Walter Chaiken (top), president and CEO of Almo, and and Sam Taylor, executive vice president and COO of Almo
On April 6, Almo Pro A/V announced that it was in the process of acquiring International Audio Visual Inc. (IAVI), increasing its global dealership reach and making it the largest privately held professional audio-video distributor in the industry, according to the company.
SCN’s Matt Pruznick reached out to Almo Corporation’s president and CEO, Warren Chaiken, and executive vice president and COO, Sam Taylor, for some background on the deal, as well as its expected effects for both companies and their partners.
How long ago did negotiations begin, and how did they progress?
Warren Chaiken: “We started talking to Wade [Gilbert] back in the fall. And once I got a chance to meet with him, as well as my father Gene, and just sitting through and talking about the companies and how similar they are, they started to progress fairly quickly. There’s some negotiations that are win-and-lose negotiations; this was a win-win negotiation. From the very beginning, we knew where we wanted to get to and any hurdles that we had to overcome; together we did that. So it really was a very fair and easy negotiation, because we both knew what we wanted to get done at the end.”
How will this affect IAVI? Will the company be dissolved into Almo, or will it continue to operate under its name?
Sam Taylor: “The plan is, when we close—which should be around May 15—we will integrate IAVI into Almo, so it’ll be one company going forward.”
WC: “But, on top of that—so it’ll be operating under the Almo Pro A/V name going forward—we’re looking at best practices. It’s not going to be IAVI in the style of Almo and do everything that Almo does today; it’s going to be that Almo and IAVI are looking at best practices, which we’re in the process of doing, literally today. We’re going to decide, ultimately, what’s going to be best for our customers, so we can continue to add value to our core dealers out there.”
How may brands does this add to the Almo distribution network?
ST: “That’s part of the thing we’re still figuring out. We want to bring on brands that make sense for the combined customers, so we’re in the process of evaluating that. I would guess at this point that we will probably bring around 10 new vendors.”
Are the brands in any market areas that you didn’t represent before?
ST: “They’re brands that will be a little bit different than what we’re carrying now and have different solutions. We don’t want to bring on brands just to have the same products with a different name on them than we do now.”
IAVI has a sizeable Latin American base. Was this a key factor in the decision to acquire their business?
WC: “I would say that we would have done the acquisition with or without the Latin American business, but that being said, we’re very excited about the opportunity to expand into Latin America, and we plan on not only maintaining that operation, but bolstering it and growing it as we go forward.”
Are you looking to expand your international footprint into any other areas?
ST: “That’s going to be part of our going-forward strategy—to look at other areas where we can take the Latin American model and grow it internationally.”
Any hints at what you might be looking at next, in terms of expansion?
WC: “I think right now, our focus is that we want to make this integration as smooth as possible for our new employees, as well as for our customers. And that’s our goal for the foreseeable future. Almo is a very opportunistic company, and if there are other opportunities that present themselves, we’ll look at them. But right now, our goal is to make this as seamless as possible for everyone involved so that they continue to get the service that they expect from IAVI in the past, from Almo in the past, and from the new Almo going forward.”
ST: “One of the key differentiators within our distribution offering is the ability to provide managed services. And this is an area where we definitely see expansion happening in the near future. Currently, Almo offers content creation, installation and bandwidth services that our customers can incorporate into their projects and then, with some of the services, continue to earn recurring revenue from long after the installation is complete. Our new customers will now have the opportunity to enjoy these services and all customers will have access to new services that are introduced in the coming months.”
Any closing comments about the acquisition?
WC: “I think that in sitting together with the management of IAVI with Almo’s management, we see that we both have different strengths and ways to service our customers, and we’re going to put those strengths together to create a better Almo Pro A/V, so we’re really excited going forward. Both companies have great reputations for servicing their customers, but I think we can be even better as we move forward.”