Oct. 15, 2007 – New market, new business plan

Karin Gelschus
Associate Editor
An electronics company headquartered in Indiana has changed business tactics for its new powersports venture, working directly with a distributor rather than OEMs like it does in its other industries.
ASA Electronics, manufacturer of mobile audio and video equipment, owns brands such as Jensen, Jensen Heavy Duty, Jensen Marine, Sirius and Voyager. Just this summer, the Jensen Heavy Duty brand entered into the powersports industry, a first for the brand and ASA Electronics. Until now, the Jensen Heavy Duty brand serviced only the agriculture/construction industry.
The company entered the powersports market less than two months ago with a mini radio designed for ATVs and other powersport vehicles, a product company officials say is unique in the industry.
The Heavy Duty lineup includes observation equipment, stereos, speakers, accessories, etc. Currently its main focus is the new JHD910 Heavy Duty Waterproof Mini radio, which features a front panel audio aux-in for iPods and a weather alert system that informs the rider automatically of severe weather.
The radio and the rest of the Jensen Heavy Duty lineup is designed and tested at ASA Electronics’ headquarters in Elkhart, Ind. The products, which are manufactured overseas, will be distributed through Parts Unlimited in the United States.
Chris Ganshorn, ASA Electronics’ national accounts manager, said prior to their decision to work with Parts Unlimited, ASA Electronics spoke with OEMs and found they were going to take the products direct to the aftermarket.
“That was the direction they were headed,” Ganshorn said, “So we just took it upon ourselves to go that direction.”
A big advantage ASA Electronics saw in working directly with a distributor was the increase in sales possibilities because distributors are able to reach more dealers than the OEMs would have.
“Our resources limited us to the number of dealers we could get to because we aren’t that large of a company,” Ganshorn said. “For example, there are a lot of people on the West Coast that we couldn’t travel out to for meetings.”
Parts Unlimited makes it easier for Jensen since it’s dealing with one company rather than multiple as it would have with OEMs, Ganshorn said. Parts Unlimited also provides Jensen with more sales support than the OEMs would have.
“Some [OEMs] put your product on their Web site as an aftermarket option. Well that’s not doing much for you,” he said. “With Parts Unlimited, you have 130 salespeople out there selling your products for you, so it’s a lot bigger reward.”
Although working with OEMs can mean a more stable business than normal retail, Ganshorn said the possible rewards far out weigh any risks.
“We really see a huge potential here — an extreme amount of potential,” he said. “We expect great results from this.”
With the radio debuting less than two months ago, ASA Electronics hasn’t had to make any internal adjustments yet to accommodate the new venture, but Ganshorn said that’s definitely a possibility.
“It depends on how the program goes,” he said. “Once we get more into it and get some literature sent out to all the dealerships, it might eventually require more personnel.”
Ganshorn said they’ve already sold quite a few of the radios, but he doesn’t have any specific sales numbers currently because it’s so new. “We just aren’t that far into it yet,” he said.

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