr is launching its VESA tablet mounts in the FIt and iFIt series. The Fit series consists of three universal tablet holders fitting a broad range of tablet sizes and allows you to use a case on your tablet if needed. The Fit series works with most tablets on the market including iPad, Galaxy Tab, Transformer, Iconia, Surface and many more. The iFit series holders are specifically designed for the Apple iPad only. There are three holders in the iFit series that cover all of the currently available iPads. 

    What's next?

    "We are introducing our new line of Tablet mounts for the big boy tablets including the Dell XPS 18," says Padholdr President Jim Benham. "We already have customers waiting for a way to mount their XL sized tablet to a VESA mount."

    For more information, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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