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Coming to America

Based in Brazil, SounDigital is establishing its footprint in the U.S. with a crackerjack engineering team, self-manufactured product, and plans to double its dealers within a year.

Words by Jamie Sorcher

It takes only a few moments on the phone to determine Diogo Ianaconi is a mobile guy—not just because of his role as the CEO of SounDigital USA (the company makes competition-grade amps for cars, boats and bikes), but more so because he is actually on the go so much of the time.

“We opened up for business in Miami back in 2016 with a warehouse that handles distribution to the U.S. as well as the Caribbean and Mexico,” Ianaconi said. “I’m definitely traveling a lot right now, but the idea is for me to move to the U.S., hopefully by the end of the year.” For now, he spends time in both the States and Brazil. In between are side trips to Russia and other far-flung locations to see distributors.

SounDigital, in existence for 12 years and based in Rio Grande do Sul, the southernmost state in Brazil, employs over 200 people. The company’s products can be purchased in over 45 countries, but it is the U.S. market where SounDigital is focusing its efforts now.

“We had a presence in the U.S. years ago, but it was only in... Read the rest of the story HERE.

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The Choice to Evolve

When David Cruz decided to enter the 12-volt industry, he had to start from the bottom. Now Installer of the Year, he carries an attitude of perseverance and—most of all—a determination to continue evolving.

Words by Rosa Sophia

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A Grassroots Goliath

Tucked inside its massive parent company, Sony Car Audio covers the country with trainings, support, sales and more to keep its dealer base satisfied and strong.

Words by Jamie Sorcher

The name speaks volumes. The Sony brand in the consumer electronics industry, and around the world, has always carried weight—and still does today. The Japanese company was founded in 1946 with only 20 employees and launched iconic products like the Walkman in 1979 and the world’s first compact CD player in 1982. While currently best known for its PlayStation and digital cameras, the mammoth company is regarded as a design trendsetter and desirable brand whether for TVs, computers or car stereos.

Nestled within this large conglomerate, which has its U.S. headquarters in San Diego, Calif., is a gem of grassroots operation. Sony Car Audio operates its tight-knit support team under the guidance of Distribution Sales Manager Anthony Tozzi who works remotely from New Jersey.

“We are a really unconventional business,” he said. “While Sony is this large company, car audio is just a small part of their business. One of the things we constantly say is ... Read the rest of the story HERE.

 

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Words by Rosa Sophia

In part one of this two-part installment, industry experts—including Andy Wehmeyer of Audiofrog and Rob Wempe of Elettromedia—share their experiences with DSP and discuss how the industry has struggled with adapting, and how they might improve for the future.

If store owners are uncertain where to begin when it comes to DSP, they should first examine their business and decide how they are going to use it for their own purposes.

According to Andy Wehmeyer of Audiofrog, DSPs are becoming very accessible now, with models available under $200. “Everyone can afford to stock these products whether they know how to use them or not,” he said. But how does a business know where to begin with DSP, and how can technicians begin to educate themselves and problem-solve to integrate audio signals before they are passed to the factory amplifier?

Wehmeyer recalled his first experience with DSP in 1992. “That DSP system was designed to make it easier and to help us do a better job of optimizing the acoustic performance in the car after installing speakers,” he said. “That was the beginning of our ability to delay a signal from a speaker that is closer to us so it arrives at the same time as one farther away.”

Such an advancement made it possible for the car to have a good center image, Wehmeyer explained. “That system in ’92 included a head unit and you had to install the whole system to have the DSP,” he added. “Once DSP was included in factory audio systems, then they were using the same tools we were using. At the beginning, the DSP was included in the factory amp but the audio signal that went from the radio to the factory amp was an analog signal. It was easy for us to grab that analog signal before the factory amp and then we were almost back to what we were familiar with—a pair of wires to which we could connect in order to install an EQ, crossover, DSP or an amp.”

Some confusion remained, however, Wehmeyer added, because installers were accustomed to having an RCA plug. Now they had a pair of wires that resembled a speaker output, and “this meant we needed to learn how to identify signal types to determine if a line output convertor was necessary.”

Read the rest of the story HERE.

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Words by Rosa Sophia

6-7-2018 Mobile Electronics -- For a while, Christopher McNulty was on his own. “It was [just] me for half of the last three years,” he said, adding that Mark Johnson was hired as installation coordinator about six months ago. They already knew each other and had worked together 15 years prior.

When Driven first opened in September of 2012, it was McNulty and one other person. “Within three months, we were too busy for it to be a two-man operation. I reached out to another former co-worker of mine who was a salesman, Christian Dold.”

After Dold joined him, within about nine months they had outgrown their space, and it took McNulty three to four months to find a new location that was almost twice as big.

Two months prior to the move, the installer who had been working with McNulty quit. It was the middle of remote start season when McNulty and Dold decided to continue together without any other help. “We’ve known each other over 20 years. January and February, in the old space, we did great just the two of us. In March, in the new space, I was the general contractor building out the new space,” McNulty said. “I was the owner, electrician, carpenter, installer—everything. Life got really chaotic.”

Dold eventually burned out. “He took a job as a teacher, his dream job, which is what his degree was in, and moved closer to his parents.”

It took time to adjust, and now McNulty feels that Driven is moving in the right direction. At their current location, roughly 15,000 vehicles drive by daily. Because the business is located in a complex, there isn’t much walking traffic.

Currently, Driven has two part-time technicians: Eddy Merino and Oscar Perla. McNulty said he also gets help from a client: Neil Orta. “Nothing changes hands [with Neil]. We help him out when he’s building his own stuff. He helps out pro bono, and we give him access to the facilities.” Orta is an IASCA and MECA competitor, electrician and hobbyist.

Soon, they hope to bring in a part-time assistant—someone young who’s looking to learn. “We 100 percent want to bring people up from the bottom and teach them the right way. Getting rid of bad habits is harder.”

Read the rest of the story HERE.

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Summer Fun: Side-by-Side Vehicle Installations

Great ready for summer with tips and tricks for the upcoming outdoor season.

Words by David MacKinnon

5-25-2018, Mobile Electronics -- When your friend and coworker calls for help, the answer is always yes! Joey Knapp is tied up in California building amazing audio systems in Acura NSX and Lamborghinis. He asked me to help out with this latest Tech Today article. He is starting a new series entitled “Summer Fun” in which we will be looking at installations in various summertime vehicles. In this issue we are going to look at a few of the options available to add sounds systems to a side-by-side vehicle. As always, we’ll take into account the importance of thoughtfully planned and executed installations as we work through each area of the upgrade.

We would both like to thank Mike Bartells and his team at Extreme Audio in Midlothian and Mechanicsville, Va. for providing supporting images for this article.

What is a side-by-side?

Depending on which part of the country you are in, side-by-side vehicles may be something you see every day on the way to work—or, for us city folk, something our friends with cottages talk about. A side-by-side is also called an SxS, or UTV (Utility Terrain Vehicle). It is a combination of a golf cart, a John Deere Gator and a UTV. Most UTVs are less than 65 inches wide and feature a seating position like a car with a steering wheel on the left and foot pedals for braking and acceleration.

The SxS is typically quite tall to allow for excellent ground clearance. This added height makes... Read the rest of the article HERE

 

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Words by Jon Kowanetz

May 24, 2018 - Mobile Electronics magazine feature

Branching Out: How to mindfully expand your business into new categories.

We have been hearing about it for years in Facebook groups, trade shows and in the columns of this very magazine, and now we are seeing it reflected in our own P&L reports—the decline of the core car audio business. Like it was for me, that very part of the business is surely what ignited your passion so many years ago and kept that flame burning through all the late nights and early mornings while you built a career around it. But now, as we think about the average customer who walks through our doors, we see less excitement over sound quality than connectivity, and more discussion over product prices than specifications.

Now, if you’re anything like I was a year ago, you’re probably wondering, “Is this flame slowly flickering out?” While there are certainly exceptions to the rule, the broad answer is yes, it is flickering out. There’s still time to place some tinder around it and allow that flame to light some new fires, but you need to choose carefully!

When the profit center that you built your business around starts to erode, it’s easy to get caught up in the hype of a popular new category that promises revenue growth and new customer acquisition. Before you take on the challengen... [Click Here] to read the rest of the feature.

 

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Words by Jamie Sorcher

5-17-2018 Mobile Electronics -- There is a distinct sense that nothing ruffles technical product director of AudioControl Brandon Cook—a good thing since he’s in charge of engineering, customer service and technical support for a well-established brand in the car and home audio business.

“We need to make sure that our products are continuously being updated, are cutting edge and exceeding our customers’ expectations,” he said.

Based in Washington, and in business since 1977, the company self-proclaims it isn’t big, nor very small—just made up of a group of obsessive audio experts, not to mention some of the best engineers on the planet.

Put all of those credentials together and... Read the rest of the story HERE.

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Words by Rosa Sophia

Each year, the Industry Awards encourages owners and installers to take a look at their careers and how far they’ve come, showcasing their achievements in front of their peers. Taking such a deep look at one’s business and profession reveals many factors to success, as well as areas where competitors can improve.

“If you can work really hard and you’re willing to put in the hours, you can reach your goals,” said Christerfer Pate, Top 12 Installer of Mobile Toys Inc., College Station, Texas.

How did the process of competing in these awards affect personal growth for installers and owners, as well as growth within their businesses?

Regarding the awards and working toward the win, owners and installers shared their feelings about how the process changed them and spurred development within their personal and business lives.

 

Read the rest of the story HERE.

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Certified Autosound in Vancouver, British Columbia is a fast-growing chain with goals to open multiple locations over the next several years and reach the top of the market in their local coastal area. The challenge? Expanding the business’s reach to make Certified a highly recognized brand.

Words by Rosa Sophia

On the west coast of Canada, Certified Autosound and Security is probably the largest independent mobile electronics retailer in the area, according to Chris Cope, one of the owners of the business. But few people knew it, he said, and so the challenge was to raise awareness of the brand. “We sat at the dinner last year in Dallas [at KnowledgeFest] and no one knew who we were,” Cope said, adding that there are nowhere near as many car audio stores in Canada as there are in the U.S. “I wanted people to know who we were and know us for quality.”

Because everything is so spread out in Canada, and the population is lower, Cope has a specific challenge on his hands: How can the business make more people aware of its existence?

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