The custom integration industry owes a debt of gratitude to the role that buying groups play these days, which is much, much more than simply providing discounts on vendor partners’ product.
This year, Nationwide Marketing Group expanded its reach with the rebranding of its residential dealer group to Oasys Residential Technology Group and launched a commercial counterpart, the Ellipsys Commercial Technology Group, in addition to the well-established Azione Unlimited.
The leaders of those organizations – Richard Glikes, president and chief creative officer of Azione Unlimited, Hank Alexander, director of the Oasys Residential Technology Group, and Chris Whitley, executive director the Ellipsys Commercial Technology Group – chatted with me about the latest initiatives for the buying groups’ members in this week’s CE Pro Podcast.
Glikes is particularly excited about this month’s Azione Fall Conference, which is taking place Oct. 16-18 in Nashville. Similar to the Azione Spring Conference, held in Scottsdale, Ariz., back in March, the autumn event is loaded with education, networking, insightful keynotes and other fun activities.
There’s even a scheduled outing to Nissan Stadium, home of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans, where the group leadership and members will take a tour and participate in the summit’s charity event that has become a hallmark of Azione Unlimited get-togethers.
‘Drive to 1,000’ Sees Progress Among Buying Groups
During the Azione Spring Conference, the organization rolled out its “Drive to 1,000” initiative with a goal of hitting that milestone in total NMG membership. Between Azione and Oasys, the numbers already are nearing 600, while Ellipsys as the newest division is just starting to gain traction.
Regarding the latter, Whitley says he has had encouraging discussions with potential dealer members and vendors during InfoComm 2023, held in June, and the inaugural Commercial Integrator Expo, which was co-located with CEDIA Expo in Denver last month.
Overall, the group leaders shared positive vibes about their respective education and training calendars, presence and networking at the recent tradeshows, and membership growth entering this fourth quarter of 2023 heading into 2024.
“Hank got fortunate to pick a great [rebrand] name – I love the name Oasys – and he has now fabulous vendor brands from Masimo to Sonance to Sony, Samsung, Klipsch and others,” Glikes says. “And Chris is under way with his brand and there’s been a lot of vendor interest in Ellipsys, and it looks like there’s been a void in the marketplace.
“Azione has continued to grow, we have 293 dealers now, which is pretty fantastic considering 11 years ago we had zero,” Glikes adds. “So, we’re all doing well, I think we’re all happy.”
Alexander notes that Oasys, which casts a more wide-reaching dealer net (from sub-$1 million revenue to CE Pro 100 types) compared with Azione, has 290 members. On the commercial front, Glikes and Whitley explain that one of the driving forces behind its creation was that feeling of commercial dealers being underserved by such groups when it comes to pure-play pro AV companies.
While Azione members can look forward to the Fall Conference being staged soon, the members of Oasys and Ellipsys can start getting excited – and circling their calendars – for 2024, as they will host respective conferences in February and April. Look for those announcements and details forthcoming from the groups.
In the meantime, listen to or download the CE Pro Podcast above to hear from Glikes, Alexander, and Whitley about each groups’ successes in 2023 and plans for the remainder of this year and start of 2024. Find past episodes of the CE Pro Podcast by subscribing to the CE Pro YouTube channel or our Apple and Spotify podcast feeds.