Like agents on a fact-finding mission, wholesale distributors investigate the industry landscape to uncover clues about trends and emerging technologies long before identifying the product lines that will grace their warehouse shelves. That intelligence-gathering endeavor is a key element that helps bind the dealer-distributor alliance. It is the foundation for one of wholesale distribution’s most important functions: schooling security contractors about the marketplace as well as product training and system design.
Nowadays, wholesale distributors find themselves operating in an evermore challenging environment that demands agility and attentiveness to a fast-evolving electronic security industry. SECURITY SALES & INTEGRATION spoke with several wholesale distribution companies to find out how they are contending with staying ahead of the technological curve, the pressures from manufacturer efforts to sell direct, price competition, plus other factors shaping the channel.
When all’s said and done, dealers and integrators are benefiting from distributors that make it their mission to provide a wealth of training and other value-add services in order to establish and maintain their clientele.
Rise in IP Ignites Distributor Action
Distributors receive well-earned kudos from manufacturers and security contractors alike for hosting an array of training programs that are vital to advancing the necessary skills to install technologies that now exist on enterprise computer networks. But in order to secure their position as a thriving player in the electronic security supply chain, individual distributors must be aggressively proactive in order to maintain their value as a knowledge provider.
You can’t teach others what you don’t know. Hence, distributors are on the forefront of training their own workforces so they, in turn, are able to pass the knowledge and skills on to their dealer and integrator customers. IP-based products and technology are a prime example.
“We’ve realized technology has advanced so much that we’ve really had to get behind some areas in the IP space where we weren’t five years ago,” says John Sullivan, vice president of sales for Melville, N.Y.-based ADI. “We have really focused on some initiatives to go more from what started out as just a security-only world into the IP space.”
The internal training efforts undertaken by a great many distributors have been complete top-to-bottom endeavors affecting all personnel who interact with the customer. “We have invested a significant amount of money in training our counter people, our product managers, our systems specialists,” says Steve Roth, president and CEO of Woodbury, N.Y.-based Tri-Ed. “We have to be able to speak the language of convergence.”
As traditional electronic security systems, such intrusion, video surveillance and access control, ramp onto the network and become integrated, distributors have necessarily become more sophisticated in their ability to answer questions from a new and broadening set of customers. For example, IT managers are now heavily involved in the physical security conversation.
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