Well like it or not, I just finished my first 25 years in the truck accessory/automotive electronics business. I guess the miles on me is starting to show, but I'm still here plugging away at it everyday. I had a conversation with one of my employees the other day about how things have changed since he started working for me 10 years ago, and it started me thinking of how much things have changed, since I started 25 years ago. So here are a few of my observations of change in this business over that span.
Mobile Audio... 25 years ago cassettes were king. The first CD car stereo by Sony had just come out and it was hot, if we could get them we could sell them, even at the $800 dollar price. These were 2 piece units with a hideaway control module and did not do even as much as units that sell for $100 today, but that was state of the art then. Amps and woofer were commonplace but much less versatile. For example, while today virtually every amp sold has some sort of crossover built in, in that time a crossover was a separate unit you had to buy in addition to your amplifiers.
Car Alarms... Car alarms were very basic with most models being passive systems meaning they had no remote controls but instead armed a preset time after leaving the car and gave you so many seconds to get in and put in the key to disarm. Remote control units were the high end selling for around $500 and were the equivalent of todays basic remote control alarm systems if that. Alarms of that day had so few outputs, as installers we often had to figure out ways with relays and other parts to get the parking lights to flash from the siren output for example. Impact and motion sensors were truly mechanical devices and were finicy to adjust and prone to false alarms. Remote start was a dream way in the future.
Truck Accessories... Plastic bedliners was a good as it got, there were no spray in liners yet. Light duty and chrome grille guards were the norm. Stainless steel was not yet being used in truck accessories, so chrome was king and we regularly had to deal with the accompanying rust problems that come with chrome. Heavy duty grille guards and bumpers were just starting to show up here in South Texas and definitely had not spread to other parts of the country. Common features of todays grille guards like wrap around ends and design that followed the trucks body lines were unknown... they were flat and square. Nerf bars were new and just round pipe with no step pads. Running boards were the king of the day. Bug guards were flat plastic mounted on metal brackets that stuck out from under the hood and window visors were stamped metal. A very popular accessory was chrome plated steel tailgate protectors and there were no side bed caps yet. Tool boxes were steel and mostly white. There was a lot of thick real wood center consoles, overhead consoles, and door trim to deck out the truck interior. "Sport truck" gear was hot like ground effects, headlight covers, convertible conversions, nose bras and guys were putting this gear on their compact trucks. Overall there were no where near the options truck owners have today.
So there are a few of my memories of life in the truck accessory business in 1987. And since I have been selling car stereo equipment for almost 40 years, I leave my tales of 8-track sales for another day.