Q&A: Audio America CEO Ryan J. Munder
Munder discusses Audio America's expansion in the Southeast, secrets to the company's success, and the state of the custom install market in Florida.
Jupiter, Fla.-based Audio America has been in the distribution business for 32 years, serving both the 12V car audio market and residential integrators for the past 17 years. The company’s rapid ascension as a leading distributor took hold several years ago after the firm was purchased by the Munder family in 2008.
Despite the recession, which hit Florida especially hard, Audio America aggressively gobbled up marketshare by assembling a large and experienced sales team. Last year, the company joined the PowerHouse Alliance, a consortium of independent distributors who are each recognized as the leaders within their respective geographic regions.
Now, Audio America is expanding beyond just Florida into several states in the Southeast, with a new distribution center as its hub.
CEO Ryan J. Munder spoke with CE Pro about Audio America’s expansion and the state of the market.
Why has Audio America decided to expand into other Southeastern states beyond Florida? What specific areas will you serve?
Audio America is expanding further into the Southeast with construction under way on a state-of-the-art, 22,000-square-foot distribution center. Vendors have been asking us for years to bring our business model (multiple outside salespeople, extensive training, customer service) to territory north of Florida. After extensive due diligence, we felt that a “feet on the street” model combined with our ability to ship next day to several states in the Southeast out of our new Atlanta hub presented untapped business opportunities.
What can you tell us about the new facility in Georgia?
Our new facility will have an innovative “self pick” area where wholesale customers can walk down aisles and select their own product … LG televisions and RTI remotes to name a few. It’s proven that integrators favor the “self pick” model, which also increases attachment sales and improves the overall customer experience. Additionally, we will feature an after-hours area to allow for 24/7 order pickup. Despite the recession and tough housing market in Florida, Audio America has continued to expand and take marketshare.
What are the secrets to that growth?
The secret to Audio America’s growth in Florida and beyond all comes down to resources, both financial and human resources. Over the past few years, our financial resources have allowed us to take a contrarian approach to the distribution model in a tough economy. We continue to hire outside salespeople, carry heavy inventory and extend flexible credit to our customers.
In general, what are you hearing from integrators about the state of the market in Florida?
While business is starting to pick up for our integrator customers, many of them find it increasingly important to rely on us for education and training, spotting new trends and identifying new channels of business to diversify their revenue stream.
Are there particular product categories you are seeing that are hotter than others?
Categories that are trending with the integrators are:
What are the biggest challenges still facing integrators?
One of the main challenges we see with integrators is inventory management. In an age of just-in-time delivery, customers realize that a distributor can actually save them time and money, while drastically reducing their stress level by providing all the value-added services previously mentioned.
Another challenge I see is the convergence of several trades in the integrator world: traditional home A/V, security and electrical. It seems like most successful clients have figured out a way to combine all three components to offer a one-stop-shop to each job site and maximize profitability.
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