I recently talked with Helge Fischer, Executive Director of Catalyst AV Distribution Network and Ron Meyers, President and CEO of The Edge Group about their new strategic partnership.
Maureen Jenson: Please tell our readers about both of your organizations.
Helge Fischer: Catalyst AV is a network of 9 independent consumer electronics distributors serving the residential and professional AV channels via its 21-locations. Catalyst AV grants manufacturers a consistent and cohesive nationwide distribution model to more than 16,000 professional integration specialists.
We benefit integrators by delivering all of the products and support necessary so our dealers can work to the highest possible level for their own customers. The Catalyst AV Board of Directors consists of Brett Neiderman (Tech Source); Chris Gentile (AHA Distributing); Rich Radimer (Custom Partners) and your’s truly as Executive Director.
Ron Meyers: The Edge Group is a distributor-owned buying and marketing group with the strength, inventory, and sales equivalent to those of national distributors. The Edge Group represents more than 200 supplier lines serving the datacom, security, low voltage, AV, electronic MRO, and electronic OEM industries.
We have over 1,200 stocking locations throughout the US and Canada with more than $1.2 billion in annual buying power. Distributor members benefit from a variety of support services including purchasing programs, cutting-edge marketing materials and digital tools.
MJ: How does forming this alliance meet each of your respective goals?
Helge Fischer: The Catalyst AV/Edge Group strategic alliance furthers our goal of providing broad based support to the integrators in the Pro AV custom channel. The Edge Group are experts and specialists in industrial electronics, data networking and security industries and the Catalyst AV members can support The Edge Group members in audio video applications.
By combining strengths, such as some of our manufacturer’s buying programs, each group has the opportunity to continuously improve their competitive advantage.
Ron Meyers: By aligning together, Catalyst AV and The Edge Group are delivering their specific goals of increased value to their members and suppliers with added strength in their respective channels.
MJ: How does this ultimately benefit your member’s dealers?
Helge Fischer: The stated purpose of this strategic alliance is to increase the volume of each group, become more dominant in its own industry niches, and utilize support of each other’s programs in an effort to do more business and be more profitable.
Ron Meyers: This is an ideal alliance to grow business through expanded product offerings, shared expertise and local inventory to support the members customers’ needs in markets across the US and Canada.
MJ: Where do you see the business opportunities coming from as we finish out what has been a very peculiar year? To say the least…
Helge Fischer: It has indeed been a very unique year and continues to be a challenge in a lot of geographical areas where the virus has flared up again. We are all trying to live with this, until we have a cure.
There have, however, been a lot of bright spots in the business. Networking has exploded, we are seeing a lot of consumers who are investing more in the A/V experience. There are a lot of well healed consumers in America. They have normally spent money on dinners out, movies, cruises, air travel, and more. That money is now getting invested in home improvements, outdoor living areas, upgrading of audio/video systems, etc. The home has become the vacation spot.
This will go on for the remainder of the summer or until we get a vaccine, which will make people feel safe again. So the installers need to cater to the demands out there, protect the homes they go into, and present consumers with all the choices, which this wonderful industry presents.
Ron Meyers: To say the least 2020 is a very peculiar year and it may well carry over into 2021. In my experience, with every hurdle comes opportunity. We see opportunities in several sectors, commercial and residential.
Innovation in security technology products is on the rise and is allowing The Edge Group to help our member distributors offer their customers robust services and security solutions that provide exceptional value to the end user as well as businesses across all verticals.
A good example of this is the tremendous sales growth we are seeing with body temperature camera systems. These camera systems can scan and record the temperature of 17 people per second and then notify instantly if there is a problem with any individual’s temperature. These are being installed in hospitals, schools, universities, factories, and more, just about everywhere there is a crowd of people who need to be tested for their temperature quickly.
Helping customers keep up with communication technology is certainly another area that is boosting our data networking offerings. More data at work and home brings the need for better and quicker equipment.
Edge is also working with several manufacturers to create new offerings like DIY security products to help better monitor homes and businesses. We are also working on new areas like environmental sanitizing products that can quickly and efficiently disinfect areas where people interact. We believe these types of products and offerings will become part of the “new normal” for the foreseeable future.
And, as Helge mentioned, there will be great opportunity in the residential market. The home is now so much more for many; WFH offices, school at home for children, and entertainment areas for indoor and outdoor. This will certainly be a growth opportunity over the next several years.