AVAD: Three Years into Pro AV

by Chuck Ansbacher

It has 24 distribution centers across North America, stocks products from industry leaders like JBL, Bogen, Denon, Crestron, and Speco, and provides a full range of complimentary design services to all of its customers. And yet, many in the pro-AV space still don’t know who AVAD is. “Our first few trade shows, we would say ‘oh, do you know who AVAD is?’” explained Cynthia Menna, senior manager of business development at AVAD. “Everyone would say ‘yes,’ but we very quickly realized they meant Avid.”

While getting its name into the commercial space has been a bit of a challenge, Menna prefers to view it as an opportunity. After all, seizing opportunities is something AVAD is quite comfortable with. In 2009, while sitting pretty as North America’s leading distributor of custom electronics, it took the plunge and started offering a full array of pro-AV solutions.

“Our ultimate goal was to create a compelling line card with robust solutions, partner with the best brands, and offer dealers value added services and the ability to pick up products locally,” said Menna. With its differentiating footprint—its number of locations nationwide—the progression has proven to be a natural one.

“The feedback that we’ve received from vendors is that we addressed a market that was not so highly tapped—the light to mid commercial marketplace. That includes independently owned retailers, bars, restaurants, dental offices, boardrooms and conference rooms of a smaller nature.”

Before entering into the world of commercial, AVAD touted a dealer base of over 10,000 custom installation professionals. Three years into its venture, that number is in the neighborhood of 16,000, impressive even before the number of dealers and integrators that have dropped out of the marketplace in the last few years is taken into consideration. While that number reflects a roughly 80/20 split of residential to commercial, AVAD’s goal is to make it 50/50.

How has AVAD achieved such impressive growth in this small period of time? “We’ve done two things with our pro-AV initiative,” Menna revealed. “We’ve taken guys that were traditionally residential installers and walked them into the pro-AV space. We’ve done that through training classes, our design services, and education to our associates so that they can go on job sites and become a resource for the dealers. We’ve also done it by going out and making sure people know who AVAD is.”

That push for recognition kicks into high gear at this year’s InfoComm, where AVAD will be showcasing its breadth of offerings in a 40x60 booth. “We’re going to push very hard to get our logo and who we are and what our value add is to the folks who are at the show this year,” said Menna. “When we do get in front of customers who didn’t know who we were, they're really excited to know there’s someone locally that stocks video, that stocks audio, that really does address several different layers of solutions.”

AVAD will also be announcing several new partnerships with the likes of Sharp Pro and Polycom, a programming video wall solution, and introducing ProConnect ProPlayer, a new private label media player to help drive simple and repeatable solutions for digital signage.