EDGE Group's national ad campaign trumpets its boutique approach to custom distribution
By Nancy Klosek
A dozen regional distributors comprise the EDGE Group (www.edgegroup.org), which serves custom installers and retailers.
EDGE was formed in 1999 as "friends getting together to share professional advice and bring different information to the table," says Chet Flynn, EDGE's treasurer, and president of Norwell, Mass.-based distribution company (and EDGE member) Necessities. Today, the group boasts around $50 million in annual sales of its 10 commonly shared product lines. It's now mounting a national awareness campaign, making big noise about how small (or rather, how individual-dealer/installer-focused) it is.
"Other distributor groups might operate without much human intervention," says EDGE Vice President Michael Hench, principal of West Palm Beach, Fla.-based distributor Electronics Source. "We believe we have to educate our customers. The products we offer are integrated, need to be installed and need to function seamlessly with other products. Knowledge is important, so we constantly do seminars to explain all of the integration aspects."
EDGE members run both distribution and manufacturers' rep operations. While the operations are strictly separated, notes Flynn, the fact that members do both helps to enrich the distributor side with fresh perspectives.
Another advantage EDGE possesses, says Hench, is that its hobbyist members "come from two-channel backgrounds." Adds Flynn, "we're passionate about performance." Since EDGE's traditional customer is the A/V guy, passion about A/V may seem beside the point, but dealers from the alarm and security industries with little knowledge of A/V "are beating a path to our door," says Hench, and they need an infusion of passion—and education. So do low-voltage, telecom and IT installers. "Each group has individual challenges we have to address," says Hench. "These are all areas that are feeding capable dealers into our markets.
"Our members are 'high-tech' companies that have the 'high touch' down," Hench says. "They are able to communicate with dealers, and are driven by passion. But certain things are important to people in certain industries, so we sort through the techno-babble and give our dealers only what is useful."