by Jeremy J. Glowacki
For ADI, Sony offered the right brand at the right time.
Once known as the security alarm professional’s distributor of choice, ADI has been broadening its product mix for quite some time (most recently by adding Lutron lighting and shades control to its inventory), yet had been lacking a proper video panel partner in recent months. That search apparently coincided with Sony’s very public effort to improve sales in its struggling TV business as the two announced a new pact whereby ADI will distribute Sony’s TV and home entertainment, audio and video solutions including BRAVIA 3D HDTVs
Today I followed up with ADI Americas president Michael Flink, asking him if Sony came to ADI or vice versa. “I think it was mutual interest and good timing,” he explained. “From our perspective, we have a really strong solid base of AV business that I call ‘parts, pieces, and accessories.’ We sell millions of in-wall and in-ceiling speakers a year and wire and connectors and LCD monitor mounts and we’ve done well with some AVRs and some basic equipment and we’ve done well with some basic multi-zone equipment, but we’ve never had the complete package consistently.”
ADI, Flink explained, had “some fits and starts” with some panel manufacturers, but nothing consistent lately. The challenge, he said, was very large ADI dealer base kept asking for video panels “that is not on every Wal-Mart shelf or every Best Buy shelf.” And unfortunately, Flink noted, “some of the niche players” (like NuVision and Pioneer Elite perhaps) had become “casualties of the marketplace,” leaving fewer options.
Michael Flink, president, ADI Americas
“So we were looking for Sony, because we think it’s a good solution as an end-to-end solution,” Flink explained. “If you’re looking for a panel and an AVR and a high-end Blu-ray player, Sony’s really the place to go and get that. Those are things our dealers were looking for. At the same time, I can’t speak for Sony, but I think they recognized that there was an opportunity in the custom install AV space that ADI could fill that spot for them.”
Adding the brand, Flink said, further solidifies ADI’s position as a multi-faceted distributor. “People, I think, look at ADI and say, ‘The burglar alarm guys buy at ADI.’ But, if you do industry research and you look at every office of everybody that says they’re CCTV, access control, and intrusion, there’s maybe 20,000 of those locations in the United States, and we have over 65,000 customers. If you look at our customer base today, it’s a very diverse customer base. We have probably as many IT integrators as we do security guys. The AV is space is not that big, but we have thousands of people that do AV installs. We have electricians that come in that do a little bit of everything.
The goal for ADI, however, is to become a dealer’s primary distributor, rather than their secondary distributor or occasional distributor. “Our goal in each category is to be their primary distributor, and I think filling in the product line with a top-tier panel manufacturer was important for us.”
Flink also pointed to the recent hiring of Tom Galanis, formerly of 6th Avenue Electronics, as its new category manager as further commitment to products outside of the security space. “Here’s somebody with 30 years experience in the marketplace, very well respected, very well known, very aware of the marketplace, who will be leading our efforts in the AV space now,” he said. “We’re making investments in the business in terms of getting top-flight talent, we’re making investments in terms of training our staff over the next coming months to be more aware and capable in the AV space, and we have a commitment from our leadership team. The AV space is a critical space to take a leadership position in.”
ADI currently supports 97 “stocking locations” in the U.S. and Canada. Dealers can come in and pick up products right off the shelf can pay freight if they’re in a territory not covered by an ADI location. In July, the distributor revamped its e-commerce site to bring it up to 21st Century standards. ADI will begin launching that site to the broader marketplace in November and December, according to Flink.
The complete line of Sony products will be available at ADI branches beginning this fall, including LCD TVs and monitors, AV receivers, Blu-ray and DVD players, home theater and sound products, and accessories.