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BRAVAS Group Charts Game Plan at Fourth Summit, Honors Top Dealers

The members and associates of the BRAVAS Group met in Chicago last week to lay base business process practices in place and look to the future.

BRAVAS dealers receiving BLUE awards

The members and associates of the BRAVAS Group met in Chicago last week to lay base business process practices in place and look to the future. The theme of the summit was “Creating Enterprise Value,” which translated to an emphasis on building financial/operating standards, elevating performance, and reaching consensus on reporting and management system details.

Founders Paul Starkey and Steve Firszt outlined a future where member companies would band together to provide a vehicle for a high-multiple $100 million valuation.

“The notion of a strategic buyer for these businesses is not far off,” Starkey said. “The important thing is for companies to work as a unit and not independent outposts. The essence of this model is local autonomy with a baseline business system beneath it.”

We’ve learned that implementing the business system can be fast-tracked and believe waves of small groups (15 to 25 companies) can be assimilated into the system going forward. Our first group will pave the way for others to be fast followers.” 

The group agreed to close the door for new members in Group 1 on August 1. Some of the current associates will roll over to Group 2 and new companies will be joining effective August 1 as well.

The group discussed several disruptive approaches to achieving aggregate value, ultimately in the public market. Concerns about failed attempts in the past were shared and differences were highlighted by the “do the work first” approach that BRAVAS has adopted. 

“Some people get hung up on our lack of identical assortment, software diversity, differences in selling and install methods, and even slight customer differences,” Firzst said. “Our view is these are not the first-order fundamentals for a successful multi-location model.”

BRAVAS has held in the past that a strong, replicable business model built on shared reporting and management fundamentals was the key to creating a powerful continental (U.S. and Canada) custom integration business.

“Compared to the standalone small company, a $200 million company can do so many more things to build value in the marketplace,” Starkey said. “Recruiting, sales training, tech training… for starters. And don’t forget the business system enhancements that can be layered over the process platform we’ve spent the past three-plus years implementing. This is what acquiring companies do: improve economies, refine systems, document process details, and so forth.”

The BRAVAS Group also gave recognition to its dealer performance in key operational areas for 2016. Affectionately called the “BLUE” awards taken from the highest level of performance on VITAL’s metrics’ scale, the awards single out top performers in five categories and one business of the year recipient.

Starkey and Firszt presented the awards, commenting “These business operators demonstrate what level of excellence possible with persistence and determination. Each winner is raising the bar for the group and setting the pace for their peers.”

This year’s winners are:

Most Revenue Growth 

Smart Systems of Texas (Marie and Pat Devlin), The Colony, TX

Highest Net Operating Profit 

Audio Intersection (Michael Buckner) Canton, GA

Best Labor Productivity 

SES Design Group (Mike Beam and Kevin Roach) Houston, TX

Best Gross Margin Productivity 

Audio Video Innovations (Jeff Halloran and Randy Garcia) McKinney, TX

Most Improved Compliance 

Station Earth (Rowan McLean and Rod Dykstra) Fergus, ON, CAN

Business of the Year

Digitech Custom (Mark Vyain) Carmel, IN

The award ceremony was sponsored by Legrand/Vantage/Q Motion and followed the group dinner sponsored by Peerless and Netsertive.

The group met for the larger part of 24 hours from Wednesday to Thursday afternoon. Member workshops and private sessions were interspersed with presentations from sponsor companies currently serving the group: AudioControl, Dish, D-Tools, Leon Speakers, SurgeX, Origin Acoustics, Sound United, Access Controls, NetSertive, Vantage/Q Motion, One Firefly, Peerless-AV, and Pro Source.