Almo Company Profile
Almo Corporation is the largest independent distributor of appliances, consumer electronics, professional Audio/Video equipment, furniture and wholesale AV equipment in the United States. Serving the needs of retailers across the country, Almo and Almo Pro A/V operates 8 regional distribution facilities with over 2.5 million square feet of warehousing.
Almo focuses on four major business segments or division. The Major Appliance and Electronics dealer channel segment works with over 2,000 independent dealers throughout the United States distributing household name-brand products in a variety of retail categories.
The Premium Appliances division works with independent retailers of luxury appliances and outdoor lifestyle products including patio furniture and BBQ grills. The Professional AV (audio-video) division provides value-added commercial technology and professional audio-visual products and services to professional Audio/Video integrators, dealers and consultants.
The Fulfillment Division is an e-Commerce Fulfillment business that serves some of the largest online retailers in the country with a wide range of products.
What Is Almo E4 AV Tour?
Almo E4 AV Tour is an annual series of regional one-day training, education, networking and product showcase events by distributor Almo Professional A/V. The “E4” stands for Explore, Exchange, Educated and Experience.
According to Almo, at the E4 AV Tour, “We bring together the industry’s top educators, manufacturing partners to create a one-day event in cities across the country with CTS certified courses, the latest AV technology and networking for resellers, end-users, consultants & integrators.”
The locations shift from year to year to maximize coverage.
Since debuting in New York in late 2009 and four stops in 2010, Almo E4 AV Tour has established itself as a fixture in the industry.
VP of marketing Melody Craigmyle, part of a small group that moved from faltering distributor Electrograph to launch the Almo Professional A/V division within Almo Corporation, proposed the concept that became Almo E4 AV Tour.
“Melody had this crazy idea of reinventing what they did at Electrograph, [an event called] Display Technology Experience,” recalls Almo CEO Warren Chaiken.
Craigmyle’s idea was for a regional event that would establish Almo Pro A/V not just as a provide provider but as a valuable provider of education.
At InfoComm 2009 before Almo Pro A/V had even been formally announced, executive VP Sam Taylor approached Randal Lemke, then executive director of InfoComm (now AVIXA), a conversation that resulted in an education partnership that allows Almo to offer training with AVIXA continuing education units and renewal units at E4 AV Tour events.
Why Go to the E4 AV Tour?
The Almo E4 AV Tour has become a perennial CI Best award winner in the Training, Consulting, and Publications/Business Services category.
The 2018 schedule for the traveling one-day E4 program – which stands for Educate, Exchange, Explore and Experience – includes stops on March 6 in Washington, D.C., April 24 in Dallas, Sept. 21 in Boston and Oct. 26 in Nashville.
This year’s E4 AV Tour shines a spotlight on experience, partnering with the Audiovisual and Integrated Experience Association [AVIXA], the former InfoComm International, to shift the focus away from boxes and products to the overall customer experience.
Almo has added an end note speaker to every E4 event this year, says VP of marketing Melody Craigmyle. That kicks off with former Washington Redskins quarterback and Super Bowl champion Joe Theismann in D.C. in March.
AVIXA CEO David Labuskes says the Almo E4 AV Tour’s “emphasis on the power of audiovisual experiences is exactly in line with the direction of our industry.”
History of Almo Professional A/V
Since Almo Professional A/V’s E4 AV Tour has become a fixture in the industry it’s easy to forget that as recently as 2009 there was no such thing as Almo Pro A/V.
Sam Taylor, who in 2009 was the head of faltering distributor Electrograph, pitched the idea of Almo Pro A/V to Gene Chaiken and Warren Chaiken of Almo Corporation. The distributor launched as “a calculated risk,” according to Warren Chaiken, in July 2009 during a recession with zero customers, zero vendors and zero inventory.
In five short years, Almo Pro A/V grew to 35 vendors, about 35,00 dealers and $200 million in revenue. Those numbers have continued to grow. The quick success is even more remarkable given that it was born out of a challenging situation.
Taylor recalls that 2009 was a tough time for distributors and as Electrograph was shuttering there were a lot of distributors contending for its market share. “That’s when I put 22 people together and went to Almo [and arranged an alliance] with nothing more really than a business plan and 22 people to come along and make a go of it,” he told CI back in 2014.
“I was able to take the top sales people, the people who had been there the longest and pretty much the top marketing people and we were able to take the sales and marketing end of Electrograph and serve it into Almo which had a very well run company and good corporate culture.
“It was a good fit. They had very good logistics and very good finance. They were the back end. We were able to plug in the sales folks. When we started we had no customers, no vendors and no inventory.”
However, Taylor did bring a significant plan to Almo. He wanted to be more selective than most distributors when it came to the number of lines it would carry. At Electrograph he estimates that it 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,” he says. “The other thing we decided we were really going to focus on was educating our resellers and educating our sales staff.”
That, of course, led to the launch of E4.
With five years of retrospect, Warren Chaiken looks back on the “risk” in launching of Almo Pro A/V as a move with mostly upside for Almo Corporation.
“We knew what the risk was. Let’s say it all failed—we knew what the downside was and it wasn’t going to hurt the company if we decided [to walk away]. So there really wasn’t a risk in and of itself.”
Meanwhile, the opportunity to fill the vacuum left by Electrograph was compelling. “With Electrograph going out and other distributors that weren’t doing as well at the time, we just came in and basically filled a vacuum that was basically vacated when Electrograph went out. It also allowed Almo to diversify which we like doing.”
More on Pro AV Distribution
Almo executive VP/COO Sam Taylor saw the industry “on a nice growth path” heading into 2018, “as long as the economy continues to grow. It seems to be growing at not a crazy rate, but at least we’re continuing the growth that we’ve experienced in the past couple of years.”
Taylor sees 4K and collaboration as the primary areas that could see the biggest change in 2018.
“I think 2018 will be the year where the pro AV space will pretty much switch from the 1080p panels to 4K,” he says.
“I think a year from now, if we’re talking about this, I’d be surprised if any of our partners — all the big names — don’t have a total 4K lineup. They may have a few legacy 1080p products, but I think 2017 to 2018 is when the big switch-over happens. I think that’s good for our industry, because there will be a lot of people that want to update to 4K.”
Collaboration is another space that Taylor expects to see plenty of action in 2018.
“Anything that we sell from our vendor partners touching the collaboration space is really hot,” he says. “That’s continuing to explode, and more and more people are putting in huddle rooms. That segment of the market is really taking off. I think that will continue to explode into 2018.”
Brands Carried by Almo Professional A/V
As of February 2018, here’s a comprehensive list of the brands carried by Almo Pro A/V:
1922 Greenspring Dr #4
Lutherville-Timonium, MD 21093
In The News
With stops in the NY Metro Setpember 25th and Atlanta on October 15th, Almo Pro A/V is ready to celebrate its 10-year anniversary of the Almo E4 AV Tour.
Chances are, you expect much more than 10 years ago when Almo Professional A/V launched and rewrote AV distributor expectations.
Almo-Christie partnership of projectors, LCD panels and MicroTiles LEDs expand from Latin America to U.S. ahead of E4 Experience fall stops.
VDO360 CUBE Zoom Room package available through Almo Professional A/V; VDO360 part of 2019 expanded E4 Experience this spring.
Almo Professional A/V brings its E4 Experience, including 12 courses with CTS renewal units, to Costa Mesa, Calif., April 5.
SDVoE Alliance president Justin Kennington says AV-over-IP is moving beyond conversation and into action, boosted largely by SDVoE.
Distributor Almo Pro A/V has seen its digital signage revenue grow over 250%. At DSE 2019, it continues momentum by “productizing” content solutions.
It seems like a paradox that successful company leaders spend so much time listening to high-profile speakers tell them what to change, but it makes sense.
During Almo Pro A/V’s E4 Experience, Apryl Lamberti describes a vertical that allows Almo integrators to diversify within the market and push them through tough times.
Chicago stop on Almo E4 Experience tour also features autograph and photo session with former Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon.