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June Issue Behind The Scenes: VOXX - A Growing Giant

From its small beginnings rooted in a now-obsolete product, Voxx International is manufacturing products at every end of the electronics spectrum, giving itself nowhere to go but up.

Mobile Electronics, June Issue, Behind The Scenes, 6/16/2016 -- Does anyone remember pocket transistor radios? Probably not, yet this tiny gadget served as the foundation for one of the most formidable consumer electronics companies in the industry today—Voxx International.

Back in 1960, John Shalam sold pocket transistor radios for an import company, but when a deal went south that left him saddled with 2,000 car stereos, he unexpectedly had a new game plan and a new company. By 1965 Audiovox was in business and Shalam was selling aftermarket car radios to car dealers. The timing couldn’t have been better since back then approximately 35 percent of the vehicles delivered to a new car dealer came without a car radio. From there, he moved the product to mom-and-pops and then to mass merchants.

Today, that gumption is still very much part of the company’s ethos where Shalam remains as chairman of the board. Renamed Voxx International in December 2011, it is now headed by CEO Pat Lavelle who has been in that role since 2005.

“Starting with John and all the people who have been important in shaping the company along the way, it has always been entrepreneurial and still is,” Lavelle said. “John set the company up that way and we have carried on that entrepreneurial spirit even through all of our acquisitions. Really, the essence has not changed much from when I started with the company back in 1977.”

Through its natural evolution and strategic acquisitions, Voxx has boomed from its car stereo roots to a major consumer electronics company that manufactures and supplies product to big box retailers, specialty and mass merchants, as well as to automotive OEMs including Volkswagen, Audi, BMW, DAF Daimler, Peugeot, Ford Motor Company, Chrysler, General Motors Corporation, Toyota, Kia, Mazda, Subaru, Nissan, Porsche and Bentley.

Pacing With Product

Throughout the company’s evolution, Voxx has both embraced and extricated itself from certain product categories while trying to maintain momentum in the tech industry. The company’s ability to chart a successful course while many of its competitors have struggled or simply gone away has made it a strong partner for 12-volt and specialty retailers who have also gained the opportunity to invest in new product categories and technologies.

In the early 1980s, Audiovox was one of the first companies in the country to introduce remote car start. Today, remote start remains a core segment for aftermarket automotive retailers.

Then the car phone emerged as the next big thing. “Everybody wanted to have a phone in their car,” Lavelle said. “We developed our car phone business which then expanded into handsets. We became a big supplier of cellular in the U.S., and for a number of years we had number one market share in CDMA phones.”

By 2004, the cell phone business declined and Audiovox exited cellular leaving just the electronics. “We obviously had our roots in the automotive side and wanted to continue with it,” Lavelle said. Today, the automotive business—aftermarket and OEM—accounts for 50 percent of Voxx’s total volume. “We are very active in the aftermarket and continue to look at disruptive technologies that are going to be introduced in the aftermarket eventually moving into the OEM space.”

Read the rest of the story HERE.

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