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Executive Q&A -- Never Let You Down

I've known Paul Allen for more than 15 years and have watched him grow his company into one of the leaders in the field of AV equipment suspension. Earlier this year I was surprised, as were many people, when he announced that Allen Products Company (APC) had acquired ATM, the premier rigging products brand for tour sound and installation. Now that the dust has settled, it is clear that the market is pleased with new APC/ATM Company, new service levels and the one-stop shopping opportunity that it provides. I had a chance to catch up with Paul and ask him a few questions about ATM, APC and the future.

MM: Why did you decide to purchase ATM Fly-Ware?
Several years ago, we began a campaign to create a wide variety of installation solutions for professional loudspeakers. When we learned that ATM Fly-Ware was for sale, we knew that combining its larger and higher-capacity designs to our product line would help us better achieve our goal of having solutions for every installation and all under one roof.
The founder of ATM Fly-Ware was ready to move on, while we felt as if we were just beginning, so the acquisition was beneficial for all parties involved. It is very rewarding to now hear how well this transition has been received by our industry.

How has the integration of ATM into the Allen Products family been so far, and will it all become one brand in the future?
The ATM brand remains separate from the Allen brand, so there hasn't actually been an integration of products, per se, but the integration of systems necessary to produce them has been a real education.

The front-office integration has gone pretty well, but I would be less than genuine if I were to say that everything has gone flawlessly. As a matter of fact, we are still working out the bugs in our newly combined systems but, as a team, we are doing very well.

How will you handle traceability?
Both ATM and Allen Products now use the same traceability system to identify what and where materials and fabrications come from. The system links manufactured parts, material origins and customer orders in the event a service bulletin or part recall is issued. This helps us get in contact with customers quickly, and it also serves as a tool for our customers to report back to us if they experience a problem in the field.

Since purchasing ATM, has delivery for either brand been affected?
Our ability to ship all of the ATM Fly-Ware orders was a bit choppy at times during the transition, but it has improved dramatically. While this was taking place, we experienced a surge in orders and sales of both brands, causing additional delays with standard Allen product designs. I am very happy to say that we are now back in balance and keeping within our standard delivery terms. We are grateful for our many understanding customers.

What quality standards does Allen Products employ?
Allen Products' staff was trained and has built an organizational process for quality based on ISO 9000 standards. As you might expect, all newly created ATM and Allen product development will be processed in the same manner.

In terms of design, talk a little bit about where you'd like to take Allen/ATM in the future.
Since we are now virtually unlimited in our design and product development capacity, our priority is to address the needs of our existing customer's requirements as they reveal themselves. There are several areas that also need our attention, including large-venue applications, live sound, lighting and video applications, and the recording industry.

International expansion is another logical step, because we now have 22 categories of off-the-shelf mounting and rigging solutions that will save contractors time and money, worldwide.

Allen Products Company...

Product Impact
Paul Allen views this combining of products and talent as an opportunity to expand products and services rather reduce them: "Allen Products has created an excellent reputation for mounting products, and ATM Fly-Ware is mostly known for its loudspeaker rigging. To simplify access to these very different disciplines, we are transferring ATM's 'mounting products' to the Allen brand and the Allen 'rigging products' will get the ATM label. This realignment will be completed soon, then we'll be off to expanding product lines again. There will be some consolidation of a few products that provide the same function, and then we will blend the best attributes of both products into a new version."

An example of such a consolidation is Allen's One-Way Array and ATM's SwivelBeam product lines. The result of combining these products will be a hybrid that increases the quantity and capacity choices and adds more features.