Here’s a fun fact. Over half the employees at AudioControl are musicians.
The company has inventory now, it is air shipping parts to its US manufacturing facilities in order to keep up with demand, and it says it’s benefiting from the shortage in head units, as consumers keep their current radios and turn to integration products instead.
These and other topics were discussed by AudioControl CEO Alex Camara at the “Learning from Leaders” zoom call presented by the Mobile Electronics Association (MEA).
Camara gave a timetable for new AudioControl products due this year including two all-weather micro amplifiers for the marine and powersports market (ACX models shipping in November). Powersports will be an important area for AudioControl next year, when more models are introduced. The company will also ship in December new 5-channel amplifiers (LC-5.1300 and D-5.1300). And an LC1i line output converter is due in October. The LC1i, at $79, is a step up in quality to the typical LOCs on the market. It has new integrated ‘load-matching’ circuitry that is also on the new LC2i PRO.
AudioControl has received a LOT more consumer calls during the pandemic. “Our team has taken 60 percent more consumer calls. They buy it, get it home and try do it themselves and realize they need help and talk to our team and then often we direct them to one of our dealers for installation,” Camara said.
Chris Cook of MEA asked if Camara has seen any new trends during the pandemic. “The biggest thing we’re seeing talking to consumers and dealers is amplification is through the roof. Our amplifier business is double what it was last year.”
AudioControl’s overall sales have doubled in recent months. “Our plan in the next three months is to be in double digit positive growth over last year,” said Camara. He’s flown in thousands of parts, which has actually proven an advantage for AudioControl as a US manufacturer, because the parts cost less to ship than fully assembled goods. About half of the parts used are from the US.
AudioControl has been inventory positive for the past six weeks.
Fifty people are employed in the AudioControl factory, mainly in Seattle and some in a smaller facility in Spokane. Camara said the company has ordered big for the fall and winter to keep inventory levels high.
Camara spoke of AudioControl’s RTA device that took two years to develop at a cost of a few hundred thousand dollars. The DM-RTA is targeted to sell 2,000 units, not enough to recoup costs although Camara says the product is still worth it for its utility to dealers.
AudioControl has held over 30 weekly zoom calls during the pandemic, some of which featured guests in sales training and technology training. The average call had about 100 viewers plus additional viewers that watched later. It also offers what it calls ZAP calls (Zoom AudioControl Presentations) that are tailored to specific retailers and are led by Matthew Palumbo. About 40 ZAP presentations have been performed for home and business and now the company is focusing on mobile.
The company originated in 1977 making audio mixers and gradually moved into home audio products and then car audio integration and then amplifiers. It still doesn’t produce speakers, which it says helps keep its products speaker-agnostic.
What did Camara learn from running both a home and car audio business? “The biggest piece that you see in a home theater is when you put their home theater in and you see them and their kids in that room… they are blown away. We want to see that more in the car. People don’t realize they can have that in their car.”