In our Coping with COVID-19 series, AVNetwork is interviewing manufacturers to discover how they’re handling the COVID-19 crisis and how the pandemic has impacted their businesses.
Rick Komendera, manager of sales at SurgeX, discusses the company’s response to COVID-19.
AVN: Have you pivoted your business strategy in response to COVID-19? If so, how?
RICK KOMENDERA: Like many, we’ve closely monitored the pandemic globally and paid special attention to the measures put into place by the U.S. government, CDC, and WHO. As a result of the ‘stay at home’ order where our headquarters are located in North Carolina, we were required to temporarily shut down production of ESP and SurgeX products at our Knightdale facility.
We have, however, continued to operate remotely as best we can to support our integrators, who were deemed essential personnel and continuing networking and communications installations. With enough product in the field through our commercial distribution partners, so far, we’ve been able to facilitate nearly all orders from our partners.
AVN: How have your day-to-day operations changed during this time?
RK: We prioritized the health and safety of the SurgeX team, and have moved our customer service, technical support, and sales teams to a remote work model to process orders and assist all in-field installations. We’ve taken this time to work closely with our partners to invest in training, as power is often overlooked and usually misunderstood.
We’ve created virtual happy hours for our dealers, reps, and even industry friends since we are such a tightknit, social group and it’s important to keep the personal connections alive. We’ve also partnered with Chuck Wilson and the NSCA on a presentation for dealers on what they can expect over the next 6-12 months.
AVN: Has COVID-19 had an impact on your supply chain? If so, how are you handling any delays?
RK: COVID-19 has not had a significant impact on our business and supply chain as of yet, because we manufacture the majority of our products in-house at our North Carolina facility. We also have a very long standing relationships with many of our suppliers, and the backing of a global company, AMETEK, certainly helps.
AVN: Have you implemented any virtual training/education resources for integrators?
RK: SurgeX increased virtual trainings for both residential and commercial dealers to help them keep on top of earning CTS and CEU credits.
Having started in April, ‘TechTuesday’ trainings are continuing through May 26 online, with the SurgeX AVIXA courses at 11:00 a.m. ET (opens in new tab), and CEDIA courses at 2:00 p.m. ET (opens in new tab).
We also started a new web series called “Will it Blow?” where Vince uses ‘Big Bertha’ to test old appliances, showing how much power it takes to be fried, and how these devices can be protected.
Our whole goal with the online education series and other online activities is to keep us all connected while adding some humor and entertainment for our overall sanity!
AVN: What has been your largest leadership success during this time?
RK: We are extremely proud of how the AMETEK group of companies and their employees have come together to support one another and our customers during the pandemic. It is amazing to see that it’s not just work, everyone truly cares about one another and is doing what they can to make the best of a very difficult time.
It is also extremely vital for companies to focus on their company culture during this time. While, understandably, everyone is concerned over their physical wellbeing, there is also a great concern for our mental and fiscal wellbeing. We understand that everyone is dealing with unimaginable stress and uncertainty, and in response to that we have been checking in regularly with our staff, customers, and industry friends during this time. We would be nothing without our people, so we will work through this together.
AVN: How do you think business will change post-COVID-19?
RK: That’s certainly the million dollar question, isn’t it? Unfortunately, I don’t see the economy as an old school light switch that simply turns back on—it’s going to be more like a dimmer switch. SurgeX is in many verticals and it sounds like some verticals, including those related to UCC, will bounce back this summer, while other verticals such as retail, cinemas, and sporting venues, are expected to be slower until early next year.
I do believe UCC, an already strong market, will become even stronger as the work from home (WFH) movement becomes a larger part of our new normal. Right now everyone is "making it work" on laptops and consumer grade systems. However, going forward, executives in particular will expect a seamless transition between their office and the WFH environment, and will drive demand for enhanced residential UC, AV, and networking equipment to support that initiative.
AVN: Anything else you'd like to add?
RK: Personally, I just want to say it is incredibly rewarding to be in an industry that is so collaborative and cohesive. At times we get so busy flying from event to event that we don’t always stop to appreciate just how great the people we work with truly are. Taking a pause to absorb it all has been truly humbling.
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