Has MESA Changed the Car Stereo Industry?

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Since launching in 2010, the Mobile Electronics Specialists of America (MESA) buying/marketing group, has helped create and nurture a large segment of dealers who are bucking the trend in car audio, and enjoying consistent increased sales and profits.

With 134 members, generating $269 million in sales, MESA retailers together bring in more 12 volt revenues than Crutchfield and Car Toys combined, if the 2015 TWICE Car Electronics Retail Registry is accurate.

Many MESA members say their sales are up 10 to 40 percent since joining the group.  Some say they were contemplating closing up shop and are now enjoying healthy sales.  Two dealers we spoke to said 2017 is shaping up to be the best year in their companies’ history, both being in business for over 30 years.

Group members say they learn from other dealers and benefit from MESA’s marketing materials. Financing is also an advantage.

At the MESA Summit this week in Denver, CO, Executive Director Ryan Gunter said the group’s consumer financing programs have generated $15 million in plus business for members.

Proline of Brooklyn, NY said 25 percent of its sales are financed through MESA programs.  The group says its plans approve more consumers than typical finance programs.

There was no sign of doom and gloom at the annual summit.  These retailers are making money.

“When I first got into MESA 8 years ago, I was debating whether to put the for sale sign out,” said Dean Magnussen of Sound Warehouse, UT.  “This year we had our best year ever in 39 years.  We’re doing more this year than we did back when we were also selling home audio.”

2017 was also a record year for Stereo King, OR since the shop opened in 1981, said President John Coleman.

Avenue Sound, NY said its sales are up 30-40 percent since joining MESA, Sound of Tri-State, DE is up 15 percent, Proline is up 30 percent, Performance Auto Sound, WA said its profitability is up 35 to 40 percent, Basin Electronics, NM which  joined the group 4 years ago is up 20 percent and Tunes N Tint, FL is up 20- 25 percent.  Two other dealers said they were up 10 to 15 percent.

Some of those retailers joined MESA in 2010, when the recent great recession was still in wide effect. But many MESA retailers said they are seeing consistent gains.

“The industry is still alive, it’s still kicking. All the negative things you hear, is not true here,” said Mehdi Narimanian of Sound of Tri-State.

Suppliers said MESA has become an important force in the industry. The group represents a large portion of JL Audio’s revenue, said VP Sales Carl Kennedy.

He credited MESA with avoiding, so far, a pitfall of many buying groups. “Where buying groups have gone wrong in the past is they add too many dealers and too many brands. Thus far, MESA has done an excellent job of balancing everyone’s interests,” he said.

There are other industry groups that have helped create highly successful retailers.  MESA doesn’t have a monopoly on that score. But its scope has expanded to where it has created a large class of reliably successful retailers with significant buying power in a market that is declining overall.

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  1. I don’t think anyone thinks they are a victim! As most of us has been in business for many years and are still here and doing well. Like others I have talked with many dealers who have applied and been turned down, myself included, and a few MESA members who have been members for years. MESA did start as a group for small dealers to take advantage of group purchases for better pricing. marketing , advertising , customer financing came later and as well as better business practices. MESA now is more of a special group for mid to large size dealers. Smaller dealers are now a afterthought and are not even considered by the group. Many MESA dealers are also feeling pressured into buying larger quantities than they are comfortable with causing problems with cash flow and then having to discount items to get rid of them. Some are on the verge of stepping away from the group. So all in all MESA may not be for everyone as they like any group have their problems. But I think what upsets most small dealers is they way the seem to carter to them, but when it comes down to reality they are not really interested in them. The group is for a mid to large size shop mainly for buying purposes.

  2. We – Like the Products we sell – need a ReBoot once in a while. Give your place a Real Old Fashioned CLEANING – dig out the Eddy Kay CD’s – watch some Zig Ziglar YouTube Videos – and get back in the game !!! Oh YES – and can we talk about MUSIC…. don’t let your employees play THEIR favorite music…. the showroom needs to be playing DETAILED – INSTRUMENTAL – UNIVERSAL – NON offensive – Tracks that show off the quality of what you sell – I don’t really enjoy listening to JAZZ all day…. but when any age customer comes in and hears that type of genre – they instantly feel like they are in a REAL MUSIC STORE. There is still an American fascination with your vehicle, your tunes and the open road.

    Otherwise Give Up and Hang Out the CLOSED sign.

  3. We joined MESA two years ago and it was by far the best decision we’ve made as a company. The knowledge, resources, and people in the program each make it better with every addition. We weren’t allowed in for a while due to territorial issues prior to being allowed in but that didn’t stop us from trying. To the dealer that posted first, keep trying, and be persistent and reach out to other MESA members to put in a good word. If you can bring value to MESA then MESA can bring value to you, That’s the beautiful thing about MESA, we all don’t look at it as a buying group but instead as a community of like minded individuals seeking to better the industry and provide resources to each other that help us all! Total revenue isn’t the precursor to becoming a part of MESA, it’s what you have to bring to the table that can better the whole!

  4. Club membership is not what makes it work. Disciplined use of best practices (that the club members probably use). Building dynamite employees not waiting to hire one that has has been built somewhere else. Seek out vendors who will support you and your profit AND supporting them in return.

    There can’t be any question that the MESA guys are for the most part damn good. MESA has excellent leadership. BUT the business and the business opportunities are bigger than MESA membership.

    Ray Windsor, again…

  5. NO. MESA has not changed the 12 volt industry. They have however increased the use of best practices among their members and vendors who likely as not would not have taken the initiative to learn best practices, use best practices and improve best practices. To be sure MESA acts as a force multiplier at the purchasing level. They are a well run, on purpose and disciplined, value add organization. Their members can take great benefit from the MESA leadership examples. That said…

    There is no rocket science or magic. Just regular every day block and tackle stuff with the addition of leadership that is worth listening to. All of the things that MESA does for its membership can be practiced by any individual retailer of almost any size. It may be just a little harder for the individual BUT it is most doable. You can get the brands. You can have the website. You can do the marketing reach out. You can learn and practice dynamite salesmanship. You can be a great installer. You can focus on the brands that support you and your profitability. You can be a great business without MESA membership… ALL YOU GOTTA DO, IS DO IT !!!

    You don’t have to be a victim just because MESA does not think you fit their criteria. Maybe you do maybe you don’t. BUT you gotta be the guy who takes charge. You can’t be the guy who waits for someone else to pull you along and then complain because they elected not to.

    Try it. You’ll like it. I promise.

    Ray Windsor
    [email protected]

  6. I agree with the above statement 33 years in the business and 1 million plus in sales annually. I have been given the Big cold shoulder?

  7. We are a independent car audio and accessories dealer and have been in business for over forty years. We checked out MESA, called for more information and then filed out an application. We were lead to believe that MESA was for the small independent dealer to help with buying, networking and marketing, We were very excited and looking forward to joining MESA which would allowed us a smaller dealer to be on a more level playing field with the big boys. After waiting several weeks and not hearing anything we called up MESA and instead of the positive conservation we had with them before this time it was much different. We were basically told we were not large enough and they were not interested in us. There were no other explanation or we are sorry maybe in the future just a no whoever we were talking to hangup. I do know that we are not the largest but we do have a good looking clean and neat showroom, seven employees which three are dedicated to car stereo, remote start and customization. We buy direst from several of our manufacturers including Pioneer, Rockford, Alpine, Kenwood and Kicker to name a few and also use a few distributors. We have been a top 100 dealer, have had installers in the top fifty as well as last year we had $90,000 in sales. So I am not sure if MESA has changed the car audio industry only because we have not been invited into club.

    1. I’m sorry if there was any miscommunication about our application process and Membership requirements. I’d love to talk and clarify for you.
      Give me a call or send me an email.

      In fact, if anybody has any questions about M.E.S.A feel free to contact me.

      Ryan Gunter
      Executive Director
      [email protected]

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