5 Years of Almo Pro A/V: A Brief Oral History

What was deemed a ‘calculated risk’ has turned into $200 million in annual revenue. Key players in the marriage recall the early days and the milestones that followed.

Tom LeBlanc

The fall of Electrograph was systematic of how the recession was exposing some of the integration industry’s shortcomings. There was a need for companies to evolve, and Taylor felt a distributor could play a role in helping companies do that.

Taylor: We wanted to do a lot of the same things that we did at Electrograph, but we wanted to be more focused. So we were selective in the number of lines that we carry.

Most distributors carry lots of lines. We wanted to be more selective. At Electrograph we probably had 60 or 65 lines. When we started at Almo we said we wanted to have somewhere between 30 and 35 vendors and we want to stay there. We don’t want to have 120 lines.

We want our sales people to be educated on the product so when they go out and meet with the integrators they understand it.

The other thing we decided we were really going to focus on was educating our resellers and educating our sales staff. So we founded the E4s which were focused on education in partnership with InfoComm to the point where we have now approximately 12 courses and each one of them has CTS certification. Our salespeople are outbound, even more than we were at Electrograph, which is different than most distributors and we have a lot of good focus on staff with CTS certification. That high level of training is not out there with anyone else.

Chaiken: Obviously a lot of people lost their jobs, which is a shame. But the people that Sam was able to recruit came on board and then more and more people from that company that are still in the industry continue to want to work for us, which is really interesting.

Watch Sam Taylor explain how staying narrow helped Almo Pro A/V grow quickly:

One of the 22 carryovers from Electrograph, Melody Craigmyle, proposed the E4 AV Tour.

Chaiken: Melody had this crazy idea of reinventing what they did at Electrograph, [an event called] Display Technology Experience.

Melody Craigmyle, marketing executive, Almo Pro A/V: At InfoComm [2009] Sam and I really talked about [a potential regional event] from an education standpoint. I remember Sam going to Randy Lemke [then InfoComm International’s executive director] and saying we’re going to start this up. Randy said—before we had even formally formed Almo Pro A/V— We’re in. We want to do this. There’s a need. We need regional training. We need regional education. Not everybody can go to Infocomm. If you’re going to do this, Sam [and] Warren, we’re going to partner with you.”

Chaiken:The thing I remember most is the first time that we were walking around Infocomm in Orlando and basically hawking ourselves, so to speak. I met Melody at that Infocomm, as well as Steve [Stacy] and John [Riley]. They weren’t even Almo employees at the time. They came and we were still working everything out. We needed to [do it that way] from a timing standpoint. They were all in on day 1.

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