WAYNE, N.J. — Electronics Expo is on the comeback trail.
Less than two years after filing for bankruptcy, the independent A/V dealer and integrator/installer has beaten the odds by: 1) staying in business; 2) returning to profitability; and 3) expanding.
Once a CE force in northern New Jersey with seven retail stores and a clearance center, the company has since reinvented itself under founder/owner Leon Temiz, who provides both a cautionary tale and a primer for survival in the Amazon Age.
“TV got us into trouble,” he said of the price-battered category, which had been the centerpiece of his business. Instant rebate lags, truckload minimums and weekly price changes led to mounting losses, he recalled, prompting a major video vendor to pull its credit lines, which cascaded into Chapter 11.
Today, the company, based here, has a newfound focus on premium audio, which has swapped central roles with TV. Even the current crop of pricier and more profitable 4K models still serve as ancillary products to state-of-the-art sound systems variously employing Dolby Atmos technology and Control 4 and Denon Heos wireless platforms.
Rather than battle it out online and in sales circulars as he had in the past, Temiz has surrounded himself with protected, limited-distribution lines like Cambridge Audio, Definitive Technologies, Klipsch, Martin Logan, Paradigm and Polk, all of which are bought direct.
Expo also does a big business in Bluetooth speakers, premium headphones and two-channel audio.
Temiz said there’s sufficient audio demand to support the business, especially in northern New Jersey’s affluent suburbs where’s there’s little retail competition in premium sound.
To supplement sales, the company continues to provide custom installation and whole-home/whole-office integration services to the commercial and residential markets.
Apparently the new game plan is working. The business is showing a profit again for the January through August period, and is on track to do $15 million in sales this year, one-tenth of Expo’s volume at its peak. Temiz has also amassed 170,000 positive reviews on Amazon (he also sells his authorized, UPPprotected products on eBay, Newegg, Rakuten and ElectronicsExpo. com), and maintains an e-mail list of over 1 million addresses, including some 400,000 customers in New Jersey.
“We’ve found our niche,” Temiz said, but not without the support of loyal vendors and a staff that’s stood by him through good times and bad.
Conversely, throughout the bankruptcy the former Sixth Avenue Electronics CEO refrained from going- out-of-business sales, apprised and paid his suppliers, and cared for his customers and honored their warranties. He further demonstrated his commitment to Expo by buying it out of bankruptcy with $1.5 million of his own funds.
Now stabilized with a broad customer base and bank financing, and with Christmas quickly approaching, Temiz felt it was time to take the next baby step: reopening his former Union, N.J., store. The 10,800-square-foot site was his second most productive showroom after the headquarters store, and reopened earlier this month with a vendor reception.
“We’re taking it little by little, one step at a time for the long term,” he said.