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Implications of the Vaddio Acquisition: Q&A with Milestone AV CEO Scott Gill - AvNetwork.com

Implications of the Vaddio Acquisition: Q&A with Milestone AV CEO Scott Gill

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On Monday, April 4, Milestone AV announced that it had acquired Vaddio, a global manufacturer of PTZ cameras and unified communications and collaboration (UCC) products for the audiovisual, videoconference, and broadcast markets.

SCN’s Matt Pruznick reached out to Milestone’s CEO, Scott Gill, to find out some of the effects of the acquisition for the Vaddio brand, as well as for dealers of both organizations’ products.

Milestone AV CEO, Scott Gill Why did you decide to add UCC solutions to the Milestone portfolio?
“It really centers on our core commercial AV dealer base. As we looked at ways to continue to expand the value that we could provide to them, one of the areas that we thought was pretty interesting was the content capture and unified communications, and doing a little more work, we found that this business had really emerged as one of the clear leaders in that space, and that was Vaddio. So that was sort of the initial work we did to drive us in this direction.”

With the acquisition, what new market verticals are you looking to expand into?
“Our current portfolio (well, current as of last week)—Chief, and Da-Lite, Sanus, and Projecta—covers the full range of end-user verticals. Vaddio does reach a bit into the broadcast space, so that’s one area. But we see it more as deepening the total solution set that we can provide to government, house of worship, corporate, education applications, as opposed to new verticals.”

How long ago did you enter into negotiations with Vaddio, and how did they progress?
“I first met the founders, Rob Sheeley and Tom Mingo, back in 2011, which at that time, was just another industry participant kind of discussion. But they’re a local business here in Minnesota, and we just have had the opportunity over time to keep in contact with them. And then the discussions really started in earnest in the fourth quarter last year and progressed through this first quarter, and we closed it basically at the end of the first quarter.”

Will dealers who sell Vaddio be recruited to sell other Milestone brands, and vice versa?
“I don’t know if I’d view it as recruiting; we think there’s an opportunity for us to bring Vaddio products potentially to dealers who haven’t been exposed to them before, just because Chief and Da-Lite have been around for decades and many dealers know them. Vaddio does have a loyal dealer base, but we think we can expand that with relationships the Chief and Da-Lite brand have already. We always view it as an opportunity to earn business; we’re certainly not going to force anyone to take our products. It’s just more of an opportunity to see a broader portfolio and understand the value that we can bring.”

How autonomous will the Vaddio brand be, going forward?
“We’re a multi-brand business today; when you go to InfoComm, you see multiple brands. We don’t go to market as Milestone, and we expect to do the same with Vaddio. Vaddio brings a great product development team, and a lot of technical skill that we don’t have at Milestone today, so all that activity will continue. That being said, Milestone does provide what I’ll call ‘backbone support,’ whether that be HR, or finance and IT infrastructure, and a global infrastructure too. We think there’s a lot of opportunity to grow Vaddio sales internationally using our Milestone infrastructure.”

Will Vaddio’s leadership remain intact?
“Not entirely. We’re continuing to evaluate folks that will be in different roles, but certainly the core functional leadership team around product development and operations, and quality, and service are all in place, and we expect them to stay that way.”

Does anything Vaddio offer overlap at all with any of the four other Milestone brands?
“The simple answer is no. They do mount their cameras on the wall, and that looks a little bit like a Chief part, but there’s virtually no overlap, which is great.”

How do you see the Vaddio brand benefiting from being under the Milestone umbrella?
“I think there’s a couple key things. Milestone as a business is in AV for the long haul, so we intend to continue to invest in the R&D and development activities behind Vaddio. Like I said, they’ve got a great development effort, and we expect to continue to grow the investment there. So that’s one area. And the other is just growth opportunities beyond what they’ve been able to do by themselves. Use Europe as an example: we’ve got a pretty mature infrastructure there; we’ve got a warehouse in Holland that we can use for Vaddio products, so we’re looking at opportunities to grow the brand beyond what they’ve been able to achieve so far.”

Do you have any closing comments about the acquisition?

“We’ve been pretty picky about how we’ve assembled the Milestone brand over the past decade, and the last significant addition we’ve made to our portfolio was Da-Lite in 2011, and we think Vaddio fits in very culturally, so the same commitment to innovative products and great service, and we’re going to continue to look for opportunities to do that in the decades ahead.”

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