May '17

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36 • RV PRO • May 2017 rv-pro.com no DVD. The biggest tech trends that still exist today include bringing smartphones and mobile connectivity everywhere. It's the ability to connect every other thing via Wi-Fi, cellular or Bluetooth," Barrow says. "It's a connected world now, and for us it is trying to figure out what a connected world looks like and what kind of new things will consumers want at their fingertips." Customers are more tech-savvy now when it comes to elec- tronics – and their expectations are higher than in the past. Electronics have to work right out of the box, Barrow says, which is why ASA products undergo stringent testing. "The tech change rate is almost unbelievable, and we're in the electronics business so we are living on edge, riding those waves, right on the front," he says. "That's what we do. And that is our future." Preparing for Future Tech Barrow identifies three main categories for ASA's future: the continued development of high-end audio systems, advanced safety systems for vehicles (automatic braking and driver assist), and vehicle connectivity. "Think of all the things that can be controlled and moni- tored that can be connected," Barrow says. "It's almost scary." Regarding high-end audio systems – where the company got its start and continues to be a strong player – ASA is actively engaged in the creation of "very powerful sound systems that can create an emotional experience for someone. We want it to be a very high-end experience," Barrow says. Still, exactly what the company's new product developments will look like is hard to predict, according to Barrow. "Somebody may be coming out with the most amazing thing ever, and it's in a lab right now. And when it comes out, it's amazing, but it was secret. Nobody knew about it," he says. "It happens." While ASA keeps an eye on the known trends, Barrow says, there are times when "we have to get in a time machine and say: 'What will it look like three years from now?'" ASA, he says, is "really good at getting there early. We are usually earlier than all our competition." That's yet another difference between ASA and other com- panies, according to Barrow. Some companies take competitive information and use that to develop products. He calls that "outside in." ASA works the other way around. "We grow from the inside out," Barrow says. "We're always doing something new. We are going to be the one that everybody else copies. That is our goal. We conceive products from a white sheet of paper, put it out ahead of time, even before the market is ready, and when the market is ready, we are already there." 'Excited About the Future' Irions says he's excited about what the future holds, both generally and for ASA. "I'm very excited about the future, because things are moving so fast," he says. "I tell my employees, you are going to win fast, or you are going to lose fast. I am 66 now and I am more technical than most of my contemporaries." Indeed, he's got a pair of smartphones and knows how to stream. He's a techie. "It's the way you have to be if you are going to stay in the game," Irions says. "You have to do that to know the impact a product is going to bring to users." He reflects on his extensive career. Traipsing around the world. Learning other cultures. Learning the way of the techie. He's seen doors open and close. He's seen other companies come and go, lacking the wherewithal to last as long as ASA. "A lot of my buddies are retiring. But I've enjoyed it a lot and I think I'm here for the foreseeable future," he says. "I still really enjoy it and have a lot of enthusiasm. It's been a hell of a ride." O R I G I N A L E Q U I P M E N T THEN AND NOW. At left: Tom Irions (right) demos ASA's stereo and speaker lineup in the early 1980s. At right: Irions is pictured today in his office at ASA.

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