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European Custom Installer

System Integration for the Connected Home

Distributors and Installers

Atlona Gets Italian Distribution With Prase Media Technology

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Atlona boosts its global partner network with the appointment of new distributor in Italy-- Prase Media Technology, who will handle the company's products in the region.

Prase Media TechnologyFounded in 1993 by Alberto and Ennio Prase, the company is a distributor of professional audio equipment for the Italian market. It is based just outside of the city of Venice, and Atlona hopes its 20 years of AV experience in the Italian market will further improve its sales in the region.

In 2013 Prase was honoured with the InAVation "Distributor of the Year" award.


Operaz Distributes RTI in Belgium, Luxemburg

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RTIControl and automation vendor RTI finds a distributor in Belgium and Luxemburg in the shape of Operaz Video-Auto, who will be offering RTI solutions together with localised support, training and services.

"Davy Verhaegen and Kris Leys, Operaz's founding partners, have years of combined industry experience and a proven track record for quality service and support," RTI says. "Through Operaz, we are able to successfully expand our reach into this region, bringing integrators the benefit of one-stop shopping and Operaz's trusted service."


Muridea Gets EMEA Distribution via OneAV

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US-based HDMI cable testing device vendor Murideo signs OneAV as master distributor for all of EMEA, a deal the two companies say will provide better support for customers across the region.

Murideo analyserInstallers and video professionals based in EMEA will be getting expanded access to Murideo testing and troubleshooting products, as well as in country support for the aforementioned products.

“The world of HDMI continues to evolve and grow in complexity at an exponential rate. For an integrator to truly regard themselves as a professional, they need professional testing equipment as part of their toolkit," the distributor says. "OneAV is excited to have been appointed as [Murideo] master distributor for the EMEA region and we look forward to supplying AV professionals across Europe with this awesome tool.”


RTI Widens Distribution With Invision Europe

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RTI expands its partnership with UK-based distributor Invision, as RTI products will now be available in the Netherlands through an exclusive distribution deal with Invision Europe.

RTI interfaces"Invision offers a well-balanced portfolio of custom install solutions backed by excellent service and support," RTI says. "Through our partnership with Invision UK, we're already well aware of the incredible benefits Invision provides our dealers. Now we look forward to extending that same great experience to the integrators in the Netherlands."

Part of Invision UK, Invision Europe will provide direct access to the full range of RTI control and automation solutions, together with dedicated dealer support services such as access to product shipping from stock, technical support and training.


Kanex Pro Gets International Distribution

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KanexProKanexPro announces more international distribution-- its products are now available from select distributors in a number of European countries, namely France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey and Poland.

The company sells connectivity products allowing installers to broadcast, extend, split or multiply HD signals in any environment. FVS and Comil handle Kanex products in France, while Exhibo takes care in Italy, Dystron in Poland, Media-Sys in Spain, AV Distribution in Switzerland and Atempo in Turkey.


Ingram Micro Sells Off AVAD. Why?

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Ingram Micro sells off AVAD, part of Ingram Micro’s Specialty Solutions Division.

Kingswood Capital Management, a private equity investment firm focused on buying mid-market companies where they believe they can add value operationally, acquired AVAD, LLC, including its wholly owned subsidiary, AVAD Canada Ltd.

AVAD is a North American distributor of high-end audio and video solutions focused mainly on residential custom installation markets in North America. With more than 10,000 customers across the United States and Canada, AVAD offers solutions for video, audio, networking, HVAC, lighting control, security, home automation, digital signage, system design and other products to small- and medium-sized businesses, some commercial venues and mid-to-high end residential markets in the United States and Canada.

Kingswood says it partnership and its operating team will provide AVAD with the executive leadership, operational resources and capital necessary to realize the Company’s long-term strategic goals. And what would those goals be, exactly?

For the leadership at AVAD, surviving the divestiture from IM has to come first. But the dream must be to capitalize further on the boost in size and revenue afforded by the years with IM and take the dominate position as America’s number one independent distributor in this AV niche. And maybe even more than that…

Ingram Micro bought AVAD in 2005, for less than one year’s turnover. Back then, AVAD was a confederation of 12 regional distributors that had to be consolidated into one to complete the purchase. Turnover of all equaled about $200 million while IM paid $120 with a potential of $80 million in payouts across the next 3 years.

The market heralded this acquisition as the coming of age of the residential market, the confirmation of the importance of the custom install market. To have a leading broadliner such as Ingram Micro to buy a specialized distributor like AVAD meant you could expect big things from the market as well as for AVAD.

No one, as far as we’ve seen in the press, has drawn the opposite conclusion now that AVAD is getting divested. So we have to ask, “Why?”

First fact to consider, Kingswood has recruited consumer electronics and distribution industry veterans, Tom Jacoby as Chief Executive Officer and Fred Farrar as President (among other key executives to be announced). Both Jacoby and Farrar are connected through Klipsch. Prior to his time at Klipsch, Jacoby was CEO of Harman Consumer Group from 1980 to 2000.

To quote the new owner of AVAD, “Following this transaction, AVAD is well positioned to continue providing its comprehensive, premium products and services to its broad base of existing customers while growing its distribution in numerous underserved markets.”

Alex Wolf, Managing Partner at Kingswood, comments, “As the market leader in distribution of premium audio and video solutions, AVAD is poised to grow its product offering and distribution reach under new leadership. Kingswood is fortunate to partner with an industry leader like AVAD and proven industry executives like Mr. Jacoby and Mr. Farrar in this transaction.”

Tom Jacoby, AVAD’s new Chief Executive Officer added: “Fred Farrar and I have had the pleasure of working with AVAD as one of our customers over our many years in the consumer electronics industry. We hold AVAD in the highest regard and look forward to joining its strong, passionate team and extending AVAD’s market leading position. We have plans to invest in AVAD’s infrastructure and will particularly focus on using web enabled technology to deliver added value to all of our trading partners. We are delighted to be able to contribute our experience and commitment to this great organization.”

So it seems clear the plan is to move from analog to digital (in business process), broaden the product lines (and maybe even categories) as well as the sales reach-- and do more business over the web.

Klipsch has had strong business overseas. While there is no evidence of this in the announcements, AVAD could also certainly expand internationally, buying up distributors in Europe, as an example. Probably AVAD will be busy putting its house in order in USA first, maybe expanding its national coverage to get more market share.  Europe is, most likely, several years away from being even considered.

For a second reason, we might want to consider a similar benchmark in residential solutions history. The retail chain Best Buy acquired the specialist Magnolia AV in 2000. Like AVAD and Ingram Micro, Best Buy faced the “Dustbowl Years” of residential, 2009-2010 when a general economic crisis provoked by the financial industry made an empty wasteland of much of the American economy, converting the disposable income of US families into “disposed-of” income.

To-date Magnolia AV has not been divested, but it has moved all of its Design Centers inside Best Buy stores. And, more significantly, Magnolia AV announced they would start chasing the commercial market.

So another big opportunity for AVAD would be to move more into commercial business, as many residential distributors have done.

While these four areas of potential for growth seem obvious to new owners (broaden product, more web, go international, go commercial AV), none of those had appeal to Ingram Micro. IM is already overseas, already has a Pro AV business unit, already improving web sales, and already has a broader product mix (that covers all consumer electronics).

It also has echoes of Vincent Bruno's decision for a broader CEDIA. That echo says the residential business, flattened like a pancake during the global recession, has widened on the gridle of adversity. Widened perhaps to the point that Ingram feels it has most of it covered anyways-- and perhaps feels a bigger need to go after the emerging specialty channels in IoT, 3D printing and more.

It would seem, following the logic, that AVAD was simply more valuable to others than to Ingram Micro. The residential business didn’t offer the growth Ingram Micro felt it had elsewhere. This was perhaps accentuated by the recent acquisition of IM by the Chinese conglomerate whose new mandate points IM to expansion in the more lucrative Asian markets...

Go Kingswood Capital



Steljes Limited Goes Under

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After nearly three decades in business, one of the UK's largest and longest-standing AV distributors, Steljes Limited, has been put into administration. The news affects Steljes Limited-- not other parts of the business, including Steljes Rental.

Two weeks ago more than 30 Steljes staff were facing redundancy but the distributor still couldn’t meet overheads—and the finger is pointing to recent changes in its contractual relationship with its largest vendor, SMART Technologies.

With sales down 2% to £53.85m and an operating loss of £1.28m (fiscal year ending 30 June 2015), sales were slowing on their main product, interactive whiteboards (SMART could have been as much as two-thirds of Steljes' sales).

In April, SMART began supporting resellers directly in the UK and using distribution only for fulfilment: Steljes had to move from a value to a volume model for their largest vendor.

Steljes Whiteboard Sales

The rapid disintegration of business for a nearly 30-year old respectable distributor gives some jitters to the industry. While some finger-pointing is going on, it’s long been an adage in distribution that one carefully navigates away from a business dependent upon on a sole vendor.

SMART made the move it figured it needed to run its own business. Distribution is a tough business where vendors always, always run roughshod over your interests if it is in the way of theirs.

Such a shame though as Steljes had carved a valuable niche in education and made an example of value-added distribution that it had hoped to bring to the rest of Europe.

Nigel Steljes, now chairman of the company he started in 1987, had the vision and focus that led to the company being the first to market in the UK for the LCD panel, LCD projector & 42” plasma monitor.

Hauntingly, their current websites says, “Success with the SMART Board interactive whiteboard has achieved sales of over 350,000 boards into the UK. Nigel’s hands-on approach spearheaded the company's phenomenal success, with the company being acknowledged in the Sunday Times fast track 100 companies for maintaining 100% growth for eight years in a row. Since that time, he has played a key role in securing exclusive distribution agreements that ensures Steljes is acknowledged as the true Value Added Distributor of choice for the vendor and reseller communities.”

The administrator told press they will continue trading while they search for buyers for the whole or parts of the business. While the valuable SMART contract is no longer there, the customer list and name should have value to national buyers—and perhaps even more value to overseas distributors (Europe, America). Some Asian manufacturers (maker of whiteboards as an example) might find a fit—and the Chinese are buying into the Western markets now (consider the recent acquisition of Ingram Micro) as their home economy slumps.

Meanwhile this news should send Europe’s specialist distributors scurrying to review their vendor dependencies. And some broadliners quietly clinking glasses as more UK market share loosens up.

Go Steljes