Where Have All the Installers Gone?
A recent government survey from the U.S. Department of Labor found that in 2014, motor vehicle electronics equipment installers and repairers were among the fastest-declining occupations in the United States, just behind Locomotive Firers. Now don’t panic, because we are not elevator operators just yet. First off, they did lump in repairers. Back in the day, every town had a person who could repair car audio equipment. And the product that couldn’t be repaired by the local tech would make its way to United Radio in Syracuse, N.Y., where the masters there could usually repair odds-and-ends products (United Radio is still very much in business and thriving, by the way). As far as installation, the year was 2014 - a year where big-box retailers started to shrink their mobile electronics installation staff, especially after insurance rates skyrocketed after untrained installers started ruining expensive advanced automobiles. The ‘do no harm’ mantra of a good installer does not ring clear with a twenty-something armed with a borrowed Makita.
Also note that the installers were making the least amount of money on the list, further suggesting that it was the big-box retailers, paying close to minimum wage, were the ones doing the cutting.
So, now for the non-doom-and-gloom viewpoint. Most specialty retailers who are doing it right are thriving. They have added to their product mix to include technologies such as vehicle safety and smartphone integration. Moreover, audio sales in the industry remain stagnant, when everyone thought there was going to be a cliff-faced decline. We keep on truckin’ along, and making money while doing it.