Some of custom's most prominent distributors talk about their businesses, their vendor and dealer partners and their futures
By Nancy Klosek
Randy Teague, vice president of marketing, ADI
Bob Gartland, president, AVAD
Dan Schwab, vice president of marketing, D&H Distributing
David B. Lorsch, president and CEO, DBL Distributing
Sam Taylor, president, Electrograph Systems
Sol Dwek, director of sales, Fesco Distributors
Darold Johnson, market segment manager, MCM
Bill Stewart, president and CEO, Petra
What are some of the hot product categories? How have events like product shortages and pricing drops impacted your business? What else has affected your business?
Teague (ADI): Plasma TV [is hot]—no surprise there. And there's no surprise that there have been huge supply problems. We speak with our suppliers every day to carefully manage both the supply to satisfy existing customers and our new market demands.
Also hot are in-wall speakers. We sell a ton of them, and there are lots of manufacturers providing them. Driving these sales is an increase in new-home penetration along with an upturn in distributed audio and home theater.
Media servers are an up-and-coming hot product category, right on the tipping point, and it's dependent upon their price points and supply chain progress. But before the end of 2006, they'll come to the fore. The iPod will help put them over the edge.
Gartland (AVAD): [There has been] tremendous price compression. We, like all, have experienced it, especially over the past 18 months. It impacts the ability to sell enough volume to capture lost revenue. We had models that were up 60 percent in unit sales but down in revenues. To grow in the flat-panel business, you must double or triple your unit sales, because those units are driving revenue—a gigantic challenge. But with a lot of work and help from key vendors, and lots of behind-the-scenes statistical analysis, we've gotten much better allocation in the second half than we'd planned for. Our relationships with our vendors started paying off.