When Jag Rattu, owner of Audio House at 645 Soscol Avenue, received the Napa Chamber of Commerce 2017 Customer Service Person of the Year award, he was both surprised and humbled. Accepting the honor, he explained how he became a Napa business owner. “Before I bought it, sales at the Napa store were stagnant, and my boss wanted to sell it. I offered to buy it from him, and he countered by saying we could be partners. I thought about it for about a second, and told him that I wanted the opportunity to succeed or fail on my own. He paused and said, ‘Who am I to stop a man from doing that?’ and sold it to me.”
Standing on his own was a great decision. Rattu has been far more successful than he could have dreamed and the store is extremely popular in Napa and beyond. In December of 2016, Rattu and Audio House were the cover story for Mobile Electronics magazine, viewed by many professionals as the go-to magazine for industry information.
The Last Chance garage in Benicia uses Audio House for all their work. “Putting in a security system in a vintage Aston Martin, you’re not going to trust just anybody. You want it done right, and done right the first time. That’s why we go to Jag,” said Last Chance co-owner Bob Taft.
The Mobile Electronics Specialist of America is a nationwide alliance of what they consider to be “the best independent car audio retailers across the country.” In the Bay Area, they work with only three dealers, including Audio House. For a small business to receive those kind of accolades is unusual, but Rattu has earned them all.
Rattu got his start working at his cousin’s Radio Shack in Daly City in 1991, when he was twelve. “I was supposed to stock shelves, getting paid in Wendy’s Hamburgers,” he said. “At my age it was probably illegal, but I didn’t care.” What he didn’t like was stocking shelves. “I’d do that as quickly as possible and then hang out on the sales floor, talking to customers, asking them what they were looking for and trying to help them find the right match for their needs.” He sold a personal computer – the first one anyone had ever sold at that store – for $2,900. “Nobody knew how to install it, so I went home with the customer and set it up for him. I made sure he understood how everything worked and told him to call me if he had any problems.”
Rattu’s sales career was interrupted a year later, when he turned thirteen. “My dad wanted me to be a kid, and focus on school and baseball.” He did well at both, and became a die-hard Giants fan. But when his cousin sold his Radio Shack and opened a liquor store, Rattu went to work for him. “I was only fifteen, but I learned how to listen to people. I sold small stuff, but it was an education.”
After graduating from high school, he went to work for a car audio store. “I didn’t know any brands. I knew cars, loved music, but didn’t know too much about car audio. The first thing I did was introduce myself to the installers and start asking questions. The salesman recognized my interest and took me under their wings. I was so blessed.”
One year into the job, the store manager became ill and Rattu was asked to temporarily fill in. In just one week, sales skyrocketed, and he was made a permanent manager. He quit college to focus on his career, but later returned and earned his degree. Rattu left that company to join a small chain. He bought one of the stores from his boss in 2006, which he renamed Audio House. Since then, Audio House has become the go-to place in Napa for all things car audio related and window tinting.
Rattu treats all customers like family, because his family and friends have sent him lots of referrals. “My nieces and nephews have sent me so much business. All young customers, high school and early twenties. Those kids are like anybody else, and deserve to get a good value for their dollar and not be taken advantage of.”
Providing his customers good value is high on Rattu’s list, and he backs anything he sells. “He will spend as much time answering questions for a customer who bought a $30 item from him ten years ago, as he will with somebody who spent $13,000 with him yesterday,” said his wife Cynthia, who started working with him just before their 2008 marriage. She laughed about it. “It sometimes drives me crazy, but his customers love and respect him for it.”
Rattu offers a wide range of products and prices, including the best that Kenwood and Alpine have to offer. “Sometimes people assume that because I offer high end products and installation that we are expensive, but that isn’t true. I need to be competitive with everybody – even Amazon – only better.”
That philosophy is part of the reason why shopping at Audio House is kind of a no-brainer. “All of our installers, including window tinters, go through training every year. Plus, I’ve been doing this for twenty-one years. I stand behind everything we do.”
Audio House employees a staff of ten, and are open six days a week. Stop in to say hello, and check out all that they have to offer.
645 Soscol Ave, Napa | (707) 252-1141 | audiohousenapa.com
Monday: 10am - 6pm | Tuesday - Saturday: 9am - 6pm