Secrets to success: Couple celebrates 30 years in business
WHEN Carlo and Donna Barletta started in electronics, computer capacity was measured in kilobytes and the first iPhone was still 18 years away.
Now the Leading Edge Gladstone Hi Fi owners are celebrating 30 years in the industry - 24 of them locally.
"Donna and I originally started in electronics in Innisfail 1990 when we purchased Innisfail Hi Fi," he said.
"The store was a Dick Smith Electronics stockist and was big in car audio and UHF communications for local cane and banana farmers.
"Cane farmers were staunch GME UHF owners and banana farmers were Uniden UHF.
"It was like the Ford v Holden rivalry."
Over the decades, Carlo said he had seen many radical changes.
"Without a doubt the internet is the biggest development in electronics," he said.
"I remember when computers went from DOS and floppy disks to Windows and CD drives. "It was amazing that a whole set of encyclopedias could fit on one CD."
Back then everyone used to rent their VHS and Beta movies on tapes.
"Now everybody is streaming movies over the internet," he said.
"I even remember sending a fax - amazing how you could feed a letter in a machine in this town and it'd reproduce exactly on another machine in another town."
Mobile phone technology has advanced dramatically since Australia's first 14kg, $5000 phone, back in 1981.
"When we were kids you would have to call the exchange to make a phone call, and then came the first mobile phone," he said.
"It was a big bulky 'bag phone' and then evolved to the brick-style units, to the miniature fold-up and now back to the current larger smartphones which are better and faster than our first home computer.
"To think the current mobile phone can be a digital camera, computer, stereo, movie player, calculator, GPS just to name a few.
"We can even take a call on our watch, just like 007."
But the same item has been their biggest seller over the years.
"The good old TV cable that connects the TV to the antenna," Carlo said.
"Our other biggest sellers are drones, Minelab metal detectors, security camera systems both wired and wireless, tablets and laptops and bluetooth speakers."
Leading Edge Gladstone Hi Fi provides the personalised local service and support people want.
"Being in the same business category for 30 years, gives us a lot of experience and product knowledge and we have access to a large variety of consumer electronics," Carlo said.
"So we are good at finding solutions for customers needs, as we have the experience and knowledge, the products to suit, and we have the after sales service to back it up."
To celebrate their 30 years in business, Carlo and Donna are doing an outside radio broadcast on June 26, to coincide with their clearance sale.
"Still being here after 24 years, when a couple of locals told us we wouldn't last 12 months, is a very proud achievement," Carlo said.
"The most enjoyable moments have been forming friendships with some of our customers."
Gladstone MP and Minister for Regional Development and Manufacturing Glenn Butcher congratulated Carlo and Donna for 24 years in business in Gladstone.
"They have run the business in the same location for 24 years, the whole time employing local people, and young people with that tech knowledge, which is fantastic," he said.
"Carlo is one business owner who has really toughed it out, and is continuing to tough it out, through the online sales cycle of eBay and online, and it's all through good local service that he continues.
"But not only that, he is upgrading his facilities every four or five years to keep it relevant and the people of Gladstone certainly rely on the goods he sells and gets in."