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PARA To Become CEA Division

New York — PARA (the Professional Audio Video Retailers Association) will celebrate its 25th anniversary by becoming a division of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA).

In an e-mail to member dealers, PARA president John Flanner said PARA will become a fully sanctioned division of CEA with an independent board elected by PARA retail members. PARA will also gain a seat on the CEA board.

The associations hope to complete the change by May 31.

With the change, PARA’s current dues structure, dealer programs and board will remain in place, and CEA will produce PARA’s annual conference. CEA hopes to beef up PARA training and dealer programs, the email said.

Suppliers that are current associate members of PARA will remain associate members through the end of the year, when they will be asked to become CEA members. Many large PARA suppliers are already CEA members, but many smaller associate members are not.

CEA’s absorption of PARA is not without precedent. In the 1990s, CEA absorbed another dealer association. That one, the Mobile Electronics Association, formerly the Car Audio Specialists Association, also became a CEA division.

PARA was the consumer electronics industry’s first management association for independent specialty audio retailers. In 1979, founder and first president Walter Stinson and like-minded specialists formed PARA to improve the business skills of independent audio specialists when the economy was in disarray and major consumer electronics suppliers had significantly tightened their credit terms.

Since then, PARA evolved with the changing audio times. PARA targeted its education and support programs to help members position themselves to thrive when high-volume chain stores grew increasingly aggressive in the market. PARA later provided guidance to help members transform their businesses into home theater businesses. Most recently, the association has been helping dealers diversify successfully into the custom home installation business.