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Executives Sound Off On United Finals

The 13th annual Spring Break Nationals in Daytona Beach, Fla. broke new ground for the 12-volt industry as IASCA, USAC and dB Drag all hosted competitions at one venue for the first time.

Hosted by show organizer Paul Papadeas, SBN XIII, held last month, drew more than 60 manufacturers, of which 18 were new to the roster of exhibitors. New faces included Boston Acoustics, Eclipse, Kenwood, Nakamichi and Sony. In addition, over 600 vehicles were judged.

According to Papadeas, "The degree of enthusiasm among exhibitors has not been seen in quite a while."

While this event served as a dress rehearsal for what a united finals event might look like, there are still mixed opinions about what's best for the 12-volt industry.

Should there be a united finals? Here, some industry executives respond:

Ed Dalesandro

Principal, End Result

IASCA board of directors

I am more concerned with what we are doing at the grassroots of America! My dealers need help and motivation in their own back yards. They are competing with snowboards, computers and the like. They must promote or else risk losing the disposable dollar.

Tom Walker

President, AudioControl

I just may be the minority opinion. You see, I can think of reasons NOT to have a united finals. Of course, the real question is who are the customers for any finals and what do those customers want?

Here are some thoughts:

1. No one organization can represent all groups. Different groups have different interests and goals, so one finals cannot satisfy all the people.

2. Few people can afford the money or time to travel across the country. One united finals then becomes the playground of the elite.

3. Contests should serve the interests of the retailers. Retailers do not have much reason to support the elite. Local contests with lots of local competitors serve the interests of the retailer.

4. More finals by various organizations mean more participants. I favor this, as should the retailers.

5. Not many real spectators come to the finals. Those that come, in my opinion, are mostly "affiliates." That is, people who have some affiliation to what is going on at the finals. Affiliates include brothers, girlfriends, buddies, parents, competitors who entered just a few contests this year, people who are thinking about competing, etc. The pure spectator is relatively rare. Talk to those walking around at SBN and it was a destination. By and large, this is (and should be) a participant sport not a spectator sport.

Herman Miedema

VP operations, RME

The feeling at Recoton Mobile Electronics (RME) is that the move toward one high-profile consumer event in the spring makes good sense. The money that we will save by not having to participate in multiple events can be reinvested to make Spring Break Nationals a high-impact program. Speaking for the Jensen and SoundQuest brands, we [made] a big splash with our most impressive display to date, and I doubt if we would have invested to the same level if we were looking to repeat the program four or six months down the road.

Keith Lehmann

President, MB Quart

We are in full support of a united finals. Our industry has been fragmented long enough with conflicting competition formats and expositions. Even competitors themselves are searching for industry leadership. The reputation of our industry on this subject has been that of a territorial struggle, with each sanctioning body fighting over shrinking ground.

Recent efforts in bringing the IASCA, USAC and dB Drag Finals together are not only a welcome departure from the turf wars, they're a significant step toward having a singular venue by which the industry can now attract a corporate sponsor and more media interest.

Gary Kovner

President, Kove Audio

I would love to see a united finals, but there are too many people with too many interests and too much money involved for this to ever happen.