Distribution Roundtable: Distributors Detail How They Continue to Bring Value Regardless of Volatility

Experts from the industry’s top wholesale distributors discuss elevating their services to help dealers and integrators navigate global constriction of the supply chain, promising markets, and technologies.

Distribution Roundtable: Distributors Detail How They Continue to Bring Value Regardless of Volatility

(Image courtesy of ADI)

What’s your supply chain outlook and expected implications throughout 2022?

Hevia: I wish I could say that the supply channel challenge will improve this year, however, all indications are that it will continue well into 2023. The Ukraine war has aggravated the semi-conductor shortage, as they supply upwards of 85% of the world’s neon gas. Neon gas is used in the laser process of manufacturing semiconductors. It will take at least a year to find alternate sources.

Aarnes: We are expecting these supply chain disruptions and uncertainties to remain well through 2022, and we’re continuing to take every step possible to try and lessen the impact for our customers.

Wild: We expect some shortages to continue. However, we are seeing light at the end of tunnel. Key vendors provide us with more optimistic lead times, and dates for products to arrive in our warehouse have been more accurate as of late. With that said, we will continue to operate as we have over the last year and ensure communication stays in place around pipeline management to allow continued improvements for our dealers and their end customers.

Voll: We’ve seen some relief in recent months, but we expect to see more supply chain constraints in the second half of the year. We expect more price increases from our manufacturing partners as well. I’m optimistic that inflationary pressures on consumers won’t drastically impact demand for security products. Even if they struggle to recalibrate their pricing for products and services, I have no doubt our dealer partners will continue to sell their value.

Nichols: We see improvement. We have already begun to see our vendors make good on some large orders. It’s not our position that we will be out of the woods, but the market will see some improvement. That said, we are now, more than ever, aware of how susceptible the market is to external impacts, and we are sure the businesses in this industry will begin to re-visit how they stock their organizations.

Choate: We will continue to manage through the forecasted lean supply chain as chipset suppliers and third-party partners continue to ramp their availability.

Mardian: For main systems and finished goods we are on track to meet customer demand. For spare parts and commodity items we are seeking varied sources to ensure sufficient supply.

James: We do expect supply chain constraints to continue. We will continue to work closely with our partners and suppliers to ensure we are planning effectively and taking these constraints into consideration when quoting and fulfilling orders.

What are three hot product categories right now, and top products in them?

James: Video analytics and wireless networking are hot categories for ScanSource. People counting for video and wireless access points specifically 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 — work from home or more distancing or even outdoor work.

Mardian: Access control and gate operator systems, with Rosslare, PDK, Kantech, Doorking, Liftmaster and NICE/HySecurity among others. Cloud- and AI-based video surveillance and analytics, with Turing Video, Scylla and Provision-ISR. Then telephone entry systems, with CellGate, Doorking and AES Global. Drivers are the desire for RMR opportunities, avoidance of technology obsolescence, easy maintenance and remote monitoring capability, and product availability amid supply chain challenges.

Nichols: The gating industry saw a significant uptick in exit devices and gate hardware from the schools that were out of session and knew they had an opportunity to update their campuses and facilities. Commercial real estate continued to grow with an extensive increase in demand for access control systems for new developments. With work from home a necessity for almost two years, many businesses and large campuses were using the time to innovate and update their campus security solutions across the board and a new initiative to keep their networks secure from fear of a shutdown.

Voll: Intrusion, video and access control. We have some great manufacturing partners, but Alarm.com stands out as a manufacturer that checks all those boxes. These categories continue to perform well because they’re generally not part of a discretionary budget. Businesses need security products — perhaps now more than ever. And homeowner demand for security and smart home products remains strong.

SnapAV rebranded to Snap One in 2021, and earlier this year launched its new Partner Rewards program that enables dealers to earn points on all purchases of the firm’s manufactured and distributed brands. (Image courtesy of Snap One)

Wild: First is video analytics as Jenne is receiving positive feedback on Hanwha and i-PRO. Hanwha has integrated up to 16 analytics on the edge of its cameras and does not charge a fee for any of the analytics. i-PRO’s facial recognition and ID platform FacePro not only have some successful deployments in the U.S. running at over 99% accuracy, they also use Genetec in their VMS as an analytic plugin.

Analytics is being stimulated by end users’ need for actionable video and data, so they don’t have to spend days looking through video for specific past events, items, people, LPR issues, etc. The pandemic also has driven the integration of artificial intelligence with security cameras and their analytics capabilities.

Next is cybersecurity, as Razberi, i-PRO and Hanwha all offer first-class cybersecurity on their products from Defender for Endpoint to partnering with Symantec and offering no back doors into the products. Razberi has won many awards for its firewall-like product implemented into their Pro and enterprise servers. i-PRO not only aims to meet security industry standards but cybersecurity industry standards with their products. Hanwha dedicates a whole team under their S-CERT1 department to maintain their industry-leading cybersecurity standards.

Lastly is USB-based and Bluetooth A/V. The pandemic has rapidly increased demand for devices such as headsets and webcams that can easily be deployed in home office or traditional office environments to help users communicate and collaborate effectively anywhere.

Hevia: The residential A/V, commercial A/V and networking product categories are growing well. Top products in those categories are whole-house audio, outdoor TVs, advanced lighting systems, power shades and residential networking products. With the advent of millions of people working from home offices and not traveling as much, it’s brought new meaning to the term, “There’s no place like home.” I would imagine that “staycations” will be as popular as ever this summer.

Aarnes: We see the hottest growth right now in video surveillance, access control and smart home technologies. We recently launched our Capture Advance NDAA-compliant video surveillance product line, a private brand exclusively available at ADI that includes IP/HD cameras, NVRs, DVRs and more. With touchless access control, dealers can provide a solution that minimizes touchpoints and adds convenience to high-traffic areas for a cleaner and safer environment.

In residential, the intrusion and smart home categories continue to grow. Video doorbells, smart thermostats, speakers, lighting controls and more have become increasingly important to end customers. We’re also seeing more homeowners investing in networking, WiFi and conferencing technologies for home offices, and residential A/V and outdoor entertainment categories.

Dunning: Key global security trends we have seen include an increase in the need for 24/7 connectivity and collaboration, security, and network infrastructure modernization, as well as previously unmatched demand for automation, migration from premise-based solutions to the Cloud, and the smart edge, all driven by AI and machine learning — supported by an overarching IoT platform. The world is digitalizing across nearly every industry, promising to revolutionize productivity, safety, customer experience and more.

Harnessing the true potential of this shift involves a clear vision and strategy, technical expertise and opportunity scoping. As security integrators are navigating new technologies and business models to respond to these secular trends, we’re seeing the importance of having a trusted advisor to help navigate technical complexities, make better business decisions, and leverage the scale, depth, foresight and customer influence needed today.

Southwest Automated Security (SAS) has added four new branches since late 2021 as well as 25 new vendor partners to its line card. (Image courtesy of SAS)

How do you build dealer/integrator relationships so they trust your advice?

Dunning: To help validate technology decisions, Wesco offers extensive IP knowledge, customer training, technical expertise and partnerships with leading suppliers. From standalone products to fully integrated IP solutions, our specialized sales teams and technical experts work with you to meet your security needs.

Hevia: AlarMax Distributors comparably has the most knowledgeable, resourceful branch and field people in the industry. “We’re bringing the human back to security and A/V distribution.” Even if you purchase nothing from us, you can call any one of our 23 branches or our main hotline and ask any question or get help with setting up or configuring any kind of security, fire, access or A/V system.

Aarnes: ADI’s team is some of the industry’s most knowledgeable and well-trained professionals, and dealers rely on us every day to assist with product selection. Our sales team members have an average 10+ years’ industry experience and participate in at least 35 hours of training per year through our ADI University. And our preapplication support team members have an average 20 years’ industry experience and a customer approval rating of 98%.

Wild: We keep it simple. At Jenne, we apply a very basic model in building long-term relationships. We build credibility by providing a ‘high touch, fast response’ level of service. We emphasize relationship development and partnership based on integrity and honesty. Equally important, we have trained and knowledgeable video security team members who know the business and provide immediate value.

Voll: I have an awesome team of folks who support our dealers. They know their stuff and they research what they don’t know when our dealer partners ask them questions. That builds trust. I leverage social media and targeted email communication to reach thousands of dealers at once and with regularity. My content is a candid expression of who I am — a security products expert, entrepreneur and a father.

Nichols: We strive to sit as a support to all our customers, inclusive of the dealer/integrator space. For over 25 years, we have had the pleasure of serving our customers with a service-first mindset. It’s why our slogan is, “Where Service Meets Expertise.” Our team tries to embody that each day and will continue to do so for decades.

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: We are employee-owned and provide excellent customer service before, during and after the sale offering value-adds such as free hand delivery, demo product to test, and training seminars. We provide live, in-branch demonstration equipment for most or key product offerings. We provide first-line technical support with an easy return policy.

James: Our relationships are built on trust. It’s critical that our partners know they are working with a company they can trust and rely on — one that will provide insight and support based on their specific needs. Our teams go through extensive technology and solution training in order to deliver the highest level of support to our partners.

About the Author

Contact:

Scott Goldfine is Editor-in-Chief and Associate Publisher of Security Sales & Integration. Well-versed in the technical and business aspects of electronic security (video surveillance, access control, systems integration, intrusion detection, fire/life safety), Goldfine is nationally recognized as an industry expert and speaker. Goldfine is involved in several security events and organizations, including the Electronic Security Association (ESA), Security Industry Association (SIA), Security Industry Alarm Coalition (SIAC), False Alarm Reduction Association (FARA), ASIS Int'l and more. Goldfine also serves on several boards, including the SIA Marketing Committee, CSAA Marketing and Communications Committee, PSA Cybersecurity Advisory Council and Robolliance. He is a certified alarm technician, former cable-TV tech, audio company entrepreneur, and lifelong electronics and computers enthusiast. Goldfine joined Security Sales & Integration in 1998.

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