ARVADA, COLO. — The Mobile Electronics Specialists Association (MESA) has grown its membership count by nearly three-fold in the last two years.
The 12-volt buying and marketing group, which counted 44 members in the beginning of 2013, now has 128 members among its ranks, accounting for over 250 store locations and $260 million in annual revenue.
The increase coincides with the absorption and dissolution last year of In-Car Experts (ICE), a rival 12-volt buying group, by Mobile Electronics, a trade association (see story above).
Of the 128 MESA members, 74 are Gold members (with $700,000 to $1.4 million in car audio sales) and 54 are Platinum ($1.4 million-plus). The marketing benefits are the same for both groups, MESA executive director Ryan Gunter told TWICE, but the vendor programs will differ.
In addition to buying discounts and networking opportunities, members have access to such promotional and marketing materials as email and website templates, TV commercials, digital signage, Pandora ads and social-media opportunities.
This year, the group also officially launched MESA Fit, a website detailing which accessories are needed for a particular install, with members’ comments and recommendations noted alongside.
“Instead of having to look at eight different websites to see what’s needed for an install, the installer can now just look at one,” Gunter said. “You can take a sales guy who’s just starting in 12-volt and make him look very knowledgeable to a consumer by having him be able to tell him up-front what is needed.”
MESA also debuted MESA Money, a credit lending and financing program, on, rather appropriately, April 15. The program launched in partnership with Alliance Data’s Card Services business, a provider of branded credit programs.
As of press time, the majority of the group’s members were in the process of signing up, Gunter said.
This year’s annual MESA Summit will be held Sept. 9-11 in Breckenridge, Colo. As with previous gatherings, the meeting will feature members sharing best practices and participating in training programs. There will also be a full day of vendor roundtables, expanding on a new format that originated last year.
These hour-long roundtables — held true to form at large round tables — consist of a vendor, several members who currently do business with that vendor, and several members who don’t. Rather than just receiving pitches from vendors, this format enables the retailers to mentor one another, Gunter said, learning why it may be worth it for them to work with that particular brand. After an hour, the members then switch tables to confer with a different brand.
This year’s show will feature six roundtables, up from last year’s three, Gunter noted.