Operating under all of those values flow directly to the customer as a benefit.
We also were unique in recognizing the special value customers placed in their choice and investment in home and car entertainment equipment. Keeping that in mind, our service process entailed much more than simply correcting an electronic failure. The equipment was cleaned, model checked for outstanding service bulletins and the method to prevent a future failure was communicated to the owner of the serviced product. We certainly enjoy our repeat customers but don't wish for them to undergo the same problem from what could be an external cause.
Our customer base grew and the volume of business began to surpass even the most enthusiastic estimates. A second, full time technician was hired and we began looking for a third. At this point, the decision was made to control our growth in order to maintain the level of quality we had become known for. The decision was made to specialize and not service television products of any kind. The focus remained on doing what we did best, a philosophy that remains in effect today, 22 years later.
In 1982, several manufacturers began to take special notice of our quick turn around time, quality of service and honest business practices. They wanted to direct more business to us but because of the relationship with a retailer, felt uncomfortable. May of 1983 was the month that would set the business on our ultimate path. We incorporated as Audio Video Service Labs and changed our physical location and ownership. We began to market ourselves as the servicer of choice in the Southeast. Audio Video Service Labs was intentionally structured to be large enough to meet the needs of retail dealers as well as individual customers without becoming the "assembly line service operation" chosen by some.
Our goal was to maintain the one on one, personal touch we had become known for. This began to attract retail dealers who chose to or could not operate their own service facility. Quick, dependable and safe delivery VIA United Parcel Service enabled us to become a resource and our dealer base quickly grew to over 2,000 retail dealers located throughout the country.
The years 1984 to 1993 were witness to the largest growth period of the company. Repair costs were going up and the pool of skilled technical employees was shrinking. The traditional approach to having large numbers of small servicers was being re-thought by equipment manufactuers. It was far more economical for a manufacturer to support several large, regional service facilities than many small ones.
In response to that, Alpine Electronics began a service program aptly named "5 Star." In 1987, Audio Video Service Labs was asked to be the pilot for that program. It had specific performance goals which had to be met and maintained. Again, we found the number of our out of town, retail dealers who forwarded product needing service take a quantum leap. The areas we began to serve was to now include an area from Delaware south to Florida, west to Texas, north to Indiana and then jog east to Maryland.
While that growth was explosive and brought with it new service issues with their unique challenges, we were able to sucessfully control the expansion and maintain our standards and relationships.
1990 was to be another decisive year. One of the owners of a local radio station and close friend had decided to sell his interest in that business and become part of this one. We did not know it at the time but this was to become one of the greatest blessings we could receive. Our new partner was not here 60 days when we received a call from Kenwood USA. They had made the decision to open an East Coast service facility for all their products, with an initial focus on their Amateur Radio products. They were very aware of the companies reputation and wanted to know if we would be interested in such a relationship. The phone call was put on hold for our new partner while he was "promoted" to being the manager of 2 Way Radio Service on the spot.
Our partnership with Kenwood is very unique. We were to actually operate with their Trade Logo, general policies and as with Alpine, empowered with the ability to make decisions that would best serve their customers. Thus, in 1991, Kenwood Service Center East, a Division of Audio Video Service Labs was born. With this new level of product volume, it was time to move to a much larger facility.
1991 through present has seen our dealer base grow to over 4,000 and include dealers of Commercial, 2-Way radio equipment. Our technical staff has expanded with the work load yet those who came aboard in the early days are still here. We are now in our 22nd year in the Electronics Repair Business and 10th year in the same physical location.
While we have trimmed some product lines due to their inability to provide us the support we require to maintain our quality level, many growth milestones have been passed. Among those was an expansion of our Alpine Service Territory, becoming the 12th largest Sony Service provider in the country and forging a close relationship with Pioneer. In contemporary times, we have come to recognize our role in helping our manufacturer-partners need to control costs yet still deliver the best possible service to their customers.
Cost control has become the core challenge of the new century. We will continue to welcome new approaches to those efforts and be a part of a solution which will enable affordable entertainment technology to be available.