When Peter Wellikoff took the reins as Meridian America CEO two years ago, there were 250 active accounts. As of mid-February this year, when he welcomed integrators, dealers and the press to the company’s new, larger showroom/office in Manhattan’s SoHo Building, where it had moved to in 2010, he willfully reduced that number to 120, well on his way to an ultimate target: 100.
The result of this and other of his strategic initiatives? By the end of 2010, business was up 11 percent from the previous year – and it is growing still, he said.
“My goal is to deal with the best of the best, be they retailers or integrators, and to make the brand more exclusive,” he said. To that end, Wellikoff has changed the company’s operating structure, infrastructure and “all we do, from the ground up.”
Several major strategems undertaken so far have included the outsourcing of distribution to Buffalo, N.Y.-based Samson, which handles logistics and reverse logistics for major retail chains and is expert in just-in-time order processing. IT systems are also being overhauled, and Wellikoff has hired new staff with deep roots in the luxury goods sector who know how to provide the type of white-glove services the super-rich demand. Also now in the Meridian fold is Greg Barbone, formerly of the high-end Manhattan audio retailer Stereo Exchange, as the product specialist who is on hand to help dealers bringing in their clients with in-depth presentations of the flagship Meridian and Sooloos systems on hand.
“We are encouraging dealers to treat this facility as an auxiliary showroom of their own where they can discreetly bring their high-profile accounts,” explained Wellikoff. “Ninety percent of the products here are ones dealers can’t afford to display. So we see integrators’ clients from Texas to Florida. We can arrange limo service from [the private jet field] Teterboro, and even arrange security and all sorts of other outside-the-box services – and we can also box everything up and go to the clients. But all transactions are always, always through the dealer.”