CR Talks To: Rich Taylor, Marketing Manager, Parts Express : Surviving & Growing With Parts Express
Audio-focused distributor concentrates on servicing the integrator, providing exclusive solutions.July 2011 By Interview by Nancy Klosek
We want to make sure we offer products that are of an exclusive nature for our dealers. A lot of people will price-shop their home audio and video needs. What we want to do is offer products that are “unshoppable.” A Dayton Audio product is really unshoppable outside Parts Express; that way, it’s not a price issue with a customer.
Because we carry such a broad line, our speakers, for example, can reach anywhere from a DIY speaker builder to a small OEM. On the wholesale side, we sell a lot of Dayton Audio equipment for commercial installers.
We regiment our dealer base strongly, and each approved dealer is assigned their own representative who knows their business. We have technicians on staff who are ready to support the product. We think that’s important. A lot of people look at the Internet and say they don’t need that personalized approach. But in today’s economy, you do need an in-house expert who knows what’s selling for other installers, and to make sure you’re fully aware of opportunities that exist.
CR: What are some important initiatives you’re executing in 2011 that will help retailers and integrators make more money? And what categories are you expanding on for this year?
Taylor: There will be a big push this year in surveillance. We try to focus on affordable, value-driven equipment in that category, and we decided to create our own brand called Talos, a few months ago. Basically, it allows someone who is in home A/V installation to start incorporating surveillance products into their more affordable home installations.
Even though our strength is in audio products, we were hearing from our installers and integrators in the field that we needed to carry more surveillance products. A lot of the sales opportunities for custom installers now include surveillance.
We’re also expanding more in pro audio—cables, interconnects, stands, mounts.
Another area is commercial sound reinforcement. We’re expanding there, and one of the new services we offer is in-house speaker repair. Let’s say an installer is doing a project in a church and they’re using a hanging speaker, and the speaker is blown. It could be a $300 or $400 replacement. The installer can get onto our website, pull up that particular driver, and get a quote to have it restored to its original performance.
A lot of times it’s more cost-effective to just re-cone, re-foam and repair an existing item than it is to purchase a new speaker. We’ve had quite a few pro-audio-music-engineering-type customers needing that service so we started doing it. It’s a complement to our pro-audio business.
When you look at conventional distribution in this market, they’re very focused on staple products like in-walls, in-ceilings, stands, mounts. We do all that, but we do a lot more. We have products that are very application-oriented. If we see installers wanting to do something, we develop what they need, as we did with the OmniMic. With that product, they can easily optimize the sound of their installation, and the installer can show the customer how he has optimized it. And really, if you’ve got an educated customer, you’ve got a customer for life. When you start showing you’re an expert, they’ll keep coming back or refer you to other jobs. Everybody likes to refer a customer to an expert.
CR: What will you show at CEDIA EXPO?
Taylor: We’ll show audio test and measurement equipment. Our own Shadow mounts line should also draw attention there. We’ll also show our subwoofers, which are affordable and have been very well-received; they use our in-house-developed drivers and some use made-in-USA drivers. Also, we’ll have our full-spectrum-frequency amplifiers like the MA-1240, a 12-channel, 40-watt distributed audio amp, which is also an EXC!TE Award winner.
Parts Express can provide a lot of products that are of an unusual nature—hard-to-find, complementary solutions.
In conventional distribution, people look to larger companies but some of them don’t offer as much as we do to a smaller business. They re-sell branded products to anybody. We don’t do that. But if dealers need a service item—a cable, a connector, a raw speaker—we specialize in those areas, and people in the industry know to come to us to buy. Our wholesale and retail sides complement one another. We have a nice niche and are focused on what the customer wants—to help small-to-mid-sized companies survive and grow in an economy that has been uncertain for them for a couple of years. We stay away from products that don’t allow our customers to be competitive. CR