NEW YORK —
The 2011-2012 winter was not a
good one for kids longing for snow days, snow
plow owners longing for seasonal work, or — not
surprisingly — the remote-start industry.
Despite an early freak snowstorm in the Northeast
in late October, which prompted some retailers
to load up in anticipation of another brutal
winter, the remote-start category wasn’t given
any help from Mother Nature. This was doubly
unfortunate for a category that’s already often
viewed as a luxury item in the soft economy.
“Everyone knows the weather was not cooperative
for vibrant remote-start sales,” Tom
Malone, president of Audiovox Electronics.
“Certainly, it had an impact on the sell-through.
Our sell-in was good. Our dealers and distributors
all stepped up and bought a lot of inventory
in anticipation of another good year because
last year was such a good year. I know they were
disappointed in their sell-through.”
Mike Northup, Auto Page president, concurred:
“We were off in the months of November, December
— basically in the meat of the season, which is
November through February. We’re off about 20
percent in unit sales [compared with last year].”
“We’re finding our retail dealers still have a lot
of inventory they haven’t moved,” he said.
Northup noted that although the straight
remote-start products were down, the devices
bundled with security features still did quite well
for Auto Page.
“The remote-start security products still did
quite well, and that doesn’t surprise me. Those
products are not necessarily as seasonal as just
the ones that are strictly remote start,” he said.
“Everything else — higher-end, top-of-the-line
two-way alarms and remote start —didn’t fall off.
That was pretty flat from last year.”
Despite the lack of help from the weather,
both Mwalone and Northup were optimistic
about the category’s prospects next year.
“We think next year everything will bounce back
to normal,” Northup said. “Hopefully the recession
… will be over. Things will start to be bouncing
back overall, not just during the winter months.”
Malone noted that while “everything suffered to
a degree,” he didn’t think “it was a bad year by
any means and not for many of the dealers and
distributors we spoke to. It just was not a great
year, and it wasn’t going to be.”
When asked what Voxx has in store for next
year, Malone said the company was focusing a
lot more on the look of the actual transmitters,
which is something they’ve spent more time on
in the last few years.
“That’s the only thing the consumer sees —
that’s how your product will jump off the retail
shelf,” he said. “If the consumer likes the transmitter,
and it feels good in their hand and is solid
… a lot goes into that.”
Malone also noted that Voxx’s remote-start
devices are “a very mature group of products,”
and said they are going to continue to evolve in
small ways. This includes the company’s Car-
Link technology, which he called “an education
for our dealers.”