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Stampede’s Kelly Sees A/V Growth, Ultra HD Spark

NEW YORK — Kevin Kelly, president/COO of Stampede, expects growth for many of the distributor’s customers this year and sees video conferencing and Ultra High Definition providing some of that development.

Those were just a couple of the comments he made in a discussion with TWICE during Stampede’s Big Book AV Tour event, held here at the Hotel Pennsylvania on April 10.

Concerning business conditions so far this year, Kelly, whose company provides A/V products to custom installers for the pro and consumer market, as well as to retailers, said that in the first quarter “there has been pressure on the consumer side.”

However, in the commercial part of the market, “there has been a resurgence in the market as corporations, the banking and financial sector, and the education side have begun to enter the market again.”

The main concern for retailers is eternal, namely, “trying to find margin and remain profitable,” Kelly said.

For the balance of the year Kelly expects “stable growth” for the consumer business, and on the pro side he sees continued corporate investments and growth in the education market.

For those retailers and installers on the consumer side, they have begun to sell and install more “video walls, and are getting involved in video conferencing and signage.”

Kelly is also bullish about Ultra HD. “It is exciting. You have to be excited to see that manufacturers are investing in new technologies like this, with the expectation of [better profits] and being able to provide value-added services” when installing the new HD screens.

Kelly said that Ultra HD is being used for “video walls in homes” in certain cases, for those consumers who can “afford the hardware and installation.” The same is true of OLED screens, he added.

While Ultra HD is “highly desired” by consumers, there is demand and the budgets ready for “installations on the corporate level” now, Kelly maintained.

Falling into the expertise of many of Stampede’s customers is what is called “unified communications,” or video conferencing systems, Kelly remarked.

“Consumers are getting used to video conference, especially young adults, due to Skype and Apple’s FaceTime, especially for long-distance and international calls,” he explained.

“As more young adults enter the workplace, this will be second nature to them, and corporations will take note of it,” Kelly said.

He sees video conferencing systems as being a “huge growth area” for many of his customers now and into the future.

Kelly also discussed the Big Book AV Tour. The event in New York drew around 25 suppliers and visits from 150 to 200 custom installers for the pro and consumer market, as well as retailers.

Kelly explained that all the stops on the tour are about the same size. “We have five sales areas in the U.S. and three in Canada and we hold two in each area per year, one in the spring and one in the fall.”

The installers and retailers who attend Tour events are “buying customers, not prospects,” which makes it a draw for manufacturers, especially when “the sole focus is on A/V-related products,” Kelly said.

The Tour began a few years ago to highlight the company’s “Big Book” catalog, which has the yellow and black colors of the Yellow Pages since first and foremost, “It is a reference tool.”

In fact, dealers can buy up to 20 to 25 copies and add their own name, address and contact information and use it during a sales presentation. “An installer or retailer may have some products on display,” Kelly said, “But to show the scope of everything they can offer, they can page through the Big Book with the customer to give them an idea about products and brands.”

The Tour also brought the “Big Book” to life, Kelly noted, by “having manufacturers meet retailers and installers, get to know each other, and get our customers to know suppliers’ products and how they can create profitable opportunities.”

The Stampede’s spring tour resumes on May 16 in Charlotte, N.C.