An Interview With Cynthia Menna, VP and General Manager of ADI

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This is an interview with Cynthia Menna, vice president and general manager, ProAV at ADI, as written by Steph Beckett. It has been edited for clarity.

Menna leads the audiovisual business segments for ADI.

Can we start by telling me more about the Herman Pro AV integration with ADI?

ADI identified ProAV as a growing category and has made significant investments in this space. We acquired Herman two years ago, and most recently Shoreview Distribution. Following the integration of Shoreview, we’re in the process of fully integrating the Herman distribution business under the ADI umbrella and brand. Herman has been around for a long time, and the Herman team built a foundation in the ProAV space in two ways: 1.) On the distribution side of the business by curating a selection of products and consolidation services to meet the needs of integrators and their end customers. 2.) And the services arm, Herman Integration Services, which will retain its branding and continue to operate as a service available through ADI. Herman Integration Services is a labor subcontracting business primarily focused on the ProAV space. Ultimately, they enable our system integration customers to say yes to more business, support new categories and cover a larger geographic footprint, integrators may not have been able to on their own.

ADI, on the other hand, is a leading global distributor. ADI, from a distribution perspective, looked and felt different than Herman. ADI operates 100+ physical brick-and-mortar branch locations and 10 distribution centers across North America, and also serves customers online through our Digital Branch and mobile app. Additionally, we have a strong presence across EMEA with 50+ stocking locations across 13 countries in the region. So, what does that allow us to do? With ADI’s scale and resources, customers can leverage our warehousing and branch footprint to help drive efficiency within their business. Our footprint provides a significant value to integrators in the ProAV space.

Can these two brands — who are now becoming one (ADI) — help integrators recognize untapped opportunities in work they’re likely already doing? Is that a thing?

Yes, absolutely. First, integrators can rely on ADI to hold inventory so they don’t have to stock items that will hit their bottom line. Integrators can buy per job to increase their cash flow, which has become increasingly important due to lead times and supply chain challenges across the market. This offers significant value to customers, and ADI remains committed to providing immediate access to the products they need, when they need them — in the right place, at the right time.

Secondly, is working with our customers to expand their businesses. We’ve done this on both sides, at ADI and Herman, by helping them identify key adjacent categories that they can grow in. And we know, through our customer surveys and direct feedback, that we’ve been successful in helping them. End users are really looking for a one-stop shop. For example, they want a systems integrator who can come in, install access control, install a paging and PA system, put a video wall in their lobby, and have only one point of contact. And since ADI carries products across multiple categories and offers the support and services the systems integrator needs, we can help them get into adjacent categories. Help them pick the right products, design the right application and provide the necessary education to them.

What advice would you give to integrators who want that support but don’t know what first step to take?

It’s easy – get in touch with ADI. Whether it’s in our branch, on the phone, or over the web — we make it very easy to communicate and transact with us. We’re focused on providing an omnichannel shopping experience to our systems integrators no matter how they choose to interact with us. And we encourage our customers to engage with us as soon as possible when have a new opportunity, so we can work with them on the quote and help them secure all the products they need for the project. We have a team of experts for every category and application so our customers can feel confident they have the best solution for every job. Additionally, we work very closely with all our supplier partners to ensure we’re offering a full portfolio and maintain appropriate inventory levels.

I feel like most systems integrators aren’t considering specifying security options right now. Why do you think that is? Have they not even considered it as an option or is it because they consider it more of an IT than an AV problem?

That’s a good question. When I talk to security dealers who aren’t in the AV space, I ask the same question. In reality, they may be operating in that space and not realize it. For example, if the security customer is installing mass notification systems, they’re putting in horn speakers, and ultimately doing AV. They might not call it AV, but these are systems that contain common AV components. Likewise, they may be installing video wall technology for Command & Control centers but not calling it AV either. I think if we researched further, we’d find that more security dealers are doing some element of AV.

Also, I think one concern for security and a barrier of entry is licensing. So, when you think about, intrusion and other security applications, there certainly are licensing requirements which vary widely. And again, this is something ADI can help with. We have phenomenal resources to help guide integrators through requirements, training, licensing and testing. But there are also parts of the security space that don’t require licensing, and integrators can get started offering these solutions right away — there is a lot of crossover.

There is a lot of crossover. So a few of the benefits of getting into security you’ve mentioned are that end users are looking for one-stop shops. Another is that integrators have an opportunity to take home more money. What are some other benefits?

Those definitely are the two big ones. I think another element that may get overlooked, but again requires licensing and some additional training, is the value in RMR. When you look at the security industry, there are the monitoring opportunities that come with installing intrusion systems. But in addition to monitoring and RMR, there are certainly opportunities on service contracts and other add-on products in the security space. We’ve been seeing a lot of increased interest across the AV industry around remote monitoring and adding this can certainly provide a monetary benefit to the SI across the entire system. From the hardware, labor and monitoring piece — it’s a big piece of pie and a significant opportunity to go after. It also helps the integrator become stickier to the end user and less likely for someone else to come and take their business.

What are common questions you get from integrators looking to get into security?

Again, I think probably the biggest question we get is around licensing, which differs state by state. There are rules and regulations, and we’ve got a team of experts that can help provide guidance and partnerships with the local security and the fire associations.

Another big question we hear often is around digital signage applications and how they can be tied into the rest of the building or facility. For example, if an integrator is installing a video wall at a university, they may be interested in offering additional technology that could help the end user during a catastrophic event. Being able to change those displays from entertainment-based to give emergency response direction can add value to the installation. Additionally, there are a lot of other solutions that can help reduce risk and prevent incidents — from security cameras, gunshot detection, mass notification, heat detection systems and beyond. As security continues to be a risk, there is opportunity in offering these solutions.

What are some resources that you like to point integrators to if they’re looking for more information?

ADI offers a lot of resources through our website and in our physical stores. Additionally, we have a local network of field-based salespeople in every region that focus exclusively on the security category that can visit job sites, share best practices and make introductions to key suppliers. In addition to that, we have forms and templates integrators can use to scope a project that will help them ask the right questions. We often hear from integrators that they really don’t know where to start — and these resources can help.

Any final advice for integrators?

I think it’s important that as we grow into adjacent categories, we work very closely with our customers, so they have all the support they need and know they are not alone. I always suggest when you’re getting into a new category or a new space, to take the crawl, walk, run approach. Don’t start off with a large enterprise-level security project. Work with your current customers and share with them that you’re getting into the security space. If you see on the bill of materials or blueprints that they’re planning to put in a surveillance system, ask them for the opportunity to spec it. My advice for integrators is to look for these opportunities on the projects they are already working, and let ADI help them. There is a tremendous number of resources available through ADI, and across the industry, that will take a lot out of the guesswork. Integrators should absolutely leverage all of those resources that are handy and easily accessible.

For more information on how ADI can help you get into the security space, visit at www.ADIGlobal/ProAV.