“I love to solve problems,” said Rashid Skaf, just-retired president and CEO of AMX Corporation, a post he had held since 2005. “I love taking complex problems and coming up with simple, intuitive ways to solve them.” Skaf’s last day with the company was August 28.
Skaf’s 10-year tenure at AMX’s helm is a testament and tribute to his problem-solving passion. During this time, Skaf has taken AMX from a nearly bankrupt U.S. company that was narrowly focused on AV control systems to a successful global powerhouse that provides and serves all aspects of networked end-to-end AV/IT control systems, including network security. This expanded scope includes AMX’s introduction of popular products such as the company’s NetLinx Central Controllers, Resource Management Suite and the critically-acclaimed Modero Touch Panels that have fundamentally changed how users operate their AV facilities.
Having revitalized AMX’s fortunes by capturing a large share of touch panel and related product sales in the first part of his tenure—“We went from a $12 million market cap in 2005 to $350 million just four years later,” he said—Skaf then began AMX’s drive to acquire complementary businesses that would widen its product/services portfolios. In 2007, Skaf was named “Corporate CEO of the Year” by the Metroplex Technology Business Council of Dallas-Fort Worth.
“We looked at 75 companies, and eventually bought nine,” Skaf said. His acquisitions captured best-of-breed firms that brought AMX into AV distribution and switching (Endelco and AutoPatch); IPTV (Atrium Developments Group); digital signage (Inspiration Matters); multi-room distributed audio (Matrix Audio); affordable control solutions (ProCon); and most recently AV over IP (SVSi). Such purchases allowed AMX to offer a range of innovative products such as Enova DGX and DXLink (AV distribution) and Enova DVX, Enzo, HydraPort, and Solecis (conference room management), in addition to AMX’s core product lines.
While all this was happening, Skaf made AMX into a global company, by building an international network of distributors, sales offices, and showrooms that could reach users all over the world. AMX first expanded to the U.K. and Europe, then to the Middle East, Northern Asia, Asia Pacific, and India. Today, the company has representatives serving users in nearly 100 countries, plus showrooms and “Experience and Training Centers” that allow users to see and experience AMX solutions in real working settings. These facilities are open in Dallas, New York, London, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and Russia.
A key part of AMX’s success under Skaf was due to his outreach to end-users, to motivate these buyers to select AMX products when they do upgrades directly, or hire AMX-affiliated systems integrators to do them on their behalf. A second element was his emphasis on partnering with these integrators to develop sales that benefit everyone: AMX itself, the integrators who install AMX products, and the end-users who buy them.
“Originally, the integrators were pretty leery about AMX educating end-users directly; they thought that we were tying to cut into their sales,” Skaf said. “But once they realized that our goal was merely to drive product preferences—with product education that actually motivated end-users to seek out the help of expert integrators—then their attitudes began to change.”
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