It’s been a year since network infrastructure company Panduit completed its acquisition of Atlona. The aim of the deal was to create a unified entity that could supply its customers with a one-stop technology foundation, providing everything from networking and electrical cabling to AV signal management and control products. Rather than simply absorbing the Atlona brand into Panduit’s operations, the two have operated much like partners, allowing the former to maintain its successful approach with additional support and backing.
We caught up with Panduit’s vice president of enterprise business Tom Kelly,and Atlona’s CEO Ilya Khayn and director of marketing Garth Lobban to find out how the deal has benefitted both companies.
AV Network: It seemed like the partnership model has worked out well. Has there been a cultural synergy between the companies?
Tom Kelly: “I was really impressed by this level of cultural fit. Some of these things, you never really know till after the acquisition closes, but I’d say the collaboration we’ve seen between at Atlona in San Jose and Panduit’s headquarters in Chicago has exceeded expectations. The focus on innovation and product quality has really resonated with both companies and we’ve seen a high level of fit, and the mindset between both organizations is really similar. And we’ve been impressed with what we’ve seen so far as we look back at the first year anniversary. I can say in summary that it’s been better than expected, and we’ve done what we’ve set out to do, which is continuing to operate Atlona with its focus on AV and complement it with some investment from Panduit.
Ilya Khayn: Prior to the acquisition, Atlona was a small to medium-sized company. We were known for being very nimble. And we’ve continue to stay nimble, and that’s a really good advantage for our customers; it’s our competitive advantage. And being part of the Panduit family we get all of the advantages of being part of a larger company—we get support for the infrastructure, support on the resources side—but we still continue to operate as a nimble company.
AVN: Has there been an exchange of best practices between the organizations?
IK: Across different areas. Over the course of 2019 we related all of our functions from basic day-to-day IT, order processing, and logistics. There have been some areas where we’ve improved our processes and made them even more robust. And there have been some areas we had we had very solid things in place and we continue to utilize them as we used to.
TK: I’ll give one example. I think Panduit has lent more back-office structure and support, and we’ve been impressed with Atlona’s ability on the marketing side. We look at their digital presence and their level of polish when they go to trade shows and exhibitions—we’ve been really impressed by that. I think we’ve learned from them a bit on the digital side, and we’ve really appreciated the expertise that they have in house. That was definitely an upside and a pleasant surprise for us.
AVN: One of the benefits of the deal for Atlona was the opportunity to get in front of a new customer base. How has that worked out?
IK: That was very attractive to us as we were discussing things prior to the acquisition. That was an important point for us: now we get into the projects a lot earlier. Typically, we’d only be considered as an afterthought, coming in as the last piece of the installation. Now we have an opportunity to talk to those contractors, systems integrators, end users, and general contractors a lot earlier, at the beginning stage when the project is being considered. We can be part of this conversation now. And we can now tap into the huge network of Panduit partners and the Panduit sales team, which gives us tremendous exposure here in the market. So yeah, it’s been very positive.
AVN: Has Panduit’s approach changed now that you have Atlona’s solutions at your disposal?
TK: Yeah, absolutely. We’ve found that we’re able to approach our end users and partners with a broader offering than we have in the past, which is part of our strategy in the acquisition. What we’ve seen is we’re able to talk to IT end users about a complete integrated network, not only physical, but AV, which has been a big upside for us. That’s allowed us to have a deeper conversation and a different engagement than just providing passive physical infrastructure. So, that’s gone according to plan and gone well.
AVN: What can ISE visitors expect to see at the Atlona booth?
Garth Lobban: What we found at InfoComm last year, when we brought Panduit into our stand, there were a lot of our customers in the AV world that started to get excited about stretching their wings and maybe learning more about the Panduit products and infrastructure elements. So we’re taking a very similar message to ISE, where we have a very significant presence in Hall 5. And what we’re finding is that there’s already a strong Panduit sales infrastructure across EMEA, so by bringing them into the stand, what we’re going to find is this additional cooperation between our two companies. For example, we’re going to see the large data rack in the stand like we did at InfoComm, where now our customers can start looking at, ‘Hmm, well there’s a bigger picture here, there’s a bigger opportunity here.’ And likewise, our partners on the Panduit side have been taking our message and spreading it throughout their marketing throughout Europe, and now they’re going to be bringing more of their customers into the stand so they can learn about AV.
Another important example at ISE is the cooperation between the two companies as we’re putting together three breakout sessions there at the RAI. So now, we have the opportunity to train datacom customers on AV over IP, our control system, and our other solutions. Likewise, as it’s a co-presentation between Atlona training and Panduit training, those datacom customers familiar with the Panduit side will learn more about Atlona, and vice versa. So, the cooperation extends beyond the convention floor and into the meeting room.