January 22, 2021 2 min read

Like so many other CE Pro Masters, Rob Mainiero got his start in CE selling stereo on the floor of a Tweeter store during that retailer’s glory days in the 1970s and ’80s. Before the latter decade was over, he accepted a position as Eastern Zone Manager for Alpine Electronics.

Although most famous for its utter dominance of the specialty mobile audio world, Alpine also owned Luxman, a Japanese audiophile home brand it acquired in 1984. In the U.S., the relatively unknown Luxman fought for market share with the better known “designer brands” of the time like Adcom, NAD, Carver and Nakamichi.

Through his hard work, Mainiero’s territory was Luxman’s best nationwide. When Cambridge SoundWorks came calling in the mid-1990s, the chance to get back into retail and work for an industry legend like Henry Kloss in a brand-new innovative venture was too much for Mainiero to pass up. Under his direction, CSW flourished as one of the first Internet sellers of CE merchandise as well as operating 30 retail stores on both coasts which served as a platform for its entry into the fledgling custom install business.

When Singapore computer sound card manufacturer Creative Labs bought CSW outright in 1997, many inside as well as pundits outside saw trouble ahead. They were right. The Sound Blaster manufacturer wanted Cambridge solely for its Internet platform to sell Creative’s NOMAD and ZEN lines of personal audio players and use that as a way to sue category marketshare leader Apple for stealing Creative proprietary designs in their iPods. Apple lost and was forced to pay Creative $100 million but the real loser was Cambridge, which had been reduced to little more than NOMAD and ZEN stores getting their behinds kicked day after day by the visually appealing and higher capacity iPods.

From the ashes of CSW came Mainiero’s Andover Audio, which by 2012 had begun selling OEM products to some very well-known brands both in and outside the CE industry. Andover is now focusing on its own branded products for the custom installation and retail channels. Don’t bet against them.

CE Pro, December 2020

Link to full magazine article: http://digitaledition.cepro.com/publication/?i=683011&p=46

Link to website article: https://www.cepro.com/news/ce-pro-masters-are-top-of-the-class-for-2020/