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Cox Electronics: where service never ends PDF Print E-mail
Written by Tom Philp   

ST. JOHN, New Brunswick - Phil Brewer, current president of Cox Electronics & Communications speaks almost reverently about New Brunswicker Reg Cox and the business he started more than six decades ago.

"It was a service business, primarily radio and record player repair with some sales," Brewer says. "We've grown and changed a lot over the years, but service excellence is still our focus."

 

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Phil Brewer
Cox Electronics currently has eight locations within south-western New Brunswick, employing more than 100 staff in the business of selling and servicing consumer electronics.  The old radio and record player days are pretty much gone now, although Brewer would be the first to tell a customer that, if he wanted the unit repaired, Cox would do it's very best to make that happen.

HDTVS, home theatre systems, satellite dishes and products carrying names like Bose, Sony, Panasonic, Aliant, BellExpressVu, RCA and Motorola keep Brewer and his staff hopping these days.

"It was in the late 1940s that Cox began servicing and selling used TVs, and even then the focus remained on service," says Brewer, a trained electronics technician in his own right. "As the concept of TV caught on, we began to develop the sales side of the business."

Brewer, who purchased the company in late 1979, says Cox "never made a distinction, at any time, that we were going to be a sales organization primarily, although that was made possible by our company's reputation of service excellence."

Success is driven at Cox by giving the customer what he or she wants, and then supporting them "every step along their journey," Brewer says.

"Support enables our customers to get the most from whatever they buy here," he says. "In my mind, there is never a reason why the customer should not be happy."

Under Brewer's leadership, Cox began to expand its showroom and floor space from about 1983. The expansion and improvement of product presentation continues today, driven by exceptional lines of product, and a demanding consumer who is able to access a lot of information from sources such as the Internet.

"I'd say that a good 90 per cent of our customers are aware of the term HDTV, but that doesn't mean they understand what it is," Brewer says. "Today's customer is informed, yes; but they are also misinformed at the same time, and that's where developing a solid relationship with them results in increased sales."

"If we don't have a positive relationship with them, it's really unreasonable to expect our customers to hand over their hard-earned cash," he says. "We have to earn their trust, and keep their trust, and we're very good at doing that."

Custom installation is one area where Cox is experiencing double, sometimes triple growth year over year, Brewer says.  Much of that work is in the "basic" $10,000 to $15,000 range; but Cox does have customers in Atlantic Canada ... typically remnants of the ‘baby boomer' generation ... who spend $100,000 to $150,000 on home systems.

"(Custom installation) wasn't something that was even contemplated when I started in this business," Brewer says. "You know, a stereo was something to play music, and it was a long time before people began to connect stereo components to get a better sound.  Much the same can be said about today's high-definition TV systems."

"It was the digital revolution that changed things, and that's a good thing," he says.

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The exterior of Cox Electronics’ flagship store in St. John, New Brunswick.
Brewer says Cox' membership in Mega Group has provided the obvious buying power benefits; but it's the continuous support his company receives from Mega reps that impresses him most about the group. So enthusiastic about his membership is he, that he ran for, and was elected to, Mega's board for directors for a three-year term this past May.

"Mega is a lot like ourselves, with a lot of customer focus and enthusiasm about the business," he says. "They are not there to sell for us. Mega is there to support us as an independent retailer, and they enhance what we do already."

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The flagship store’s main showroom.
Brewer has found that word-of-mouth, based on a sound tradition of service excellence, is Cox' best form of advertising. With great pride in his staff and the work they do every working day, he looks to continued growth and success for this New Brunswick business that started as "a humble repair shop."

"The key has always been to listen to what the customer wants," Brewer says. "At Cox, we sell very few things that customers need, but we sell a lot of what they want."
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