Audiovox is a company that cut it's teeth behind the wheel of a car and is still a premier supplier to the automotive aftermarket. Everyone knows how we became a mobile electronics company but it is a story worth repeating.
It is 1965...and a young John Shalam, Wharton School graduate, has shucked his job at Continental Grain Company in New York and is in the fourth year in his own small business called Custom Imports. He'll sell anything and everything and as the original 'outsourcer' gets all of his products from Asia. No manufacturing overhead for him...in fact no overhead at all, as he is president, sales manager and secretary all rolled into one. An ordering mix up leaves him the owner of an overstock order of 2,000 car radios, no customers and the loan to pay for them coming due soon.
With the yellow pages as his only salesman he calls around to a dozen companies listed under the category of 'car radios'. Twelve get a letter and a sample radio and much to his surprise eleven companies actually place orders. The 2,000 radios disappear quickly. It's a few days before Christmas and John closes up the tiny office and heads out for a holiday weekend skiing. Young and single, car radios are the farthest thing from his mind.
When John returns to work after the New Year he's surprised by messages from a number of his new customers. "Philadelphia sold out - they want more radios." "Detroit wants 200 more radios". Harold Freedman in Miami called, he needs 300 more. At first John says, "There are no more radios" but the calls don't stop. It does not take long for the merchant in him to take over and "There are no more radios" becomes "How many do you need?"
That's how we started back in 1965 as a car sound company that soon became the aftermarket car sound company. In those days many cars came without a radio or with a cheap factory installed system. We offered high power radios, 8 tracks, cassettes and CD's and now we include satellite radios and in dash pop out screen systems that are the latest in entertainment and information convergence. Although we have added much, we have never forgotten that mobile is our "roots".
We kept our focus exclusively on the car sound market until 1981 when we entered the vehicle security arena. We were confident that we could expand our 'sound' customer relationships into this new and growing area...and we did. Today Prestige and Pursuit security are among the most respected vehicle security brands...and just for good measure we added Code Alarm one of the premier names in vehicle security through an acquisition.
Today, Vehicle Tracking is among our hottest products, along with specialized mobile products like collision avoidance. In 1987, realizing that we would need significant capital to continue to grow; we took the company public and listed on the American Stock Exchange as VOX. Eventually, we would move that listing to NASDAQ under the trading symbol, VOXX.
In 1991, the company separated into two marketing groups- wireless and electronics. This move was made so that each sales group could more tightly focus on their specific industry.
In 1997, we took the step that solidified Audiovox in the mobile electronics industry when we shipped our first mobile video product and quickly became recognized as the leader in that brand new category. Today we STILL enjoy a number one market position in this category and the reputation of that our video products are simply second to none. In fact our mobile video team has even partnered with Disney in a video and DVD promotion...and Disney only partners with the best!
It was around 2000 that we got serious in the acquisition mode...first came the assets of the well-known Code Alarm vehicle security company. This purchase gave AEC an even greater share of the vehicle security market.
Then came a big one...when we acquired the Jensen, Phase Linear, AR and Advent brands that resulted from the purchase the assets of Recoton. These new brands had a synergy with both our distribution chain and our other product lines. In addition we expanded to Europe with this deal that included the acquisition of Audiovox Germany, which was part of the deal. In the three years since, Jensen has become our premier in dash entertainment line with 5 of the top 10 market models all bearing the Jensen brand.
And that brings us to 2004 when the company took its boldest step and sold the cellular subsidiary. The time had come to exit the cellular business and the money generated by the sale of the cellular company would allow us to grow the Electronics Company both organically and through acquisition. Thirty days after the close of the cellular sale, we made good on our commitment to grow through acquisition and bought Terk Technologies, a well-known, high-end accessory company and with that purchase entered the electronic accessory market with mobile products focused on the XM satellite radio format.
2005 brought us to another important milestone, John Shalam, who had been our president and CEO since 1965 turned the reins of the company over to Patrick Lavelle. John remains chairman today and is quite active in the company's important growth decision. To further realign our management teams, Tom Malone became president of Audiovox Electronics Corp this year.
Tom now holds the reigns of the electronics side of our company, and mobile is very close to his heart. We have no doubt that Audiovox will be at the forefront of the exciting and ever changing mobile electronics industry for many years to come. Over the years, car radios gave way to 8-track tape players to cassette players to CD players. Then from car security to cellular phones to Mobile Video to in car MP 3 players to Satellite Radio to GPS Navigation....and we've only just begun.