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Distributor Update: Expanding Portfolios Of Products And Services

In Part II of our special report, TWICE continues its examination of new products and services that distributors are bringing to the table in order to keep their retailer, reseller and integrator customers — and, ultimately, consumers — ahead of the learning curve as CE and IT technologies continue to merge and emerge. (See TWICE, Oct. 24, p. 16.)

Among those expanding their horizons is Cardinal Electronics. Now nearing its 60th anniversary, the company continues to add name-brand lines, including BDI A/V furniture and Mitsubishi projectors, to better serve its burgeoning custom A/V dealer base, reports VP Bill Lyons.

The Lodi, N.J.-based business has also joined the SRO Distributor Buying Group, which is providing Cardinal and its dealer customers access to such limited distribution lines as Pioneer Industrial Plasma and BenQ. “By adding lines such as these,” he said, “we can continue to offer our dealers products that they can make money on.”

New developments at DBL Distributing include an upgraded enterprise system that will allow the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based business to offer customers faster ordering and increased service. The upgrade compliments the company’s 144,000-square-foot, custom-built, state-of-the-art Scottsdale facility which opened last year and “is fine-tuned to the needs of our daily service requirements,” said Bruce Kuperman, DBL’s sales and marketing executive VP.

DBL has also just completed production of its largest-ever catalog, featuring 340 brand-name manufacturers and 15,000 products — including 2,200 items that have been added since June.

“Because we feel it’s just as important to show product detail visually as it is to highlight specific features, additional emphasis was placed on product merchandising and lifestyle artwork that showcase products in use, to make the buying experience easier on customers,” Kuperman said. “We’ve also gone to great lengths to capture true product color, present detailed imagery and provide an easy-to-follow layout and flow.”

In addition, DBL has announced the appointment of GoVideo and Panasonic veteran Dan Halaburda as an account sales director within the company’s e-commerce/fulfillment solutions group.

Z. Reiss & Associates in Brooklyn, N.Y., which boasts a wide-ranging assortment that spans computers, peripherals, CE, home office, digital imaging, photographic supply and premium appliances, continues to extend its PC offering and is also stocking up on digital memory from SanDisk and Kingston, reports marketing development manager Samuel Golowinski.

But as Golowinski noted, inventory isn’t the whole story, since products can’t be fully employed or enjoyed unless the consumer understands how to use them. To that end, Z. Reiss keeps its customers up to date on the latest technologies and vendor offerings via its Web site, direct contact by dedicated sales staffers, daily updates and newsletters, and manufacturers’ latest promotional materials. In addition, the company holds an annual party and trade show at its distribution center and headquarters where customers dine, discuss new products and participate in manufacturer seminars. “We tell our customers ‘Don’t dictate, educate the consumer,’” he said.

Elsewhere, New Age Electronics is helping Hewlett-Packard move the manufacturer’s new line of HP Pavillion TVs into the regional retail channel across the United States. New Age, a Los Angeles-based provider of consumer technology sales and supply chain solutions, is carrying 10 models: four HD microdisplay rear-projection sets, three HD plasma panels and three HD LCDs. In addition, New Age is supporting three models of standard- and high-definition HP Digital Entertainment Centers.

“This agreement further strengthens New Age’s presence in the digital entertainment category, which we believe will be the single most significant driver of consumer electronics growth in the next five years,” said president Adam Carroll.

New Age has also announced a new partnership with Eizo Nanao Technologies, a Japanese manufacturer of high-end visual display products with a wide range of LCD monitors and Windows-based terminals (thin clients). Under the new agreement, New Age will introduce Eizo’s ColorEdge and FlexScan LCD monitors to photo specialty retailers.

And the latest news out of Digital Delivery Group (DDG), a consortium of 17 regional value-added CE specialty distributors, is an agreement with Coaxsys to distribute its TVnet/C Pro, a 100Mbps Ethernet-over-coax product that gives custom integrators an alternative to rewiring homes with CAT-5 by using existing coaxial cable for Internet-based video distribution and multimedia networking.