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Distributors Adding New Categories, Building Out Emerging Ones

Beating the bushes for new opportunities 4/02/2015 01:15:00 PM Eastern

New York – Despite growing demand for core categories like UHD/4K displays and high-res audio, tech distributors continue to cast about for new profit centers for themselves and their customers.

Some of these forays have taken a decidedly low-tech, albeit high-margin, turn. Almo, for example, has just entered the decorative lighting business following its asset acquisition of AF Lighting. President/CEO Warren Chaiken told TWICE the products support the company’s expansion into the home and housewares categories, are a fit for its fulfillment customers and dealers displaying furniture and other home goods.

DSI Systems, building on its home heritage in CE, has similarly entered the furnishings business with a focus on furniture and bedding. “The profitability a dealer recognizes in these two areas is a no-brainer for those that are willing to commit the floor space,” said merchandising VP John Griffin. “Plus, it makes a great tie-in to the rooms a customer is already improving with their electronics purchase. One-stop shopping at its finest.”

Meanwhile, tracking carrier trends in bring-your-own-device programs, and Common Core mandates for increased use of technology in the classroom, D&H Distributing is broadening its selection of unlocked smartphones and affordable, high-performance Chromebooks. Senior sales VP Jeff Davis said those categories, along with 3D printing, are expected “to play a role in our growth strategies over the next three to five years.”

For Catalyst AV, a national network of 12 tech distributors, new prospects for private-label products are always top of mind. “We are continuing to look for opportunities in our private-label strategy that provide a value to the dealer, expanding upon our Catalyst-branded offerings to bring a wider variety of products and accessories to the market,” said Mike Hench, principal of Electronics Source Distributors and board member of Catalyst AV.

For others, like New Age Electronics, building upon an early stake in emerging tech remains a top priority. “We are constantly identifying and adding leading products in categories including wearables, home automation, home health, GPS and Bluetooth tracking, small robotics and app-enabled devices,” president Fred Towns said.

Capitol Sales, another early wearables adherent, is similarly looking to fully embrace the category this year. “It’s really come of age,” president/chief financial officer Curt Hayes said, noting that certain brands “resonate because end users experience a real lifestyle enhancement. The novelty has given way to some truly exciting and practical products.”

Petra Industries too is expanding its already far-flung assortment of app-controlled devices. “Though we’ve had products in the category for a while, we are sharpening our focus on smartphone-controlled accessories that range from security and safety sensors to small appliances,” president Tate Morgan said. “Wearable fitness trackers that link to mobile apps have been gaining momentum, and a number of vendors have introduced app-based health devices such as blood pressure monitors, weight scales and oximeters.”

Also popular at Petra are smartphone-controlled drones, which were added last year, and Morgan said he is committed to considering “new products that help consumers manage their homes, their health and their lifestyle with ubiquitous mobile devices.”

And another IP-based business, security, is clearly on AVAD’s radar. “While we are not new to the category, AVAD will be expanding its physical security portfolio by adding to our existing IP surveillance offerings and adding access control products,” said Jim Annes, VP/general manager for AVAD, Ingram Micro Pro AV / Digital Signage, Physical Security and Peripherals.

See the April 6 print edition of TWICE for a complete report on the latest distributor doings.

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