ADI President: Combat Margin Squeeze With Home Automation
Aarnes discusses the company’s strategic initiatives as well as efforts to help the ADI dealer base prosper in a fast-changing marketplace.
Joining ADI in 2013 as an operations leader, Rob Aarnes made his ascension to president of ADI North America this past December. His resume includes serving as president and CEO of Gunnar Optiks, plus a variety of senior leadership positions in retail, manufacturing and distribution industries. He joins the conversation to discuss ADI’s strategic initiatives as well as efforts to help the company’s dealer base prosper in a fast-changing marketplace.
What initial objectives are you pursuing in your new role?
The good news in my case is it’s not very often that you actually get to take over an organization that is really doing a great job and has a strong reputation in the industry of growing year over year.
I had the luxury of taking over an organization where we’re not going to incorporate any big shifts in strategy. We are going to continue with what we are doing because we know it really works. The first part of that is having a very intense focus on driving our growth strategy and topline business. How we do that is maintaining a very customer-centric approach. We are relentless in looking for ways in help our dealers grow their business.
What are your current top-selling product types?
There is no question some are stronger than others but we are seeing growth across every area of the business right now. It is very encouraging. The biggest ones, however, are video surveillance, access control, and intrusion alarm systems that offer smartphone-based control.
Obviously there has been an explosion in smartphones and tablets and a lot of advancement in some pretty slick apps that are out there. That is really where we see a big leverage point. Remote access has also really become an important feature for the end user. They like to be able to see and control their systems on their mobile devices.
What are the key driving forces in video?
If you look at the concept of whole home automation – which may or may not include video – as recently as three or four years ago it was restricted to high-end homes. Now with more cost-effective solutions, IP video really is an affordable solution to the end user. And, quite frankly, the dealer base has gotten much more comfortable with the speed in which it takes to install. Let’s face it, it’s about how fast they can perform an install, do it in a quality way and then get on to the next one. In the past, it was not only high cost but those installs took a long time. With the advancements of technology, especially on the IP side, now the install is fairly quick. Our dealers are getting more comfortable with that.
Beyond core product categories, what technology do you view as having a huge upside?
I talk to a lot of dealers about the whole home automation piece. What I find is each dealer may have their own individual specialty. One is an alarm guy. One is focused more on the video side, etc. There is really an opportunity to educate dealers on how to maximize their business once they are in the customer’s home and not shy away from some of the integration of these technologies into an entire whole home automation package. And then, of course, the software to go along with that and understand how easy the install can be to provide that one-stop service to the end user.
How is ADI Helping educate dealers on that ‘one-stop’ aspect?
We are doing some slick stuff in the branches with some new merchandising strategies. We are actually combining some of these products together, which I don’t think anybody else is doing, to really showcase to our dealers how all these technologies come together. More importantly we are hosting some workshops that actually show how easy it is to do this with very little effort. This is still a hugely untapped market right now. It is a race among dealers to see who can get there the fastest.
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