Almo Professional A/V launched in July 2009 with zero customers, zero vendors and no inventory.
What it did have was Sam Taylor, 22 other refugees from crumbled distributor Electrograph and a clear vision of what worked versus what didn’t work for AV distributors as the integration industry evolved through the recession.
Those refugees were actually the cream of Electrograph’s crop handpicked by Taylor, former president.
“It was a tough time for integrators. It was tough for the distributors. It was tough for manufacturers. There were a lot in financial trouble and one that didn’t make it out was Electrograph,” he recalls.
Taylor turned to established distributor Almo and arranged an alliance. “I was able to take [Electrograph’s] top sales people, the people who had been there the longest and pretty much the top marketing people. We were able to take the sales and marketing end of Electrograph and serve it into Almo, which had a very well-run company, good corporate culture, good logistics, very good finance—it was a good fit.”
Fast forward to Almo Pro A/V’s five year anniversary, which is being marked at its E4 Philadelphia event and sales meeting, and the distributor now has 35 vendors, about 3,500 dealers and $200 million in revenue. Taylor, executive VP, reflects on five years of growth.
On the distribution void he thought Almo Pro AV could fill five years ago …
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.
Watch Sam Taylor explain how staying narrow helped Almo Pro A/V grow quickly:
On how the distribution climate has changed in five years …
Well, the climate has changed quite a bit. There’s a saying that the rising tide lifts all boats. Most of the distributors, I think, are doing alright now, because manufacturers have embraced distribution and they weren’t really embracing distribution five years ago.
Now it’s come to the point where their margins have become so constricted that they don’t have the resources to sell direct anymore to the dealers so they’ve channeled their resources into the channel. [Manufacturers] like Panasonic have driven all of their business now through distribution. So has LG and others are moving that way.
They’re cutting the direct-out to just a handful and having the rest of the resellers buy through the channel.