VectorUSA Balances IT, AV and Security with Ease

Published: 2023-10-03

For decades, IT/AV convergence was an industry buzzword, describing the intersection of traditional audiovisual integration and all those devices that lived on the network. Today, it’s practically impossible to discuss AV without exploring the IT implications. But there’s another discipline that is equally intertwined with AV: physical security.

The convergence of IT, AV and physical security has led many integrators to offer all three services. Curtis Paradzick, vice president of sales for technology solutions company VectorUSA, says, “Our mantra is, ‘If it’s on the network, we need to know it.’”

Whether your business started in the world of AV, security or — in the case of VectorUSA — IT, you can expand your profitability and grow your customer base with a multi-pronged approach. But it takes the right personnel, marketing and strategic distribution partnerships to make it work.

“If you’re going to get into the unknown,” Paradzick says, “[you had better] find a partner, typically through distribution, to help you through it…to advise you.”

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With help from ADI Global Distribution, VectorUSA has expanded to cross-market successfully across IT, AV and security, as well as other fields. “ADI is extremely flexible, extremely business-oriented and a very good partner,” Paradzick says.

“If it’s technical infrastructure of some sort, VectorUSA can design it, architect it, deploy it [and] manage it,” general manager Chase Zukerman says. “That’s an advantage for us over a point solution or a more niche player that only does AV, or only does wireless, or only does physical security.”

VectorUSA: 30-Plus Years of IT Services and More

VectorUSA launched 35 years ago in the southern California region. Initially, it provided IT services to commercial enterprises, then education, government and healthcare clients, as well as those in other verticals. Traditional IT services still make up 73% to 74% of the company’s topline revenue, Paradzick says.

However, the company offers services in roughly 10 fields of technology solutions, including physical security and AV. “Those applications are intruding on the network,” he says. “Most of the applications we provide are IP-based, so AV and physical security complement our core business model.”

Paradzick says physical security systems — all IP-based — represent roughly 10% of the company’s business, whereas AV is 6%.

Foray into AV and Physical Security

Paradzick explains that the company expanded into physical security 12 or 13 years ago. “It’s not like we woke up and said, ‘Hey, the world is a dangerous place and physical security is a hot market; let’s get into that,’” he says. “Rather, physical security pivoted into an IT-based solution riding the network, so we had to figure it out. It’s living in our world now. It’s part of our IT ecosystem.”

The same transition occurred in the AV world, albeit more gradually. Six or seven years ago, VectorUSA began selling videoconferencing, digital signage and network operations center solutions, among other audiovisual-based systems. “That pivot happened much faster on the physical security side than on the AV side,” Paradzick says.

‘The Process is the Same’

Zukerman asserts that, whether you’re selling AV or physical security, or even IT for that matter, the sales and marketing process is the same. “It always starts with the business justification, and that has a non-technical answer behind it,” he says.

“The sales process always starts with a problem statement, no matter what the technology is,” Paradzick agrees. “What am I trying to solve? What are the outcomes the client needs? We’re crafting our solution to meet the business outcomes.”

The Differences Between AV and Security Sales and Integration

Differences emerge related to the level of customization surrounding each solution and the degree of crossover between disciplines. For instance, the physical security side hinges on working closely with the IT department, with implications for the data center and networking. Of course, VectorUSA provides these services, as well.

On the AV side, IT integration, although not a foregone conclusion, is becoming more common. “On the AV side, there’s still a lot that we do that’s not IP-based,” Zukerman says. “Most of our AV projects are conference rooms, auditoriums, digital signage, NOCs…. There’s more customization. It’s less templatized, in general, in our experience, than physical security is.”

For this reason, Zukerman says, the company often sells physical security side by side with IT, either as a bolt-on or as a lead-in, whereas AV remains siloed as a standalone service in many cases. But even that has changed as responsibilities change within organizations.

A Changing Landscape

“The landscape of whom we’re selling to has changed over the years as the solutions meld into each other,” Paradzick explains. “In our clients’ organizations, in the past, there was an IT person; then, a facilities person who took care of access control and cameras; and [then], an office manager or administrator who was an AV person. We’re seeing those walls break down.”

For integrators like VectorUSA, this offers a tremendous advantage. If someone has a technical requirement or needs a technology solution of virtually any kind, they can turn to VectorUSA as a one-stop shop.

“It’s a great way to pull in additional business,” Zukerman says. “Rather than going out and hunting down new customers for every new sale, we can expand our portfolio with existing customers.”

The challenge, Zukerman explains, is the potential for the company to lose focus of its core competencies, either through siloing personnel or asking workers to become experts in all fields. This is a potential pitfall that VectorUSA seems to be navigating very effectively — thanks, in substantial part, to its close partner ADI. “We’ve [been offering] about five to 10 different disciplines for at least six years and don’t seem to see a drop in any of those areas,” he says.

In a tight labor market where it’s hard — and expensive — to find talent, Paradzick recognizes the value of a distribution partner like ADI, which can help VectorUSA scale without adding employees by filling gaps in expertise and assisting with deployment if needed.

“You only get one time to make a first impression, as the saying goes,” Paradzick says. “Use your disti partner as a crutch. ADI has some additional services that will help us augment our staff right now.”

How ADI Saves VectorUSA Time and Money

Apart from providing additional services to help VectorUSA scale without losing focus or stretching staff too thin, ADI also offers advantages with its wide range of product offerings. “The breadth of products is great,” Zukerman declares. “It helps because it gives us flexibility.”

VectorUSA currently works with roughly 15 different sources for AV equipment, Paradzick reveals, but it’s working on streamlining that process with ADI as a key partner and provider.

“It’s a ridiculous thing to manage that many different product sources,” Paradzick says, pointing out the time and opportunity costs related to writing checks, creating purchase orders and tracking multiple orders for one project. “We are streamlining that right now to send as much of our AV business to ADI as we can,” he adds.

Of course, there’s more to a good distribution partner than just robust product lines. “ADI checks all the boxes for the things that are really important to us,” Zukerman says. “Responsiveness, inventory availability, warehousing [and] physical presence in geographically dispersed locations.”

Zukerman continues, “The quote turnarounds are incredibly quick. They’re honest about lead times. And the integrity of the team is incredibly high.”

Bottom line: If you’re juggling as many disciplines as VectorUSA is, and you’re looking to grow your presence in AV and physical security against competitors who have been in those industries longer, it’s crucial to have distribution partners you can trust.

“Using a distributor who has these services behind the scenes can shorten your ramp time toward success as you enter new areas,” Paradzick concludes.

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