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MERA Postpones Events, Reorganizes

4/07/2008 01:10:00 PM Eastern

Indianapolis — Several spring regional car-stereo trade events hosted by the Mobile Enhancement Retailers Association (MERA) have been postponed as the organization undergoes restructuring.

In addition to executive director Rick Mathies’ resignation on April 4 to join Brand Source, MERA also reduced its staff from five to two. Also, the group has been losing members and is down to less than 350, from 600 in 2001.

New interim executive director Jim Montoya said he sees his job as reinvigorating MERA and its retail base.

Three MERA regional spring events will be postponed until later in the year that were scheduled in Albany, N.Y.; Overland Park, Kan.; and Birmingham, Ala. Montoya, who has more then 20 years experience running trade associations, and has been with MERA for less than two weeks, said the events weren’t promoted and pre-registration numbers were low, so it made sense to postpone them.

The events are offered because MERA’s main industry training and information event, KnowledgeFest, is attended mainly for retailers within driving distance and so similar events were offered at diverse locations. Such regional events are expected to resume by early fall, Montoya said.

Montoya said his first order of business is to work on MERA’s agreements with Brand Source to launch a new Mobile Entertainment Source (MES) buying group. MERA former executive director Rick Mathies is now director for MES, which has so far signed up more than 50 members.

Another goal is to outsource some of MERA’s tasks to reduce costs. MERA’s Integration Excellence software, which is meant to help retailers stay abreast of integration kits and devices, will likely be marketed and managed by the software’s developer Victory Technologies as an example of “outsourcing,” said Montoya.

He said the organization plans to increase member services “that are meaningful and useful to the dealers, not only for KnowledgFest, but for every day of the year.”

One idea is to offer Webinars to explain the Integration Excellence software. Another goal is to improve membership.

Montoya noted that while former director Mathies came from a retail background, his own background is in association management as he ran his own trade association group for 18 years called Montoya Management, which merged with the Raybourn Group three years ago. The Raybourn Group manages MERA (MERA executives are employees of Raybourn) and Raybourn also managed CEDIA until this month. Under Raybourn, CEDIA grew from a three-man organization to one employing 30 to 40 managers.

Montoya had a positive outlook on MERA, claiming, “I’m excited as to what the possibilities are, not only with the association, but the industry. One thing we all must realize — we can’t continue to do what we’ve always done and expect to get different results. What we need to do as an association is to help our members to make the adjustments they need to be successful.”

He added, “What I’m picking up is there are those who seem to be discouraged and others who are very excited about the industry.”

MERA also expects to work with the new 12-volt summit to be held in Dallas, July 16-17, which is being sponsored by Pioneer, Alpine and other suppliers and organized by the Sabatino Day Williamson Group.

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