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Almo’s Acquisition of IAVI from an EX IAVI Senior Manager’s Perspective

Bill at desk

There has obviously been a TON of information published, interviews conducted, Web X Meetings, etc, from both inside and outside the channel in regards to the acquisition of IAVI by Almo Pro AV. Now that the dust has settled, and as a 10 year employee and Senior Manager at IAVI before the acquisition, here is a look at the acquisition from (perhaps) a little DIFFERENT perspective.

 

FIRST THOUGHTS

  • “OMG we’ve been bought out by a competitor in the industry”
  • “OMG do I have a job?”
  • “Oh no, what ARE we going to do?”

Rewind 3 months to April 13th

IAVI was a 19 year old Commercial – Pro A/V Distributor; a veteran so to speak in the channel with HUGE growth percentages year after year since the mid 2000’s.  Almo Pro AV, the company that acquired IAVI, was for the last 7 years one of our chief competitors, certainly our rival in the channel and now; they’ve both taken us out of the game and literally taken over in general. The world as WE knew is now totally upside down and “we” have seemingly LOST the battle.

Fast forward… (it’s now the end of September!)

Where are we today?

“We” as the new combined Almo Pro AV have participated in the third of our E4 AV Tour of the year in Boston, exhibited at InfoComm in June, conducted our annual National Sales Meeting in July, and have one more E4 AV Tour shows coming up soon:  Dallas on October 18th (SAVE THE DATE!)

Virtually ALL of Almo Corporation and Almo Pro AV Senior Management have visited the new Almo Florida office and have provided the EX IAVI team with their motives for acquiring the company, and their vision for the future. They’ve shared opinions and insights with us in regards to the “best practices” that had been identified early on between the two companies and we’ve watched as they’ve specifically implemented some of the IAVI practices quickly into the NEW combined Almo Pro AV.

The results of the due diligences investigations that took place prior to the acquisition have been shared and many of us have been proud to see our NEW company adopt and implement many IAVI practices into the new combined Almo Pro AV almost immediately.

Those of us that were offered positions at Almo have been extremely impressed with the ongoing thought process of Almo Corporation owners and the executive team in the Pro AV Division digging deep into all of the business practices of the acquired company to make the new combined company even BETTER than the previous two individual organizations.

My hats off to Gene, Roz, and Warren Chaiken,  Sam Taylor and the rest of the Almo Pro AV Senior Management team for the care and dedication they demonstrated in trying to FIND ways to retain members of the IAVI Team throughout the entire organization in lieu of finding reasons to let them go.Bill at work

Many people have told me over the years and especially right after the IAVI acquisition, that Almo is a PEOPLE first company and that they recognize their greatest assets as their employees. As a NEW employee of Almo Pro AV it’s my pleasure to testify to the truth of their words and it’s my pleasure to be a part of such a warm and caring organization. I for one am very PROUD to be a part of this incredible new Almo Pro AV TEAM!

3 Important Factors to Consider When Choosing the Right LED Sign

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There are many factors that go into choosing the correct LED sign, but a few important attributes are commonly ignored. Below are three commonly overlooked factors that should be considered when deciding on a sign manufacturer.

1) Operating Cost

Capital expenditure, or initial investment cost, is typically the first and the most influential factor that most decision makers consider. What many overlook or only give a passing consideration is the ongoing expense of the sign. The larger the sign, the more important this factor becomes over the life of the sign. Knowing that you’re installing an energy efficient sign can save you tens of thousands in operating expenses down the road.

2) Ease of Use / Management

Signs that require proprietary software, or require the purchase of third-party software can add frustration for the end user, a large learning curve, as well as push up the total cost of the project. ADTI offers the flexibility of using their included content management system, SkyShow, or any signage solution that can utilize their standard HDMI input on the SkyPanel system.

3) Ease of Installation

This is a factor that is commonly skipped over, and almost never is considered by the end user. Since it ultimately affects the bottom line, as well as the timeline of the project, I think it’s an attribute that deserves consideration. If the installation requires special structural changes because of the weight, fabrication to enclose the sign for weatherproofing, or modification to allow for extra depth, the money you saved on the lower cost hardware shrinks considerably, or is completely wiped out.

ADTI

The difficulty of measuring the increase in quality in comparison to the increase in cost, can cause endless hours of agonizing research, and can freeze the final decision. Many are drawn in by the low cost LED panels they’ve seen coming out of China, and end user’s tend to lean towards the frugal choice for the initial capital expenditure and ignore the ongoing operating expense of running an LED sign; which can be an expensive mistake. With ADTI, you don’t have to make that compromise. The combination of affordable initial cost, American made quality, IP67 weatherproofing, and incredibly low power consumption, makes for a visually stunning, “no compromise” solution.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Large Format Displays as Window Signage – Is There a Difference?

NEC LCD High Brightness Displays

A couple of months ago, I spoke with one of our Arizona integrators about a window digital signage project for a large retail jewelry store. As we discussed the project, I asked for specifics as to display size dimensions and quickly moved to content, media player, and signal distribution scheme.  The spec seemed relatively straightforward and a bill of materials would be easy to create.

But as I reviewed drawings and artist renderings, I quickly asked myself:

  • What direction do the windows face? Southwest exposure?
  • Coverings shading the windows?
  • Portrait or landscape orientation?
  • City ordinances on night time brightness?

The answers to the above questions quickly convinced me that I was actually dealing with a high ambient light specification than that of a typical within-the-building digital signage project. Additionally, this window project calls for commercial grade, 24/7 displays (for use well into the night after closing hours) that must have the following design attributes:

  • Higher brightness rating than that of a typical indoor display to ensure crystal clear visibility during the daytime
  • Resistant to the effects of high temperatures and direct sunlight that cause an isotropic blackening effect on liquid crystal
  • Advanced heat management to provide proper cooling given high temperatures and extensive operational hours
  • Polarizing film on the displays so as to be seen by polarized sunglasses in either portrait or landscape orientation
  • Ambient light sensors to dim displays in low sunlight or nighttime

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So, as you can easily surmise, we’re now talking about specially designed displays for this project. NEC, for example, manufactures 47”, 55”, and 75” high brightness displays designed for front-facing window display applications.  The XHB Series of displays addresses the above needs with:

  • High brightness (2000-2700 nits) for high ambient light conditions
  • High resistance to isotropic effects from direct sunlight
  • Quarter Lambda Polarizing film so content can be easily seen regardless of orientation or polarized sunglasses
  • Internal heat management and self-diagnostics to insure reliable 24/7 operation
  • Ambient light sensors to dim the panel for lower light and nighttime conditions

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Bottom line—front-facing window signage demands are different from indoor or outdoor models. Be sure to know the application when an end user mentions windows in a digital signage application.  Yes, these panels are an investment, but if you can’t see the displays, why have the signage?

My Visit to LG’s Business Innovation Center

Recently, I was fortunate enough to visit the LG Business Innovation Center (BIC) outside of Chicago at LG’s corporate headquarters. It was quite an experience where all of LG’s newest innovations and product verticals are on display to see and feel.  You really get a chance to experience everything that LG has on their commercial display product roadmap, and it’s there specifically for customers and end users to absorb and engage in the future of their technologies.

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For every vertical market there was an LG display suited perfectly for it. Whatever the application, the LG BIC has the full array of products for Hospitality, Healthcare, QSR (Quick Serve Restaurants), Transportation scheduling, Museums/Art Galleries, Indoor/Outdoor Digital Signage, Video Walls, Open-frame OLED technology, LED lighting…it’s all here for the taking.  They’ve even created a new market for “digital décor” which stems from their uniquely designed 86-inch Ultra-Stretch 4K model that is ideal for art galleries, museums and the high-end digital signage projects.

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Most notable was the new OLED display technology that LG recently unveiled. They showcase a cutting-edge 55-inch OLED 4K UHD Wallpaper display that is absolutely unreal! (see Front View) Everyone at the meeting was completely blown away.  No one could believe their eyes when they saw how thin this unit actually is.  This amazing display is literally thinner than a credit card (see side view).  And, not only was it a gorgeous image, but at less than 4 pounds, this stunning display was installed using Velcro (you can also use magnets)!

LG’s 55-inch OLED 4K UHD Wallpaper Display (Front View):

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Yes, I said Velcro! That was not a typo.

You also may notice a black plastic frame behind the actual display (see side view image), but this is not part of the actual OLED display portion and is required for structural stability due to the extremely thin, flexible OLED layer in front of it. This model is truly going to be a game-changer for the industry.  Get ready for a groundbreaking 2016 with LG’s sights set on the future of OLED technology, and the technical developments and advancements that result from those efforts.

LG’s 55-inch OLED 4K UHD Display (side view):

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So next time you are in the Chicago (or Atlanta) area and looking to see the latest and greatest that LG Electronics offers, make the trip to their Business Innovation Center. It will be well worth it, I promise!

For more information on LG’s latest products, please do not hesitate to contact me, Eric Olson, via phone at (888) 420-2566 ext. 4082 or via email at [email protected].

Majority of AV Respondents Prefer LinkedIn [Infographic]

Recently, we asked AV respondents about their social media usage. As we suspected, a clear majority of Atlanta E4 AV Tour attendees say they use LinkedIn the most for business. They were evenly split between Facebook and Twitter as second most used social network.

When AV Respondents Check Social Media

When do you check?

6pm or later                       70%

9am to 12pm                      65%

12pm to 3 pm                    54%

3pm to 6pm                        52%

How Many Times a Day Do You Check Social Media?

Five or more                      43%

One to three                      39%

Three to five                      19%

See the full infographic here.

How do these results match up with your own preferences? Special thanks for all those who took the time to respond to our survey! We can’t wait to see what our Boston and Dallas E4 AV Tour attendees will have to say about their social media habits. Don’t forget to join us at our upcoming E4 AV Tour!

Stay in touch with us. Check us out on Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube, and Twitter to keep up-to-date with all our latest news, events and campaigns.

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WOW – Another E4

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Wow; another E4 season is underway. There are so many things I enjoy about working the E4, from meeting great people, to sharpening technical skills in CTS RU certifies classes, to seeing new products up close with factory experts on hand to dig into the details. I look forward to E4’s every off-season and just wish they were longer when they do roll around. The kickoff in DC certainly did not disappoint. From a product perspective alone we saw a number of cool new items that are starting to make noise; some quite literally.

It’s not often a product creates a new market. This is exactly what Panasonic has done with their innovative Space Player. This was a huge draw at ISE in Amsterdam and the Almo E4 may have been the first time it appeared in public in the US. This highly anticipated little projector mounts to a standard lighting track and has built in SD Card slot and Wi-Fi for media playback. Being that it is about the size of a track lighting fixture, it is ideal of retail signage applications and flexible ambient techorating. Panasonic showed the unit mapped onto stationary products with active content highlighting the subjects. If you have customers looking for you to bring creative solutions, check out the video for further applications to get your imagination going. (Make sure to look for the butterflies in the restaurant.)

Another first for Almo were the ongoing live demos of the Bose F1 Flexible Line Array system. (My apologies to the 11AM Interactive E4 Experience…. perhaps we got a wee bit too loud with the EDM.) The venue’s octagonal room and dome ceiling certainly would have presented significant challenges for lesser systems. This self powered unit brings the advantages of line arrays to the portable market. Proving very popular in HOW, education, and performance spaces, the flexible vertical control makes it a great option in diverse setups and integrated systems, too.

QSC showed their super efficient Energy Star qualified SPA series of multi channel power amplifiers that provide up to 200 watts into low-z applications and 250W into 70V – and they fit in half a rack space. We’ll be hearing more about these amps as the word continues to spread.

Harman Professional brought their new interactive “virtual rack” to sit alongside their stacks of gear. This touch screen-driven self-guided demonstration allows attendees to dig deeper into many items from the extensive product families of JBL, Crown, dbx, and others. With product experts at their side, the virtual rack allowed attendees to experience a broader range of solutions than typically available on a show floor.

From the “you can teach an old dog new tricks” department, Chief brought along the new SYSAU Suspended Ceiling Projector System. “It’s just another mount” you say? Wrong! How about a system that includes everything you need for 90% of all projector installs – all in a single box. No more finding the right ceiling plate, length of extension column, trim ring, etc, etc. This makes spec’ing, quoting, and installing projectors faster – period. Plus, if you inventory mounting components, this will make life much easier. (Yes – another video.)

With so much to see and do, I’m sure I missed some of the highlights. Please share yours and I look forward to seeing on the next stop of the E4 AV Tour!

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