Sundown One was founded in 1975 by Doug Foster in Springfield, IL. There were no especially grand aspirations: Doug was simply a music fan who decided it’d be fun to open up a hi-fi store. Originally, the store was a stereo shop only, but later, as the hi-fi hobby evolved, Sundown One evolved with it, expanding into video, car audio, and eventually home theater and automation. So, while Doug’s little business started as a hobby, it gradually turned into something much bigger. And while the building may be larger now, the fun still remains. In fact, it’s an essential ingredient of Sundown One’s enduring success.
We asked Sundown One’s manager, Alex Foster, to share a bit more about the shop. We specifically wanted to know more about its defining characteristics, philosophies, goals, and the ways in which Sundown One continues to distinguish itself in such a diverse and rapidly changing industry. In speaking with Alex, it soon became clear that Sundown One and AudioQuest share much more in common than the typical dealer-customer relationship. The bonds inherent to family, fun, and music run deep.
Read the complete interview to learn how a chance encounter with AudioQuest’s HDMI Carbon cable dramatically improved sales and turned a group of cable skeptics into diehard believers!
Alex Foster, Sundown One: We believe in making sure every customer is happy, has fun, and never pays more to buy from us. We’re interested in making long-term relationships, not short-term sales, so customer satisfaction is our number-one priority. We don’t have a catchy corporate slogan for it; it’s just how we operate.
AudioQuest: What aspect of your business makes you happiest and proudest? What drives your passion? What makes your everyday challenges worthwhile?
Alex Foster, Sundown One: The best thing we can do is make someone happy with their purchase. It doesn’t matter if it’s big or small. If the customer is happy and enjoys their purchase, the excitement is contagious. We may have our favorite products and categories, but, overall, when the customer is excited to enjoy their purchase, then we’ve accomplished our mission. It’s great to partner with companies like AudioQuest that make that easier to achieve.
AudioQuest: What are some of the challenges or frustrations that inspire and fuel your business? What problems are you trying to solve?
Alex Foster, Sundown One: Technology used to change far more slowly, from decade to decade, in relatively small steps. It wasn’t too difficult for the average person to keep up. Now, our electronic appliances and devices are revised sometimes several times a year and can include drastic changes to what people are used to. It’s difficult for the average person to keep up with such a rapid pace, especially when we all have so much happening in our lives. We seek to alleviate the difficulty of keeping up with today’s tech, so that people can enjoy new technology without having to take a class to figure it out.
AudioQuest: How did you become acquainted with AudioQuest? What AudioQuest products do you currently use and why?
Alex Foster, Sundown One: We originally became aware of AudioQuest in the late eighties or early nineties and sold the product for a short period of time. For whatever reason, we lost touch for a decade or so until 2008, when we realized that we were missing a key component to our business and reestablished the relationship. Since 2008, we’ve seen AQ get into digital, power, and headphone products and have enjoyed everything the company has released. We use everything AQ sells, whether in the store or in our own homes. If it’s got an AQ badge on it, you’re guaranteed a quality product. We continue to use AQ products because they’re well-made and the company stands behind what they sell.
The best thing we can do is make someone happy with their purchase.—Alex Foster, Sundown One
AudioQuest: Do you have a strong relationship with the AudioQuest Customer Service team? Can you share any examples of a positive or negative experience of working with our Customer Service team?
Alex Foster, Sundown One: We have a strong relationship with AudioQuest in general, and Rick Blair (Regional Sales Manager, Upper Midwest) in particular. We assume the AQ Customer Service team is top-notch because when we ask Rick for something, it just happens. Whether he has magical powers or they’re just that good—or a little bit of both—things just get done. Are we fan boys? Yes, but is that really a problem? Even if something’s our fault, they find a way to make it right. With AQ, you almost hope something goes wrong because you look forward to them solving it for you.
AudioQuest: How has AudioQuest helped to meet or exceed your customers’ expectations for performance, value, and reliability?
Alex Foster, Sundown One: One day, a customer came in to buy a TV because his LG had just shot craps. This was back in the Mitsubishi TV days with their built-in soundbars. So, we sell him the TV and he takes it home. But the next day he shows up again saying that this new TV didn’t work either. He only had a satellite box hooked up, so it was rather a simple installation. He had an older AudioQuest HDMI-G cable, which should have worked fine, but we sent him home with a newer HDMI Cinnamon cable. He came back the next day with both cables. Neither fixed the problem. We tested the cables, and they worked perfectly. So, as we thought maybe there was some other issue going on, we sent him home with a higher-performance HDMI Chocolate cable. He came back the next day. That didn’t work, either. We said, “Okay, last shot. Take this HDMI Carbon cable.” He goes home and not only does the new Mitsubishi TV work, but so does the LG! For whatever mysterious reason, the satellite box wanted a very good HDMI cable. It was after this experience that our HDMI sales skyrocketed, and soon our installation team, which had been filled with naysayers and cable skeptics, started installing better quality cables, and they soon found that a top-of-the-line Samsung TV looks better with an AudioQuest Vodka HDMI cable than the less expensive options.
AudioQuest: Would you recommend AudioQuest’s products to other integrators?
Alex Foster, Sundown One: For those that want to work with a company that makes great products and truly cares for their dealers, AudioQuest is the only company to go with. They set the gold standard by which every other company can only dream of becoming. AudioQuest offers a great blend of profitability, performance, and people.
AudioQuest: How has being a part of ProSource served your business?
Alex Foster, Sundown One: It’s tough to say which has been more impactful for our business: joining ProSource or picking up AudioQuest. Certainly, together, they make the greatest team. ProSource opens the doors to better programs, profitability, and people, and AudioQuest does the same while providing great products. The best business relationships are the ones in which ideas can flow and friendships can be made and maintained, and that’s one thing that has been really great about being a ProSource member.
AudioQuest: Is there anything else you’d like to share?
Alex Foster, Sundown One: Yes, one last story to share. Shortly before CEDIA 2013, I met and proposed to the woman who is now my wife. At CEDIA that year, I was hanging out at the AudioQuest booth and discussing my upcoming marriage with my good friend and our sales rep, Rick Blair. He had to share my joy with some of the other AQ people, one of whom was the lovely Vashti Ramgoolam (Sales Support Manager). When she heard that my wife was from Russia and that I had no clue about green cards, visas, etc., she gave me the best advice and told me how to navigate the difficult bureaucracy of immigration services. Without that advice, my wife and I would have had a terrible time figuring out how to proceed, and she might’ve even had to even go back to Russia for a bit. Most companies would pass over your personal life to sell you the latest gadget, and maybe you buy it from them today and forget about them tomorrow. But that’s not how AQ operates. My experience at CEDIA 2013 typifies the care that AudioQuest shows day in and day out.
Visit Alex Foster and the great team at Sundown One at 4685 Wabash Avenue, in Springfield, IL, or online at SundownOne.com. The store is open Monday through Friday, from 9am to 6pm, and Saturdays from 10am to 5pm.