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Two young turks from Cobourg: an AVU success story PDF Print E-mail
Written by Tom Philp   

COBOURG, Ontario - Jim Orr started his career in consumer electronics 26 years ago by jumping on the new "craze" of renting video cassettes of movies to consumers eager to try out new technology from home. Jim's "store" at the time was unconventional, to say the least.avu_logo_2

"I was keeping my stock at home, operating out of the second bedroom of my condo in Vancouver," Jim told HGO recently. "Names and details have changed over the years, but I've never looked back."

His company, Audio Video Unlimited (AVU), now has 51 outlets across Canada, with plans for up to four more stores in the next year. Where will they be located?

"I really have no idea right now," Jim laughed, "but if they're all as successful as the two young Turks in Cobourg, I will be very pleased."

The "two young Turks" as Jim calls them, are Jason McLean and Sean Kaczmarek, co-owners of an AVU franchise located at the corner of Division and Elgin Streets in Cobourg, Ontario. They have been in business for just over a year and they are exceeding their sales projections, with a lot of help and encouragement from the company president.


The two young Turks of AVU Cobourg: Jason McLean (left) and Sean Kaczmarek.

"It was their drive, their incredible enthusiasm about the potential for (AVU) that impressed me," Jim said. "They seem to be so good at networking. I mean, how many other businessmen ever thought to bring the Stanley Cup to their stores?"

The Stanley Cup display at Cobourg AVU was arranged by Jason and Sean as a result of their acquaintance with a local "boy" who made good in the NHL. It's an example of how much thinking and energy the "Turks" put into marketing their relatively new outlet and its products.

Careful planning is something these guys do naturally. Before investing in the sometimes cutthroat consumer electronics business, the two researched all aspects of it (with a lot of emphasis on what would fly in the Cobourg area) for nearly nine months. Jason had direct experience in retail audio/video sales, and the two wrote their original business plan based on that knowledge. It fell flat.

"We took it to our accountant and he said, ‘If you follow this business plan, you'll be broke in six months, tops,'" Jason told HGO. It was time to find a different model.

Jason and Sean discovered AVU and began doing due diligence before contacting Jim Orr's company. They discovered that "the business package was unbelievable" and contacted AVU's head office. To their amazement, Jim agreed to travel from Vancouver to Cobourg to meet with Jason and Sean's accountant and finance people.

"Jim Orr liked the energy and potential of (the Cobourg area) market," Sean said. "He threw his support behind us from the start, and we've worked hard to maintain that trust."

AVU, part of the buying conglomerate Mega Group, offered Jason and Sean the opportunities for business and personal development, advertising and competitiveness advantages, and the increased sales and profitability potential they were looking for. They opened their AVU doors on 16 March 2006; and, like their company president/mentor Jim Orr, Jason and Sean are "not looking back, we're always looking ahead."

"We are the first two Canadians in 20 years to start an electronics store from scratch," Jason said. "Our success will come from knowing the industry, the products we sell, and most importantly our customers."

"Both of us love dealing with customers, and helping them get the right products," Sean said. "When you see that smile of satisfaction at the end of the sale, then you know you're in the right job."

Cobourg AVU sells mid- to high-end audio/video products from Panasonic, Hitachi, Sharp and Samsung, with Pioneer making it's a/v debut at the store in September. Utilizing an open concept layout, with the sales counter at its centre, Jason and Sean use wall-mounts for most of their panel displays. Muted, darker colours, softened lighting and theatre-style seating for product demonstrations make customers feel "welcome and warm" from the moment they enter.

"We don't rush our customers, letting them enjoy their experience, and that almost always translates into larger sales," Sean said.

With "incredible support from our reps" and AVU guarantees like AdCheque (a customer-friendly promise to match any competitor's price), supplier and pricing support, customizable advertising material, and the company history of average annual sales growth in excess of 10 per cent, Jason and Sean are poised for great success in this highly competitive industry.

"Mega Group has certainly helped us become the fastest growing electronics banner in Canada," Jim said. "And it's dedicated guys like Jason and Sean who will help AVU continue that success for many years to come."

For more information, visit or call Jason or Sean, 905-373-7000.





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