La Verne, California
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|HARMAN Brands Supported||
ARCAM, JBL, Mark Levinson and Revel
The HARMAN Luxury Audio Group is proud to have some of the best high-end consumer electronics partners across the globe. Each month, we have the pleasure of learning a little bit more about one of our partners. This time we spoke with the folks at Upscale Audio in La Verne, California.
How long have you been in business?
Upscale Audio was founded in 1994 in Upland, California.
How many locations do you have?
In 2015, plans were started for our newest location in La Verne, California. It was completed and relocation was in 2016. Two years later, Upscale needed to grow again and took over an even larger building across the street expanding to 26,000 sq. ft. of warehouse space, with four demo rooms, a dedicated full-service department and turntable setup lab, and video studio.
How did Upscale Audio get its start?
Kevin Deal had a vacuum tube epiphany in 1974, while in high school, and has been in the audio industry since 1978. In the early 90s Kevin saw an opportunity in vintage vacuum tubes and the huge demand for the old-time greats from brands like Telefunken, Mullard, etc. He began travelling the world looking for lost inventories, looking everywhere from Europe to Serbia to Myanmar. These rare tubes are the “attractant” that built a massive customer base for audio equipment.
But more importantly, we believe in deep and meaningful relationships with our customers.
How many people are on the Upscale Audio team?
We currently have 38 people on the team, and a huge number of these are hi-fi and pro audio professionals and enthusiasts, not just in sales, but marketing, admin, warehouse and service.
Thoughts on the importance of training?
Ask our vendors. We demand it. To work at Upscale Audio, you need to be somewhat of a geek. You must have good technical knowledge. So we have training pretty much every week.
What do you like most about HARMAN Luxury Audio products and which lines do you feature?
ARCAM, JBL, Mark Levinson and Revel. We are always so impressed by the price-to-performance ratio of ARCAM. We've been JBL fans for decades, and love that they're so much fun. Mark Levinson offers incredibly high performance in such beautifully machined packages. Revel is a little under-appreciated, frankly, and more people need to hear just how amazing these speakers are.
How do you think the luxury audio industry is currently doing?
We are just exiting an unprecedented boom of free money due to the stock market and home prices exploding, low interest rates, PPP loans that are forgiven, and enhanced unemployment. And nowhere to spend it all due to COVID. We have real challenges ahead of us.
What is Upscale Audio’s mission?
At Upscale, we treat customer systems like our own. We aim to deliver audio nirvana with every interaction, building up relationships, and asking a lot of questions and listening deeply to the answers, before we sell anything.
You have the floor. Anything else you want to share with us about Upscale Audio that you would like the world to know?
As it stands now, none of our salespeople are on commission, and there are many benefits. I learned many years ago that if you tell a customer “Don’t waste your money on this — it’s a bad idea” when it’s the truth you create a deep level of trust. You won’t get that when it means a salesperson doesn’t close … and get paid.
In addition, all salespeople are vested in customer happiness regardless of which person made the sale. The team spirit and affection for our customers and for each other at Upscale Audio is incredibly deep, and I’m very proud of that. Could I kick up sales a little by having them on commission? Maybe. But then it would not be Upscale Audio. There are some things you can’t put a price tag on.