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Before Re-Sauce Part 6 – Moving from Distribution to a Manufacturer

By Gordon Dutch

As explained in my previous blog, I travelled regularly to most major CE shows and it was during a visit to CES in 2007/8 that I had noticed a brand called Peerless. Peerless were mainly a Pro-AV brand, but happened to have a very nice retail range called SlimLine, which at the time was by far and away the slimmest bracket on the market at that time. I had spoken to Peerless about their business in Europe at the CES show and they confirmed that at the time it was very limited. So when our largest supplier of brackets decided to come in direct, it was clear that we would need a replacement product and Peerless perfectly fitted the brief. Not only did it give us a really competitive range of retail mounts, but just as importantly they had a huge range of commercial and Digital Signage mounts and I could see that as the price of the flat panels had started to drop, their use in commercial installations was growing massively. Could that be the next ‘big thing’ for BBG, you bet!

 

Having been through the pain of two major changes in direction as a distributor, I decided that it was time to throw my hat in the ring and join a manufacturer and so I flew to Chicago (where Peerless were based and still are) and managed to meet not only with their main management team, but most importantly their majority owner. Despite their significant size, Peerless were and still are privately owned and so I sat down and outlined my vision for Peerless in Europe. This included Peerless buying my BBG business and me taking shares in Peerless globally. After a few hours of discussion, myself and the main owner shook hands on the deal there and then and I returned to the UK to start planning the launch of Peerless in Europe.

 

Of course, it wasn’t that straight forward, as anyone who has sold or merged their business knows, there is a mountain of paperwork to get sorted, especially when selling to a large US company. However, as BBG had invested in a high quality IT and reporting systems, we were able to deliver all the information that any prospective buyer might need (ref our previous blog about selling a business) and so in May 2009, Peerless acquired my BBG Distribution Business and I joined the global board of Peerless with some shareholding in the US and global business. Now the work really started in earnest!

 

One of the key parts to BBG’s success was building strong relationships with our retailers. We did this by covering a number of fundamental bases.

 

Firstly, do your research… We spent a lot of time reviewing the competition in any category before we ever decided to launch a product.

 

Secondly, nail down your supply chain, always make sure you had stock available when required and so we worked really hard on accurate forecasting.

 

Thirdly, market your products effectively to not only the trade, but the end user to drive demand.

 

Finally, treat your customers with the utmost respect that they deserve! It is their choice to buy from you and so if you need to get a delivery out at 5 minutes past 5pm on a Friday night for next day delivery, then so be it.

 

As a business leader, I believe it is always important to lead from the front and so if the van needed driving for a delivery and we were stretched, I would drive it. If a container needed unloading, then get involved.  To me you should never expect anyone in your team to do anything you are not prepared to do yourself.

 

By doing all these things, we built an amazing team of people at BBG and tremendous customer loyalty, which was essential to launching our new brand Peerless.

 

I try not to mention too many names, but on the consumer side we were very lucky to bring on board Phil Wynd who was previously the Sales Director at Panasonic. Phil brought with him a tremendous knowledge of the consumer industry and also some fantastic relationships. Off the back of Phil’s introductions, BBG flourished and started to run regular dealer incentive trips to all sorts of interesting locations, including Tunisia (before it unfortunately became a victim of terrorism) and to the US to visit the highly impressive Peerless manufacturing plant in Chicago. 

 

The picture shown is one from an early trip to Tunisia and as you can see, we often catered for between 60-120 people, which when you are organising flights, hotels and their whole schedule for 4-5 days is no mean logistical feat. After Phil moved on Debbie Simms took over the consumer division and also did an excellent job for us before moving on to Audio Technica.

 

Organising events and conferences is another speciality we have within our wide range of services here at Re-Sauce and so if you want to know more about how to build sales, brand loyalty and run a great event, then feel free to reach out to us here at hello@re-sauce.net.

 

Read part 7 of the journey next week, as we detail the launch of Peerless in the UK and Europe.

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Here’s what our Industry Colleagues say about us...

Peerless-AV would like to pay tribute to the incredible work Gordon and his team have done since 2009. It’s sales and brand awareness since we launched Peerless-AV EMEA in 2009 has been massive. Gordon’s strategic leadership and incredible work ethic, along with the dynamic leadership of a best-in-class team, which he assembled, has led Peerless-AV to the forefront of the AV businesses.

John Potts

Global President & CEO of Peerless-AV

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