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1-17-2017, Mobile Electronics -- Being a 12-volt business is interesting and challenging. Being a 12-volt business that is family-owned and operated takes it to another level, especially considering that less than one third of family businesses survive the transition from first to second generation.

Scosche, which was founded by Roger and Scotia Alves, is going on its 37th year of business with the next generation, brothers Kas Alves and Vince Alves, serving as executive vice presidents.

Back in 1980, the company operated out of a residential garage in Southern California with its roots in research and consulting. When the focus turned to car audio, the first clients included heavy-hitters Alpine and Kenwood.

Seeing major potential in the automotive audio aftermarket, Scosche developed their first dash kit and launched what has become a signature product category for the company. In fact, the first of the company’s 100-plus patents in 1994 was for a GM vehicle dash kit.

From its humble start to a sprawling campus in Oxnard, Calif., the company now has two distribution centers. One is located on the main campus while the second one, which boasts 14 docks and 30-foot side wall construction, is based in Spruce Pine, Ala. It allows Scosche to reach 37 states within 48 hours using standard ground services. The company has an international presence with an office in Hong Kong and as its products are sold in more than 50 countries.

Not only has Scosche grown out of its garage, but it has significantly expanded its range of offerings to more than 4,000 SKUs. In addition to dash kits and wire harnesses, its products include antennas, amps, speakers, subs, speaker enclosures, Bluetooth accessories, power and audio cables, iPhone accessories, and much more.

Business In A Dash

“If you go back 20 years ago with the company, there were dash kits and wire harnesses, and that was the extent of the 12-volt line,” said Nate Perkins, 12 Volt Team Manager, now on his second stint with Scosche. He was previously with the company from 1997 and 2010. 

 “Today it is much more technologically driven as far as integration and with being able to add on to your OEM system with different auxiliary inputs, adding an aftermarket radio to your factory amplifier, or your factory warning system," added Perkins. "Integration has really come to the forefront.”

The impact has been far reaching for the consumer.

“Consumers are intimidated,” Perkins said. “They look at their OEM car stereo and wish it did a couple more things. But some of the guys who have these vehicles are guys that started out 20 years in the industry when it was easy to make changes. Now they look at it and it’s a whole other animal. The dashboard is more integrated with the entire system of the vehicle—the radio, the AC controls, the warning chimes, and the warning systems. There is really a huge intimidation factor. So one of the biggest hurdles right now is educating the consumer that they can change out their OEM stereo, they can integrate with it, and they can add to their experience.”

Not to mention the challenge it creates for dealers.

 “One of the biggest hurdles on the dealers’ end is embracing the amount of inventory they’ve got to have,” said Shane Condon, 12 Volt Product Development Manager. “It used to be that they could stock a few items and be pretty confident that it would cover anything that came into their install bay. That’s just not the case anymore. More and more dealers are stocking the basic items, but then they use the just-in-time inventory system for everything else.”

Read the rest of the story HERE.

1-10-2017, Mobile Electronics, January 2017 -- Choosing a career path isn't always a choice you make alone. Sometimes the world, other people, or possibly fate, intervene to shine the light on a new path.

Bill Goldberg began his career tackling professional football players on the field for the Atlanta Falcons, but due to a serious knee injury, he turned to the world of professional wrestling and began tackling, or "spearing," his opponents on the way to becoming one of the most popular stars to ever grace the squared circle. Ronald Reagan began his career as an actor but got bitten by the political bug and began speaking on behalf of General Electric, which started him on his path to becoming President of the United States. Each path illustrates something many people have in common: While you don't always land in your first choice of careers, sometimes a similar, yet better option is right around the corner.

Ric Moore is such a person, having started his career working in music production in 1985. "My background was live sound. I've always been interested in music. I'm one of the baby boomers that grew up on classic rock. I bought all the albums and knew all the songs by heart," Moore said. "I got involved with a guy that was in a band. He had a board that I learned on the fly."

To enhance his knowledge of live sound, Moore moved to Atlanta, attending a trade school called Music Business Institute. There, he learned about artist management, video production and audio production. "I made some pretty good friends, went on tour with a band called The Producers. I was stage manager and did guitar tuning, set up and tear down, keyboard setup and tear down," Moore said. "After the tour, I moved back to Evansville. The music scene was okay. I ran into a couple guys I knew locally, ran sound for some local bands. That's when the transition happened in 1988. I was 27."

Realizing your dream job isn't panning out might send some people running into a safe office job somewhere, but not Moore. Thanks to a tip from his wife's cousin about a local 12-volt shop being in need of a salesman, Moore soon found opportunity in an unlikely place.

"The opportunity presented itself to work at this local car stereo shop. I knew what car stereo was from doing it with a buddy in Atlanta. It wasn't something I wanted to do at first," Moore said. "This store was looking for a sales person. My wife's cousin worked here and he got me on as a salesman. I got hooked on the business and was fairly successful at it. I found out that was my niche."

Soon enough, Moore's niche became a passion and he had found his new path. And as fate would have it, there was one particular sale that sealed the deal for his new chosen career path.

"The one memory I've always had was the first big sale. We were a little shotgun retail center in a four-shop strip mall. I had been working there a month or so," Moore said. "A guy came in, I helped him out, went through the whole process. He spent a thousand dollars. Right then I knew I could do this. The owner called me and said it was the biggest sale we had in a while. Recently, that same customer came back to the store and we recognized each other immediately. It was pretty great."

Early Battles

After working for Dr. Dashboard for around seven years, Moore decided it was time to make his passion permanent and found opportunity when the company began selling off locations to other employees.

"[The owner] sold one store to the store manager in Terre Haute [Indiana]. My wife's cousin bought the store in Owensboro [Kentucky]. I didn't think he would sell me the Evansville store because it was kind of a cash cow," Moore said. "I asked him if he would have a problem with me moving to Paducah, Kentucky and opening a shop there. Or he could sell me the store. The process took about a year, but he sold me the store."

Thanks to help from his parents and generous loans from a local bank (a product of decent credit and the times), Moore began the process of remodeling the shop to his liking, adding new carpet, tools and a new counter, among other things. The shop remained open during the remodel, which may have been a mistake, according to Moore. "We did less than a $100 on our first day. After we got the remodeling done, business continued to grow."

Today, after moving twice to accommodate its growing business, the company now operates within a 6,900 square foot facility. As of June 2016, the facility has grown by 1,400 square feet due to an added install bay space used mainly for larger vehicles like boats, RVs and semi-trucks. The showroom features curved counters and WinTech displays, which Moore purchased prior to that company's demise. 

Read the rest of the story HERE.

1-2-2018 Mobile Electronics -- Jim Carrey once starred in a movie called "Yes Man." The film followed a bank clerk who found that he was missing out on life by saying no to everything. After being dragged by a friend to attend a seminar, Carrey started saying yes to every opportunity. While hilarity ensued for the sake of comedy, his character's life changed for the better, resulting in his meeting a new love, learning new skills and getting a big raise at work.

For Main Street Stereo, success came in a similar way thanks to the company's slogan, "Yes We Can!" which tells customers that any and all service requests are welcome. The store, located in Sayville, N.Y., is comprised of five full-time employees and one part-timer. Service offerings include car audio, truck accessories, window tinting, marine and power sports offerings, rims and tires, remote starters, alarms and selling LED lights wholesale to other companies.

On its way to becoming one of the hottest aftermarket retailers on the East Coast, Main Street Stereo began its journey to dominance in 1974. Having originally opened on Main Street, the shop moved to Sunrise Highway and eventually became a household name in that area. By 2010, a former employee of tech giant LG, who had an engineering background, was looking to get into 12-volt. He’d always loved car audio and electronics. Soon enough, Soo Choi bought the company and began a renovation at the same location. That same year, General Manager Steve Salvia was hired to run the daily operations. His journey to the company began with a love of both music and cars. "I started building cars with my friends in high school. Through that, I was in bands as a musician. I've got a love for car audio with customization and the audio with my musical background," Salvia said. "I bounced around in a couple jobs in college. I worked for American Racing for six years then repp'd for a couple of wheel companies for the next four to five years, worked for another stereo shop for a couple years and ended up here. It's all for my love of custom vehicles."

To round out the management team, sales manager James Geddes was hired in 2011. While Steve handles rims and tire sales, James handles general sales of everything else in the store.

"I've been in mobile electronics since 1996," he said. "I found out about vehicle possibilities when I bought my first car. I decided it was what I wanted to do."

Thanks to this dream team of auto lovers, the store developed a reputation for selling everything under the sun and knowing how to sell different categories as well as properly install every category they have.

Natural Progress

Selling a diverse product offering requires great knowledge, skill and proper tooling and facilities, which the company has in spades. The two-story building boasts a 4,000 square foot installation bay, which is split into three sections: a wood shop, a show room with product displays for each category sold, two stock rooms upstairs with an office and second showroom that features even more product displays.

Among the myriad displays are the LED lights that the company sells wholesale. The lighting business was established thanks to Choi's previous relationships with various Chinese factories. "As I go to the SEMA show every year, that's how it developed naturally. The LED wholesale business started with everyone knowing we had them so they started to contact us," Choi said. "Three years ago, everyone was struggling with HID headlights, which were notorious for returns. We're educating a lot of stores on how to sell LEDs. It happened gradually. We sell to local shops, some dealerships, and have a plan for more serious business on the wholesale side of LED."

Maintaining that organic approach to business is a big part of the company identity that has allowed it to grow over the years. That same approach is used during customer interactions to ease them into transactions without seeming pushy. "The most important thing is to immediately break that barrier between salesman and customer and be as inviting as possible. We use quick greetings with no closed-ended questions," Geddes explained. "Customers are invited to look around the store. We don't want it to look like a warehouse where we're looking to move boxes. We want it to have a homey atmosphere, very warm."

Tours of the facility are done upon request. Vehicles that relate to the job in question are shown to customers to highlight that style of work, when possible. "We'll show systems that we've done, showing photos all the time. During our installation, they can't hang out in the bay. We show them the clean shop and they're impressed by the size," Geddes added. "We encourage dropping off to manage the shop correctly. If the customer is not able to make that work, we have waiting areas in both parts of the store. We offer rides as well."

One of the company's biggest beliefs is that the shop is a reflection of the work performed. For this reason, the installation bay is cleaned before and after every installation. "There's a tray for every screw and a place for panels to go. Attention to detail before and after installation is very important and a big strength in our shop," Geddes said. "Our installers are very aware of issues with the vehicle when it comes in. We like the factory look. Instead of electrical tape, we use TESA tape. It costs a little more but the look helps with wire layout."

All vehicles are inspected before and after installation to take note of any vehicle damage, possible upgrades and to check the battery. Once the job is complete, every customer receives a call or email the following week."Our focus is not only making sure the customer is happy when they're here, but keeping them happy after they leave," Geddes added.

Read the rest of the story HERE.

How can a business retain or attract a client base during or after a move? Owners and installers share their tips and experiences when it comes to moving on up to a new and improved retail location. 

1-23-2017, Mobile Electronics -- Moving is an experience often met with reluctance—packing things in boxes, labeling, loading everything onto a truck and then unloading. While moving from one residence to another can be hectic, moving a business involves even more complications. Opening a new business is just as fraught with questions and concerns.

What are the best ways to notify clients of a move? If you’re moving out of town, will your clients travel to meet you, or will you have to attract a new customer base? When opening a new business, what’s the best method for spreading the word? Parish Tanner of Ocala Car Audio in Ocala, Fla. has moved several times in his local area, finally ending up at his current location in late 2014.

“Stay in touch. Set up an open house and invite people in to tour new facilities,” he advised. Retailers and owners agreed that careful planning is the key to any successful move, and there are a number of approaches retailers can take when notifying their client base. Regardless of how a business chooses to notify clients or attract a new client base, it’s important to get things going as quickly as possible.

Opening a new business requires the same meticulous approach. Bryan Turvaville recently founded 806 Autoworks in Amarillo, Texas after working professionally in the industry for 14 years.

“Opening your own shop is not an easy task,” Turvaville said. "There is a lot of hard work and dedication that has to pour into the business. You will have to make some sacrifices. But if you stick it out, and push through, it can be one of the most rewarding things you will ever do. I am a new shop, and I know I will have difficult times ahead, but I am ready for those challenges and will take them head on.”

As a first-time owner of a mobile electronics retailer, Turvaville’s new location is about a mile away from his previous employer.

“I entered the industry in 2002 when I attended Acoustic Edge Stereo Institute.  From that point forward I had always envisioned owning and operating my own shop,” Turvaville said. “It took every bit of that 14-year span to gain the experience and knowledge to get to this point.”

Tanner has moved enough times that he’s familiar with the process, and had originally started his business working out of a car port at his house. “I got into the new building and it was probably a couple months before we were fully up and running to where we needed to be,” he said in regard to his current location. “We were in the building for just over a year when we bought new displays from AvidWorx. We put those up a year ago. I still don’t feel like we’re completely done. For us to get up and running—four to six months.”

For each retailer, the amount of time needed may vary but the basic difficulties and issues involved in transitioning remain similar.

Big Day Prep

When seeking a place to open his brand new shop, Turvaville looked at several areas before discovering his current location. “I was driving by this one and happened to notice one of the spots had become vacant. It was facing the interstate and had high visibility and easy access,” Turvaville said. “I realized the potential this spot might have because of where it was located. None of the other locations were easy to access or didn’t give us any visibility from the roadway. We looked at it and realized the show room area was extremely nice and the shop area had plenty of space for us to start up and grow.”

At Tanner’s previous location, the area was small and difficult to work in. The new location is a 5,000 square foot building complete with dedicated fabrication area and space enough for separate installs and window tint work. According to Tanner, the retail area is smaller and there’s more room to work, with “a large fenced in back area with room for semis and trucks to pull around, which has led to a lot of boats. We did more boats this summer than I did in my five years at the old location,” he said. When it came to equipment, Tanner had begun collecting fabrication tools six months to a year prior to the move. “Within the first month I had my fab shop up and running,” he said. The business also does window tinting, which “was a significant investment, but it paid off. It lets people know we’re in the window tint business and we’re here to stay.”

Read the rest of the story HERE.

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