Leveraging Distributor and Manufacturer Services in the AV Industry

As the Exertis Almo Business Development Manager for the Panasonic Connect product line, I have familiarity with the Panasonic service offerings and the Exertis Almo Professional Service offerings. It’s interesting that there’s so much demand for service offerings today – I remember 10 to 15 years ago when distributors started coming up with service offerings for the reseller community.

There was so much controversy about both the distributors and manufacturers going direct and their intent was to replace the value add of the reseller.  Over time, that was quickly considered false.  In fact, many of you quickly jumped on the opportunity to use both distributor and manufacturer service offerings to expand your business.  Today, it’s much more accepted practice to leverage both the manufacturer and distributor for assistance.

Do manufacturers and distributors compete with one another for service offerings?  I decided to reach out to do some personal exploration on just this topic, and the short answer is no.

Customer ServiceLet’s explore the differences between distributor and manufacturer services and how they can complement each other to unlock value.

First and foremost, we must understand the different approaches between distributors and manufacturers when it comes to their service offerings. At the core, manufacturers focus on providing services that are tailored to their specific products. Whether providing support for installation, troubleshooting, maintenance, and beyond, their aim is to ensure that their customers have a seamless experience with their technology.

On the other hand, Exertis Almo takes a broader approach to professional services. Rather than being associated with a specific product line, we deliver a holistic approach, meaning we can address the AV system as a whole, irrespective of the brand or manufacturer, while focusing on the best outcome for the customer.

In turn, our services provide the convenience of having a single point of contact for a wide range of products and services. In my conversation with Cory Allen, VP of Services at Exertis Almo, we discussed the comprehensive approach to distributor service offerings.

“From implementation to commissioning and closeout, one entity can confidently take over the whole system to provide assistance,” he explained. “We are one, single partner that they can rely on to confidently service each part of that entire solution.”

From large integrators to small integrators (and everyone in between), we strive to help our customers grow with our resources and provide them with support knowledge about each piece of technology within their entire setup.

“We serve as a single source for a myriad of products and services, and no matter where you’re located and no matter your product, we can help you,” said Allen.

ServicesLike distributor services, manufacturer services focus on creating a long-lasting relationship with customers by delivering support for all products within their brand. In my conversation with Michael Walton, Executive BDM for Services & Engineering for Professional Imaging and Visual Solutions at Panasonic, he provided key details regarding Panasonic’s approach to their service offerings.

The manufacturer’s mission is to create a relationship with the end user through engineering services to support and complement their knowledge base.

“This is all particular to the Panasonic ecosystem,” Walton said. “All of those pieces need to work in concert with each other, so Panasonic can support those products as a full ecosystem.”

In the case where there is an outside product within a Panasonic ecosystem, the distributor can step in and quarterback the situation.

As a unique offering specific to their product lineup, Panasonic provides a branding service for customers to receive personalized technology that aligns with their particular brand identity. This service utilizes color matching to allow customers to change the color of Panasonic technology to fit the room design. This service is an ideal option for corporate spaces and educational institutions looking to incorporate specific colors and vinyl decals into their classroom technology, or for spaces that require technology that blends in with its surroundings. This service is notably popular for projectors, and usually takes around 5-10 business days to complete. And the best part – all warranties remain.

So, how can you leverage both manufacturer and distributor services?

While manufacturer and distributor services may differ in their scope and focus, both strive to develop a lasting relationship with their respective customers. And as the industry continues to evolve, manufacturers and distributors alike are constantly seeking new ways to add value. From innovative service offerings to proactive maintenance solutions, the focus remains on delivering exceptional experiences and fostering long-term partnerships.

My takeaway from this quick review – they do not compete with one another.  In fact, they both have developed viable service offerings for you, the reseller, to leverage both to grow your business without increasing your overhead or cost structure – all while providing high quality service.

Looking to learn more? Connect with me to get the details on Exertis Almo Professional Services and extensive Panasonic Connect lineup.

Angie Greene
About the Author

Angie Greene | DSCE

Business Development Manager

Supported Manufacturers: ScreenBeam and Panasonic

Getting to Know Programming Services: A Conversation with Tom Kehr & Drew Metherall

In a recent video, Exertis Almo’s Tom Kehr, Systems Designer and Trainer, and Drew Metherall, Programming Manager, discuss different programming topics and how you can position these services to give your business an edge.

Let’s dive into their conversation with key points mentioned in their discussion.

Control and DSP Programming Services

With decades of experience, Kehr and Metherall acknowledge the long and unique history of programming in the AV industry and the complex work completed by programmers.

“There’s a user interface, be it a button panel or touch panel, and often a lot of sensors, and you’re expected to tie all this together to make the experience better for the end user,” explained Kehr.

Kehr begins the discussion with a question.

“What makes Pro AV control so different and unique from a residential system?”

AMX AV control systemMetherall attributes this difference to the added flexibility with Pro AV control and aspects like macros, which you can build and interface with various products, sensors, temperature controls, and lighting, noting that residential universal remotes have limitations in what you can do and are more of a configurable system whereas Pro AV is actual programming of a device.

Regarding the products not distributed by Exertis Almo, Metherall explains that there are some systems that Exertis Almo will not program if they are not up to the level of necessity required in Pro AV.

When discussing the different systems, Kehr brings up the topic of certifications and training within programming.

“I held an AMX certification for 20 years. One of our programmers has a Crestron Silver Level. Our new programmer coming has a Platinum Level. We all hold certifications in Extron, we’ve gotten most of our certification for Q-SYS,” Metherall said. “And if we don’t have [a certification], we’re getting there.”

Kehr elaborates on Metherall’s point, explaining that there is always room for ongoing training.

Kehr and Metherall then discuss the advantages of using Ethernet for an audio-visual control system, explaining that although there are some challenges when mixing audio, video, and control on the same network, you can have a low voltage network company to come in to do all the wiring, since it’s all network, simplifying installation.

Another challenge exists in making changes to an existing control system, as many control files are compiled files. Kehr and Metherall explain that if the client has the original code, or they are willing to invest in a rewrite, Exertis Almo can do that work.

“During an installation, we see the bill of materials, and we have a system schematic or a flow diagram,” Kehr said. “What other documentation do you need as you begin to put the program together?”

In response, Metherall explains that he usually requires a Scope of Work or a Programming Narrative. We typically need a Bill of Materials and a signal flow. While Exertis Almo does not need all these just to do a quote, but once we get into the work, we definitely want all that information.

Kehr mentions that a lot of programming work is event-driven and poses the question, “What can you incorporate into a system for easier use?”

Metherall notes that most programmers utilize a video sync signal off some of the digital or Ethernet-based video transmitters. “We can take that signal and have the system turn on and route to that source without having to even touch a button,” he said.

Metherall elaborates, explaining that many programmers also use sensors on touch panels. Additionally, timers are a frequent addition to a system, allowing the system to turn off after a certain time or turn on at a prescribed time.

Kehr and Metherall also discuss decreased incorporation of voice assistance, acknowledging that these capabilities, like Siri or Alexa, are more present in residential systems.

The duo concludes their conversation by encouraging listeners to learn more by attending the industry-leading expo, E4 Experience.

The discussion offers a detailed look into the world of Exertis Almo Programming Services, with valuable insight on how to expand your reach. Watch the full conversation on YouTube.

If you learned something from this blog and video, you may also enjoy learning how to “Grow Your Business and Expand Your Reach – A Guide to EA’s Commissioning Services” blog.

Tom Kehr

About the Author

Tom Kehr

CTS-D, CTS-I, Network+, LEED Green Associate, ISF-C, ATD Master Trainer

In-House System Designer and Trainer

Supported Applications: System Design

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