February’s Business Issue of SSI features my article on what’s new with wholesale distribution (“Reeling in Resellers”) in which I interviewed representatives from a half-dozen of the industry’s leading distributors. Several of the participants went into much greater detail than the print piece allowed, so here is Tri-Ed Distribution President and CEO Pat Comunale expounding on a number of trends affecting the channel.
What are your hottest product categories, specific products within those categories and why do you believe the demand is so high right now?
Pat Comunale: IP video, interactive security and remote access control. As technology continues to improve, it makes these higher end products more affordable.
What are some products that were hot not that long ago but you can’t give away now?
Comunale: A few years ago, standalone DVRs were very popular, but today you couldn’t give away a four-channel standalone DVR.
How are trends/technologies like IP, HD video, wireless, mobile connectivity, apps, integrated solutions, PSIM/VMS, mass notification, GUI keypads and cloud/interactive services impacting your business?
Comunale: These trends and technologies open up new markets for dealers and give distributors additional and higher-end products to sell.
How can security dealers/integrators combat margin squeeze and product commoditization?
Comunale: The market is going to dictate what the price should be. However, the dealers and integrators, by staying on top of the new technologies, can distinguish themselves by offering the latest technologies and presenting the best possible applications.
What tools does your company deploy to better serve your dealer/integrator customers?
Comunale: We offer online ordering and electronic data interchange, or EDI, is also available for our customers. We are working on Web applications so they can be continuously connected through Web applications.
How have dealer/integrator ordering habits evolved?
Comunale: Since it’s a technically driven industry, dealers usually check online for pricing and availability but continue to rely on our trained personnel to assist them in ordering for their installations.
Does your company ever sell direct to end users? Why or why not?
Comunale: Tri-Ed’s philosophy from Day One has been to support the dealer//integrator network. We continue to do that today and work diligently to make sure the guidelines are followed.
How much of an issue is there with manufacturers circumventing the distribution channel?
Comunale: Certain manufacturers, because of their smaller size, have the ability to service a smaller customer base but most of the larger ones recognize the value of distribution and have adopted a more aggressive distribution policy over the past several years.
How do you ensure your dealer/integrator-facing personnel deliver the best possible customer care and technical service/support? How do you keep your personnel adequately trained?
Comunale: We have a highly experienced staff and we spend a lot of time getting them factory trained so they’re able to put together a complete system. Our dealers and integrators trust our recommendations and advice and count on us for technical support. They know if they have any kind of issue at all that we will work with them and the manufacturer to get it resolved.
What are the biggest reasons a security dealer/integrator should do business with your company vs. a competitor? What is the best way for a dealer/integrator to get started with your company?
Comunale: Because of everything we have to offer them. We are North America’s largest independent wholesale distributor of security and low-voltage products. We offer a comprehensive line card, all the major brands, ongoing technical trainings and roadshows, as well as all the other value-added services. Those services include personal customer service, technical systems support, flexible credit terms, next-day shipping, ongoing training programs, online ordering, and the industry’s richest rewards program. Dealers and integrators need only call our local, toll-free number, (888) 874-3336, visit our Web site or stop into a local branch to get started. We at Tri-Ed are all very much committed to our mission, which is to exceed expectations, one customer at a time.