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Press & Awards

Check back here often for the latest news on our new product releases, awards, recognitions, and other exciting achievements.

Home Automation Podcast Episode #91: An Industry Q&A With Bob Cole

In this weeks home automation show of Automation Unplugged, Bob Cole of World Wide Stereo shares his team’s approach to educating millennials on good audio.

This week's home automation podcast features our host Ron Callis interviewing Bob Cole. Recorded live on Wednesday, November 20th, 2020 at 12:30 p.m. EST.

About Bob Cole

Bob Cole is the CEO & Founder of World Wide Stereo who just celebrated their 40th Anniversary. Bob currently sits on the Board of Directors of the ProSource Buying Group. He has been featured on numerous publications from USA Today and Rolling Stones to The Financial Times, Huffington Post, and Esquire. He has been recognized as one of the “25 most influential people in CE” and was named to the Consumer Electronics’ Hall of Fame by Dealerscope Magazine.

His company-wide focus on philanthropy also extends into his personal life – he has raised significant funds and awareness for the arts and music education, St. Christopher’s Hospital, Ronald McDonald House, The Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania, Parkinson’s disease and cancer research. Bob currently sits on the Board of Directors for The Parkinson Council, Abington Health Advisory Council and serves on the advisory council for a technology-focused private equity firm.
Interview Recap

Here are some of the topics Ron had the opportunity to discuss with Bob Cole:

  • How Bob transitioned from his career as a psychologist to the consumer electronics industry 
  • How it felt to be inducted into CT Hall of Fame in 2018
  • World Wide Stereo’s focus on philanthropy and involvement in charities
  • His team’s approach to educating millennials on good audio

SEE ALSO: Home Automation Podcast Episode #90: A Custom Integration Industry Q&A With David Frangioni


Ron: Hello, everybody! Ron Callis here with another episode of Automation Unplugged. This is episode 91. I am very happy to bring this show to you. We are sponsored by my day job over at One Firefly. Today is Wednesday, November 20th. We have a big week next week with Thanksgiving, a big national holiday here in the U.S. Maybe the biggest holiday. We're coming to you at 12:30 PM, right on time. Thank you for joining me. Super excited about my guest. We have Bob Cole from the infamous Word Wide Stereo joining us. Before I bring Bob in, let me click over on my technology. Let me verify that we are streaming live, so bear with me here. All right.

I'm excited because I have my internet service! For those of you that have watched the last few shows, I'm coming to you from my new house. I've been working off of a little an AT&T hotspot while I was waiting for my 1Gig fiber service to get installed. It was installed a couple of days ago. I don't want our Murphy's Law to take effect here, but in theory, this is going to stream nicely now that I have great bandwidth. I see we got some people in the comments. We have Emily Cole of World Wide Stereo. She goes, "Woo!" All right, Emily, thank you for that. And, without further ado, let me bring in our guest. Let's bring in the one and only Bob Cole.

Bob: Ta-da!

Ron: Bob, you're going to love this. A gentleman named Peter says, "World Wide Stereo rocks!" Would you agree with that, Bob?

Bob: That's a fact.

Ron: That's a fact. But here's, here's what's even cooler. He says, " does One Firefly." All right, now we're talking. Good job. Thanks, Peter. Appreciate that. Bob, thank you. You are a very busy man, and you're pulled in a lot of directions. I'm honored to have you here as our 91st guest on Automation Unplugged.

Bob: Took you long enough. My goodness!

Ron: What was I thinking? Why were you not guest number one? I feel bad now. Well, you're here now. Bob, where are you coming to us from?

Bob: From Sunny Harleysville, Pennsylvania.

Ron: Awesome. And you were mentioning to me that on occasion you'll do work from home. Is this a work from home Wednesday?

Bob: Yes, absolutely, it is.

Ron: We have lots of folks jumping in here. Bob, we're going to because this is a live show. I'm going to give some quick shout outs here and then we're going to jump in. Laura says, "Let's get this party started!" All right, Laura, let's do it. We have Angel, who goes, "Welcome, Bob Cole!" Thank you, Angel. McKenzie just jumped in, and she says, "Welcome, Bob. So glad to have you." All right, let's jump into it. Bob, you are the fearless leader of World Wide Stereo. You very impressively just celebrated your 40th year in business, and first of all, congratulations. That's nothing short of amazing.

Bob: Thanks for having me, by the way.

Ron: No, as you said, I should've had you much, much earlier. But you're here now we're going to rock and roll. Bob, though I would think most people know you, there's going to be some watching that don't know you. Can you give us a bit of, you've got 40 years to go through if you could give us in your own words, your background?

Bob: Wow. Wow.

Ron: Take as long as you want, by the way. You got a lot of ground to cover.

Bob: Yeah, I do. Well, originally, I was a psychologist. I did that for 10 to 12 years. I was successful. I was happy. But we ran out of money, and the country's focus on helping people with those kinds of emotional issues was drifting during the Nixon years. I took a break, and I wound up working for this franchise company, which was World Wide Stereo. They went out of business. I opened my store, seemed like a natural transition. It was a lark. I had no money. I had no profit-making background. But I knew about people. That's what I did all those years. Since then, we've grown from a little tiny store to two brick and mortar stores, one in Ardmore, one in Montgomeryville.

We have a significant customer integration business. We were doing custom back in 1980. So we were early on board. Part of that was my feeling that people didn't understand how much electronics could bring to their life. They were still thinking of just buying a pair of stereo. I'm thinking, well, why don't you have that stereo in your bathroom? What a great idea. We went into the eCommerce world, touched on it in 1994, but didn't hit it hard until 2007, 2008. We've got about a hundred people working for us. It's a happy place.

Ron: You have three locations, are they all in the greater Philadelphia area?

Bob: Yeah, actually, we have two stores in the Philadelphia marketplace. We have another location, which is a distribution center also in the Philadelphia market. Then we have another warehouse and offices. So we have four locations technically.

Ron: Okay. If you can explain a little bit more of the breakdown, are you primarily retail? You just mentioned e-commerce. It sounds like you have a healthy e-commerce component. What is your business look like today?

Bob: It's a really good question because any one of the three divisions, a stand-alone, can stand alone, but they don't stand alone. I don't know anybody else who is integrating three divisions in the way that we are. They support one another. Our customer integration business, for example, much of that comes out of the retail experience. The retail stores upfront for doing custom install design work, home automation, all that stuff, but also as a retail store, they support one another. E-commerce has huge velocity, and that gives us a lot of authority with our manufacturers. When you track that down to the showroom floor, we can get product quicker than most other dealers who have showrooms.

Online is also the natural advertising medium for our retail and our custom divisions. They all work very closely together, and they support one another. I don't run them independently, and on one division, we'll do well for a while and support the other two, et cetera. It's been a really good family. It's sorta like the moonshot, e-commerce. We pushed and spent a lot of money. That raised the water for the customer.

Ron: This business model where you have these three divisions working together, it sounds like you are quite the Maverick in inventing this method of operating. How did that come about? Then B, how do you run the business today? Do you have a leadership team, a management team? You have three locations. There's a lot of moving.

Bob: Great question. It's very easy for me to say I have forgotten more than most people know. That's surely true because I'm a hands-on guy. I've done lots of install work. I've done lots of programming, and I built the initial store and the addition to the initial store. I did the build-out in the second store. That and the whole flow of e-commerce, my hands were dirty in all aspects of my company. That was great fun, and that was the foundation. But at the same time, I have these employees, these partners and people I work with. I struggle with the word employee cause we are partners who all work together, and they've been with me a long time, and they assume the responsibilities as the company grows.

Now in the last few years, there are all kinds of new technology that I don't understand - how our servers work for e-commerce, even though I built the first ones, I have no clue. I have a management committee of five people who wear the rubber reads. They pretty much run the company day today. Beyond that, I have senior management, which includes the two gentlemen that run the stores. The company pretty much runs itself.

Ron: What does a typical week look like for you, Bob? Is there such a thing as a typical, typical week?

Bob: No, it's a great question. I'm a man in transition. I'm 71 years old. I have to face the reality that I need to take care of my company long term. It was never the plan to turn over the company to my kids. It was never the plan to be done with it and close it down, which I can certainly do and would be a lot easier. But I'm committed to the family and having it go on. I'm available to anybody anytime, and I'm certainly the in-house counselor.

But in any given week, I'll be traveling, going to events, both philanthropy type events. I'm on several boards, most of which are medical. I'm on some business advisory councils. I write copy, and I visit the stores. I visit the office, and I hug a lot of people. That's pretty much my role. I no longer dig the holes. Though, the other day, I was fixing the bathroom plumbing at one of those stores.

Ron: Who better than Bob to call to fix that broken toilet? Bob, in 2018, when you turn 70, you were inducted into the CT Hall of Fame. That's a pretty prestigious group that have been inducted into that hall of fame, including, if I'm not correct, Steve Jobs.

Bob: Right. Yeah. He was wondering the lesser people.

Ron: Yeah, one of the smaller people. How did you feel when you learned of that honor?

Bob: It was a big deal. There aren't that many retailers. Though I may have gotten it for being a philosopher, there are not that many retailers Bjorn out of Texas and Walt Stinson from ListenUp, and me. I was flattered, but you're on this list, and there are all these people who invented incredible technology and done incredible things. I remember somebody asking me at the store one day, "Oh, why the heck did you get in? What did you ever do?" And in my head...

Ron: I'm sure they said that in jest, I would imagine.

Bob: No, no. Nuh-uh. He just didn't understand it. To him, I'm just a merchant. And surely the award goes way beyond the merchant aspect. But one of my installers, my main installer, Frank Pollock, he spoke up, and he said, "Well, we're where the rubber meets the road. These guys who invent all this stuff, if it wasn't for people like Bob, who would be presenting the technology, who would be explaining it? Who would be selling it?" I mean, you can invent all the X tens you want, but if you don't have somebody who's selling that product, it's just not happening. I remember I was in a very fortunate corporate board meeting, it was a meeting of CEO's, and there was a guy from IBM there was who designed the first Tesla car.

I mean, these were all big people, and as they're going around, I'm wondering why am I even there? And at the end, I realized that everything was funneling to me because that was how their stuff gets out. And that's what we do in the consumer technology industry. That's where we frequently fall short.

Ron: Bob, you have a philosophy, and going back to you as a philosopher, of doing well by doing good. What does that mean for you? Is that how you live? Is that how you run your business? Is that how you think? What does that mean?

Bob: It's all of the above. A lot of people think it's just about philanthropy. It's not. If you're my customer, and you walk in the store and back in the day you wanted a Marantz receiver or a pair of Thunder Lizards and a BIC turntable, well I know, I know a hundred times more about Hi-Fi than you do, I'm going to ask, "Well, what for?" That's what you think you should buy, and that's what you think you can afford. But what kind of music do you listen to? Is this stuff gonna serve you? Doing good by you, in that case, is making sure you're getting the right stuff. That's something that I promote to all my people.

Everybody at World Wide Stereo is a salesperson one way or the other, from the warehouse, the accounting department, all the way up. It's all about improving the quality of people's lives, and that's doing good. When you do that, they tend to give you their money. I'm no Saint, and I do a lot of stuff.

Ron: What are some of the things, I know that you are involved with the Philadelphia Ronald McDonald house. You are involved with a number of medical boards and groups. You were just honored at a Philadelphia Flyers game. How did that go down?

Bob: That was pretty cool, and I don't need a thank you, but it's nice to be acknowledged. It's nice to every once in a while to have a clue that what you did made a difference. They had asked if they could honor me, and I've always said no, but frankly, we needed the press. People like doing business with people who are doing good things. They said they were going to honor me at a Flyers game, and I wasn't really keen on what that meant. What it meant is they put me up on the jumbotron, a brand new giant Jumbotron and Susan Campbell who runs the Ronald McDonald houses in Philly, which are the original ones as well, gave a little three-minute speech of what I have done.

I said I wouldn't do it if they don't say Bob from World Wide Stereo. I wanted them to say World Wide Stereo cause, sure, I made it happen, but I couldn't do it without World Wide Stereo. And like people applauded. And I got a Jersey from Bob Kelly. He was one of the enforcers; the Broad Street Bullies back when they won the first Stanley cup. He was the guy that gave it to me. He was a very cool guy. I have it up on your wall.

Ron: Do you have it framed?

Bob: You know, I don't know what to do. Sometimes I want to wear it, but then I could frame it and tell people I played forward back in the 70s. You know, that'll get you more checks for sure. That was pretty cool. Doing well by doing good, even that, so that's philanthropy, and there's very little in life that's better than being able to help children. And what do you get Bob Cole for Christmas? It makes my family crazy. I own a store with every toy I possibly could want, get me a tie.

Two Christmases ago, I'm sitting at 10 a.m.o'clock in the morning, people are opening presents, and I get a text. It's from the chief head nurse at Saint Christopher's pediatric oncology floor. And now, that's a lousy name, that's a bad place to be. She's texting me, "I just want you to know," -- it's hard to tell the story actually, "that I'm sitting here with ten children who are facing what none of us should ever have to face. And they're all laughing, and they're all just having a great time in the theater that you built." It's like, okay, so for two hours. These kids are suspending the disbelief. They're not thinking about chemo or the chords that are coming out of their body, and my God, it's been a home run. We got one at St. Chris's, we got one at two Ronald McDonald houses. And it's like the most popular thing. Actually, a metaphor for doing good because in your house you should have a home theater for that very reason.

Ron: No, amen. I am trying to convince my wife. I'm going to set up that phone call for after this. We'll make that happen. I have a lot of things I want to talk to you about, and time is clicking by quickly here. I'm going to jump to another topic that's kind of in the news. I don't know if it's hyperbole or if it's a reality, but you and your team are certainly on the front line. I'd love your 2 cents on this.

There's a common perception, maybe reality, that millennials don't know what good music is. They listen to music, but they don't know what good music is. What are you seeing on the street? Are they listening to their MP3s on Bluetooth speakers and they're satisfied or are they discovering two-channel and, what are you seeing?

Bob: Wow. So the key answer is yes, they're discovering two-channel if given the opportunity. What comes out of my mouth initially is in many respects, they don't know any better. They were raised in an environment where they had huge selection. They had these headphones, and it was background all the time for them. And the thought of having a system set up where the performers are actually live in front of you just never occurred to them. So in many cases, they're difficult, and they want it now.

They're certainly one of the toughest customers if they come in the store, but they want to touch, they want to listen. And if given the opportunity, they will step up to better sound, but they haven't had the opportunity for the most part.

Ron: I know that when I, and I'll date myself. I'm a Gen X-er, I'm 41. I went to college in 1996, and in 1996 I was paying the one kid on campus at Virginia Tech that had a CD burner, $100 per disc to burn MP3s onto a disc. I think MP3s had been invented as a technology.

I want to say in the last 12 months or 24 months, some time right there. And the idea of putting hundreds of songs on a disc and then what became an iPod... I was at that infancy. But there's a whole generation that has only known that.

Bob: What an opportunity now and what's happening a real-time right now as we speak, people are beginning to appreciate and looking for something more. They just don't want to hear. The bad part is headphones are really easy. And now we've got Bluetooth speakers, and people go, "Wow, this sounds fabulous for something that size." Well, that's right, it does sound fabulous for something that size, but it doesn't sound good. It doesn't sound great. Maybe it sounds good, but it doesn't sound great.

With the new technology we have today and the new control systems, we can have that huge selection. I have a room server at my house. I have over 10,000 songs on this server. Most of them are high resolution, but I'm playing them through a pair of Bowers and Wilkins 802's. The performers are in my room, and it's spectacular. He can have both. As a lot of technology becomes more accessible, I think people will be looking for more, a better experience. How do you not get bored with a pair of Apple headphones in your ears? Like I see you where I'm right now.

Ron: Guilty!

Bob: I use those to tie up Christmas presents.

Ron: Yeah, no, I'm only doing this to kill any reverb from my audio. That's funny. What is the coaching or the mentorship that you take your team through? Do they need it at this point in terms of educating that customer that walks in that thinks they need that Bluetooth speaker? And I'm not knocking Bluetooth speakers. They have a role. If you're going to the beach, bring your Bluetooth speaker and jam out on the beach.

Bob: Here's another interesting statistic. We don't do a lot of production homes, but typically in a new production home, people want four TVs, one for the main area, one for the master bedroom and a couple for the kids. Well, you know what, the kids don't want TVs. The average production home is getting two TVs. That's a broad generalization, but it's pretty accurate. I forget your question now.

Ron: No, I was asking you about educating the person that walks in on two-channel. And it just how you, your team approaches that?

Bob: Well, some are better than others. And you know, we have an older staff predominantly. My younger staff are making it happen right now. Older staff, when a baby boomer comes in, strategically, it's the why. It's why we do what we do. And the why is to make you feel good. So are those headphones making you feel good, Ron? Honestly?

Ron: Not particularly, no. I actually, I think I'm throwing them away after this podcast

Bob: The old-timer does it, how I show them why. I mean, people can come in looking for directions, and I'll say, you want to hear something outstanding? And many people say, no, I want directions. Well, with a little pizazz, I'll ask them to help me out and give me their opinion on this. And if I want to push it, I'll say, "What kind of music don't you like?" Now, in the old days, they used to say country, and now many people say hip hop, but I'll put one piece on an outstanding system, and I'll wait for them to smile, and they'll smile. I said, okay, why are you smiling? Well, I thought I hated country. This is how it was great. I want to cry.

That's how you make it happen. That's how you show them why. That's one of the ways. But you know the experience of the theater. Same deal. Why do you have a theater? It's not just, it's not to watch a movie, right? We have a manifesto that I wrote up for the company. You want a theater so that you can leave your presence and be somewhere else. You want to be the lead guitarist in that rock group, or you want to be the heroin who just saved the day against all the odds, and we can make that happen. Everybody in our industry can make that happen.

Ron: And we need to get better at it. You're clearly one of the best. I have Bob. We have a number of comments, and I want to acknowledge our audience. I'm going to put some of the comments up here. We have Cameron. He says, "Keep helping kids be kids. Well done, Bob and team." I have Maggie, she goes, "Millennials have excellent taste in music." What are you talking about, Bob?

Bob: Well, look at her dress. Of course, she does.

Ron: Yes, she clearly has good taste. And let's look here. Kris Gamble.

Bob: I want to clarify, I didn't say anything about taste. I said like they haven't had the experience of.

Ron: No, I think I'm the one that probably said that. And that was probably inappropriate in saying that. What we were referencing is the high-performance speaker or the audio that can come from quality gear. And then Mario, I'm assuming by this comment, Bob, that he maybe is on your team, but Mario says, "How smart is your staff?"

Bob: Mario has been with me forever. I love you, Mario!.

Ron: Hey, Mario. That's awesome. And then let's see. Oh, goodness. Chris, he's picking on me. He said, "Ron, you do need headphones." All right, Chris. Got it. Lexi says, well done. "World Wide Stereo, so proud." I got a very active audience today.

Bob, I've got you for a little bit more. I want to take this again in a different direction. I understand that you have a very large team, but you also very interestingly have had very low turnover, right? Your staff stays with you. You just mentioned Mario, and he's been with you for a long time. And many of your staff have been with you for a long time. How do you do that? Is there a secret or kind of what's your approach to people? And how have you accomplished that over the years?

Bob: It's doing well by doing good, and doing well is keeping a professional staff. If I want to monetize that aspect, customers like to buy from happy people. If you've got a miserable salesperson, you don't want to buy from that person. Certainly, that was always my goal.

Fundamentally, I genuinely care, and I want my folks to care genuinely. I try and make sure that everybody gets the message of what we do and what we can do in terms of improving people's lives. I mean, there's nothing that we do that people need, it's something that they can have that turns out that becoming a need, eventually, or a passion. I think fundamentally it's cause I've always been grateful to everyone who works with me for what they do, even though again, I paid them.

Ron: You do, they do require you to pay them? They don't work for free?

Bob: You know, I sometimes wonder why, and I think Mario may probably not want to get paid after today. You know, I'm very like, okay, I'm the boss, I'm the owner, but please give me some grief. Tell me what you don't like. And I've always been open to that. I think it's more that we make our decisions based on is that the right thing to do? I mean, I've lost a lot of money over the years making that kind of decision.

There's a lot of products that I really, good example, back in the day, beta. Beta is it, and beta got all the press. I knew that they weren't making it in Japan anymore. I knew they were closing it down so I wouldn't sell it. Those customers who wanted to buy it, I'm sorry, I can't sell it to you. And they went somewhere else. Those customers all came back and said, you were right. You told the truth. And that's always been the goal. It works with my salesman.

Ron: Bob, you are 71. I have a twofer. Two questions in one. How much longer do you see yourself wanting to be active in the business? And the answer could be forever, and there'll be one day where you're not here. Right? And you are obviously a keystone for our industry. What do you want your legacy to be?

Bob: Oh, that's the big question.

Ron: That's, that's the 10 point question.

"I would like people to say that he really meant what he said. You know, that he means to do well by doing good. That it actually works as a business philosophy."

Bob: I would like people to say that he really meant what he said. You know, that he means to do well by doing good. That it actually works as a business philosophy. I would like to think that I helped in many little tiny ways, keeping the industry responsible to do well by doing good. To make a difference in people's lives. I've never hesitated to tell a manufacturer that's just a stupid idea, and it's not good for the customers. I just would like my legacy to be that I was honest.

"There was a time where manufacturers.. would simply go to their labs, cook up new things, new technologies, new add on add-ons or plugins or whatever, and they would bring it to you and say, here, it's going to be ready to sell in three months."

Ron: That's an amazing legacy to leave. You had mentioned to me off-camera that there was a time where manufacturers, and you have obviously deep relationships with many of them, if not most of them. And they would simply go to their labs, cook up new things, new technologies, new add on add-ons or plugins or whatever, and they would bring it to you and say, here, it's going to be ready to sell in three months. That led to some pretty obvious flops. I'm going to say 3D TV as an example. You gave me that example.

Bob: It's a wonderful example.

Ron: And you said that's changing. Are all the manufacturers changing? Are all of them coming to the people on the ground that are representing them and selling it? As you said it, you know, explaining that you gave me three, you said explaining it, selling it and you gave me one more. Is that changing?

Bob: I'm going to tell you the flesh is weak. And big PO's make a difference to these guys. But depending on the manufacturer. Ages ago, it was a perk and manufacturers would fly us to Tokyo, and we'd have meetings, we'd talk about what the American consumer wants, what would work, what would be interesting, cool, etc. And then they do whatever they want.

A lot of times, there were cultural differences that got in the way there, but also technological, "Look what we just invented, this is neat. Here! Charge people an extra thousand bucks." Like 3D TV. And there's no real reason for people to buy a product like that. Now, many of those guys who were really didn't listen or weren't really interested in what people wanted, and they were just interested in selling what they created, most of them have gone belly up or changed or merged. 2001 and then 2008 gave a hug dose of humility to a lot of people, a lot of manufacturers, a lot of people like me.

Actually, I wasn't going to give you any examples, but I'll give you an example. Sony, a huge and successful company, made whatever they felt like making. Happily. They had a lot of really good ideas, but it was love it or leave it. And they weren't that interested in their opinion. And now, especially in that realm, they are the most interested in what consumers want to buy. They have more focus groups than any other company that I'm currently with. And they're really, really interested specifically down in the nitty-gritty area of what the people want and what are they going to appreciate. A simple example is everybody loved the whole form and function discussion. They love flat-panel TVs, and there are so popular and so cool, and they got bigger and thinner.

Meanwhile, they're sounding worse and worse and worse and worse. They'd sound like a telephone answering machine. So that means consumers got to buy other stuff to make it sound good. And of course, I encourage that behavior. But Sony, I believe they're the only ones who stepped up and they made the entire display a speaker. If you want a good TV, that sounds better than a telephone answering machine, and Sony built it. And they built it based on feedback.

"There was a time not too long ago where Sony was not doing that great in our channel, and now they're booming."

Ron: I know that Sony's doing, I mean, there was a time not too long ago where Sony was not doing that great in our channel, and now they're booming.

Bob: They're killing it.

Ron: They're killing it.

Bob: And part of it again is cultural. You go to Japan, and they used to be very stoic. Everybody's in a black tie and suit and now you know, they have very little electricity, they don't have air conditioning, and everybody's less formal, and everybody's more humble. I've been successful, but I'm not Best Buy.

I'm a small dealer, but I've had the heads of Sony, I get a call on Wednesday, "Can you meet in your store on Saturday morning at eight o'clock? We want to talk to you." I mean, that's just great, and I'm a little guy, but they respect the opinion of the little guy.

Ron: Two last questions for you, Bob them, and then I'm going to get you out of here, back to your regularly scheduled programming. One is you are a longstanding member of ProSource, and before that, I know you were president of HES. HES, ultimately was absorbed into or became ProSource from BrandSource. There are going to be people listening to this either live or later in video or podcast, what's your position on why a reseller, integrator, a retailer should be a member of a buying group and perhaps ProSource or other groups?

"ProSource significantly, I can't say enough about how they've enhanced my business both in deals, opportunity, and representing me in my channel."

Bob: I'm glad you generalized that in general. I mean ProSource significantly, I can't say enough about how they've enhanced my business both in deals, opportunity, and representing me in my channel. A very big reason to be in a buying group is nobody likes being alone.

I don't care how smart you are, and you don't like being alone. You like to be able to sit down and talk to your brother or your sister about business. And the channel for doing that is in the more successful buying groups like ProSource, HTSA is another very good example. Where fellowship is a big part of the program, so at any point in time, I can pick up the phone, and I know whatever problem I'm having, I know somebody who's going to be having the same problem and I can talk to them. The deals. It's also a response, especially when you go to the bigger, more successful buying groups.

There's been an amalgamation of a lot of organizations in our industry. Like Denon and Marantz are now a part of Sound United, so it's like eight major vendors in this one group. We have to attend to that, and it's hard to attend to that when you're just a small dealer, and all of a sudden, you're not meeting with one vendor, you're meeting with eight at a time. Buying groups are very, very important. Some are more effective than others. I thin ProSource to be the most effective, which is why I am a member.

Ron: Bobby Dodge is your Regional Manager and a huge advocate for you. He loves Emily, who runs your marketing, by the way. Your marketing is amazing. For one marketer to another, you guys are rock stars. Emily, good job. The most important question, Bob, that I'm going to close with, this is very profound. I understand you own a Porsche GTS.

Bob: I do.

Ron: I need to know how fast have you driven in that Porsche GTS. And when was the last time you drove that fast?

Bob: My goodness. Oh, it's 160. That was last summer.

Ron: Was on the turnpike? Where was it?

Bob: This was on a track. I track my cars, a little hobby I have. But it's also my day to day drive car.

Ron: When you track it, does that mean you go, and you time it, or do you run head to head against others?

Bob: It depends. In this car, it's a single-car event. So you're on track with other people, but there's an etiquette. It's not a race. I have a racing license, but I don't race against others - except I do Bertil Roose, an open car Formula 3 race that we do.

Ron: Is this the car that you race?

Bob: Yeah. Not the GTS, the Bertil Roose cars I race. But I prefer to sail.

Ron: Is sailing your primary hobby?

Bob: That would be my primary. That would be my passion.

Ron: How much time do you get out on the water?

Bob: It depends. If I'm selling to Maine, that's like eight days up, eight days back, and maybe a month there. Every opportunity I get.

Ron: You sail up to Portland?

Bob: I usually go further North, much further North.

Ron: Well, Bob, what is the best way anyone watching or listening and they want, they have to get in touch with you. What is the best way for anyone to do that?

Bob: Well, Just leave a message.

Ron: To my audience, thank you, guys, for watching. There are so many good messages here. By the way, Jamie Lee says, "You don't look a day over 27!" There you go. Jillian says, "I think Steve Morrison Wmmr would agree, we missed 3D TVs." Bob, it was a pleasure having you on Automation Unplugged and a real honor to have you on the show, and thank you so much.

Bob: Thank you for the opportunity. Have a great day, and have a great holiday.

Ron: Thank you, sir. Happy Thanksgiving. All right, guys, gals. There you have it — episode 91. I hope you guys enjoyed that. I certainly enjoyed having you all participate. Always fun when I get a lot of interaction. I try to pay as close attention to that as possible to put that up on the screen.

Until next time, if you aren't watching or listening, don't forget to. I'm going to put this up here, go over to One Firefly's Instagram page, we are at One Firefly LLC. We're just approaching almost a thousand followers. So certainly we'd love to have you go over there and check us out. And, on that note, until next time, I will see you guys later. Peace.


As an industry veteran, CEO & Founder of World Wide Stereo, Bob Cole brings over 40+ years of industry experience with a philosophy of doing good by doing well. This includes educating consumers on quality audio, having a team of audio-enthusiasts, and giving back to the arts and music education to make it a better place for kids in need.

Ron Callis is the CEO of One Firefly, LLC, a digital marketing agency based out of South Florida and creator of Automation Unplugged. Founded in 2007, One Firefly has quickly became the leading marketing firm specializing within the integrated technology and security space. The One Firefly team work hard to create innovative solutions to help Integrators boost their online presence, such as the elite website solution, Mercury Pro.

Resources and links from the interview:

You can learn more about Bob Cole and World Wide Stereo here. Make sure to follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.  

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