As we launch into the Spring season of a new year and decade, the global market is far from normal. Unlike most years when this is the time of year that our dealers and integrators are ramping up business with multiple project bids on new build and renovation projects, instead, they are strategically planning how they are going to buckle down and weather the storm.
As a group, we, the PowerHouse Alliance, have been keeping our pulse on the COVID-19 pandemic government restrictions and recommendations across the country. We continue to communicate and work together to ensure we are doing everything we can to keep our employees and customers as safe as possible while responding to their business needs.
The PowerHouse Alliance is made up of 12 experienced regional distributor members spanning the continental U.S. Many of our member companies have been in business for decades, and one of our members, Pioneer Music Company, has been in business for over 140 years. Needless to say, as a combined group we have extensive experience with changing market conditions. I talked to a few of our distributor members to find out what they are doing in response to the pandemic to help their staff and customers.
“In our 60 years in business we have overcome every challenge you can throw at a business from recessions to natural disasters,” said Brett Provenzano, Vice President of ECD. Through all the unforeseen challenges, each distributor member has had to quickly adapt their business model to not only keep themselves afloat, but also to come out of the storm stronger. “With each challenge we have faced over our 60 years, we have been forced to learn new practices that, in many ways, we have incorporated and adapted long term to help improve our business. Our biggest takeaways have been:
- Never get too comfortable. Always look for ways to improve and adapt.
- Keep your finger on the pulse so that you are ready and quick to react to sudden changes.
- Do everything feasible to protect your employees and customers in times of struggle.”
In order to protect customers and employees and reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the U.S., PowerHouse Alliance members have implemented restricted will-call functions, drive-through pick-up areas, additional cleaning methods, work from home options, and paid time off for employees that are unwell or caring for someone who is in isolation. These additional safety measures and flexible options give employees, dealers, and integrators the peace of mind they need to do what is best for them and their families. It also ensures dealers continue to have safe access to the inventory they need to work without interruption.
“We have locked down all entrances except for one per location, which our customers have been asked to use. Customers have also been asked to call and schedule pickups, or to call upon arrival to arrange for the safe exchange of goods,” said Alec Haight, Vice President of Pioneer Music Company (PMC). “We have also implemented freight disinfectant and social distancing. As soon as in-bound product is off-loaded, we spray the freight with an ammonia solution, and it sits untouched for a minimum of 15 minutes before the team checks it in. The same disinfectant is used for outgoing shipments once a pick-up order has been pulled. It is sprayed in a specified area, then the PMC staff member walks away and the customer picks up the freight and loads it into their vehicle.”
Likewise, Mountain West Distributors has upped their cleaning regiment and social distancing policies. “We are limiting the amount of will call traffic indoors to ensure our customers and employees can keep a minimum six-foot distance from one another at any given time,” said Garret Breinholt, buyer and sales manager for Mountain West. “Non-essential employees are working from home and we have implemented a work from home rotation schedule for our sales team to reduce the amount of people in the office at any given time. We also have strict protocols in place to sanitize door handles and other touch points on will call carts, counters etc., every time a customer enters or exits our building. We are cleaning and sanitizing our offices twice daily and doing a deeper clean and sanitization over the weekends.”
The PowerHouse Alliance is sensitive to the fact that despite being an essential service, the market has (and will likely continue to) slowdown in the short term, and as a result our dealers and integrators can use any break they can get. Many PowerHouse Alliance members are offering financial relief options including free UPS Ground and courier shipments without minimum order requirements in order to support our customers however they can. With deep roots in the industry and regions they serve, our members are deeply integrated in their communities and are doing everything they can to support and respect their staff, customers, and vendor needs in order to weather the storm and come out of the COVID-19 crisis stronger than ever.
About the PowerHouse Alliance
The PowerHouse Alliance is a national consortium of regional wholesale distributors delivering over 250 brands for custom installers, specialty dealers, large retailers and industry buying groups in the residential and commercial audio/video, home entertainment, security, networking, IT and consumer electronics accessories markets. With combined annual sales in excess of $700 million, PowerHouse Alliance member companies represent 850,000 square feet of warehouse space in over 50 convenient locations across the country.