Behind the Counter: Just Audio
Local couple points to faith, family and good old fashioned customer service as the reasons for their success.
Just Audio, the Panzer's audio repair shop, has since moved into a storefront on Harford Road in Parkville and the couple are enjoying a growing number of customers—but back in September '05 when they launched, they were only authorized to do repairs for one manufacturer.
As time went on and the business grew, John knew that the space the business occupied needed to grow too.
"There was no way we could stay where we were," John said. The Panzers found their opportunity to move to Parkville in June of 2007 and haven't looked back since.
"Originally I didn't want to move over here," John said of the storefront located at 7907 Harford Road. "That being said, it's been awesome—business has been great."
These days Just Audio is licensed to service 67 major manufacturers—brands like Kenwood, Sony, Pioneer, Harman/Kardon, Casio and Yamaha—and regularly gets items shipped in from all over the United States.
"We have had things shipped in from 33 states," Monica said.
John tells the story of one customer who owns two homes—one in Maryland and one in California—who waited six months to have some audio equipment repaired solely so that he could take it to Just Audio, rather than a repair center in California.
"We see new pieces every week. Almost a piece a week comes in that’s something we’ve never seen before," John said.
Customer service is extremely important to John and Monica.
"I am really against automated phones," John said. "People will call and when I answer they'll say 'Oh, you sound like you own the place.'—I'll tell them I do, and they'll say 'And you answer the phone?' Yes, yes I do."
"People are hungry for customer service—they're tired of dealing with Verizon, Comcast, not talking to anyone in the country, or not even anyone at all—you could just be talking to a computer—I'm gonna try and keep our phone live as long as possible. People value that."
Another thing that's extremely important? Faith.
John and Monica, who live in Overlea-Fullerton, said their 26-year marriage was on the rocks when "God made himself real" to them.
"It wasn’t about going to church, it wasn’t about religion—it was about having a relationship with Jesus," John said. "Going to church doesn’t make you a Christian anymore than sitting in a garage makes you a car."
The Panzer's explained that they felt that they had been given three gifts—the first was their business, the second was their 22-year-old daughter Kaitlyn Florentine, who they say is an "incredible mom" to their grandchildren Brooke and Bryson; and the third is their son, 18-year-old John Panzer III, a talented guitarist who is preparing to release an album with his band called "Falling Forward."
John said they try their best to live up to the ideals of their faith.
He tells a story about a woman who brought in a lamp that she had broken in the process of changing a lightbulb.
"I fixed it up for her—she asked how much she owed, and I gave her 10 business cards and asked her to spread them around. Obviously we can’t do that for everybody or we’d be out of business, but if you can’t help some of those people along the way then there’s something wrong."
Just Audio continues to grow—locally, they've recently done work for 98Rock's "Detour" Dave, news personality Rod Daniels, Sonar, and they are currently working on a mixing board for the Hippodrome Theatre.
John and Monica aren't showing any signs of stopping either.
"It's the enormacy of it—we feel like we’re just getting started; there’s a lot more to come," John said.