CLIENT PROFILE - JOE ZELANO of ELITE AUDIO
It's safe to say Joe Zelano has good ears. His listening talent has helped him earn a living at his own car audio installation business and win numerous car audio show awards. He has been named one of the Top 12 car audio salespersons in the nation.
Zelano said being named by Automedia magazine as one of the nation's top salespersons is an honor, especially since he operates Elite Audio out of a 4,000-square-foot building at 1504 Asheville Highway with only five employees. "A lot of those guys own more than one store and had 30 years experience. I was extremely pleased to be picked," Zelano said.
A first-generation businessman, Zelano has done a lot in the world of car audio. His strong interest in audio began as a high school junior when he got his first car. Zelano spent money and a lot of time adding audio equipment to his 1985 Camaro. His friends quickly learned of his electronic niche and asked for his help. "It wasn't about the money at first; I just wanted to work on electronics. Whether it was a CB or full-blown stereo, I was working on it," he said.
After high school, he got a job at Circuit City and worked two years as their lead installer. During that time, the store won several monthly honors. Zelano left because he wanted to pursue his dream of owning his own business. So he first went to Beyond Basic Installation School in Raleigh. After completing the class with high scores, members of the school staff asked him if he could teach the course. Zelano agreed and packed his bags for Raleigh where he not only taught but became shop manager at the school's installation store. Later, the founder moved the school to Florida and asked Zelano if he would go with them. "It was a tough decision to make but I had to come home to start my own business," he said. "I knew if this didn't work out I could go anywhere in this industry and do good. But if I went to Daytona, I may not have had the opportunity to open my business."
Slowly the business grew since opening in 1993 from a 60-square-foot building and two employees to its current 4,000 square feet and five employees. "I guess word of mouth is the best advertisement," he said. "My mentality is that the work we do is gonna be done right with no slacking. If it takes us longer, then that's fine."
Another major area Zelano and his team has made great strides in is car audio competitions. Since 1994, he and his team has won more than 30 trophies at audio competitions. "I have always been real competitive so I got into the organizations that compete against other people about how audio systems should sound," he said. Most of the awards won by Elite Audio were done by entering three competition cars owned by Trey West, Jason Gosnell and Les Young. West, 34, of Spartanburg owns a black 1985 Camaro Z28. Gosnell, 22, of Inman owns a black 1994 Honda Civic and Young, 29, of Winston-Salem, N.C. owns a blue 1993 Ford Mustang. West and Young have won the majority of the awards, while Gosnell has only been competing for the last two months.
Each of the competing vehicles have their own custom installed systems, lights, speakers and various other audio components. When sitting inside the vehicles, the quality of sound is just as good as they look on the outside. Zelano admits that performing audio installation on each car was different. "Now the only thing we are continuing to do is improve the tuning," he said.
Apparently, Elite Audio is on the right track because at the recent Spring Break Nationals in Daytona Beach they won two awards. Young's Ford Mustang took first place in amateur division. West took sixth place in the same division in a different power class. The Elite Audio team transports the competition cars from March until September of each year trying to get within the top 10. If so, they will be invited to the annual World Finals.
Since 1997, both men have been invited to the finals. Although Zelano concentrates more on competitions, a lot of his daily customers are everyday people who want anything from a CD player or GPS system to television monitors installed in their cars. Zelano said his choice of opening up a business in Spartanburg was a good one. Today I’m looking to expand my business and recognition and focus more on promoting what I do and my other ventures like the ELITE SUMMER NATIONALS. John A. Reynolds of SEFX3D Films has fit the bill for me and I’m so glad to have met him while at the Spring Break Nationals Car and Audio Expo in March of 2010.