Wholesale Security Distributors Deliver on Products & Promises

In SSI’s 2023 Distributor Roundtable, execs discuss bringing the latest tech and products to the security marketplace, value adds and supply chain.

Wholesale Security Distributors Deliver on Products & Promises

Inside ADI's Fort Worth, Texas, branch.

Wholesale distribution has always been an integral component of the security channel. From brick-and-mortar locations to ecommerce offerings, wholesale security distributors provide much more than mere products. They deliver the goods on a whole laundry list of value-added services, spanning everything from technical training and support, system design, meet the manufacturer events, same day shipping, flexible credit terms, inventory management, and more.  

Countless security dealers and systems integrators across the industry have come to view their distributor as a true business partner that can be relied on to deliver the products they need and the value proposition they’ve come to expect.  

In this SSI Annual Distributor Roundtable, representatives from several of the industry’s leading wholesale distributors weigh in on the goods and services they bring to the channel. Taking part for 2023 are Rob Aarnes, president, ADI Global Distribution; Jorge Hevia, vice president marketing, AlarMax Distributors; Dennis Holzer, executive director, PowerHouse Alliance; Brian James, vice president sales, Networking & Security, ScanSource; Clint Choate, senior director security markets, and Alston Mann, vice president sales, Snap One; and Eric Mardian, vice president new business development, Southwest Automated Security. 

What are your hottest product categories right now? What is stimulating the interest? 

Rob Aarnes: We continue to see growth across most of our product categories with some of the hottest right now being access control, video surveillance and pro AV. In the video category, Cloud-based solutions, AI-driven advanced analytics and panoramic cameras are stimulating the most interest and growth. Access control continues to be a strong category. We’re seeing more customers interested in Cloud-based systems, smart readers, mobile credentials. Across all categories, cost savings, ease of use and the ability to connect from anywhere are playing a major role in the type of products customers want and our dealers are installing.

Jorge Hevia: Smart home/business, video surveillance and alarm communicators are our three best product categories. Alarm.com is a great partner of ours in the smart home/business arena, with a full-featured offering that brings incremental RMR to our dealers. And with the advent of tremendous AI functionality and Cloud storage, positioning video as a service, or VaaS, for added dealer RMR, we’re seeing good growth. Finally, intrusion and fire alarm communicators, featuring Napco’s StarLink and Alula, have experienced solid sales growth. Dealers have addressed the increasing disappearance of POTS landlines and the constant network sunsets, with these cellular communicators, to ensure that alarm signals continue to get through. This category has also generated a new recurring revenue income stream for dealers.  

Dennis Holzer: PowerHouse Alliance members are seeing large product orders for networking, displays and surveillance across all sides of the business. For residential, due to the increased amount of people working remotely, homeowners are more dependent than ever on networking equipment to provide the work and learn from home experiences they need without network disruption. On the commercial side, as workers return to the office, we are seeing a customer demand in both displays and surveillance in professional installations. The rising growth of MDU properties also contributes to the demand for security in these settings, as well as package theft solutions.  

Brian James: Video analytics and wireless networking are hot categories. Specifically, people counting for video and wireless access points are still in demand. Even with rules regarding occupancy and social distancing relaxing, we see requests for people counting and analytics around these categories. There is a need to allow work to spread out due to working from home or more distancing or even outdoor work. Additionally, anything in the Cloud is getting more attention. Storage, management and support can be migrated to the Cloud, and we have industry-leading suppliers to help our partners move their end users toward Cloud solutions.  

Eric Mardian: App-based telephone entry/intercom products, primarily for multitenant and gated communities for ease of entry by permitted visitors and protection against intruders. Dealers and integrators appreciate the RMR component associated with these systems. High-end barrier systems for perimeter entry protection. Critical infrastructure is a key vertical looking for protection against terrorist and brazen vehicular incursions into a facility and campus entry points. And AI-powered video analytics for guard spend reduction/augmentation, various threats detection and retail marketing applications such as detecting store foot traffic patterns. 

Distributor Roundtable

AlarMax University keeps everyone updated on the latest news and information across the distribution channel.

How has your company been impacted by supply chain issues?  

Mardian: We’ve felt the impact along with our customers. To maintain a healthy, sustainable business, they understand our practice of passing along the increases though we do try our best to absorb what we can. To help offset the impact to the channel, we continue to up our game providing dealers and integrators with new and additional value-added services. 

Hevia: Not as critically as some other distributors. Luckily, we fully stocked up all of our 25 branches before the supply chain issues became a problem. Although it created a large investment on our part, we were able to provide superior service levels to our dealers. We offered products and solutions from a variety of vendors that could still supply product and offered quality substitutions to product that were unavailable. 

Aarnes: As an industry, we can’t deny that we’ve been impacted by supply chain issues, like most markets. Communication across the supply chain remains key to responding fast and efficiently to any situation. Our demand planning team collaborates regularly with both our suppliers and integrators to quickly identify any potential shortages and monitor inventory levels. We conduct an integrated business planning process with suppliers to understand their current inventory, secondary and tertiary component sourcing, and levels of production so that we can respond with additional safety stock or order expedites where appropriate.  

James: Certainly, supply chain constraints have caused challenges for some partners. Thanks to our strong supplier partnerships, we have been able to effectively navigate many of these challenges, causing minimal disruption to our partners’ businesses. Forecasting alongside our partners, investing in our teams, and working closely with our suppliers to understand their inventory challenges has been integral to working through these unprecedented times. 

Holzer: The PowerHouse Alliance is committed to supporting dealer success and as a result we’ve remained nimble to the changing tides across the industry. Paying attention to the supply constraints in certain product categories, we’ve worked diligently to add new vendors to offer dealers a variety of product options in every category and remain as price competitive as possible.  

How does your company help dealers/integrators manage inventory and timely delivery to customers?

Hevia: We keep superior levels of inventory in market for dealers to buy in person or receive one-day shipping anywhere in the U.S. We like to manage our dealers’ inventories for them, so they don’t have to worry about it. It all comes down to communication and the personal touch we have at AlarMax in knowing our dealers.  

Holzer: The PowerHouse Alliance 12 distributor members give dealers access to over 70 fully stocked locations across the U.S. and Canada. With a variety of popular categories offered across all locations, dealers have access to the products they need to successfully complete installations. Dealers can schedule will-call and drive-through pickup, they can shop in stores, and they can also schedule deliveries giving them a variety of options for how and when they get the products they need. Dealers who purchase from PowerHouse members don’t have to worry about waiting for factory availability or shipping delays.  

Mardian: We keep track of our customers’ purchases with alert flags that notify branch teams when a customer might be needing to replenish a consumable part, say for example wire & cable, lubricants, access control credentials, etc. We also purchase the more in-demand products in volumes greater than our normal monthly run rate to mitigate supply-chain delays particularly with overseas partners. When customers buy certain products on a regular basis, we make every effort to keep ready stock of those items at any of our branches that serve their locations. Customers should look at their upcoming projects at least six-12 months out and purchase accordingly ahead of time so they don’t get caught flatfooted and need to scramble for product. 

James: More than anything, transparency within the channel has been imperative. Being able to fully understand lead times, supply constraints and inventory availability has been critical in helping our partners meet their end users’ needs. Thanks to our strong relationships with our suppliers and our wide breadth of products, we have been able to work alongside our partners to fulfill their needs or find a temporary solution while they wait for their products to be shipped.  

Aarnes: Many of our customers do not maintain a warehouse and prefer to buy per job to help improve their cashflow. ADI operates 115+ branches and 10 strategically located distribution centers across North America, and our in-stock inventory levels allow dealers to carry little, or no local inventory. This has proven to be a positive benefit to customers.

Snap One’s mobile app helps everyone know what’s going on with a particular delivery.

What significant changes have taken place in your company the past year? 

Alston Mann: The acquisition of Clare Controls and realignment of our sales team to better serve our integrator partners. Clare Controls provides our integrators with a comprehensive suite of smart home automation and security solutions at a great value. Snap One also underwent a sales transformation where we restructured our team to better serve all of our integrator partners. Now every integrator, big or small, has dedicated sales coverage supporting their product needs, addressing their challenges, and helping them grow their business. These sales resources are supported by a cadre of technical support and engineers that provide support for any projects, troubleshooting, and system design. 


In 2022, we acquired Electronic Custom Distributors and Arrow Wire & Cable to expand our offering across AV and Data Communications, and earlier this year we also added BTX Technologies. We’re continuing to invest in systems and tools to help improve the customer experience, while driving long-term growth for the business. Some of these investments include updates to our ecommerce site or Digital Branch, pricing optimization platforms and sales effectiveness tools for our teams. The implementation of our Product Information Management system last year transformed the way we merchandise our online product offering and improves the buying journey for customers. And ADI has recently opened new office sites across the globe, including our new company headquarters in Melville, N.Y. Referred to as ADI Support Centers, in addition to our headquarters we also opened new offices in Dallas; Oldham, U.K.; Breda, Netherlands; San Luis Potosi, Mexico; Paris; and most recently Louisville, Ky.  

Hevia: We continued our expansion into residential and commercial AV, as a member of the PowerHouse Alliance. We saw further expansion in the pro AV segment with our acquisition of Northern Sound & Light, a supplier of pro audio, lighting and production supplies. We continue to see a tremendous need for our dealers to find qualified employees. We have helped in creating an online resource called AlarMax University, which has all sorts of 101-level training courses available, to help our dealers train new installation and tech personnel.  

Holzer: PowerHouse Alliance has grown both in terms of number of members, vendors and locations in the last year. Our members have expanded into larger spaces and opened new locations, and we’ve added a new member in Canada, along with adding several new vendors to the lineup. PowerHouse now has 12 distributor members with over 70 member locations and over 900,000 square feet of warehouse space.  

Mardian: We’ve seen an expansion of our nontraditional low-voltage integrator business — outside of gate and perimeter-only protection dealers. As a result, and to support this increased demand, we’ve upped our staffing of sales and tech support professionals from the security integrator community. This hiring will be ongoing throughout 2023. 

What value-adds does your company offer the channel?  

James: ScanSource provides presale technical support and design services to ensure all the necessary components of the solution are included in the design. We have professional services teams who plan, design, install, configure, test and deploy the solutions. We also offer usage and adoption services to help our partners ensure they are maximizing their ROI and user acceptance. 

Aarnes: ADI remains focused on leading the industry in education and offers numerous training opportunities through our ADI Expo training series, branch and counter days, online webinar series and our on-demand ADI Academy training platform. Whether in person or online, dealers can take advantage of these opportunities to learn about the latest technologies, enhance their business skills and earn continuing education units [CEUs]. ADI has a world-class systems design team that helps design, spec and quote projects. Our Project Registration program allows dealers to gain discounts from industry-leading suppliers to help win new security installations. ADI also offers custom cabling assemblies for applications including fiber optic, Category copper cable, AV and telephone cable.  

Hevia: As mentioned, we created an online resource called AlarMax University, which has all sorts of 101-level training courses available, to help our dealers train new installation and tech personnel. We also conduct a variety of technical and sales trainings, in-branch at our facilities across the U.S. 

Mardian: In addition to in-branch demo systems, first-line technical support and free jobsite delivery, we offer training programs ranging from webinars to vendor lunch & learns, to an array of CEU and certification courses at our branch locations. We also have the technical team and resources, working with our vendor partners, to conduct jobsite walks and provide project design support as needed.  

Holzer: The PowerHouse Alliance distributor members have a footprint across North America to work with dealers but at the same time, each branch offers that local relationship that is incredibly valuable to the channel. Each of our member locations offers a variety of virtual and in-person training for our dealer customers. Training gives dealers insight into new industry trends and how to capitalize on these trends, as well as training for new products. With an increase of training offered online, dealers can easily access the content at a time that is best for them. We will also be announcing an expanded in-person training schedule for the second half of 2023. 

Choate: A newer value-add that we’re excited to offer Snap One partners for free is our Systems Design service. We have experts available to consult directly with our partners, assisting them with designs and configurations of security systems and more. We also offer a variety of training options. Professional Certified Network Administrator [PCNA] is an interactive, hands-on at-home training program that provides specialized network training for pros. In addition, we offer free webinars as well as in-person training through our Snap One Partner Stores. 

The shelves are always stocked at the Southwest Automated Security warehouse.

How do you build relationships so dealers/integrators trust your recommendations?

Hevia: We demonstrate a superior knowledge of product solutions and provide system design and programming in even the most complex residential or commercial installations. That and, in some cases, 30+ years of relationships builds trust.  

Holzer: PowerHouse Alliance distributor members are always working to build their relationships with dealers and integrators. Although our members cannot host their regular in-person trainings and informational sessions, they continue to offer virtual trainings and webinars to give dealers the opportunity to learn about new products and industry trends. Dealers have convenient and safe access to 70 PowerHouse member locations across the U.S. and Canada making it easy to come see demos of a product and get their questions answered before making a purchase.  

James: Our teams go through extensive technology and solution training in order to deliver the highest level of support to our partners. They are well-versed in our vast portfolio of solutions so that they can help our partners deliver the solutions their end customers need. We also provide in-depth training to our partners via various delivery methods, so that they, too, become the go-to trusted advisor for their end customers. We believe that the more resources we can offer, the more successful our partners will be. 

Aarnes: The ADI team consists of some of the most knowledgeable and well-trained professionals in the industry, and dealers rely on us every day to assist with product selection. Our sales team members have an average of more than 10 years of industry experience and participate in at least 35 hours of training per year through our ADI University, including new product training every month. Additionally, our preapplication support team members have an average of 20 years’ industry experience and a customer approval rating of 98% based on our satisfaction surveys. We have experts for every category and application so our customers can feel confident they have the best solutions for every job. We like our customers to think of our team as an extension of their team.  

Choate: We are most successful when we are able to drive firsthand experiences with our products and people. Using a product provides much more trust than simply talking about it. Similarly, walking into one of our local branches or using our ecommerce portal enables our partners to engage with our amazing teams. 

Mardian: Our branch and outside sales teams all regularly participate in internal and vendor-provided training programs so that they can stay ahead of our customers on the latest technologies and applications. We make it a point to study the differences among brands and models within each product category we sell so we know the right products to recommend for a project’s application. To assist our customers in product selection decisions, we ask probing questions to understand their product knowledge, budget constraints, installation concerns and their end-user customers’ needs. With our live in-branch demo products we can show our customer in person and on the spot how the products would fit the application. A picture might be worth a thousand words, but live, working product goes way beyond words. 

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